2019 Hyundai Kona Electric: Possibly 250 Miles of Range in a Real Crossover That Actually Exists

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

Last month, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said we’ll learn more about the company’s future Model Y electric crossover — its production date and build location — probably in another six months. Money might start flowing to that project late this year.

Well, by the fourth quarter of this year, electric Hyundai Kona crossovers will actually be arriving in California driveways, followed soon after by Northeastern states and other U.S. locales with zero emission vehicle mandates. This vehicle exists, in the flesh, right now. As the first mainstream crossover EV to land on our shores, the gas-free Kona’s estimated range tops that of the Chevrolet Bolt and (still unproduced) base model Tesla Model 3.

If you can see beyond the Jason Voorhees face, a bland yet revolutionary vehicle awaits.

The Kona Electric made its debut Wednesday at the New York International Auto Show, revealing its mainly featureless, perforated grille in public for the first time. The model is good for 250 miles of driving between charges, Hyundai claims.

If confirmed by the EPA, this range puts it 12 miles beyond the Bolt and 30 miles past the range of the stripper Model 3.

Hyundai’s subcompact crossover achieves this through a large, 64 kWh battery and a single electric motor powering the front wheels. Output stands at 201 horsepower and 291 lb-ft of torque — more than enough power to shave some rubber from the model’s low-drag tires at stoplights (assuming Hyundai allows it to). This tops the grunt of both the base 2.0-liter and uplevel 1.6-liter turbo model.

With its charging port located in the nose and only a small opening in the model’s chin for airflow (aero-improving side curtains appear as inlets on either side), the Kona EV’s light sources appear even smaller than on the gas-powered version. It’s a jarring sight some might require getting used to. The rest of the vehicle is pure Kona, as the EV variant retains the stock model’s gray plastic cladding poured over the wheel arches.

Standard content includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, and buyers can opt for a larger, 8-inch touchscreen (up 1 inch from stock). Available driver aids run the gamut of what you’ve come to expect, and yes, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection comes on all models.

The vehicle’s underbody battery pack means cargo space remains the same as in its dino juice-slurping counterparts. Hyundai claims a charging time of 9 hours, 35 minutes at a conventional Level 2 charger, or 54 minutes at a DC fast-charging station (for a zero to 80 percent top-up). Once charged up and underway, drivers can choose from range-saving “normal” and “eco” modes, or hit the “sport” button to open the electron floodgates.

Hyundai will reveal pricing closer to the model’s launch, but expect it to be competitive. Even though the Kona EV is currently the sole occupant of the non-premium EV utility segment, rivals wait in the wings — including Tesla. Well, eventually.

[Images: Hyundai]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Incautious Incautious on Mar 29, 2018

    All this talk about electrics, and how nice and warm and fuzzy they make everyone feel. But no one talks much about the down side. At around 80k to 100k the battery pack is shot costing the consumer $10,000 or more to replace( the leaf is cheapest at over $6000 installed)Factor in energy cost at around 17 cents per KWH which in electric car( electric cars need 30kwh to go 100miles) is about $10-11 to drive 200 miles, and you see that the true cost and downside of these things are.

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    • Mcs Mcs on Mar 29, 2018

      @incautious: Your information is total crap: For battery pack life, check out this article: https://electrek.co/2016/11/01/tesla-battery-degradation/ Nissan's battery life might not be as good. Then again, my battery has been pampered and I still have all 12 bars of capacity at 62k miles. My 12th bar test this morning gave me 6.2 miles at 32f degrees before it dropped to 11 bars. That was about 5 miles at 40 and 1 mile at 65. Used 25% at 65 mph for total 20 miles - at 32F. Not bad for a Leaf at 62k miles in freezing temps. Doesn't sound like my battery is shot to me. Then again, if all hell breaks loose and it's shot at 80k, the Nissan warranty will take care of it. If it needs replacing someday, the old program at Nissan was $5,500. You said it was over $6k, but that is out and out untrue. $5,499 installed and out the door. Now it seems there is a new program that charges $2,850 for a refabricated replacement battery. That new program is now in Japan, so I'm not sure what it will cost here. By the time my car needs a new battery, it'll be the early 2020's and they might even be cheaper. NMC 811 (reduced cobalt and manganese) replacements should drive the cost of a 30 kWh battery to $2,500 or lower. https://electrek.co/2018/03/26/nissan-leaf-battery-pack-replacement-program/ In a couple of years, I'll pick up a Porsche Mission E for the long-distance trips. So as long as the Leaf I have now can handle the around town stuff and manages 30 miles of range, I'll keep going with the old battery. That could mean close to 200,000 miles assuming it starts degrading faster than it is now at some point. As far as costs go, I'm usually better than 4.2 miles per kWh. So, about $3.80 per 100 mile at .16 per kWh. But, I typically get free charging at the halfway point during trips in the car, so it usually only costs me $1.90 for 100 miles.

  • Voyager Voyager on Mar 30, 2018

    Nice looking car from the front and the flanks... Rear looks like a helicopter dropped it 5 stories high on some other vehicle.

  • Grant P Farrell Oh no the dealership kept the car for hours on two occasions before giving me a loaner for two months while they supposedly replaced the ECU. I hate cords so I've only connected it wirelessly. Next I'm gonna try using the usb-c in the center console and leaving the phone plugged in in there, not as convenient but it might lower my blood pressure.
  • Jeff Tiny electrical parts are ruining today's cars! What can they ...
  • CEastwood From zero there is nowhere to go but up . BYD isn't sold in the U.S. and most Teslas are ugly azz 90s looking plain jane drone mobiles . I've only seen one Rivian on the road and it 's not looking good for them . I live out in the sticks of NW NJ and EVs just aren't practical here , but the local drag strip thrives in the warmer months with most cars making the trip from New York .
  • Lorenzo Aw, that's just the base price. Toyota dealers aren't in the same class as BMW/Porsche upsellers, and the Toyota base is more complete, but nobody will be driving that model off the lot at that price.
  • Mike The cost if our busing program is 6.2 million for our average size district in NJ. It was 3.5 last year.