The 2020 Hyundai Kona EV is a sweet blend of versatility, style, and range
The 2020 Hyundai Kona EV is a sweet blend of versatility, style, and range

The 2020 Hyundai Kona EV is a sweet blend of versatility, style, and range

Hyundai had it right when they built the Kona EV as a crossover SUV, which is the hottest product on the market and shows no signs of slowing down. The 2020 Hyundai Kona EV Ultimate hits all the sweet spots for those looking for comfort, elegance and a 250-mile electric driving range. The Tesla Model 3 sold very well as a sedan, but even Tesla is coming out with a small crossover SUV, so Hyundai was certainly on to something and ahead of the pack.

Smooth oprator

The front-wheel drive (all-wheel drive is not an option) Hyundai Kona EV engine produces 201 horsepower and 290 pounds-feet of torque, continuously spinning about 6.5 seconds in 0-to-60 cycles. But when you zip around town, and especially in the sport mode, the Kona EV felt faster than that. For more conservative driving with a view to achieving the EPA ‘s estimated driving range of 258 miles, Eco and Comfort are the other driver-selectable modes. Eco is the default setting where you want to be on those extra-long freeways where the output is in-line behind the driving range.

The liquid-cooled 64-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion polymer battery pack is replenished by plug-in charging and regenerative braking. The regenerative charging device transforms kinetic energy into electrical energy when the brakes or the bearings are applied and stores it in the tank. This cycle can be seen on a dash monitor where you can see the power flow in and out of the battery and the engine.

The Kona EV also has the ability to drive a single pedal using a steering wheel mounted on a paddle. The Kona can be brought to a complete stop by pulling the left paddle, without touching the brake pedal. If you keep the pedal close, the car won’t crawl, it’ll just shift when you step onto the accelerator. The advantage of this is that the battery is recharged faster than the brakes, because the engine is slowing down. It takes a little practice to modulate the slowdown, but when mastered it is a rush hour, stop-and-go traffic is a new experience not having to hit the brake pedal. Note: This is one reason why the maintenance of an electric vehicle is less than a comparable gasoline-powered vehicle.

There are three plug-in charge levels which can be controlled manually, or by the Blue Link connected car system, to set the day and time of recharging. From near empty to a full charge, times are:

  • 120V (Level 1) – 17 hours (using the 7.2 kW onboard charger)
  • 240V (Level 2) – 9.5 hours (using the 7.2 kW onboard charger)
  • 480V DC 50 kW Quick Charging – 75 minutes
  • 480V DC 100 kW Quick Charging – 54 minutes

Driving experience: on the road

The well-distributed 3.800-pound weight gave the Kona EV a strong, comfortable ride. The under-sealed battery position created a low center of gravity and resulted in very good driving dynamics. The motor-driven power steering was well tuned to make the road feel easy to maneuver in the city , especially parking. Tire and wind noise were at a minimum; 17-inch alloy wheels and 215/55R Nexen low rolling resistance tires barely conveyed noise to the cabin. There was a small body roll when pushing corners a little too fast. The regenerative braking system is equipped with four-wheel disk brakes with ABS and brake assist.

The other noise you hear while driving under 20 miles per hour is a gentle sci-fi whirling sound, part of a pedestrian alert system. Consisting of a speaker mounted behind the front bumper, this futuristic sound lets the pedestrians know that the Kona EV is nearby. Without it, there’s no sound coming from this all-electric crossover, making it too stealthy when approaching the occupied crosswalk.

Driving Experience: In and Out

The exterior configuration of the Kona EV is smooth with very few sharp angles. The rounded front end is highlighted by a closed-off grid with a cross-hatch pattern; the charging door is in a much more convenient location than when placed on either of the fenders (as several automakers do). The LED headlights, with daytime LED lights at the bottom of the fascia, complete the stylish front end.

The attractive side view has a gently sloping roof with rack rails, a colored shark fin antenna and an integrated spoiler over the rear hatch window. The horizontal LED taillights and the minimal chrome (on the Hyundai badge and the eyebrow strip above the license plate) finish off the attractive rear. The very basic “Heat” badge at the bottom right corner of the hatch softly notes that the Kona EV is quietly and cleanly going forward.

Climbing inside, the cabin includes ample leg and headroom for two six-footers up front; the rear seat is a bit tighter in space , especially for three adults. The Clean Fleet Report was the driving force behind the 2020 Kona EV Ultimate, which came standard with leather-trimmed, heated and ventilated front seats. The driver’s seat is eight-way, lumbar-adjustable, while the passenger is manually adjusted. We like that the road view, with 6.2-inch ground clearance, was higher than the sedan, but not as high as the SUV. The rear seat center armrest has cup holders; if there are no passengers out of the back, fold down the 60/40 split rear seat for additional storage space.

Other features include power tilting and sliding sunroof, head-up display, Homelink auto-dimming rear view mirror, heated and power side mirrors with turn signals, USB ports, wireless charging, and rain-sensing windshield wipers.

Safety and warranties

The 2020 Hyundai Kona EV comes with a comprehensive and impressive list of standard safety features. These include front, seat and side impact airbags, forward emergency braking and crash warning, stability control , smart stop-and-go cruise control, blind spot collision detection, park assistance with front and rear sensors, vehicle stability control, traction control, hill start assistance, tire pressure monitoring system, motor immobilizer, lane departure warning and rear cross-road alarm.

The Kona EV has not been classified by the National Highway and Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Highway Safety Insurance Institute (IIHS). Its petrol-powered siblings are, however, the Top Safety pick with the IIHS, the lowest category. The NHTSA has given it a rating of 5 stars, also their highest score.

The 2020 Hyundai Kona EV comes with these warranties:

  • Battery – Lifetime/Unlimited miles (transferable)
  • Powertrain – 10 years/100,000 miles
  • New Vehicle – Five years/60,000 miles
  • Roadside Assistance – Five years/Unlimited miles
  • Anti-perforation – Seven years/Unlimited miles


SEL              $36,990

Limited        $41,600

Ultimate       $45,200

Clean Fleet Report’s 2020 Kona EV Ultimate had a MSRP of $45,335. All prices do not include the $1,095 freight charge.

The Kona EV qualifies for federal and state credits, and in some states, is eligible for a HOV sticker.

The 2020 Kona is available in the ZEV (Zero Emission Vehicle) states: CA, CT, MA, MD, NJ, NY, OR, WA, RI, WA, VT.

Observations: 2020 Hyundai Kona EV Ultimate

Hyundai is all-in with vehicle electrification, and the Clean Fleet Report is pleased. We reviewed all of their hybrid, plug-in hybrid, electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and were impressed by all of them.

Hyundai Kona EV 2020 is hard to beat for versatility, ride, style, range and standard safety equipment. Before visiting your Hyundai dealer, do some homework on your rivals, speak to your tax advisor for guidance on federal and state credits, and then schedule an appointment with a Hyundai factory certified electric vehicle specialist.

Don’t be shocked if you drive home in the Kona EV.

This article was originally published by John Faulkner on Clean Fleet Report, a publication that gives its readers the information they need to move to cars and trucks with best fuel economy, including electric cars, fuel cells, plug-in hybrids, hybrids and advanced diesel and gasoline engines.

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