The Kona Electric is one of the best electric vehicles (EV) under $50,000 that we've tested. It blends an enjoyable driving experience with practicality, and almost all of our praise for the gas-powered Kona holds true for its electric sibling. Clearly, the electric version costs considerably more but it doesn't emit any tailpipe emissions and benefits from low running costs. The Kona Electric has a robust range of 258 miles, as estimated by the EPA, and it transforms the driving experience thanks to its quick, smooth, and quiet acceleration.
Like its conventional sibling, the Kona Electric has spry handling and little body lean, making it quite enjoyable to drive. However, it also has a rather stiff ride.
It's easy to get in and out of the Kona because of its ride height, and its small footprint makes it easy to park or maneuver. An added plus is that cargo room is just as roomy as the gas-power models' because, thankfully, the battery doesn't intrude.
In fact, the EV doesn't have the gas-powered Kona's deficiencies, including its sluggish acceleration and loud engine noise. Accelerating from a stop or accelerating at city and highway speeds results in instantaneous power delivery that helps the little Kona hustle along. The lack of internal combustion keeps cabin noise to a minimum.
The battery takes 9 hours to charge from near-empty using a 240-volt charger. Hyundai says a 50kW DC fast charger can bring the battery from 10 to 80 percent full in about 75 minutes, and about an hour with a 100kW fast charger. With such a long range, however, most commuters won't need to fully recharge very often.
We experienced a drop in the Kona's range in cold temperatures, which is the case with all EVs. That's because the energy needed to warm the cabin comes from the battery. The Kona Electric doesn't offer a heat pump, unlike the similar Kia Niro, which will warm the cabin without impacting battery charge.
The Kona Electric comes well-equipped. Even the base SEL trim comes with heated front seats, LED daytime running lights, and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, plus safety features including automatic emergency braking (AEB), blind spot warning (BSW), and lane keeping assist (LKA).
Most controls are easy to use. There are clear buttons and a well laid out infotainment screen. Unfortunately, the EV gets an unintuitive push-button gear selector that is tricky to use because drivers can't operate it by feel alone.
Perhaps the biggest drawback is its limited availability. Unlike some other EVs, the Kona Electric is for sale only in select states.