2019 Hyundai Kona Electric offers comfort through familiarity
If you want somebody to try something new, it helps to make them feel like it's something they've already experienced.
That kind of familiarity breeds comfort, and I definitely think that's the case with EVs.
Now I'm not really talking about the early adopters, the people who need to be at the cutting edge of tech, I'm referring more to th hoi polloi, the average Joes and Janes of the world.
That's why I am such a fan of this subcompact Hyundai Kona electric.
It's takes all the good parts of the Kona that I drove last year and translates it to an electric vehicle that should appear to both tech nerds and my mom.
And the best part is, not a whole lot has changed since the gas version.
There are, of course, some distinct design differences between this Kona electric and the regular gas version.
Even though the two are pretty similar.
Up front the grille's been eliminated and replaced with this kind of dimpled front end that adds some character to, believe it or not, probably the one car that doesn't actually need extra character.
It also has a set of wheels that well I absolutely adore.
But honestly most folks might have trouble differentiating this from any other Kona.
And again I think that's a good thing.
The electric power train means the interior gets a shakeup too.
The tall center console has been swapped out in favor of one that has a surprisingly large cubby underneath with both a USB and the 12 volt charging port.
The standard shift lever has gone too, in favor of a button cluster that, to be honest, I still haven't been able to commit to muscle memory even after a week of regular use.
It had a [UNKNOWN] Is yet another deep cubby with enough space for a wireless device charger.
Personally I would stick with the dark interior option because all this bright work in my tester makes the car look at little cheap.
The corner's battery doesn't eat on the cargo space thankfully.
Because its 19 cubic foot cargo capacity is second to last in the segment.
That being said there is still plenty of space in the cabin for humans or dogs or cargo you put in the second row.
I don't know what you people do with your cars.
Sadly there is no fronk just a bunch of EV hardware tucked under the hood.
The Kona Electric rocks a single Full electric motor tied to its front axle that puts 201 horse power and 291 pound feet of torque.
Now for those of you keeping track at home, that's 26 horses and 96 torques more than even the high output motor on the gas Kona.
And the best part about it is you could feel it all the time.
No matter what speed you're going you just smash the gas a little bit and you get a nice smooth wave of torque.
And when it comes time to stop there is a three stage regenerative braking system that gives you different strengths upon deceleration, adjustable through the two flappy paddles on the back of the wheel.
Now if you're more a fan of the one pedal driving scenario don't worry, the Kona electric does have you covered.
All you have to do is, upon deceleration, hold the left paddle here and it'll bring you nicely to a halt.
Now in terms of suspension quality and noise mitigation, the story is a little positive, sadly.
The suspension is fine, but it rides really roughshod over prominent bumps and dips, which is kind of a bummer.
And then there is noise mitigation.
Doesn't appear to be much of that at all.
As a matter of fact it's much louder than the gas Kona because at least the gas Kona had the engine trying to counteract the road noise whereas here this thing is running entirely silent so all I hear is road noise.
That being said, there is a low speed EV noise that kinda sounds like a Hans Zimmer score so, there's that.
Now, in terms of efficiency, the EPA rates this battery at 258 miles for a full charge which is about 4 miles per kilowatt hour.
Thankfully, Michigan's weather has been a little better than usual, about 40 degrees, so I've been lower than that, but not too low, at about 228 miles per charge, or about 3.6 miles per kilowatt-hour.
Now I've been driving this car just as normally as I do any other car.
I'm trying not to pretend it's being super efficient or anything, and I usually get somewhere between 3.8 and 4.6 miles per kilowatt-hour, so I will say that the EPA numbers aren't obscene and they seem pretty easily reachable.
Now, in terms of charging, when you finally deplete your battery, this will take about nine hours to fill up on a standard 240-volt setup, but thankfully there is DC fast charge compatibility.
So if you're out on the town, you can get up to 80% of your battery life in just about under an hour.
Now in terms of in-car tech, the Kona Electric isn't all that different from the regular gas Kona.
My ultimate trim testing, it's an 8" touch screen entertainment system with navigation, Apple Car Play, Android Auto, satellite radio, the whole dang [UNKNOWN].
This system is a couple of years old at this point, but we still love it because it's responsive and it's always worked well for us.
On top of that, my tester also receives a retractable head-up display, activated by a button on the side here, but it is a little low to the dashboard because it uses its own backer, which makes it kind of awkward for taller drivers.
Now unlike some other electric vehicles, the Hyundai Kona Electric actually comes with a surprising amount of standard safety systems.
I mean, even on the base tester you get things like auto-brake, lean-keep assist, and blindspot monitoring.
Right here on my top turn testers, all that stuff is wrapped up and it's added to with both pedestrian detection and adaptive cruise control with stop and go functionality.
And it all works pretty well.
I mean the lane keep assist can be a little heavy handed both on the road and the highway but otherwise smooth as butter.
Now the standard Hyundai Kona is pretty affordable car.
The Hyundai Kona electric on the other hand, eh, not so much.
The base models rings in at 36,450 before incentives and destination while my ultimate trim tester clocks in at a lofty 44,650 bucks.
Now that might seem like a lot of scratch but it is pretty much in line with the competition.
The Nissan Leaf Plus is similarly priced, but you get a little less range and the tech's not as impressive.
And the Chevrolet Bolt EV is also up there, but its equipment packaging is trash compared to Hyundai's democratized way of doing things.
And as for Tesla's Model Y?
Well, it doesn't exist yet, so.
The Hyundai Kona Electric more or less checks all my boxes.
It's pretty much a normal car with a start electric motor and a capacious battery which means they think they'll go over pretty well with the public.
The only problem is getting the car to th public.
Thanks to supply constraints the vehicle is only available in Zev states for the time being.
And while Hyundai does intend to make it a 50 state car, the auto maker's not entirely sure when that will happen.
For Hyundai's sake, I hope it's soon, because this is one car that shouldn't be region locked.