Driving Hyundai’s Fantastic But “Forgotten” Kona EV Crossover
Last week, Hyundai showcased its impressive fleet of plug-in vehicles at the headquarters of the New England Motor Press Association. Hyundai was on hand to show off the progress the company has made in America. It’s easy to call Hyundai America’s top electric vehicle company for buyers looking for an affordable model. With four choices available today, Hyundai now surpasses Tesla, Toyota and all other brands when it comes to affordable plug-in crossover models.
The Ioniq5 is now the rock star of the Hyundai family, and with good reason. This remains a simple example of the quality of an electric vehicle. It’s plush, modern, satisfying to drive, downright quick, and it undercuts the high-priced Tesla Model Y lineup considerably.
We also enjoyed seeing the AWD Santa Fe plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV). Hey look! It has a spare wheel! And the Tucson PHEV was also there. In total, Hyundai has lined up four plug-in crossovers, all with different missions and all with different features and price points.
Related story: Update – Electric vehicles you can buy with a spare wheel
We grabbed the keys to the Kona EV. With a price starting around $35,000, the Kona is one of the best crossover EV values in America. It’s been a very long time since we’ve driven the Kona EV, and now that we’ve recalibrated our expectations after driving the Chevy Bolt EUV, Mustang Mach-E, Kia EV6 and Hyundai’s own Ioniq5, we were wondering though that might sound a bit dated. No.
On the contrary, the Kona EV is fantastic when driven. It has so much torque it can sizzle the tires. Not stationary but on dry pavement when already underway. Wow. You almost have to rule in the Kona EV. He wants to run. In Sport mode, it’s great.
But what about its interior and infotainment? We think the Kona EV still holds up. Hyundai had long been a leader in easy-to-use infotainment before the Ioniq5 arrived. Seating, visibility, and interior amenities still seem well-suited for a vehicle in the $35,000-$45,000 price range.
The Kona EV doesn’t have all the possible crossover features a buyer might want. For example, there is no AWD option. There is also no spare wheel. However, Hyundai offers plug-in crossovers with both of these features if you think they’re important to you.
What the Kona EV offers is a great compact crossover with a battery-electric powertrain priced with very few other options. The Chevy Bolt EUV is an option. We love the Bolt EUV, but with so many “No Bolts allowed” parking lot signs posted on social media pages, some shoppers have been hesitant to re-enter the Bolt line after its highly publicized discontinuation and recall. We also like that Hyundai offers a ten-year powertrain warranty and includes three years of maintenance with its Kona EV, which no other affordable EV brand offers.
Inventory shortages made it difficult to purchase an affordable product. Hot new models may be out of stock, and manufacturers may limit the production of other models to save components. If you can find or order a new Kona EV, or if you can find a used one, we suggest you give it some serious thought.
Kona EV image by John Goreham
John Goreham is a longtime member of the New England Motor Press Association and a recovering engineer. John’s interest in electric vehicles dates back to 1990 when he designed the thermal control system for an electric vehicle battery as part of a university team. After graduating in mechanical engineering, John completed a marketing program at Northeastern University and worked with automotive component manufacturers, in the semiconductor industry, and in biotechnology. In addition to Torque News, John’s work has appeared in dozens of US media outlets and provides reviews for numerous vehicle-buying sites. You can follow John on TikTok @ToknCars, on Twitterand check his credentials on Linkedin
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