This week I was behind the wheel of the 2020 Hyundai Kona. This would be my first electric vehicle assessment from my new “regular girl review” series. I haven’t had too much experience with fully electric vehicles, so was excited to put this one to the test.
As with many, I get anxiety relying on a battery to fuel my transportation needs. Is one charge enough to get me where I need to g? Will I be able to find a wall charger at my destination. Will it charge my vehicle fully and within the time I allot it? For many, hybrid vehicles are the way to go. You get the best of both worlds as they offer a little from both the battery powered world and the fossil fuel solution.
But I can confidently say that I got around well just fine being fully electric, and without the need to charge the Kona for the week. I did end up doing so on 3 separate occasions. But between low volt wall outlets and limited timed parking, it really didn’t make much of a difference. At 400km, the range is tremendous. My 60km (to and fro), daily work commute put a dent into this, but the Kona still had plenty of juice left to get me around for grocery shopping and social outings. And doing so with comfort and ease.
This is a smaller SUV, and as such, it might as well be a coupe. Despite the luxury of a generous arm rest equipped with cup holders, your passengers don’t get a lot of room in the back seat. With the front rows adjusted comfortably, leaving enough leg room to do some stretching, you take away all and any such room for your passengers at the back. Not to mention there are head rests and belts for 3, but nothing more or in addition to being able to sit 3 well for an extended period of time. There are at least compartments and binning on the doors, to be able to store what you need, leaving as much room as possible for the people.
And what felt like a spacious cabin, was actually just as tight. The proof was in the number of times I found myself accidentally poking or jabbing my front seat passenger. A couple of times this was due to me trying to use the cup holders, and more when togging between music and the settings on the centre console. I kept thinking that I had more clearance than I really did. And it didn’t help that the centre console was set further back than with most vehicles. So in order to use it you seat yourself awkwardly, positioned with the need to almost turn around and look back and down at it. And these were buttons that I found myself using often enough to find this positioning a nuisance, like the seat warmers and sport mode. As for the buttons themselves they felt a little cheap in plastic with the push down.
Turning the vehicle on is as simple as pushing a button. It lights up and shuts down with melodic tones, much like a computer or game console would. A nice warning tone, it begins to ramp up as you slowly accelerate, it climaxes when you hit 30 and you can’t hear it any more. This is an audio cue that let’s you know that your vehicle is running, given that you don’t actual hear or feel the roar of an engine. This is not to be confused with the back up sensors that sound a lot more jarring, on purpose.
And when driving you don’t miss a normal gas engine. Start and stop the car is very responsive, you get a whole lot of power accelerating just with a little tap. On the line at a red, I beat a BMW easily. And I kept my acceleration speed, so that I didn’t even realize I was clocking in over the speed limit. But luckily when it came to breaking, the Kona stopped at a dime. The perks of a computerized engine means no delays or moving parts to have to go through the emotions with. No resistance working against you.
But at some points, I did feel out of control, between the body rolls and the shaky wheel, certain speeds on the highway were a little sketchy. With normal conditions, the drive is incredibly smooth. It almost feels like you are gliding, there is no friction between you and the road. No movement in the car from the changing or switching of gears, it is just simply running. It all felt easy. Like the intuitive windshield wipers. It is nice to have a car that knows what to do, it knows it is raining before you do, and reacts accordingly so you don’t have to.
Although with the beating rain came the noise. The cabin echoed with all the sounds of the water sloshing on to and under the car. The sounds made it feel more intimidating than it actually was. That and you could feel all the individual bumps on the road like it was multiplied. The easy remedy for the unwanted sounds is to crank up the music to drown it out. And luckily the speakers are great, and there is a nice echo in the Kona for some the good acoustics.
But now for the most important part, the actual charging. As with all electric vehicles, the outlet you choose effects the speed in which you charge. I was able to find a normal outlet in my underground, but finding where to plug the cable from the wall to the car was another story. Luckily, with all the references of the internet at my fingertips I was able to do a quick search to locate the panel. Given that the Kona didn’t need a grill to help cool down the engine, it was covered and used to hide the charging outlet. A single push on the left side popped open the hatch. A practical decision, but one I didn’t like for cosmetic reasons.
The plug in process is pretty self explanatory, you match the “female” part to the “male” part and they click into place. Removing it on the other hand is a different story. This required another internet search, and the patience required to watch a 4 minute YouTube tutorial. Here it is summarized. There is an lock button that ensures that if you leave the cable plugged in and the vehicle unattended, no one can remove it. Any amount of tugging won’t release the cable, you would sooner move the entire car, true story. To be able to unplug you have to unlock all 4 of the doors.
There is also an Auto Unlock button that unlocks the cable when it is done completely changing. This is helpful when you are at a charging station, and don’t want to hold the plug up. This way another person can come and use it after you.
Or you can simply avoid having to charge your vehicle for as long as possible by utilizing the Kona’s auto regeneration feature. In laments terms, when you feel the resistance from the car (almost like it is breaking, but it’s not), you use the paddle at the side of the wheel to down shift. This action allows you to help in the regeneration of the batteries. With the dash showing you by how much.
In summary, there is just something about driving an EV vehicle that just makes you feel like a better person. You want to be seen walking up to your car, to be acknowledged that you are doing something right for the longevity of the world. And that you don’t have to worry about fluctuating gas prices or when to fill up for the best deal. The only worry is the eventual need to replace a larger and heavier battery that will no longer hold its charge. EV vehicles are the future, and if they are built like the Kona, I can tell that we are going in the direction. I honestly would like an EV in the future, but more realistically when my home supports super charging. A method that isn’t timed or costing me anything in addition. As for which EV, I will need to test out a few more before I make that decision. But in the meanwhile it was nice of Hyundai to allow me to use the 2020, fully electric Kona as my guinea pig.