Why The $34k 2024 Hyundai Kona Electric Is The Right EV At The Right Time

Kona Electric Ts

Why The $34k 2024 Hyundai Kona Electric Is The Right EV At The Right Time

More than a decade since the first mainstream EV from an established automaker launched the affordable end of the EV spectrum is looking… not great. The Chevrolet Bolt is going on hiatus the Tesla Model 3 is losing its tax credit status in America the Nissan Leaf is uncompetitive and the Mini Cooper SE just doesn’t have enough range for people who aren’t hardcore urbanites. On the plus side there’s always the 2024 Hyundai Kona Electric.

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In the EV race Hyundai is forging full steam ahead with models like the Ioniq 5 and Ioniq 6. However while the Ioniq cars are out making headlines there’s a little electric brother in the lineup that’s historically been equally impressive.

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The old Hyundai Kona Electric was an efficiency champion with a kernel of electric hot hatch. However for its second generation it’s grown larger less torquey and more pragmatic. So is the new more mainstream 2024 Hyundai Kona Electric worth spending your hard-earned money on? I flew to Victoria B.C. to find out.

[Full disclosure: Hyundai flew me out to Victoria one of the few places in Canada that isn’t giblet-chillingly cold in December to drive the new Kona Electric and put me up in a hotel that’s allegedly haunted but probably in a good way.]

How Does It Look?

2024 Hyundai Kona Electric

Bigger and more aggressive which you can read more about in my first drive of the gasoline-powered version. However since the new Kona was styled as an EV first this is arguably the most pure look in the range. I definitely dig the Geordi La Forge daytime running light visor the satin chrome trim and the body-color flares on the electric model.

Interestingly the charge door on the front of the Kona Electric is heated with an element tied into the rear defroster to help mitigate the risk of ice jamming in the winter. It’s a smart touch that I was delightfully surprised to see.

What’s The Interior Like?

2024 Hyundai Kona Electric

With dour black upholstery having quickly become the standard for everything over the past decade it’s refreshing that you’re able to spec the cabin of the Kona Electric with color and verve that suggests a certain lust for life. I’m talking faux-leather upholstery with a touch of seafoam green funky dotted textiles on the dashboard and door cards and a smattering of lime green piping.

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Seriously how lovely is that fabric? Sure you can still get a black interior if you want but why would you?

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Of course the new Kona also gets Hyundai’s latest infotainment system which features a physical home key a sight for sore eyes after years of Hyundai infotainment without one. While the digital gauge cluster isn’t massively configurable punching in an address is as fast as it is on your phone and both screens look incredibly high quality. Wireless Apple CarPlay works a treat top-spec cars get a solid eight-speaker Bose stereo and you can even see a camera feed of your blind spots in the cluster. More tech like this please.

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As for room and comfort it’s top-notch for the segment. Sure a little more thigh support for the driver would be nice but the driving position is spot-on the rear seat is enormous and the cargo area should be more than enough for a small family.

Intriguingly the Kona Electric features a perfectly flat floor in the back meaning this tiny crossover is genuinely comfortable for three across the rear seat. Add in clever storage cubbies like a massive tray in the center console and a shelf above the glovebox and this fashion-forward subcompact crossover really blends style with brains.

How Does It Drive?

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Given that EV affordability is still a struggle it’s sexy for automakers to offer cars with bigger and smaller battery pack options depending on consumer needs. The 2024 Hyundai Kona Electric is no exception although the availability of the smaller battery pack is limited to the United States. With a 48.6 kWh battery pack on tap it’s good for 133 horsepower and 197 miles of range which should be usable enough for urbanites. However the base trim isn’t the car you want.

U.S.-spec SEL Limited and all Canadian cars get a 64.8 kWh battery pack dishing out juice to a single electric motor driving the front wheels. Output for the long-range model clocks in at 201 horsepower and 188 lb.-ft. of torque that’s the same power it has 103 lb.-ft. less than the outgoing car. Yes this means that rolling burnouts are no longer on the menu but how often do you want to be blowing through tires on a daily driver anyway? More importantly models with the big battery are rated at 261 miles (420 km) of range which fills the soon-to-be discontinued Chevrolet Bolt’s shoes nicely.

2024 Hyundai Kona Electric

Now to keep costs low Hyundai hasn’t installed the latest and greatest everything under the skin of the Kona Electric so we’re still talking about a 400-volt architecture and a maximum DC Fast Charging pull of 100 kW. However you can now manually toggle battery preconditioning through the infotainment for a better DC Fast Charging curve and the onboard Level 2 AC charger has been downloaded from the Ioniq line of cars so it’s good for 10.8 kW. Perfect for late-nightearly-morning missions. It’s all promising on paper but what about out on the road?

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Well the first thing I noticed about the Kona Electric was just how quiet it is. You can drive at 50 MPH with the front windows half-down and the noise you hear will only be about as loud as a bathroom fan. With the windows up the chaos of the highway gives way to the serenity of a quiet living room. Whereas the old Kona Electric had this hint of motor whine at speed the new car fulfills the fantasy of silence.

Then there’s the unusual yet gentle enforcement of following distance. If you’re coming up on slower traffic with your foot off the accelerator the Kona Electric will automatically ratchet up the regenerative braking to maintain a safe gap then drop regen levels down again when that gap is achieved. The result is seamless and it makes you look marvelous behind the wheel. Speaking of the wheel the electric power steering calibration feels made for the EV’s wheel and tire setup with nice weighting that offers up an extra dose of confidence.

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2024 Hyundai Kona Electric

Ah but what about the new car’s reduced torque output? Well I have good news. Compared to the pre-production unit I drove earlier this year Hyundai seems to have added back some of the outgoing model’s tip-in response. Sure you still can’t light up the front tires with impunity but the finalized model feels eager in a way that the prototype and indeed the gasoline-powered equivalent didn’t. The result is a detuned EV that just doesn’t feel as slow as its reduction in peak torque suggests.

Unfortunately the Kona Electric does have a nemesis out on the road and it’s called a big bump. I’m oversimplifying here but in a typical car you drive over a bump the bump compresses the springs in the suspension and the damper be it a shock absorber or a strut controls the motions of the springs so you don’t suddenly find yourself strapped into a 50 MPH pogo stick. In the Kona Electric I drove the rear suspension was noticeably underdamped to the point where some bumps made the car oscillate up and down three or four times. We call this behavior ‘underdamped’ because there isn’t enough damping to keep the suspension controlled.

On the plus side ride quality around town is outrageously good and I saw around four miles per kWh in predominantly highway driving without any hypermiling shenanigans. As a road-trippable runabout it’s hard to fault much with the 2024 Hyundai Kona Electric.

What’s The Verdict?

2024 Hyundai Kona Electric

The odd high-speed bump aside the 2024 Hyundai Kona Electric is an incredibly pleasant entry-level electric car that feels far more expensive than its positioning suggests. Sure the quietness of electric drivetrains is a great equalizer between affordable and expensive EVs but the road noise insulation comfort amenities and sheer attention to the design of a more expensive more grown-up car than a typical subcompact crossover are here.

However pricing can make or break a new car so where did Hyundai land? In America the 2024 Hyundai Kona Electric starts at $34010 including freight for the small-battery base model rising to $38010 for the mid-spec long-range SEL trim and topping out at $42380 for the all-singing all-dancing Ultimate trim. Sure purchasing one might not be eligible for the full $7500 tax credit but with the Tesla Model 3 soon losing its tax credit status this new Kona represents a damn good deal for new EV shoppers offering more range than a base Ioniq 6 for noticeably less money. Add in the impending demise of the Chevrolet Bolt and the 2024 Hyundai Kona Electric might just have a banner year.

Granted availability isn’t perfect. In the beginning you’ll only be able to buy the Kona Electric in North Carolina Virginia Arizona Utah Texas Georgia Florida Tennessee Alaska Hawaii California Colorado Connecticut Massachusetts Maryland Maine Minnesota New Jersey New Mexico Nevada New York Oregon Pennsylvania Rhode Island Vermont and Washington but that’s still 26 states.

In Canada in Canadian dollars (just in case clarification was needed) the 2024 Hyundai Kona Electric starts at $48324 including freight for the long-range Preferred trim topping out at $53124 for the opulent Ultimate trim. Chuck in a $5000 federal rebate for lease terms 48 months or longer and all purchases and this will be one of the most affordable new EVs on the Canadian market.

So for the next year or so the 2024 Hyundai Kona Electric should be one of the best-value EVs on the market. It does the normal car thing well and adds its own dash of style.

(Photo credits: Thomas Hundal)

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