2019 Hyundai Kona Electric: What's It Like To Live With?
Edmunds' experts drove one for a year to find out
|Miles Driven||Average Electricity Consumption (kWh/100 mi)|
- A fun-to-drive EV
- Had enough range for both everyday driving and long distances
- Short on cargo space and rear passenger legroom
- No significant issues or failures
What we got and why
• Our test vehicle: 2019 Hyundai Kona Electric Ultimate
• Base Kona Electric MSRP: $37,995 (including destination)
• MSRP as tested: $46,130 (not including any potential tax credits or incentives)
• Estimated trade-in value after one year: $30,281
Are you thinking about buying or leasing a Hyundai Kona Electric? Hi! I'm Brent Romans, senior editor of written content, and I curated the content about Edmunds' 2019 Hyundai Kona Electric. 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. How can I do that? We actually drove and tested one for a full year. Our car was a 2019 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. Exclusive highlights include ventilated seats, a heated steering wheel and an enhanced version of the traffic-adaptive cruise control system.
This page goes more in-depth than our regular review of the Kona Electric. Check out the other sections to learn more about our experiences.
Kona Electric: Was it reliable?
Our 2019 Kona Electric was reliable and durable. Granted, our test was limited to only 9,000 miles or so. Because of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic we weren't able to drive our Kona as much as we had originally planned to. But we never had any serious mechanical or electrical issues.
Did it have any glitches?
Just one. 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 (it 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.
Where there any recalls?
Not during the time we tested our car. However, Hyundai did issue two recalls shortly after our test finished. The first one was Recall Number 20V630000 and pertained to the Kona Electric's battery. The issue? "The lithium-ion battery may short circuit after it is fully charged." The second was Recall Number 20V748000 and pertained to the car's brakes. The issue? "The integrated electronic brake system may detect an abnormal sensor signal and, as a result, may significantly reduce braking performance."
Kona Electric: What was it like 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 was it?
Quick! We tested our 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 was 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, had 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."
Sounds good. What else stands out to you?
The Kona Electric's steering wheel-mounted regenerative braking paddles are pretty cool. Here's Reviews Editor Travis Langness: "I like this design more than other EVs that have their regenerative braking adjustments buried in a touchscreen menu. The Kona Electric has three regenerative braking levels available. I found them particularly useful on a recent drive I did from from Big Bear, which is a town in the local San Bernardino Mountains, to Los Angeles. On the way back down in the mountains I used the paddles to quickly adjust regen to suit the grade of the road. That helped keep my speed in check and maximize the Kona Electric's efficiency since I didn't have to use the friction brakes to reduce speed."
Were the front seats comfortable for long drives?
We thought they were 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 drove our Kona from Los Angeles to Fresno, California, and back a few times during our test. It's about 235 miles, or a four- to five-hour drive, each way, and I was comfortable every time.
How was the ride quality?
Not bad for a little car. It could get a little choppy on Los Angeles' freeways. But in general our Kona Electric had an agreeable ride, especially considering how sporty its handling was.
Kona Electric: Final thoughts
Over the course of our yearlong test, our 2019 Kona Electric did everything I'd expect out of an EV. Its estimated 258 miles of range ended up being plenty. We had enough range to run through multiple days of commuting and errards without recharging. It also allowed for some long-distance driving.
Our Kona Electric was also fun to drive thanks to its quick acceleration and nimble handling. That's important. A Tesla Model 3 is fun, sure, but it's also typically more expensive. Just about everything else in the Kona Electric's class, from a Chevrolet Bolt to a Nissan Leaf, trades away some fun in the name of greater practicality.
Granted, practicality was the biggest issue we had with our car. The lack of rear seat legroom and cargo space occasionally posed problems. But our Kona Electric had enough space that we got along just fine 95% of the time.
I'm less confident talking about reliability. We didn't have any significant issues with our test car, but our COVID-19-shortened test gave us only about half the distance we normally aim to get with one of our vehicles. The good news is that Hyundai's got a great warranty should you be worried. It includes a five-year limited warranty, a 10-year powertrain warranty and, at least on our 2019 model, a lifetime battery warranty.
Overall, I was very pleased having a 2019 Hyundai Kona Electric in our long-term test fleet. It's definitely an EV to check out, and I'd even consider buying one myself.