Middle-ground EV crossover with bold looks. All-electric crossovers are finally arriving en masse, satisfying buyers’ cravings for jacked-up hatchbacks and zero emissions. The Hyundai Kona Electric is a relatively new arrival, as it rolled into showrooms in 2019, but it arrived in style with a bold and bubbly design.
While its design is anything but middle-of-the-road, the rest of the 2021 Hyundai Kona Electric is about as balanced as it gets for an electric vehicle. It has a respectable price, plenty of features, decent performance, and more.
Bold design, but it may be a bit too much. The Kona Electric has the same basic look and feel of the standard Kona, save for its closed grille for enhanced aerodynamics. This design is bold, over the top, and draws plenty of attention – perfect for an extrovert.
For some, this look may be just what they’re seeking, but to the bulk of the crossover-buying market, the Kona may be a little too much. Buyers seeking a more toned-down design may prefer the Chevrolet Bolt EV, the Kia Niro EV, or the Tesla Model Y.
Surprisingly quick and efficient, but no all-wheel drive. It’s no Model Y, which boasts a 3.5- to 4.8-second 0-60 mph sprint, but the Hyundai Kona Electric holds its own in the performance category.
Its electric motor lays down 201 horsepower and 290 pound-feet of torque, and Hyundai’s official numbers peg its 0-60 mph time at 7.6 seconds. However, there are plenty of independent tests that have clocked it a second quicker than the official time.
The Kona Electric may prove a tough decision for snow-belt dwellers, as it lacks optional all-wheel drive.
Buyers seeking more straight-line excitement will be limited to the neck-breaking Model Y or Tesla Model 3, which hit 60 mph in 3.5 to 4.8 seconds and 3.1 to 5.3 seconds, respectively.
The Kona Electric’s handling is on point with its tight suspension and low center of gravity. However, some buyers may find it a little too stiff. If you prefer more comfort, you may want to look at the cushier Niro EV or Bolt EV.
On top of its fun-to-drive attitude, the Kona Electric travels up to 258 miles on a charge, according to the EPA. This puts it above the 238-mile Bolt EV, 239-mile Niro EV, the 215-mile Nissan Leaf Plus, and the 170-mile Hyundai Ioniq Electric. However, it falls well short of the Model Y, which travels up to 326 miles on a charge. On the flip side, the Model Y starts nearly $13,000 higher than the Kona Electric.
Generous safety and tech features. At its base price, the Kona Electric comes well equipped with a standard 7-inch touchscreen, heated cloth seats, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto.
The Bolt EV, Leaf, and Niro EV are slightly more generous with standard 8-inch touchscreens. For the extra $13,000, the Model Y blows the screen up to 15 inches, but there’s no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
The base Kona Electric leaves virtually no safety tech stone unturned with its standard automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring, and driver attention monitor.
The Bolt EV offers similar features, but they’re optional. The Model Y boasts Autopilot, which is effectively single-lane self-driving, or you can upgrade to the $8,000 full self-driving option.
Final thoughts. The 2021 Hyundai Kona Electric offers plenty of middle ground goodness for EV shoppers with its strong price, great features, and, most importantly, commuter-friendly EV range. That said, its wild design is anything but middle ground, and the Kona Electric remains one of the harder EVs to find on showroom floors.
Buyers seeking a longer range or superior performance would prefer the Model Y. However, be prepared to pay a king’s ransom to get one. The Niro EV and Bolt EV both offer a slightly larger touchscreen, but their ho-hum styling brings them down a few notches. Plus, the Niro EV starts a few grand higher than the Kona Electric.
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