Deep Dive Into Autoweek’s 2019 Hyundai Kona Electric First Drive
Autoweek says the 2019 Hyundai Kona Electric has outstanding range and is “beautifully normal.”
We’re seeing a trend here. Practically every first drive of the Hyundai Kona Electric speaks to its normalcy. Autoweek goes so far as to say that it will work to put “another crack in the future of gasoline powered vehicles.” What makes it stand out? Why does is come across as so normal? Let’s dive in deeper and answer these questions.
As we’ve already shared, the Kona Electric features a 65-kWh battery pack that offers 258 miles of EPA-estimated range. This is significant since it tops the Hyundai IONIQ Electric by ~125 miles, the Nissan LEAF by ~100 miles, and even the Chevrolet Bolt EV by about 20 miles. Only Tesla vehicles offer more range than the Kona Electric (and they’re not cheap). To top it off, the Kona gets a rating of 132 mpge from the EPA. Moreover, the battery pack employs an up-to-date temperature management system, however, our own Tom Moloughney learned that, sadly, the battery heating my not make its way into North American models. We can only hope that this news doesn’t prove true.
Autoweek says that while the range still can’t match that of most ICE cars, it’s really a big deal for EVs and is one of the primary reasons the publication (and several others) have resorted to the use of the word “normal” when describing this new entrant. In addition, the Kona Electric’s powertrain cranks out 201 horsepower and 290 pound-feet of torque, making it a peppy crossover that never feels underpowered. Not to mention the reality that the torque is instant in electric-powered vehicles, which means that most drivers will “feel” every bit of that oomph in typical daily driving.
While like most all EVs, the Kona Electric features regenerative braking, Autoweek says the pedal feels normal. This, added to the fact that you can choose from four different levels of regen based on your personal preference and driving situation. Handling is also “normal,” if not better than the common crossover. This comes as no surprise since most electric vehicles utilize a strategic “skateboard” battery pack placement, which distributes weight evenly throughout the underside of the vehicle. This makes for a low center of gravity that helps keep the car composed around corners. It’s important to note that Autoweek wasn’t impressed with the EV’s tires, but that’s a problem that can be easily resolved.
In terms of the cabin, the Kona Electric provides ample comfort and is really not any different from a typical highly rated subcompact crossover. It offers a respectable amount of second-row passenger space and decent cargo volume. The new small crossover EV also comes packed with a wide array of standard equipment, including a handful of desirable advanced driver assistance technologies, like blind spot monitoring, lane keep assist, and forward collision avoidance.
In the end, Autoweek suggests that the 2019 Hyundai Kona Electric does a fantastic job of showing that electric cars can easily provide what is needed for mass adoption. We can only hope that at some point in the not too far future, EVs like this will be manufactured in larger quantities and become readily available in the U.S. Still, despite people’s criticisms of Hyundai and other companies for holding back these electric vehicle pursuits, this is obviously a great entrant and surely a step in the right direction.
Efforts by Hyundai (and Kia) are obviously much more of a reality than that of other companies that either continue to make announcements with nothing tangible to show (Volkswagen), start a company touting EVs and then fold due to a lack of funding and resources (Faraday Future and Lucid), or bring electric vehicles to market that are simply not up to par and don’t offer much in the way of all-electric range (Mercedes and BMW). We won’t even dive into the newest pure EV offerings like the Jaguar I-Pace or Audi e-tron.
While we as EV fans and supporters want to see these Korean automakers take the plunge much more readily, we shouldn’t discount the fact that they are jumping to the forefront and producing compelling electric vehicles. All in good time … we hope.
Details as reported by Autoweek:
ON SALE: Early 2019
POWERTRAIN: Electric motor, direct-drive with reduction gear, FWD
OUTPUT: 201 horsepower, 290 lb-ft of torque
CURB WEIGHT: 3,850 lbs (est)
FUEL ECONOMY: 132/108/120 mpge
PROS: Excellent range and otherwise beautifully normal
CONS: Holding down a shift paddle to achieve maximum brake regen is annoying and unnecessary
What are your thoughts? We’d love to hear from you in the comment section below.