1,000 Miles with the 2021 Hyundai Kona Electric

I have written about cars before. Up until recently, I drove a 2015 Toyota Prius, and test-drove the Tesla Model 3 and Tesla Model Y. I wanted to get an electric car, but someday, and one that put me in the driver’s seat.

The future became the present this summer. With the wildfire smoke burning my lungs while door-knocking, I realized that as long as I needed a car, and given that I could afford a new car, it made moral and family sense to get a new electric car. But I didn’t get a Tesla. Hell no. I got a 2021 Hyundai Kona Electric.

I have been looking at the Kona since the electric model first rolled out in 2019. There were three decision points where I preferred the Kona over what Tesla offers:

  1. The Kona is designed for a human driver. I am a pretty good, defensive driver. I have never been in a major accident (fingers crossed). My worst accident was when I bumped the car ahead of me on Central Ave at walking speed and my license plate bolts imprinted on their bumper. So seeing the Kona with a speedometer behind the steering wheel and no autopilot nonsense made me really happy.
  2. It’s not the biggest deal by any stretch (especially with the inflated market), but the Kona is several thousands of dollars cheaper than the comparable Tesla Model Y. Since it doesn’t have Autopilot or other “features” that are really safety hazards, I am happy to save the cash and have a more traditional vehicle. Like with regular door handles!
  3. This is the least important, but I appreciate that the Kona Electric looks mostly like the gas Kona. I have had one person come up to me in the Costco parking lot asking questions, but I like how it doesn’t scream electric “I am better than you” at everyone. It’s really just a practical hatchback. The elevator pitch I tell my friends and family is that it’s essentially a “super Prius”, more ground clearance, more horsepower, all-electric.
The Kona Electric has an instrument cluster with speedometer and range right behind the steering wheel. What convenience! Image: author

Here’s another example of how the Kona is more human driver-centric: When signaling a lane change, the Tesla models do not “lock in” to the turn signal. They signal for about two seconds and then turn off. There is a bigger movement that locks in, but then going back flips it often to the other signal direction. So that’s why on the highway you may have seen a Tesla signal left, move over, and then briefly signal right. The intention is to make it easy to signal quick lane changes like a bad driver and not give anybody a chance to yield to your lane change. By contrast, the Kona has a traditional lane change signal. Nothing different. Just what works for a human driver.

I have driven the Kona for over 1,000 miles now. I started a new job in the suburbs, so the highway commute from Downtown to the suburbs has been quite efficient. For the record, the drive time is 13 minutes, versus 1 hour 4 minutes with three busses if I took public transit. I would love to work Downtown, but that’s just not available right now. From anecdotal reports from downtown neighbors in the business community, downtown office space is somewhere around 30% people-in-cubicles occupied right now.

I have driven the Kona for over 1,000 miles now. I started a new job in the suburbs, so the highway commute from Downtown Minneapolis to the suburbs has been quite efficient. For the record, the drive time is 13 minutes, versus 1 hour 4 minutes with three buses if I took public transit. I would love to work downtown, but that’s just not available right now. From anecdotal reports from downtown neighbors in the business community, downtown office space is somewhere around 30% people-in-cubicles-occupied right now.

The other part of this whole equation was securing an electric parking spot. I live in a multifamily building, and so before I signed the deal for the Kona, I had actually been working on signing a deal for the electric parking to charge it. I am happy to report that instead of a gas Toyota 4Runner being parking in an electric parking stall very little of the time, after this swap goes through the Kona will be parked there every day and the Xcel account will be set up with either Windsource or Renewable Connect, depending on program availability. I have heard from a friend at Xcel that there is a possibility that Windsource customers will be folded into an expanded Renewable Connect program. I have Windsource for my apartment, so looking forward to having the Kona on renewable electricity too.

So what’s happening to the Prius? It’s going to my dear mother. She has a 2010 RAV-4 with the V6 engine, and would love a daily driver that is better for the environment. So we are doubling her fuel efficiency with this trade. We intend to keep the RAV-4 for those big truck needs (it’s the last RAV-4 on a truck platform), but not drive it really much at all. The registration fees are pretty minimal.

That’s it for now at 1,000 miles and counting. I wanted to share this important life update. I know cars are bad, but seeing people at work and seeing my grandmother in New Brighton requires it practically for now.

What’s your daily wheels? What made you give up your car, or what would someday? Share your testimonials and hot takes in the comments!

3 thoughts on “1,000 Miles with the 2021 Hyundai Kona Electric

  1. Justin Heideman

    Is this a review of the Kona or a review of why you hate Tesla? Feels a little weird to single out Tesla given that there are also several other EVs out there — XC40 Recharge, id.4, Mustang Mach-E, Bolt EUV. Tesla, at least, has the advantage of being American made.

    Reply
  2. Walker AngellWalker Angell

    As of about a year ago I believe Tesla was the safest manufacturer on the road with the fewest crashes and fewest fatalities. Tesla crashes make headlines far more than other cars and in particular if autopilot is used which skews the perception. It’s really best to look at statistics rather than rely on perception from media. The reality is that autopilot does prevent a lot of crashes and a lot of crashes that could have resulted in killing people. When used properly, and it appears that the vast majority of the time it is used properly, it does result in a much safer drive.

    I was an original beta tester for autopilot and have been using it for 7 years and about 200,000 miles. And FWIW, my next car will likely not be a Tesla so I am not a Tesla fanboy of any sort.

    Reply
  3. Monte Castleman

    RAV-4 has never been on a “truck platform”, third generation 06-12 uses the “New MC” platform shared by a number of Toyota cars including the Corolla and Prius.
    I actually drive a RAV-4 V6- it checks all the boxes- lots of cargo space (I can even lay my bicycle flat in back without taking off the wheel, all wheel drive and high ground clearance for winter,) I specifically got a V6 because the I4 is underpowered in that vehicle, made even worse by a four speed transmission. Although they dropped the V6 option with fourth generation, they mitigated it with a better transmission, and now they have a hybrid option. If I were to buy another car I’d likely opt for the hybrid option due to the extra power it providers. I doubt my current car will last until an all-electric RAV-4 becomes affordable on the used market.

    Reply

Leave a Comment