The Hyundai Kona, once an underdog that clinched victory at the North American Car of the Year (NACOTY) awards in the Utility category five years ago, is back in contention with an all-new and upsized lineup for the 2024 awards. As a juror, I find myself once again in Ann Arbor for the program’s annual test event, evaluating the contenders to choose the finalists.
The first-generation Kona, which triumphed over premium contenders like Acura and Jaguar, owed its success to a diverse model lineup that included a full battery-electric version. Not only did the electric Kona impress with its practical driving range at a reasonable price, but it also delivered an exhilarating driving experience, earning favor with jurors, including myself.
The latest iteration of the Kona lineup, including the Kona Electric, shares a new architecture primarily developed for electric vehicle (EV) use. The redesign brings about significant dimensional enhancements both inside and out, raising the bar for advanced driver-assist and convenience technology.
Despite the absence of groundbreaking electric-powertrain advances, the Kona Electric demonstrates incremental improvements. The battery capacity edges up slightly to 64.8 kilowatt-hours from 64, while the front-wheel-drive motor maintains its 150-kilowatt rating. The claimed range sees a modest increase to 420 kilometers from 415. Although limited charging information is available, sources suggest a maximum fast-charge capability of 100 kilowatts. Hyundai asserts that replenishing the battery from 10 percent to 80 percent on a DC fast charger takes approximately 43 minutes.
As the NACOTY awards approach, the Hyundai Kona, with its refreshed lineup and commitment to electric mobility, aims to secure another triumph and solidify its status as a pioneering force in the utility vehicle segment. The competition is fierce, but the Kona’s legacy of blending practicality, affordability, and driving enjoyment positions it as a strong contender once again.
One thing that is new is vehicle-to-load (V2L) capability. Within a 1.7-kilowatt limit, the Kona can recharge external devices such as e-bikes or camping equipment, or provide household backup during an outage. Also on the menu are battery preconditioning, a one-pedal driving mode and smart regenerative braking that optimizes for real-time traffic conditions.
Pricing is not yet available, but because the gas models have increased (to reflect enhanced standard equipment, says Hyundai), it’s likely the 2024 Electric will do likewise when it arrives early next year. The outgoing 2023 model started at $44,599. In some markets the 2024 Electric is offered with a smaller 48-kilowatt-hour battery at a lower price, though we don’t know whether that will come to Canada. Read Similar Story