2022 Hyundai Kona Electric Limited Review

Under the radar but better than expectations


Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief



Positives: Tremendous standard feature set, entertaining behind the wheel, solid driving range, clean interior and exterior styling.
Negatives: No all-wheel drive option, tight back seat space.
Bottom Line: The Kona Electric might not be the flashiest EV around, but it gets the job done in terms of looks, range, driving fun, tech, and practicality. It delivers a lot for less than you'd think.
A good EV doesn't have to have all-wheel drive, a giant touchscreen, and styling that turns heads. It's actually more important, practically speaking, to have one that has good range, drives well, has a solid level of creature comforts and tech, as well as an attainable price. That's the Kona EV. It's far more than basic and even has a spritely 201 hp and 291 lb-ft of torque. It even gets 258 miles of range on a full charge. Did we mention the 10-year warranty? That's tough to beat. For the 2022 model year, the Kona EV gets mildly refreshed with new bumpers and a revised interior that includes a larger standard infotainment screen. We drove the top Limited trim in the dead of winter to see how it stacks up against some of the more popular EVs for sale now. Read our full review.
 

Driving Experience

7.7

 

For a front-wheel drive EV, the Kona Electric is a surprisingly entertaining vehicle to helm. Not only is it pretty quick, but its taut steering and handling make it fun to toss around.

Ride Quality: The ride is definitely on the firm side, and you do feel the bumps and gaps. but it remains composed.

Acceleration: The Kona Electric hits 60 mph in a 6.4 seconds, which is plenty quick. It actually feel quicker thanks to the on-demand torque of an EV. Power is linear and thrill to command.

Braking: The regen brakes are pretty good and don't feel as spongy as some of the competition. We had no trouble bringing it to a stop.

Steering: The steering has some proper heft to it, despite its artificial feel. There's nice effort to the experience, which is preferred over something light.

Handling: The Kona Electric handles corners like a champ and feels balanced. There's very little body roll, and the floor-mounted battery helps.

Technology

8.6

 

Hyundai in-car tech might not be the flashiest around, but that's the way we like it. The infotainment is crisp, easy to read, and easy to operate. The fact that there are easy physical controls is a huge benefit it an ever-growing world of touchscreen-only systems.

Infotainment System: The new 10.25-inch touchscreen is nicely situated on the top of the dash and has easy icons that only use a couple of colors. The font is pleasant and easy to read, and menus are intuitive. Responsiveness could be a bit better, but it works just fine.

Controls: Wow, it doesn't get much better than this. The physical knobs and buttons for the climate control, infotainment, steering wheel controls, and the gear selector make it a breeze to operate the interior features. The buttons are easy to read, linear in their layout, and great to the touch with metallic finishes. The infotainment buttons also move from the outer edges of the screen's frame to between the audio knobs in one clean line. The screen is bigger without making the overall real estate much larger.

Styling

8

 

We gave the Kona Electric high marks for styling not because it's particularly head-turning but because the body is clean and unobtrusive. It whispers its EV leanings rather than screams them. The interior is also brilliantly executed and looks fresh without overdoing it.

Front: The front fascia looks radically different after the silver bar and faux grille texture were removed. The front end looks more blocky but the slender top DRL and the the headlights punctuate it nicely.

Rear: Changes to the rear end of the 2022 Kona Electric are less noticeable than those made to the front. The bumper lacks the layered contouring of the previous model and has a cleaner execution.

Profile: The side view looks pretty much the same as last year's, but that's just fine because it has the right amount of creasing and a smidge of fenderwell bulge. we like the fact that there's really no chrome to mess up the Kona Electric's simple look.

Cabin: The cabin is clean and uncluttered. Everything is ergonomically excellent, and that's no small feat these days. There is a lot of plastic in the door panels and dash, but the styling prevents them from looking cheap.

Comfort

7.5

 

There's a lot to love about the interior of the Kona EV. Hyundai did a remarkable job of making everything user friendly, and the materials quality is quite good for this price point. Our only chagrin is the lack of rear seat legroom.

Front Seats: Cushy without being overly soft, the front seats are very well done. Some greenies might be upset about the use of real leather in an EV, but it's nice to see them comes standard here.

Rear Seats: The seats are comfortable, but the tight 33.4 inches of rear seat legroom make it tough for taller passengers. The Chevy Bolt EV has 36.5 inches.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): The Kona Electric is pretty quiet, mostly because of the powertrain. Highway speeds have minimal wind and road noise, as well.

Visibility: Visibility and seating position are very good all around thanks to the big windows and manageable pillar width. The hood is short and sloping, so it's easy to place it in tight spaces.

Climate: We had no problems with the climate during a cold winter, but we were also conscious of our battery usage, so we endeavored to use it on low settings.

Safety

8

 

The 2022 Hyundai Kona did quite well in crash tests, but it didn't attain any awards from the IIHS due to one small issue that's not actually a safety problem. It did get the highest score from the federal government. Buyers should also take into account that it has a high level of accident avoidance tech that happens to come standard.

IIHS Rating: The Kona earned top marks in every crash test but failed to get the Top Safety Pick+ due to "marginal" in the LATCH ease of use category. Otherwise, it performed with excellence.

NHTSA Rating: The Kona earned five stars in crash testing, the top score.

Standard Tech: Our Limited tester came with Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist, Lane Keeping Assist and Lane Following Assist, Driver Attention Warning, Rear Occupant Alert, Blind-spot Collision-Avoidance Assist, Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist, Safe Exit Warning, Front/Front Side/Curtain Airbags with Rollover Sensors, Tire Pressure Monitoring System w/ Individual Tire Indicator, and Park Distance Warning-Reverse.

Optional Tech: None.

Storage/Cargo

8.5

 

Although the Kona EV isn't huge in terms of rear cargo space, it's still a very practical car and has brilliant interior small storage cubbies.

Storage Space: The interior has plenty of small storage spaces including a retractable door cubby with wireless charging, a large center armrest, and a large compartment under the waterfall center console.

Cargo Room: The rear space behind row two amounts to 19.2 cubic feet, and the total space with the seats folded flat is 45.8 cubic feet. The load floor is flat, and the load height is good.

Fuel Economy

9

 

The Kona EV gets 258 miles of all-electric range on a full charge, and that's pretty impressive. It's just a mile shy of the Chevy Bolt EV (259 miles) and handily beats the long range Nissan LEAF (226 miles). In our testing, it performed very well even under aggressive driving.

Observed: 118 MPGe.

Distance Driven: 122 miles.

Audio

8.8

 

The Kona Electric Limited comes standard with the premium Harman Kardon audio system that sounds great. It has solid bass, good clarity, and it's a pleasure to listen to.



Final Thoughts

We love the Kona Electric, as well as its Kia Niro EV sibling. The Kona EV is nimble, responsive, practical, and it has one of the best EV interiors for everyday use. Its biggest drawback is really its smallish back seat, but other than that it's superb. It just goes to show that you don't have to be a Tesla to be a truly desirable EV.
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