Korean car maker Hyundai is very serious about being at the forefront of the vehicle
design. It produces a variety of sizes, with the Kona being the second smallest of them.

It’s also very serious about minimising the amount of greenhouse gases being sent into
the atmosphere. Hence a range of electric vehicles, both pure electric and petrol / electric

Kona Highlander has a closed front which immediately lets people know this is an electric
vehicle, not one powered by petrol or diesel. At the lower part of the front there’s a black
section with a couple of horizontal bars to take away some of the plainness of the front

The CCS Type 2 charging port is behind the upper part of the front and is easy to plug

There are multiple segments in the very slim horizontal headlights. These look great and
really tie in nicely with the futuristic look of the car-of-the-future which will be pure EV in
ever-increasing numbers.

The black colour on the wheelarches and the side skirts are there to give it the look of a
small SUV, rather than a family hatchback. We liked the design as did most of the people
we showed it to. Though some felt that it was rather bland in the upper sections and
needed something to lift it in style.

There’s a wave-shaped rear bumper and 17-inch alloy wheels, the latter are unique to this
variant of the Kona.

The dashboard is quite stylish, with twin screens, one in the front of the driver with twin
circular dials. The centre screen has a decent sized one that’s easy to use.

The portrait style screen in the centre doesn’t display as far ahead as landscape screens,
something that is sadly too common as it doesn’t show a long way ahead on the map
when you’re using it for navigation.

There is seating for five, although the centre rear seat is on the tight side. The seats are
higher in the electric Hyundai as there’s a large battery under the floor. As always, we
advise that you take potential rear seat occupants to the car showroom to try them for size.

Kona Highlander has power adjustable front seats which are heated and cooled. In the
rear the outer rear seats are also heated. Just the thing for wintery weather, there’s also a
heated steering wheel. Even though we live on the Gold Coast it does get pretty cool
overnight so these heating functions were enjoyed.

The boot has a net to carry around the public charging cables. Under the floor there isn’t a
full-sized spare wheel, however there a tyre repair kit and a tidy storage case for the wall
socket charging cable.

Hyundai Kona Highlander has a Harman Kardon premium audio system with eight
speakers and an external amplifier. It has AM, FM and DAB+ radio. An interesting feature
is what Hyundai calls “Quiet Mode” that limits the volume of the sound. Teenagers may not
like this, but mum and dad surely will!

The Hyundai Kona electric is powered by a permanent magnet synchronous motor
producing up to 150kW and 395Nm. It drives the front wheels through a single-speed
transmission that varies from moment to moment to produce the best ‘ratio’ for the

The Kona’s battery pack is a Lithium-ion unit and is charged through a single European-
standard Type 2 CCS port.

The Highlander has Hyundai’s SmartSense features. These include freeway-speed
automatic emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection; lane keep assist with
lane departure warning; blind spot monitoring; collision assist; rear cross-traffic alert; and
reversing automatic braking.

It also has adaptive cruise control with stop and go function, driver attention alert, safe exit
warning, and rear seat occupant alert.

Kona transmits a noise at low speeds to alert pedestrians of its presence.

Some of the charge in the battery is recovered when you use the brakes. You can vary the
amount of this regeneration by using paddle-shifters on the steering wheel.

In its mildest mode, deceleration once you lift off the accelerator is relatively small.
Medium increases regeneration but you still need you to use the brake pedal to come to a
complete stop.

In the most aggressive setting, you can drive the Kona EV as a one-pedal car – that is by
the accelerator only without the need to touch the brake pedal. It can be a challenge for
the less experienced driver, timing the use of the accelerator so that the car comes to a
stop at just the right place. This is quite enjoyable as keen drivers like to get the best from
their car in all circumstances.

It’s fun in other ways too as the instant acceleration is great. Touch the Go pedal and you
immediately go faster. There’s none of the hanging around till the computer on an internal
combustion engine gets its message from the accelerator, works out what fuel flow is
needed and which gear the to select.

There are three levels of regenerative braking with the maximum setting it becomes a
single-pedal vehicle that bring Highlander to a stop quickly after letting taking your foot of
the accelerator.

Thanks to local suspension tuning it handles nicely, though you do feel it’s on the heavy
side due to the added weight. On the other hand, the batteries are low down and this
centre of mass is better than in the internal-combustion engines in other Konas.

The holographic head-up display on the windscreen is handy. But if you’re wearing
polarised sunglasses, as I do, the display is only visible if you tilt your head slightly to one
side or the other. Very irritating…

During our test period we covered 270 kilometres on a variety of roads – motorway,
country on flat surfaces, country in hill areas, and in boring suburban driving. When we
finished the week’s testing it had an indicated 180km to ’empty’ showing.


Looks: 8/10
Performance: 9/10
Safety: 7/10
Thirst : 8/10
Practicality: 8/10
Comfort: 7/10
Tech: 9/10
Value: 6/10


Kona Elite EV Standard Range: $54,500
Kona Elite EV Extended Range: $60,500
Kona Highlander EV Standard Range: $58,000
Kona Elite Highlander EV Extended Range: $64,000
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your
local Hyundai dealer for drive-away prices.

SPECIFICATIONS (Hyundai Kona Highlander EV Standard Range)

Capacity: NA
Configuration: NA
Maximum Power: 100 kW
Maximum Torque: 395 Nm
Fuel Type: NA
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): NA
CO2 Emissions: NA

DRIVELINE: Single speed automatic

Length: 4180 mm
Wheelbase: 2600 mm
Width: 1800 mm
Height: 1555 mm
Turning Circle: 10.6 metres
Kerb Mass: 1535 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: NA

Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Solid disc

Five years / unlimited kilometres

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
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