2019 Hyundai Kona Highlander EV Review

2019 Hyundai Kona EV Road Test Review

Hyundai Kona EV

Being an electric vehicle (EV) sceptic, I admit to being turned around a touch by Hyundai’s Kona EV.

It’s the first EV I have driven that actually has a decent, no bullshit range coupled with excellent performance in a practical small SUV body.

Still have some reservations though…. the weight, the price and the time it takes to recharge from a standard plug at home.

Get over those and you’re on a winner especially if you can recharge in the daytime from a solar array…. for nothing with zero emissions.

Plug him in at home though and you’ll pay while the coal fired power station down the road belches out bad stuff.

Hyundai has fully embraced alternative powertrain technology and the Kona EV is a product of that initiative.

It’s the latest EV to hit the market and you can buy one for under $60,000. Somewhat less than a Tesla anything.

The Kona EV driven was top of the range Highlander spec with a big glass sunroof and other goodies you probably don’t really need.

It has almost indecent acceleration off the mark for a small SUV and can use regenerative engine braking to stop without touching the brake pedal.

They give it a whirring noise at low speed presumably so sleep walking pedestrians can hear Kona EV on approach.

Additionally, Hyundai has equipped Kona EV with a comprehensive range of advanced driver assist and luxury features…. possibly to offset the price which is around $25,000 more than conventionally powered Kona.

Hyundai Kona EV


Looks like a regular Kona with a blocked out grille and slim, LED headlights.

The textured panel where a grille would normally be looks pretty good while flat face alloys wheels look a bit plasticky. Dunno why car companies insist on making elementary design/styling errors with alternative powered cars… but they do.

It’s a compact five door SUV with slight detail differences compared with petrol powered Kona. The bumpers are different and other details are too.

It retains two levels of tail lights which seem to suggest the designer couldn’t make up their mind. Oh well.

Overall, Kona EV is easy on the eye, a pleasing shape and with a fairly aggressive face.

Hyundai Kona EV


Inside is pretty much standard Hyundai fare with mostly grey tonings and in the test car, lashings of leather upholstery.

The big centre mounted control screen is nicely integrated into the dash tablet style while the driver’s area has a cockpit feel.

Love the push button “gear” selector and the flat floor that affords more interior room.

A decent size load space can be expanded with folding rear seats and access through all four doors and tailgate is good.

What you are looking at here is basically the same as conventionally powered Kona – with a bit more kit.

Hyundai Kona EV


Plenty going on here:

  • Wireless phone charging
  • Heated and ventilated front seats
  • Heated wheel
  • LED headlights
  • 8 speaker audio with subwoofer
  • SUNA satnav
  • Various charging devices
  • Heads up display
  • 3 drive modes

Hyundai Kona EV

Drive and Engine

Power comes from a 150kW/395Nm permanent magnet electric motor with electricity from a 64kW/hour battery.

It’s good enough to push the Kona EV from 0-100kmh in around 7.0 seconds.

Driving range is an excellent 450km perhaps more if you try.

Using a 100Kw DC charger, you can top up the Kona EV to 80 per cent full charge in 54 minutes.

Using your 240v domestic outlet will take 9.5 hours.

Hyundai calibrates Kona EV’s dynamics locally and it shows through the seat of the pants. Quite agile for a 1.7 tonne small SUV, Kona EV can be driven with a touch or urgency or until the front wheel drive starts losing the plot.

It’s comfortable over most roads and sits fairly flat through turns due in part to a low centre of gravity.

Braking power is prodigious and acceleration is strong. Put it in Sport mode and look out.

There is a direct drive system so no gears and after the initial whirring noise, Kona EV is extremely quiet with only tyre hum audible over about 30kmh.

The extensive array of driver assist features includes park assist that has appeal for some while the high beam assist and stop/start system for peak hour traffic take things even further.


Kona scores five stars but this particular model goes way further with a full suite of advanced driver assist features like lane keeping assist, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detect, forward collision avoidance and alert, radar cruise…. you get the picture?

Hyundai’s AutoLink is also available that mirrors your phone as well as providing a myriad of information and services including remote start and remote climate control. It monitors your driving and the vehicle’s “health”, rates your eco driving skill and even the weather.

Information overload?

Perhaps, but darn handy when you need it.

Good Bits

  • Impressive genuine 450km range
  • Impressive performance
  • Generous amount of standard equipment

Not So Good Bits

  • Takes too long to recharge
  • Expensive
  • Solar array necessary for zero emission driving.

Hyundai Kona EV


Yep, I may not be an EV convert yet but Kona EV makes you pay attention to all the jibber jabber going on right now.

Given a more affordable price and a reduction in recharge time you could well have a real winner.

Also Look At

Facts and Figures: 2019 Hyundai Kona EV Highlander

  • Engine: electric producing 150kW/395Nm
  • Transmission: direct drive
  • Warranty: 5/ unlimited km
  • Safety: Five stars
  • Origin: South Korea
  • Price: from $64,490* MLP

*MLP – Manufacturers List Price includes GST and LCT but excluding statutory charges, dealer costs and dealer delivery. See your dealer for RDAP. Does not include price of any options.

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