2024 Hyundai Kona Electric Has Me Missing The Old Model - SUV VEHICLE

2024 Hyundai Kona Electric Has Me Missing The Old Model

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Summary

  • Competitive range is a standout feature.
  • Physical buttons have made a welcome return.
  • Additional rear legroom and cargo space add practicality.



The last-generation Hyundai Kona Electric was a tiny urban crossover I adored. The entire Kona range made me smile, actually, because the vehicle wasn’t really an SUV. Rather, it was a subcompact hatchback that pretended to be something utilitarian. The Kona N was all about shits and giggles, while the Electric model offered competitive range, ample performance and the kind of spirited attitude we needed from the electric vehicle (EV) space.

Of course, several consumers and automotive journalists (including myself) complained about the Kona’s limited rear legroom and Liliputian cargo space. As a response, Hyundai did what any good carmaker does. This second-generation model is now bigger, more spacious and more practical. This all makes total sense and should help the Kona Electric continue selling strong. But it also has me missing the old model a lot.

2024 Hyundai Kona Electric Front Three Quarter Topspeed-1
2024 Hyundai Kona Electric

The 2024 Hyundai Kona Electric is now at its second-generation. It arrives with funkier styling, a larger cabin, and significantly improved rear legroom as well as cargo space. Underneath its Robocop-like styling, though, are the same electric components as before.

Engine
Permanent-magnet synchronous AC motor

Horsepower
201 HP

Torque
188 LB-FT

MSRP
$46,399

Transmission
Direct-Drive

Driveline
FWD

Model
Kona Electric Limited

MSRP (As Tested)
$51,199

Range
260 Miles

0-60 MPH
6.8 Seconds
Pros
  • Competitive range.
  • Physical buttons are back baby, and it feels great!
  • Additional rear legroom and cargo space is always a good thing.
Cons
  • Not as quick off the line as the old model.
  • Lacks its predecessor’s fun spirit.
  • Questionable styling.

The 2024 Hyundai Kona Electric pictured here is a press unit that belongs to Hyundai Canada. The car was delivered clean and with a 70% charge. For detailed insight into testing procedures and data collection, please review our
methodology policy
.



2024 Hyundai Kona Electric First Impressions

I honestly don’t know what to think about the new Kona Electric’s styling. When I first saw it at its world reveal in Berlin last year, I thought it looked rather cool, but out here in the urban jungle, it just looks weird. I don’t know if it’s the Robocop face, or the absolutely grotesque wheel design, but there’s way too much happening here. It prevents me from truly liking what I’m looking at.

The Kona is also adequately large now, like compact crossover dimensions large, which doesn’t help it look necessarily nicer than all the other crossover blobs on the road.


2024 Hyundai Kona Electric Fenders Topspeed
William Clavey | TopSpeed

There are, however, some neat design tricks here that are worth mentioning. If you look at the new Kona from its side profile or from a certain angle, you’d swear it’s been fitted with flared fenders. Yet, when you eyeball it from the front or from the rear, you quickly realize that it’s all but an optical illusion.

I had a chance to have a chat with Hyundai chief designer SangYup Lee about this. It’s really a feature him and his team are proud of and that they replicated on the 2024 Santa Fe. That, and the fact that the Kona Electric’s front LED bar is one large, single piece. Apparently, that was hard to manufacture.


2024 Hyundai Kona Electric: Differences Between The US And Canadian Market

2024 Hyundai Kona Electric Front LED Bar Topspeed
William Clavey | TopSpeed

The main difference between the US and Canadian markets for the 2024 Hyundai Kona Electric is that US consumers have the choice of two battery capacities, affecting range, horsepower and torque ratings. The US market also has more color options, like the splashy Neoteric Yellow hue. In Canada, the Kona Electric only comes with the larger battery capacity and more powerful output specifications. See below for detailed market differences.

US Market

Canadian Market

SE – Small Battery ($32,675 USD)

Preferred ($46,399 CAD)

SEL – Large Battery ($36,675 USD)

Ultimate ($51,199 CAD)

Limited – Large Battery ($41,045 USD)


Exterior Dimensions

Length

171.5 in.

Width

71.9 in.

Height

62 in.

Wheelbase

104.7 in.

Front Track

62.6 in.

Rear Track

63 in.

Curb Weight

3,571/3,700 lb.

Driving Impressions And Performance

2024 Hyundai Kona Electric Front Three Quarter Topspeed-1
William Clavey | TopSpeed


What I really liked about the old Kona Electric was that it was a true hot-rod in sheep’s clothing. While it didn’t make that much horsepower out of the box, its front-mounted permanent-magnet electric motor churned out nearly 300 lb-ft of instant torque. This allowed it, with traction control turned off, to generate massive burnouts. While that wasn’t always ideal in slippery conditions, the setup was absolutely hilarious fun.

That vehicle was also properly small and tossable, which added to the fun driving experience. The last Kona Electric wasn’t an electric subcompact SUV, but rather an overfed hot hatchback that just so happened to not emit harmful tailpipe emissions. With a 0-60 MPH time under 6.5 seconds, it wasn’t far behind genuine hot hatchbacks like the Golf GTI.

2024 Hyundai Kona Electric Side Profile Topspeed
William Clavey | TopSpeed


The new one? It lost all that. While the model I was driving was powered by a similar-capacity battery as before, 64.8 kWh versus 64, its output figures have been considerably lowered to improve, I presume, range and efficiency. The Kona still pumps out the same 201 horsepower, but its torque figure has melted from 290 to 188 lb-ft. Unsurprisingly, the drop in torque has had a negative impact on the Kona Electric’s 0-60 MPH time, which went from 6.4 to 6.8 seconds.

The available smaller capacity battery is a liquid-cooled, lithium-ion unit good for 48.6 kWh. Horsepower for that one is rated at 133. The torque is unchanged.

2024 Hyundai Kona Electric Rear Topspeed
William Clavey | TopSpeed


Out there on the road, the new Kona Electric definitely feels more refined and grown up, which makes total sense for the target buyer. People don’t buy subcompact electric crossovers, so they can destroy a set of tires at the drag strip. They buy them for urban commuting, presumably with a young family on board. If you liked the spirited nature of its predecessor, I’m sorry to report that Hyundai sucked all the soul out of that nameplate.

Sure, the Kona still rides on the same platform as before – Hyundai’s K3 architecture – which at least allows it to remain rather responsive and somewhat awake when driven with vigor. It feels of good quality and well buttoned down. Power remains ample thanks to the fact that an electric motor inherently puts down a generous dose of instant torque and handling remains flat and predictable.


But it now feels like a larger, wider product. That’s because it is. The new Kona is almost six inches longer, two inches wider and almost a full inch taller, which has a direct effect on its driving dynamics. It’s just not the joyful little runabout it once was.

Performance Specifications

2024 Hyundai Kona Electric Front Compartment Topspeed
William Clavey | TopSpeed

Battery Type

Liquid-Cooled Lithium-Ion

Usable Battery Capacity

48.6 or 64.8 KWH

Electric Motor Type

AC Permanent Magnet Synchronous

Horsepower

133 or 201 HP

Torque

188 LB-FT

Transmission

Direct Drive

Level Three Fast Charging Rating

100 KW

Level Two Home Charging Rating

10.8 KW


2024 Hyundai Kona Electric Energy Consumption, Range And Charging

2024 Hyundai Kona Electric Charge Port Topspeed
William Clavey | TopSpeed

According to the EPA, the 2024 Kona Electric can travel up to 261 miles on a single charge with the larger battery – an improvement of only three miles over the old car – and 197 miles with the small one.

So, no, reducing the torque figure did nothing to improve its range. What’s also particularly alarming is that the Kona hasn’t improved in efficiency either. The combined MPGe is down four points over the old car (120 MPGe).

The best rating I pulled during a cool week in late March was 102 MPGe, which translates to a real world range estimate of 196 miles. As for charging, since I only used my level-two home unit the entire week I had the car in my possession, I wasn’t able to test out the Kona’s fast-charging performance. See the table below for full EPA range figures.


City

Highway

Combined

EPA Rated Energy Consumption

129 MPGe

103 MPGe

116 MPGe

Energy Consumption As Tested

NA

NA

102 MPGe

Interior Design And Comfort

The fact that I was driving a top-spec Ultimate (Canadian equivalent of a Limited) meant that my cabin experience was spruced up with fancy leather seats and all the bells and whistles the model offers.

The immediate realization when sitting inside this new Kona is how much more spacious and comfortable it is than the old car. The seats are at least 50% more plush and supportive, while the build quality is on par with Hyundai’s best products. Soft touch materials as well as a modern look and feel really help pull this mainstream crossover upward towards premium status.


2024 Hyundai Kona Electric Full Dashboard Topspeed
William Clavey | TopSpeed

There’s also a lot of inspiration taken from the IONIQ 5, like the dashboard design and its singular tablet display. The Kona Electric really takes advantage of the fact that it doesn’t have an internal combustion engine (ICE) or a driveshaft tunnel by freeing up the space between the front seats. The gear selector was also moved to the steering wheel (like in the IONIQ 5) allowing the entire center console to be basically a massive storage unit with an available wireless charging tray.

2024 Hyundai Kona Electric Rear Seats Topspeed
William Clavey | TopSpeed


But it’s really in the rear seat where things improve the most. In the last Kona, I could barely squeeze my feet behind a front seat that had been adjusted for a tall person, while now, I can comfortably sit behind my six-foot-tall self no sweat. Leg and headroom are on par with larger crossovers. It’s so spacious back there that I could strap the child’s seat without needing to move the front passenger seat forward.

Interior Dimensions

Front

Rear

Headroom

39.9 in.

38.3 in.

Shoulder Room

56.8 in.

55.2 in.

Hip Room

54.3 in.

52.4 in.

Legroom

41.7 in.

36.4 in.


Technology And Ease Of Use

That massive tablet is also part of Hyundai’s recently updated infotainment interface that it also launched in the 2024 Santa Fe and updated 2025 IONIQ 5. The 2024 Kona was actually the first of its vehicles to get it.

Similar to what several carmakers are doing these days, the tablet is actually made up of two screens. On the left, it’s the instrument cluster, which can only be slightly customized by changing drive modes, or by cycling through different menus in the center using steering wheel controls. The main layout remains pretty much the same the entire time though.


On the right is the infotainment system itself. The general interface looks the part, and it responds quickly, without lag. Generally speaking, menus and functions are easy to find, but some features, like the battery preconditioning system, for instance, do require a bit of digging.

2024 Hyundai Kona Electric Buttons Topspeed
William Clavey | TopSpeed

Good news, though! The 2024 Kona Electric marks one of the first real efforts from Hyundai to roll back to good-old physical buttons. And there’s a full array of them underneath the infotainment system acting as quick-key redundancies to some of the touch controls. For instance, you simply needs to hit the Setup button to enter the Setup screen, or Media to quickly access your audio. HVAC controls are also all analog.


And, my gosh, this feels great. It prevented me from swiping, pinching and tapping to get things done while driving. A simple touch of a button – like, you know, cars from 20 years ago – and I was good to go.

Cargo And Storage Space

The Kona’s stretch also had an obvious positive impact on its cargo space and general storage. Like I mentioned earlier, the empty space between the two front seats gives way to a massive storage area with two generous cup-holders, while large storage pockets in all four doors allow each passenger to toss their gear.

2024 Hyundai Kona Electric Cup Holders Topspeed
William Clavey | TopSpeed


While it still doesn’t offer an actual front trunk, or frunk, albeit a tiny storage compartment, rear cargo space, with the rear seat in place or folded flat increases dramatically. While the old Kona (19.2/45.8 cu-ft) could barely compete against a Mazda3 hatchback (20.1/47.1 cu-ft), this new one borders on compact crossover dimensions.

2024 Hyundai Kona Electric Rear Seats And Cargo Space Topspeed
William Clavey | TopSpeed

As a matter of fact, when its rear seat is folded flat, the Kona’s total cargo space is higher than in a Mazda CX-5 (59.3 cu-ft). See below for the 2024 Hyundai Kona Electric’s cargo space data.

Minimum Cargo Capacity (Rear Seat In Place)

25.5 cu-ft

Total Cargo Capacity (Rear Seat Folded Flat)

63.7 cu-ft


How The 2024 Hyundai Kona Electric Compares To Its Competition

2024 Hyundai Kona Electric Front Section Topspeed
William Clavey | TopSpeed

Sure, there are currently several electric crossovers currently on sale, but there aren’t that many in the subcompact space. Even less from a mainstream brand. With the Chevrolet Bolt EUV now gone, the only sort of competitor left for the Kona Electric is the Nissan LEAF. The only other subcompact crossover it truly competes against in this space is its own corporate twin, the Kia Niro EV, which I’ll use as its main rival.

2024 Hyundai Kona Electric Versus 2024 Kia Niro EV

2024 Kia Niro PHEV
Kia


The Niro and the Kona are mechanically identical. They both ride on the same platform and both utilize the same front-wheel drive EV components. However, in both the US and Canada, the Niro is available with only one battery capacity, the larger, 64.8-kWh unit.

This automatically makes it more expensive from the get-go than the Kona. For reference, a base Wind model starts at $39,600, while the top of the line Wave costs $44,600. That’s a good $3,000 more than a fully loaded Kona Limited. Interestingly enough, the Niro also offers a bit less range than the Kona at 253 miles instead of 261.

2024 Kia Niro PHEV (1)-1
Kia


However, the Niro is a tad larger than the Kona and acts mostly as a compact wagon rather than a crossover. It’s 2.5-inches longer overall, which allows it to have a bit more rear legroom, 36.9 inches versus 36.4. Total cargo space is identical for both models. However, the Niro does offer the option of a plug-in hybrid for those still not yet ready to take the plunge to full electric. That said, if you’re set on an EV in this segment, you will be getting more for your dollar with the Kona Electric.

Related
Why The Kia Niro EV Is An Underrated Electric Compact SUV

With its practicality, good price and highly capacitive battery, the Kia Niro EV packs a considerable punch in the compact SUV world

Rationally Brilliant, Emotionally Stale

2024 Hyundai Kona Electric Rear Three Quarter Topspeed
William Clavey | TopSpeed


I can’t blame Hyundai for turning the Kona Electric from a tire-shredding pocket rocket into a sensible, family-oriented electric crossover. Metrics like cargo space and rear head and legroom are what allow consumers to stay in the showroom and choose your model over the competition’s. And since the first Kona was a surprisingly good success story for Hyundai, it’s totally understandable to see the carmaker add even more value to the nameplate.

As a sensible tool to get your loved ones from point A to B without burning a drop of fuel, the 2024 Hyundai Electric is brilliant. It offers a competitive range, it’s very well put together, and roomy enough now to carry around four grown adults with a surprising amount of refinement and comfort. Hey, you can’t stay young and rebellious forever. The charming little Kona has now grown into a mature, responsible adult. It’s just too bad it lost its spunky personality in the process.

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