Expert Insights

Previewing the New Hyundai Kona Electric

Laurance Yap
July 10, 2023
One of our favourite compact SUVs, the Hyundai Kona, has been completely redesigned. Launching first as an all-electric model, it will also be available in hybrid and conventional gasoline forms.
Front view of Hyundai Kona exterior

High-Tech New Hyundai Hybrid

We’ve always considered the Hyundai Kona to be one of our favorite green vehicles. Available in fuel-efficient gasoline, hybrid, and electric variations, it combines ample interior space and high levels of standard equipment with a compact footprint and a relatively affordable price. The next-generation Kona, which Hyundai recently unveiled in a virtual live-streamed event, leads with the electric version first, and bring meaningful upgrades to the compact SUV’s style, interior, and EV capability. The first version of the new Kona will be electric, in line with the company’s strategy of bringing 11 new EVs to market by 2023.

The second-generation Kona brings drivers one of the most comprehensive packages in the compact SUV segment. In addition to its choice of powertrains, it has a new exterior design that deftly combines ruggedness with high-tech; new convenience features; and more space for families. Indeed, compared to the current Kona, the new model is now almost 7 inches longer, with a wheelbase that is more than 2 inches longer. It is also wider and taller than before, liberating more rear legroom and cargo space.

Kona Electric Side view

Class-Leading EV Range

Available only with front-wheel drive initially, the new Kona Electric is claimed to deliver class-leading electric range within its segment. Hyundai boasts a driving range on the European WLTP cycle of over 300 miles from the long range 65.4-kWh version ; expect the EPA estimates to be slightly lower when the vehicle becomes available in the U.S. Power output for the long-range front-wheel drive version is 215 hp, and 155 hp from the standard-range 48.4-kWh version. The electrical system is 400-volt, and allows recharging from 10 to 80 percent in 31 minutes on a DC fast charger. A new virtual sound makes for a more engaging driving experience, and varies based on driving speed, torque, state of the motor and acceleration. Drivers can control the volume and customize the sound inside the cabin.

New to the Kona is Hyundai’s vehicle-to-load, or V2L, technology, which through an adaptor allows drivers to power electrical devices off the vehicle battery. Inside, devices can be plugged into a standard outlet on the rear center console when the EV is powered on. Outside, devices and home appliances can be plugged in using a V2L adapter to use battery power when the car is parked.

Interior of the Hyundai Kona

Tech-Filled Interior

A highlight of the all-new Kona Electric is its interior, which is designed like a “living space.” Up front, there’s a floating console and integrated dual screens, a shift-by-wire gear selector on the steering wheel, and an open feel with adjustable ambient lighting. Optional comfort seats are optimized for “weightless” body pressure to alleviate driver fatigue. In the rear, the second-row seat is fully foldable, allowing the expansion of the cargo area with increased convenience. A power tailgate enhances cargo access.

The new Kona Electric is also packed with technology. Among the upgrades inside are dual 12.3-inch panoramic displays, a digital key, full over-the-air update capability for vehicle systems, and an available heads-up display which projects the most relevant information for drivers onto the windshield. The new Kona also comes with Hyundai’s SmartSense advanced driver assistance and safety suite, which enables Level 2 autonomous driving. Forward collision avoidance assist, a blind-spot monitor, remote smart parking assist, and a driver status monitor are also available. Battery preconditioning ensures convenient charging and range performance in winter, and a frozen charge door prevention system enables the user to open the charge door in cold environments. A new charging port door lamp ensures visibility at night.

Back of Kona Electric with word "electric"

Electric First Design

Designed as an EV first, with hybrid and gasoline versions to come, the exterior has a drag coefficient of just 0.27, without sacrificing the Kona’s distinctive style. Sculpted wheel arch “armor” add character to the aerodynamic shape, accented by a full-width “seamless horizon” front light strip and pixelated LED graphics. An optional N Line package adds sporty flourishes such as black mirrors, an aggressive rear wing, black roof, more aggressive front and rear designs, and more.

With all of these upgrades, we think the second-generation Kona is one of the most well-rounded compact SUVs, as well as one of the best-looking. We’re excited to see it arrive in the U.S. later this year. Pricing, along with details on hybrid and internal-combustion engine variants, will be announced closer to the on-sale date.