2019 Hyundai Kona Electric
DC fast charging is standard on all versions of the Kona Electric (it points out, rightly so, that’s not the case for the Chevrolet Bolt EV and Nissan Leaf). It lists 9 hours and 35 minutes as the charge time at Level 2, using the AC onboard charger rated at 7.2 kw. And for cold weather, a battery warming feature helps speed up slower charging. A Hyundai official did not care to cite an official time for Level 1 (120V) AC charging, suggesting (as the numbers do) that it would take most of a weekend.
If you can find any of the latest 100-kw or 150-kw DC fast charging stations, the Kona Electric is (somewhat) ready to take advantage of the added power. With either, the big 64-kwh pack can regain up to 80 percent in just 54 minutes. Hyundai now specifies that translates to a power of 70 kw—or in Ohm’s Law napkin math, 71.2 kw, as the system draws a maximum of 200 amps at its 356 volts.
The Kona Electric comes with straightforward features for charge scheduling and charging limits—like being able to set the maximum percentage for AC or DC fast charging with a simple slider on the touch screen. All models come with three years of Blue Link telematics services that link with Google Home and allow app-based features like remote start, remote lock/unlock, climate preconditioning, destination voice search, a car finder, and remote management of charging. Some of these features can be managed with Android Wear devices and Apple Watch apps.
2019 Hyundai Kona Electric - charge limit setting
Between SEL, Limited, and Ultimate, you get the same battery size, performance, and charging speed. The difference is mainly whether you find certain safety or convenience features critical. The SEL comes with heated front seats, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity, and a suite of safety systems (forward collision warning, blind-spot warning, driver attention warning). Limited models add a moonroof, power driver’s seat, and Qi wireless charging, among other extras, and the Ultimate is the way to go for the top 8-inch infotainment and Infinity audio, plus a flip-up head-up display, rain-sensing wipers, ventilated front seats, and a heated steering wheel.
The Ultimate also includes adaptive cruise control, and those sensors are put to use with forward collision avoidance (with pedestrian detection) and the smart regenerative-braking mode.
A few shorts in the long game
One surprise is that the Kona Electric won’t include a heat pump, which can in some climates improve driving range by up to 20 percent (so say suppliers) by reducing the amount of resistive heating needed.
2019 Hyundai Kona Electric - First Drive - Hollywood, CA
One turnoff was the legibility of the instrument-panel theme, which subs in thin gray lettering on matte-metallic button faces and proved challenging at some angles on a bright, sunny day. Perhaps it’s better at night, but we wished they’d just kept with the gasoline models’ white lettering on black buttons.
There’s really little else to quibble about here. Perhaps the most grievous misstep is its limited availability. Hyundai officials confessed that part of the reason behind that is how the U.S. is being allocated fewer Kona Electrics than it knows it can sell. It’s working on that.
At first look, what we see is quite the sweet spot to win over new electric-vehicle drivers. If shoppers still unsure about EVs actually see the Kona Electric at dealership lots, the performance, driving range, and thoughtful features—with the affordability Hyundai has suggested—may altogether be the convincing argument they’ve been waiting for.
IB Automotive accepted lodging plus some meals and travel expenses in order to bring you this first-person drive report.