Hyundai's first generation Kona arrived in the U.S. market in 2018, expanding the Hyundai lineup with a new subcompact crossover SUV. An electrified version, the Kona Electric, added a new choice the next year. Now the popular Kona is entering its second generation for the 2024 model year with a complete redesign and scaled up dimensions to help drivers make the most of the model’s sport-utility potential. Five trim levels are offered including SE, SEL, Limited, N Line, and the Kona Electric. While prices have not yet been disclosed, we expect the Kona’s point of entry to be in the $25,000 range with the electric pushing $36,000 or so.
Along with its new looks, Kona brings a surprising amount of tech and pep for the price including two ways to go electric. Kona's base electric powertrain features a 133 horsepower electric motor producing 188 lb-ft torque and a 48.6 kWh battery. A more powerful option uses a 64.8 kWh battery and a 201 horsepower motor delivering 188 lb-ft torque. Hyundai estimates the new Kona Electric’s range at 197 miles with the standard battery and 260 miles with the upgraded battery package, the latter offering just a few miles more range than the 2023 Kona Electric. Both Electric trims feature Hyundai’s new ‘i-Pedal’ driving mode that enables acceleration, deceleration, and regenerative braking from just the accelerator pedal under many driving conditions.
Charging is handled via a chargeport located in the Kona’s front fascia, making it easy to park and charge from a public charger on either side of the vehicle. An illuminated chargeport door lamp makes night charging more convenient. Hyundai built in 400 volt fast charging capability in its new Kona, which means drivers should be able to charge their battery pack from 10 to 80 percent in just over 40 minutes when a quick charge is needed, and if a 400 volt public fast charger is available.
Hyundai integrated handy bi-directional charging capability in the Kona that enables Vehicle-to-Load (V2L) functionality. That means Kona not only can charge its batteries from the front chargeport, but it can also charge equipment or power devices plugged into a chargeport adaptor. This can come in handy for those who take along electric bikes or scooters on their travels, or camp with equipment that needs to be plugged in or could use a charge. During power outages, the system can even help power home appliances or other necessities to the extent of its power capabilities.
Other Powertrain Options
For those less inclined to go electric, the 2024 Kona also comes with two available gas engine options to complement its electric power choices. The base powerplant is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that produces 147 horsepower and 132 lb-ft torque, paired with a continuously variable transmission. The more powerful powertrain option is Kona’s 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that makes 190 horsepower and 195 lb-ft torque and is paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission. The turbo engine is standard with the sporty N Line and Limited trims.
A step up from the previous generation, Kona’s styling is more aerodynamic with sleek with clean lines that hint its designers had the future in mind. This appealing design reveals a conservatively rugged nature with elements of edgy styling that make it stand out amid the usual flock of cars. Kona’s visual appeal is headlined by an LED ‘seamless horizon lamp’ running light spanning the width of the front fascia, a design feature complemented by an equally striking fender-to-fender taillight design at the rear. Interestingly, Hyundai reversed the usual protocol for designing a new vehicle, which takes into account combustion power first and electric as a secondary consideration. Instead, Kona has been developed from the start as an electric vehicle with its need for an electric motor, battery packaging, and other components and electronics unique to EVs.
A Driver-Centric Cabin
Inside, the new Kona presents an updated and more futuristic experience. A driver-oriented cabin sports dual integrated 12.3 inch panoramic display screens. The gear selector has been relocated from the center console to a stalk behind the steering wheel to provide more storage space in the center console. Front seat backs are 30 percent thinner than the previous model to give rear seat passengers more knee and leg room. A ‘curveless bench seat’ design further improves space and comfort for rear seat passengers. The rear cargo area provides 25.5 cubic feet of space for everyday needs, and if you fold down the seat backs that capacity increases to 63.7 cubic feet of cargo area. A small front trunk (frunk) adds about another cubic foot of storage.
Hyundai’s SmartSense ADAS is available in the new Kona, which includes remote parking assist, forward-collision avoidance, lane-keep assist capability, navigation-based smart cruise control with stop-and-go, and other features. Particularly handy is blind spot view monitoring, which presents live video within the instrument cluster showing the blind spot encountered during a lane change.
Well-Connected Kona Electric
Kona also includes other desired advanced connectivity features with the ability to process over-the-air (OTA) software updates, a breakthrough technology popularized by Tesla that’s now being embraced by a growing number of automakers. This allows wireless communication to deliver software and firmware updates for the Kona’s various on board systems to enhance its features. OTA technology can also update the vehicle’s multimedia software and navigation maps.
The new 2024 Kona Electric is sure to please with its fresh style, agreeable pricing, and multitude of user-friendly tech. We can expect the Kona Electric to arrive at dealers later in the fall following the debut of its gas-powered sibling sometime this summer.