Hyundai quietly jumped ahead of the curve in electrification and it’s not because of the Ioniq 5. Even before that, the Korean automaker already had compelling battery-electric vehicles in its lineup. The Ioniq Electric hatchback was a fantastic city car while the Kona Electric gave the brand its first long-range EV. These formed the backbone of Hyundai’s electrified lineup and it helps that both remained relatively affordable, too. The refreshed 2022 Hyundai Kona Electric takes a proven formula and refines it to stay relevant. But will that keep it in the conversation?
2022 Hyundai Kona Electric: Fresh and Clean
Hyundai made significant exterior design tweaks for the 2022 Kona Electric. It swaps the faux grille pattern with a clean, streamlined look and adds reshaped headlights and taillights. While the rest of the car remains similar to the previous model year, it gets enough changes to freshen its overall look. The car also gets new aero 17-inch alloy wheels.
Inside, the Kona’s dash layout remains the same save for the addition of a 10.25-inch digital cluster on the Limited trim. Otherwise, you get a well-packaged cabin with lots of little cubbies for small items and mobile devices. However, due to the crossover’s size, it’s best treated as a 2+2. Front seat passengers have good accommodations but the rear is best used in a pinch or for kids. Limit it to two back there despite having belts for three due to the car being narrow and the raised floor. Limited cargo space means you need to keep the rear seats folded most of the time to carry big cars.
The Kona Electric’s interior makes extensive use of recycled and renewable materials. Unlike the larger Ioniq 5, this one lands squarely within the mainstream. You get good quality components but not many soft or padded surfaces save for areas where your arms would fall. Hard plastics abound but at least they feel sturdy and have interesting textures. Insulation levels, on the other hand, could use improvement because you get lots of wind, road, and tire noise on the highway.
Modern and User-Friendly
As with every Hyundai vehicle, the Kona Electric features an intuitive infotainment system. Simple controls with lots of physical buttons and knobs, minimal submenus, and a responsive display keep the user experience seamless and easy. The available Harman Kardon audio system sounds good and covers the cabin nicely.
Every Kona Electric gets Hyundai’s SmartSense driver assistance suite but an older version. Most components work well, subtly correcting your trajectory and helping you navigate gentle turns on the highway. The version of Highway Driving Assist in this car needs a little improvement because it’s late in detecting vehicles slowing down ahead. As a result, it slows down suddenly, especially with the distancing component in the closest setting. When another vehicle cuts you off, it brakes too soon, resulting in abrupt reactions to traffic flow.
2022 Hyundai Kona Electric: Quick and Agile
The FWD-only Kona Electric stands out on the road thanks to its blend of power and agility. You get an electric motor with 201 hp and 291 lb-ft of torque going through the front wheels. As a result, the car offers quick acceleration and gutsy performance for all driving situations thanks to the instant power delivery. However, be careful with your throttle inputs because the prodigious amount of power easily spins the eco-focused tires. Sport mode sharpens the throttle response, making it even simpler to accidentally do burnouts, especially from a standstill.
Like its gas-powered sibling, the all-electric Kona possesses agile handling. Featuring an independent rear suspension, the car effortlessly tackles winding roads. Together with good body control and quick steering, this little guy is among the sportier subcompact SUVs available. Just be mindful of its tires, though. Because of their low rolling resistance and emphasis on efficiency, they don’t grip right away, limiting the car’s capabilities.
Having a slightly stiffer suspension calibration and tires with harder compounds also affects the ride. While not overly harsh, you feel the road more in the Kona Electric. The short wheelbase also means harsh impacts and other road imperfections get transmitted more into the passenger compartment. On certain surfaces, the car also tends to get bouncy, especially over subsequent bumps and potholes.
Road Tripping and Charging
The Kona Electric falls behind newer EVs in the charging department. With a peak DC charging rate of 75 kW, you’ll spend more time at charging stations versus the latest entrants. According to Hyundai, you can recharge the 64-kWh battery from 10 to 80 percent in 47 minutes, which is right on the money with what I experienced during one charging session. While it didn’t hit its peak rate, the car managed to sustain 60 to 73 kW for most of the time I spent plugged in.
On a single charge, the EPA says that the Kona Electric can travel 258 miles per charge. I found that conservative because the little crossover managed 320 miles between charges during my week. This also didn’t require using hypermiling techniques, making the all-electric Kona a great choice as a daily driver. However, its DC charge speeds may keep it from being a viable road trip vehicle.
Driving the Kona Electric efficiently needs minimal effort thanks to its braking system. In addition to smooth transitions between regenerative and mechanical braking, you get strong energy recuperation and one-pedal driving capability. The four levels give you a wide range of driving profiles, allowing the car to feel more like an internal combustion vehicle in some instances. You can bring it to a complete stop without touching the brake pedal simply by holding the left paddle down, which also gives you maximum energy regeneration.
For 2022, Hyundai dropped the prices for the Kona Electric to $35,295 for the base SEL grade. That gets you a long list of standard equipment including a full suite of driver assistance features. This range-topping Limited test car costs $43,990 before any incentives and the full $7,500 federal tax credit. It also comes with goodies like a head-up display, a heated steering wheel, ventilated front seats, and leather upholstery. For the money, the all-electric Kona becomes a fantastic deal, especially considering its range.
Despite the presence of the Ioniq 5, the 2022 Hyundai Kona Electric remains a viable option. Not everyone wants a larger vehicle, especially those living in congested areas or zones without much parking. While it lacks the larger car’s refinement, the Kona Electric doubles down on affordability. For under $45,000 fully loaded, you get a fun EV with a long driving range and the latest tech features.