2022 Hyundai Kona Electric Review Update

Jack R. Nerad, Independent Expert | Feb 24, 2022

Introduction - Find the best Hyundai deals!

Just as Hyundai launches a new initiative to electrify its fleet of vehicles, led by the 2022 Hyundai Ioniq 5 electric vehicle (EV), the brand has also made significant changes to its Kona Electric small crossover. For 2022, the Kona Electric has a revised exterior, a significantly improved interior, and added technology. Hyundai hasn't changed the electric drive system except for some software and driver-information changes, but the Kona still offers competitive range and charge times. At the same time, it has lost none of the overall appeal of the conventional Kona. It's a versatile small crossover SUV with a handy footprint and quick acceleration. In terms of competition, its biggest challenge comes from the significantly larger and more costly 2022 Hyundai Ioniq 5.

For the 2022 model year, the Hyundai Kona Electric is the beneficiary of a series of changes beyond what is typical for a "mid-cycle refresh." It is standard auto industry practice to do a facelift at or after the mid-point in a particular model's product life. This typically involves changing front and rear bumpers, revising the grille and taillights, and changing interior fabrics and trims. For the 2022 Hyundai Kona Electric, the changes are more extensive. They include:

  • Revised front and rear styling
  • Additional quiet tuning
  • Larger digital instrument cluster
  • Redesigned center console
  • Larger, more advanced infotainment system and touchscreen
  • Added connectivity
  • New Highway Driving Assist semi-autonomous driving feature

For 2022, the Hyundai Kona Electric is available in two trim levels: SEL and Limited. A third trim level—Ultimate—is dropped for this model year. The Kona Electric SEL is minimalist compared to the Limited. It has an 8-inch touchscreen versus the 10.25-inch touchscreen in the Limited and foregoes some of the Limited's advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS). The Kona Electric Limited offers comfort and convenience items that include Harman Kardon premium audio, leather seats, a heated steering wheel, ventilated front seats, and rain-sensing wipers. It has Highway Driving Assist, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go functionality, forward-collision warning with pedestrian and cyclist detection, and automatic high-beam headlights.

Previously, J.D. Power reviewed the 2019 Hyundai Kona Electric. This review focuses on the Kona Electric's updates for 2022 and how they potentially impact its overall appeal to consumers.

What Owners Say About the Hyundai Kona - Find the best Hyundai deals!

2022 Hyundai Kona Electric Front Quarter View Action

The Hyundai Kona* competes in the Small SUV market segment. According to data collected from verified new-vehicle buyers for the J.D. Power 2021 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study, 56 percent of new Hyundai Kona buyers are female (vs. 58 percent for the segment), and the median age of a new Kona buyer is 57 years (vs. 56).

As part of the APEAL Study, owners rated the Kona in 10 primary categories. Listed below in descending order, you'll find their preferences from their most favorite thing about the vehicle to their least favorite:

  • Exterior styling
  • Driving feel
  • Feeling of safety
  • Setting up and starting
  • Fuel economy
  • Infotainment system
  • Powertrain
  • Getting in and out
  • Interior design
  • Driving comfort

In the 2021 APEAL Study, the Kona ranks 14th out of 18 Small SUV models.

*J.D. Power reports study results at the model level. Accordingly, each model's score includes all body styles, trim levels, and powertrains available for that model.

What Our Independent Expert Says About the Hyundai Kona Electric - Find the best Hyundai deals!

In the sections that follow, our independent expert analyzes a Kona Electric Limited equipped with the following options:

  • Carpeted floor mats

The price of the test vehicle came to $42,655, including the $1,245 destination charge.

Revised Interior Design with Larger Driver Information Display

2022 Hyundai Kona Electric Interior Dashboard

One of the many positive aspects of the Hyundai Kona is its interior space. At just 165.6 inches long, the Kona Electric is 17 inches shorter than the 2022 Hyundai Ioniq 5, yet its usable space is impressive. The changes to the Kona Electric for 2022 enhance that interior space. The new console is visually separated from the wide, horizontal dash adding to a sense of roominess. The between-seats area houses a pushbutton gear selector and a new electric parking brake actuator replacing the manual lever. Another plus is the new ambient lighting for the cupholders and the footwells.

The most arresting feature of the interior is the new 10.25-inch digital instrumentation pod. The display itself is a wide rectangle plastered in front of the driver. While I appreciate the size and clarity of the display, some might wish it were a little more artfully integrated into the panel. What is indeed artfully done are the display's designs and color selections. The information provided is straightforward—speedometer, system power gauge, charge level, digital odometer, and trip odometer. Most drivers will appreciate the simplicity.

Due to some new tailoring of seats and door trim, the revised interior has increased second-row legroom and additional space in the rear cargo area. Rear-seat access to USB ports is also improved. An available cargo management system includes a rubberized tray, but the test Kona Electric didn't have it.

Refined Exterior Styling

Hyundai has always differentiated the Kona Electric from its conventionally powered Kona sibling concerning exterior styling. The most obvious difference is the dimpled fascia that fills what would be the grille area in the conventional Kona. While dimples are cute on some faces, consumers apparently didn't think they were so pretty on the Kona, so they are gone. The replacement is a smooth, grille-free front end that loosely resembles a smiling frog.

The slick fascia and bumper include an access door for the charging receptacle. While having the small door on the front end is undoubtedly convenient for pull-in charging stations in shopping center parking garages, it interrupts the aesthetics a bit. It's almost like the Kona Electric is wearing an eyepatch. The revised lower valance has open strakes that give the Kona Electric the look of a "bottom-breather" gasoline car. The front end also gets new headlights and a new daytime running lamp (DRL) lighting signature.

The revised rear end has dual-level taillights, a windscreen spoiler, and strakes similar to those featured in the front. You will look in vain for a tailpipe because there's no need for one. A major functional change is the use of new acoustic windshield glass. The 2022 Kona also gets a new instrument panel and cargo area insulation. One final element of the exterior redesign is a new alloy wheel design.

Upgraded Infotainment System

2022 Hyundai Kona Electric Infotainment Touchscreen Display EV Range

For 2022, the Hyundai Kona Electric benefits from new infotainment displays. The top-level unit in the test vehicle uses a 10.25-inch display screen that seems identical in dimensions to the digital instrumentation screen. The new infotainment display has a split-screen function that helps the driver access the desired information quickly and easily. Among its features are AM/FM/SiriusXM/HD Radio, integral navigation, and real-time traffic information. Hyundai vehicles have become renowned for their easy-to-use infotainment interfaces, and the new Kona system epitomizes that.

The 10.25-inch system supports multiple Bluetooth connections, but it doesn't support wireless Apple CarPlay and wireless Android Auto. The system includes two USB ports in the front and a single USB port for rear-seat passengers.

The Limited trim test vehicle had an 8-speaker Harmon Kardon premium audio system standard in the trim level. Endowed with an external amplifier and a subwoofer, it offered sound that shook the car.

The infotainment system in the lower-level Kona Electric SEL is more than serviceable. It has an 8-inch display, and its big plus is that it supports wireless Apple CarPlay and wireless Android Auto. The 6-speaker audio system has AM/FM plus SiriusXM/HD Radio. Also included is the Hyundai Blue Link Connected Car System.

While wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay would be useful, the upgraded top-level infotainment system in the Kona Electric Limited was simple to use and immediately understandable. One would hope that Hyundai will figure out how to get wireless Apple CarPlay with the larger screen, but until that happens, the current system is more than acceptable.

Enhanced Connectivity

Hyundai Blue Link connected services are complimentary for three years in the Kona Electric. That's a happy fact because the Kona EV, in particular, uses many Blue Link functions. A key improvement to the Blue Link system for 2022 is cloud storage for vehicle settings and driver preferences. This is advantageous in the event of a situation that "wipes" the preferences from the car's internal memory.

Another new-for-2022 feature is status notifications. Via Blue Link, the Kona will alert the driver with a text message if the doors are left unlocked or if the windows are left open. Maintenance-interval tracking is now visible in the multimedia system, and it can be reset, so it's not always staring at you. You can also pre-determine point-of-interest waypoints and send them to the car. The system will then call them up in order.

One new Blue Link feature designed expressly for Kona Electric owners is an enhancement to the remote start features. Kona EV owners can now turn seat heating and seat ventilation for individual seats on and off remotely. The system also remotely preloads individual driver profile settings for seating and mirror positions. Another remote feature allows Kona Electric owners to check:

  • Current battery level with real-time electric and fuel range
  • Real-time charge range
  • Plug in or out status
  • Charge status
  • Time remaining before full charge

Most Kona Electric owners will charge at home, and one of the most valuable Blue Link features is the ability to manage their charging schedule. Hyundai offers owners vehicle-charging options they can select and manage remotely with their smartphone or while in the car. The most basic option is charging that begins as soon as the Kona Electric is plugged in. Owners whose electric rates are lower at off-peak times can schedule the recharge in those periods to reduce cost.

The Kona Electric offers a digital key, allowing smartphones to control selected vehicle systems remotely. A dedicated smartphone app enables users to lock and unlock the vehicle, activate the panic alert, and pre-condition the interior. It also allows secure sharing of vehicle access with family and friends.

Independent Expert Opinion - Find the best Hyundai deals!

2022 Hyundai Kona Electric Rear Quarter View

With the substantive changes for the 2022 model year, the Hyundai Kona Electric enhances its previously good case as a value buy among battery-electric vehicles (BEVs). It addresses both range and charging-time questions that have dissuaded many consumers from taking the leap to purchase an EV. It offers 258 miles of driving range on a full charge, taking all the worry out of around-town daily driving. On a road trip, drivers can rely on the Kona Electric's impressive Level 3 DC fast-charge rate. While it doesn't fast-charge as rapidly as the Hyundai Ioniq 5, the Kona EV can go from a 10-percent to 80-percent charge in approximately 47 minutes, Hyundai says.

With Level 2 at-home charging, the Kona Electric charges from 10 to 100 percent in approximately nine hours and 15 minutes. As mentioned, the charging port is in the front of the vehicle, which can be convenient or inconvenient depending upon the location of the at-home charger. Standard on the Kona Electric SEL with Convenience package and the Limited test vehicle, a battery warmer helps prevent excessively long battery-charging intervals in cold temperatures. The Kona Electric's estimated MPGe is 132 city, 108 highway, and 120 combined based on Hyundai's test results.

Beyond the facts and figures, the Hyundai Kona Electric is an involving, fun-to-drive vehicle. It is quick and feels powerful, benefiting from the instant torque of its electric drivetrain. Its permanent-magnet synchronous electric motor delivers 201 horsepower (150 kW), but its 291 pound-feet of peak torque is the more important figure. Compared to the gasoline engine in the typical small crossover, that is a more significant amount of torque. The result is impressive acceleration.

Not only is the Kona Electric quicker than the Kona Turbo in a zero-to-60-mph sprint, but it also applies its power differently. Power application is silent, smooth, and linear. It comes without the noise and commotion common to a gasoline car.

Another difference revolves around the Kona Electric's weight. While the vehicle corners well, the driver feels the extra 500 pounds the Kona EV carries with it in its 64-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Another difference is the Kona Electric's regenerative braking. Depending upon the driver-selectable adjustment of brake regeneration, drivers can operate the Kona EV with just the accelerator pedal. The driver is not required to apply the brakes in normal driving.

Hyundai equips the Kona Electric SEL with a healthy list of ADAS. To that list, the Limited trim adds the new Highway Driving Assist feature that helps keep the vehicle in the center of the lane at a set distance from traffic ahead. In testing the system, it worked well.

When determining value, one must look at the price. The conventional Hyundai Kona has a base price of about $25,000. A heavily optioned version might still cost less than $30,000. The 2022 Hyundai Kona Electric SEL has a base price of $34,000. The Kona Electric Limited tested here carried an MSRP of more than $42,000. That changes the value proposition. But the good news on this score is that the Hyundai Kona Electric qualifies its owners for the $7,500 federal tax credit designed to spur the switch to emission-free BEVs.

Jack R. Nerad has been reviewing cars, trucks, vans, and sport utilities for more than three decades. He managed the editorial efforts of Motor Trend magazine and Kelley Blue Book and currently is the host of the SportsMap Radio Network program America on the Road, which is available on Apple Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, Stitcher, and other outlets.

The opinions expressed in this review are the author’s own, not J.D. Power’s.

No portion of these reviews may be reproduced, distributed, publicly displayed, or used for a derivative work without J.D. Power’s written permission. © 2022 J.D. Power

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