Like a lot of people, I knew a little about electric vehicles, but until I drove the 2019 Hyundai Kona EV, I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. How fast can an EV go and how far can you drive? Does the car handle differently? And what comes in a standard model?
So what surprised me most about the drive? Certainly the speed, the amount of charge the car holds, how much charge the car can restore with regenerative braking, and the fact that it was remarkably easy to charge.
Sitting down in the driver’s seat, there’s a lot to love about the Kona EV from the moment you turn it on. The car feels modern and comfortable, and there’s a large touchscreen control panel in the centre of the dashboard for the radio, map, and more.
The car feels like any car you’ve ever sat in, but the second you start driving you’ll notice the differences.
First off, when you turn the car on, there are multiple driving modes, and these are important because they can save you a lot of power. If you want to impress someone, Sport mode is incredibly fast, but it will eat up a lot of battery.
Normal mode is standard, and offers some regenerative braking, but I really enjoyed Eco mode for a range of reasons.
First, Eco mode helps save battery life in every way, so speed is slower to build up, and when you take your foot off the pedal, the car recharges the battery off the movement of the wheels. It’s actually amazing how much battery power you can save in Eco mode, and rolling up to a stop, you will hardly have to press the brake until the last couple of seconds, depending on how fast you need to stop.
Even in Evo mode though, the Kona EV has excellent acceleration and speed. Because electric vehicles have so much more torque than combustion engines, and all the power of the engine is delivered straight to the wheels, it’s really impressive hit the gas and getting that near-instant boost in speed.
The Kona EV also has a great mix of features, from adaptive cruise control with lane-keeping assist, to lane warnings, and a heads-up display to show your speed and directions to your destination. The adaptive cruise control being one of the best, most useful features for those longer drives.
So how far can you drive with the vehicle? The Kona EV can take you up to 415 km on one charge, which is enough to get you from Toronto to North Bay, or Detroit, or Syracuse. Long-range driving does require planning for charging, especially if you end up on the road longer than expected, so the alternative is that 415 km can get you around Toronto for anywhere from 3 to 7 days, depending on your commutes. And more and more places–like CF Sherway and CF Fairview Malls, IKEA, or some downtown parking lots–have charging spots you can use while you’re out shopping or at work.
From a design perspective, I love the look of the Kona EV, from the grille and overall shape, to the inside of the unique sub-compact SUV. The vehicle is also fun to drive because it certainly feels more like a car, than a small SUV, but you still have the kind of space you’d expect from a sub-compact SUV.
The Hyundai Kona EV is really a phenomenal electric vehicle, with smarts, a look and feel that stand out, and it’s the kind of vehicle that seems like the future of where cars are going. It’s also a real joy driving by gas stations, and not looking back.
The Kona EV starts at $44,999 with all of the featured mentioned in this review, aside from the heads-up display. The Ultimate model, for $51,999 includes the HUD, and a number of upgraded features, including a larger touchscreen display, wireless device charging, LED headlights, and more. Check your local dealer for exact pricing.