Hyundai Kona Electric Edges Out Chevy Bolt In Car & Driver Test


Car and Driver chooses the Hyundai Kona Electric over the Bolt, but says you shouldn’t cancel your Tesla Model 3 pre-order.

Car and Driver is making it clear this month that it’s searching for the best Tesla Model 3 alternative. We just published an article highlighting the publication’s case for Model 3 reservation holders to consider the Kia Niro EV. That is, as long as those folks are still waiting for the base Model 3. Now, C&D  takes a look at the Chevrolet Bolt EV and Hyundai Kona Electric to see if either are worthy.

It’s pretty clear many people are still waiting for the $35,000 Model 3. As far as we understand, there was a huge list of paid reservations, which still exists for the most part. But, it seems most of the people in the U.S. that took delivery were interested in an upper trim. So, if a long number of reservation holders still do exist — not to mention those that are interested in the car but never put down a deposit — they are likely holding out for the cheapest variant. In the meantime, others may be still considering another electric car instead. Let’s also not forget that the tax credit opportunity for Tesla buyers is in its sunset phase.

C&D is clear up front that you’re not going to get the Tesla’s level of luxury in any of these cars, but with their starting price, plus the $7,500 rebate, you’re paying less (until the $35,000 Model 3 finally comes along). Both the Kona Electric and Bolt EV start under $40,000. The Kona qualifies for the full rebate, but will only be available in some states. The Bolt gets the full rebate for the rest of this quarter, and the car’s available nationwide.

So, what does Car and Driver have to say about these vehicles overall?

Quite a lot, actually. C&D fills us in on some 2,000 words worth of the details. Its test drive encompassed four days of driving between Santa Monica and San Luis Obispo, along with some additional time at the track. For practical purposes, let break it down a bit.

For starters, we’d like to point out that C&D has much to say about the lack, condition, speed, etc. of charging infrastructure. It called the situation frustrating and said that unlike the Tesla Supercharger Network and actual charging “stations,” the non-Tesla situation was often abysmal in more ways than one.

Chevy Bolt EV in snow

Moving right along here, both cars use a 201-horsepower motor, but the Kona offers more torque and thus puts up better numbers in track testing. Both cars also have very similar footprints. The Hyundai has a larger battery pack and 20 extra miles of EPA-estimated range (258). As C&D states, range is one of the most important considerations in these comparisons, especially when much of the rest of the vehicles’ specs are exceedingly similar. Even though the Kona only offers a handful of additional miles, the C&D’s test drives proved that it always had about 50 more miles of range than the Bolt at any given time, meaning fewer stops to charge.

According to C&D, the Bolt EV is roomy and comfortable to drive. However, it delivers “tippy handling,” and its tall, hatchback styling can be polarizing. Overall, while it may have been a big deal a few years ago, today it’s “merely competitive.” Despite the fact that the Bolt was built as a dedicated EV — unlike the Kona, which is also offered with a gas powertrain — C&D finds the Bolt seemingly more compromised.

Even though many reviews have called the Kona a nice looking crossover, C&D calls is “squashed-looking” and says, much like the Bolt, it’s not getting kudos for excellence in exterior design. However, the article says the Bolt EV has a nicer cabin, but the Kona offers more comfortable seating. Car and Driver shares:

It [charging stops] did give us plenty of time to compare and contrast the looks of the dorky, upright Bolt and the short, squashed-looking Kona. “Like Bert and Ernie,” quipped technical editor David Beard. Neither vehicle is going to win any design awards, but the Bolt looks like a cheap econobox hatchback while the Kona looks like a cheap econobox crossover. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and all that, but right now the market prefers the latter. So do we.

According to Car and Driver, the Kona is fun to drive, more efficient, and offers outstanding infotainment features. Regardless of its lackluster interior and lack of availability, it’s still the most compelling “real-world-viable” electric car to date.

The Kona also offers features like adaptive cruise control, which you can’t get in the Bolt. In addition, it’s quiet, comes standard with DC fast-charging, has more room for cargo behind its rear seats, and its regenerative braking system proved more helpful on twisty roads than the Bolt’s.

In the end, Car and Driver chooses the Kona as the better alternative for Tesla Model 3 shoppers who are getting tired of waiting for the base model. However, with the Kona’s limited production and lack of availability, C&D suggests that you may just want to wait for the base Model 3.

Source: Car and Driver

Categories: Chevrolet, Comparison, Hyundai

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77 Comments on "Hyundai Kona Electric Edges Out Chevy Bolt In Car & Driver Test"

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And if they import enough of them they will also edge out the Chevy Bolt sales too due to the fact they are very comparable and will be thousands cheaper since they will qualify for the full tax credit.

In the meantime, it’s a fantastic time to grab a Bolt EV with the $7K off MSRP and the full tax credit. In Oregon, I can grab a Bolt EV for $17K off MSRP ($7K dealer discount + $7.5K Fed. tax rebate + $2.5K State incentive).

Wish WA was still offering EV incentives.

No sales tax Oregon is amazing; The deals are the same here in CA but you will pay $3,000+ in sales tax (on the pre-rebate/tax credit price. It’s a big incentive to hang on to an older car here and encourages leasing because you only pay sales tax on the capital cost part of the lease payment.

I was thinking the same thing, but when I went to the Chevy dealer he wouldn’t budge on the MSRP. I don’t think he even wanted to sell it, kept talking about Cameros and trucks (welcome to Texas). When we test drove the bolt he was honestly surprised by how fast it accelerated, which makes me think he never even sat in it until I came around.

Talk to the sales manager? That they forcing to get something you don’t want.

Where in oregan

GM will simply adjust the price to meet their sales targets.

I would be surprised if they do that; the Bolt is either not profitable or just barely profitable as it is. Like Ford, GM is dropping a lot of cars and have decided to move their EV efforts to Cadillac where maybe they can make money and develop so EV panache competing with BMW, Audi, MB, Jaguar, and, of course, Tesla.

Unless the tax credit rules change (dropped for all or extended for all) I suspect they will decide to drop the Bolt; they will not be able to compete with Hyundai/Kia and even Nissan which still has a number years of tax credits left, not to mention other new entrants in the $30k-$40k EV market. Buy a bolt now; there are good deals out there.

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

The Kona doesn’t look like a Klown Kar.

Despite that, I still direct folks to the Bolt (if TM3 is not what they want) as it is a much more viable and available purchase.

Are you saying the Bolt does? They both look like dull econoboxes. Not significantly different IMHO.

Those charge rates are killers.

I’ll take the time to read this after Hyundai’s BEV sales are no longer measured in dozens.

Kona is the new Gold Standard, in the “unobtainium” Precious Metal EV market.

Get ’em before they’re gone!

C&D came up with some funny numbers for the Bolt EV, especially when you compare them to previous testing from the EPA and other car reviewers. How their Bolt EV “lost” .6 seconds of 0-90 mph acceleration when it was within .1-.2 seconds of Motor Trend’s testing up to that point is anyone’s guess. And how they saw 10% less than EPA-rated economy and nearly 20% worse economy than I’ve tested at sustained 75 mph driving also requires further explanation. Heavy climate control usage? Excessive speeds? What gives, C&D?

Now, if the Kona Electric met or exceeded EPA ratings under those exact circumstances, then that’s very impressive. But I don’t know enough about the Kona yet to validate that assertion.

I’m guessing it has to with climate control but who knows….something is certainly off. BTW, thanks for your latest Plug-Side Chat. I’m also hoping charging networks will adopt pricing structures that will reflect existing EV charging capabilities!


Very few objective comments to buttress general statements by C&D. There’s little substance to grab on to in this article. Bolt is taller, feels tippier and steering has no feel but, on an obstacle course is quicker? Hmmm. I could go on. Review seems quite subjective and superficial.

Your right, there is something really off. Their trip is 200 miles each direction, so ONE charging session in each car each direction with one more small session before going to Lancaster. Using plugshare I counted 20 DCFast chargers in retail shopping locations (no car dealerships included), mostly near the front doors, all along the 200 mile stretch, but these guys struggled to find them. Even if they were using exclusively level 2 chargers, there are so many that it’s not worth counting.. at least several hundred level 2 plugs. Their lack of competence in even basic charging of these vehicles is a clear sign to take away only the good comments about these 2 cars and flush the rest.

Well, the morons at Car and Driver apparently didn’t know about “L” mode in the Bolt while they complained about its regen.


Actually I believe the Kona actually has won several design awards.

SUV of the year

If Hyundai actually wanted to sell significant numbers of these things, they would be great news for EV purchasers, especially after April, when GM’s tax credits start going away. But I suspect these will only be slightly more available than Ionics.

After March!

What’s the point if they refuse to build & sell enough of these KIAs with good specs?

They just aren’t exporting many.

2020 Soul and Niro EV will outsell them both if there’s enough available.

That’s a huge if for the US.

Souls EV are interesting. Need something higher up

It’s now been over 2 years since the Bolt was first delivered to customers. No surprise at all the newer entrants in the 200+ mile BEV space offer features the Bolt does not. Sounds like it’s time for GM to introduce a mid-cycle refresh for the 2020 Bolt. I’m thinking power driver’s seat, beefed up 100 kW fast charging, and adaptive cruise control/Supercruise should be on the docket at the least.
Of course the Bolt STILL remains the only <$40k, 200+ mile BEV you can buy in all 50 states.

Perhaps a heat pump and battery/charging upgrades are in order?

Even two years ago the lack of adaptive cruise was a puzzling move on GM’s part. I’m not sure I would hold my breath for a refresh though. GM may just leave it as-is for a while and replace it with a CUV variant.

Both GM and Hyundai are making serious concessions to reach this price point, but Hyundai is willing to add more options at the higher price.

I know people like myself don’t really care about ACC. Heck a lot of my friends never even use regular cruise control.

Use it all the time in 50mph local roads . Traffic on on I480 in Cleveland is stop and go

They did so for the Volt. There’s parts from Equinox they can use

I doubt they can offer 100KW DC fast-charging unless they completely redesign their battery pack. Their fewer cells but larger cells design may have been a bad idea. It probably provided cost reductions but limits charging speed.

Cant be as slow as a Bolt. BJORN tested a 43kWh i3 and it holds 45kw until the upper capacity very well. Bolt taper is awful.

Agree. Taper is pretty painful. On road trips in the Bolt I end up white knuckling it to more distant chargers to try to get the SOC low enough to maximize the amount of time I’m getting the full 44kW . If they held it to 75% it would make a big difference.

Not really. It’s a software update

Either that or a price reduction.

Just buy a Model 3 and you can have all those features, plus a helluva a lot more, including performance. You’re welcome 🙂

Thanks! Can you send me the $10,000 check to cover the extra cost?

Give me the extra $15k please

Put the supercruise ACC. Better interior and a Panasonic sunroof. 150kw charge rates. Meaner grill

My understanding is that Hyundai will replace the battery pack if it goes below 70% capacity at any time, if it is still owned by the original owner, and GM’s warranty only covers 8 or 10 years. I don’t think Tesla’s warranty matches Hyundai’s in this respect.

Didn’t read the article yet but according to PlugShare, there are 2 Tesla Superchargers locations between Santa Monica and SLO. There are 10 CCS locations along the same route.

Next time read the article….and there is a difference between a charging station and a supercharger.

Those aren’t all quick chargers. A Level 2 charger is not equivalent to a Supercharger station. Even if they were, they encountered other issues with the chargers they did find.

A 50 kW DCFC is nowhere near being a Tesla Supercharger. For now (and for some time yet) the Tesla is the only EV that is really suitable for a road trip longer than it’s un-recharged range. We are still at the very beginning of the EV era.

Wrong. EA up online is challenging Tesla like the did in Europe. Competition breeds lower prices and better technology

It can edge out the Bolt all it wants…still, it will be a very long time until it will outsell it in US.

Are you saying that because you don’t think Hyundai will make enough available? When the tax credit goes away, how will GM sell any Bolts? I don’t think GM will ever again sell more than 1000 Bolts in a month after March when the tax credit gets cut in half.

I have a feeling the Bolt will continue to have modest sales given the delays and low availability of EVs from Kia and Hyundai. We’ll see!

They will and it will be in part due to lack of production from its competitors.

The Bolt will simply be discounted as the tax credit phases out. Same way Tesla discounted their EVs.

See my comment above; I think they will drop it rather than loose (more) money on it.

Unlikely, the Bolt is their main fleet vehicle for their autonomous research company Cruse. Check out their site:

They can discount it and actually make ads on the Bolt

Great to hear that Hyundai have built a better car than the Bolt, as the Bolt is an awesome machine.
But I know which one wins when you take availability into consideration.


If the new Kona failed to dislodge the 3 year-old Bolt EV, Hyundai would have failed miserably.
Now, they have to ship the car.

Let’s not complicate the situation. The larger the EV the better because it becomes more practical and gets us closer to ICE sized cars. Kona is bigger than the Bolt. Therefore it is better. If there is another SUV that is a bigger and the EV is priced similar to the Kona then it will better than the Kona. It’s that simple.

The Kona is not bigger than the Bolt EV. The Kona has a slightly larger cargo area at the expense of a smaller rear seat.

Bolt EV 164″L x 70″W x 63″H.
Kona EV is 164″L x 71″W x 61″H.

I’m wanting an under or near $40k AWD EV.

If the Kona or Bolt or Niro offered AWD I would go for one.

Or if Tesla comes out with the SR+AWD Model 3.

Not this year. Maybe not even next year.

Car and Driver also said this: “As of this writing, it’s available only in California, though Hyundai says it plans to begin distribution in Oregon and other CARB-compliant states in the future.”

So, it is a freaking compliance car artificially priced lower than what it cost in Europe to compete against the Bolt in the US.

“The Bolt has a similar system for temporarily increasing the regenerative-braking force by way of a paddle on the left side of the steering wheel, but it proved less effective during the twisty, hilly sections of our route, where it was slow to activate, making the Chevy more difficult to drive smoothly.”

So, the morons at Car and Driver forgot about the “L” mode in the Bolt?

L mode should be used all the time if max regen is desired.

seriously, sometimes those car magazines are just staffed by morons who doesn’t know the car.

Right to the point.
The regen paddle in L mode provides instantaneous response.

So what would be cheaper. Buying a 40kw Kona from Europe and importing it and paying the import tax ?

“C&D is clear up front that you’re not going to get the Tesla’s level of luxury in any of these cars, but with their starting price, plus the $7,500 rebate, you’re paying less (until the $35,000 Model 3 finally comes along).”

The $35,000 is not luxury by an stretch of the imagination. The standard interior will be “plasticy” with cloth seats. I don’t think having a monitor screen stick out from the dash makes it “luxury.” It is like a new category should be created — “tech” The $35k version will not have luxury or premium materials or sound-proofing, but it will be higher-tech than cars like the Kona and will be faster 0-60 mph (I assume).

There was a video that gave some details about what the $35k version, will include and even things like USB ports in the back will be absent.

This is an argument for leaving the Tesla at more than $40,000. There is no comparison with Tesla and these other cars. Simple cockpit automation and the charger network put it way ahead of other cars. The TM3 cannot and should not be compared on equal footing to any other car at this point.

C&D is right. Kona best of the bunch.

Wasn’t the Pinto a Car and Driver pick of the year or was it the Vega?

Car and Driver can suck it. Look at the cars they choose. The manufacturers stop making them

Kona due to higher charge rates