2019 Hyundai Kona Electric: What's It Like To Live With?
Edmunds' experts are driving one for a year to find out
|Miles Driven||Average Electricity Consumption (kWh/100 mi)|
Latest Highlights (updated 06/09/20)
- Comparison to a gas-powered Kona ("What else should I know?" section)
- Observations regarding long-distance seat comfort (comfort section)
- Notes about our car's Infinity sound system (technology section)
- Comparing electrical efficiency in the city versus the highway (efficiency section)
What We Bought And Why
• Our test vehicle: 2019 Hyundai Kona Electric Ultimate
• Base Kona Electric MSRP: $37,995 (inc. destination)
• MSRP as tested: $46,130
Hi! I'm Brent Romans, senior editor of written content, and I'm curating the content about Edmunds' 2019 Hyundai Kona Electric. Are you thinking about buying or leasing one? With the help of my editorial co-workers I hope to give you a deeper understanding of what it's like to actually own a Kona Electric. Let me know if you want us to comment on something specifically. Check down at the very bottom of the "What else should I know?" section for my contact info.
We'll be going more in-depth than we do in our regular review of the Kona Electric. We can do that because we'll be driving one for a full year. Our car is a Pulse Red Kona Electric Ultimate, which Hyundai graciously loaned us to test. The Ultimate trim level is, well, the ultimate one and comes with the most standard features. But every Kona Electric provides 258 miles of driving range.
I'll be updating our page with new question topics every few weeks.
What kind of glitch did it have?
Nothing serious. Back when Kona Electric had 4,415 miles, I parked at a DC fast charger station near my house and charged for about 30 minutes. After I disconnected, I got in and started the car. But I noticed that when I did that the Kona's gauge cluster display was blank and only showed a graphic that the driver's door was open (which is wasn't). I tried opening and closing the door a few times as well as turning the car fully on and off. No luck.
Because the screen was frozen I couldn't see how much range I had or my speed. The only thing on display was the odometer. Finally I decided to just start driving. Thankfully, the car still worked!
Nothing changed on the drive home, and the odometer was frozen at 4,415 miles. Once I got home I tried opening the Kona EV's other doors and the hatch while keeping the driver's door closed. This seems to have worked because when I turned on the car again the screen was back to normal. The odometer also showed the correct mileage I had accumulated.
This glitch hasn't happened since, thankfully.
Kona Electric: Is it fun to drive?
Here's one thing I didn't really expect about our Kona Electric: It's sporty if you want it to be. This aspect isn't apparent in normal driving (i.e., when you're driving conservatively to maximize efficiency). But if you mash the accelerator, the Kona zips forward and chirps its front tires because there's so much low-end power.
How quick is it?
Quick! Mash the accelerator pedal (it's not a "gas" pedal, remember) and the Kona Electric surges forward in rapid style. We've tested the Kona Electric at our private test facility and recorded a 0-60 mph sprint of just 6.6 seconds — that's quicker than just about every other similarly priced EV (such as the Chevy Bolt and Nissan Leaf) by a second or more. It's also quicker than your typical mainstream gasoline-powered small sedan or hatchback, such as a Honda Civic or Hyundai Elantra.
Cool. OK, what about handling?
Glad you asked. Our Kona Electric is fun to drive around turns, too. The eco-oriented tires don't offer a lot of grip, but the car feels balanced and fairly hunkered down on the road. The Electric does weigh about 700 pounds more than a regular Kona, but I bet if you took the sportier 18-inch wheels and tires off a regular gas-powered Kona Limited, the Electric would feel pretty sporty.
What if you're not driving crazy-pants style?
Well, here's what Ron Montoya, our senior consumer advice editor, has to say about driving around in the Kona Electric's Eco mode: "I decided to drive our Kona Electric in Eco mode over a weekend. And you know what? It was totally fine. Acceleration was slightly diminished, but it never felt underpowered to me. The driver display switches to a page that shows how much range the vehicle is getting back from the regenerative braking. It was a nice way to encourage a more efficient driving style."
Kona Electric: How are the technology features working?
So far, so good! Our Kona is certainly loaded up with them. It's the top-level Ultimate trim, which comes with just about everything that Hyundai offers.
Some highlights include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Hyundai's Blue Link communications system, a full complement of advanced driver safety aids (such as forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking), a head-up display, an 8-inch touchscreen with integrated navigation, and an eight-speaker Infinity sound system. Notably, the Limited trim comes with a more advanced version of the car's adaptive cruise control that has stop-and-go functionality.
What do you guys think of that adaptive cruise system?
Reviews Editor Ryan ZumMallen had this to say about it: "On most days, my commute includes battling intense Los Angeles freeway gridlock. Our Kona is the perfect companion. It works seamlessly with the electric motor to take all of the stress out of an otherwise hair-pulling experience. The Kona recognizes and reacts to both gaps and slowdowns appropriately, never getting too jumpy or abrupt. If the car is stopped for more than a few seconds, a quick tap on the steering wheel control gets it going again. My blood pressure is better for it."
Rex Tokeshi-Torres, our vehicle testing technician, was also complimentary. He said: "The cruise control's follow distance in the Kona EV is pretty conservative. When setting a following distance of one car length, it tends to give you about a car and a half. Still, that's not bad. Overall, our Kona's adaptive cruise system works well."
How's the sound system?
Our test car is the Ultimate trim and it has the upgraded eight-speaker Infinity sound system. It's a nice-sounding system that is pretty accurate and produces strong bass. I've enjoyed listening to both audio books and music on it from my iPhone through the regular music interface and Apple CarPlay. I haven't experienced any connection issues with connecting my iPhone, either.
Are the front seats comfortable for long drives?
The seats are pretty comfy. Granted, everybody is different, so your results might vary. (I'm slim: 5-foot 10-inches tall and about 150 pounds.) But I've driven our Kona from Los Angeles to Fresno, California and back a few times now. It's about 235 miles, or a 4-5 hour drive, each way, and I've been comfortable.
I haven't tried driving our Kona Electric that far without stopping to recharge, so I'm stopping in the middle to take a break and stretch. But even so that's about 2 hours straight.