This new generation of Kona starts with the Electric model (seen in yellow above), as Hyundai says it developed this new generation with the electric model as the priority. In practice, that means it’s rocking a column-mounted shifter to free up center console space and numerous shared design elements with Hyundai’s Ioniq models. The Kona’s platform isn’t radically changed to make the EV significantly different from before — the E-GMP platform cars still rule there — but there are still EV improvements. It’s packing the smallest of increases in battery size to 64.8 kWh, which Hyundai says is good for 260 miles of range — EPA numbers aren’t available yet, but the 2023 Kona Electric is rated for 258 miles. A smaller 48.6 kWh battery pack will be available for this generation of Kona Electric, too, this one allowing for 197 miles of range. This marks the first time Hyundai has offered the Kona Electric with two different packs.
Hyundai’s new Kona platform still uses 400-volt architecture, unlike the E-GMP platform’s 800-volt architecture, so charging speeds are similar to the previous model. Hyundai promises a 10%-to–80% charge will take about 43 minutes in ideal conditions, but doesn’t quote a max speed. It’ll also be capable of vehicle-to-load like other Hyundai/Kia EVs, but can only output 1.7 kW of power.
No matter the battery pack, the Kona Electric retains its FWD-only layout. The big battery pack version has a single electric motor good for 201 horsepower and 188 pound-feet of torque. That’s the same power as the outgoing model — but it’s down on torque by a massive 103 pound-feet from the 2023 model’s 291. The small battery Kona gets a less potent motor that is rated for 133 horsepower and 188 pound-feet of torque.
In case you’d rather have a gas-powered Kona (pictured above), Hyundai is offering two different powertrain options for your choosing. The first is a carryover 2.0-liter four-cylinder that makes 147 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque. It’s paired with a continuously variable transmission and comes standard. Meanwhile, the N Line and Limited trims get a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that makes 190 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. This motor is paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission that should prove far more enjoyable than the CVT in the base model. We asked Hyundai why it wasn’t offering the hybrid powertrain being offered in global markets in America, and the answer is that Hyundai wants folks to turn to the Kona Electric as the green option.
Both FWD and AWD will be available, and we suspect the AWD models could be slightly better to drive with their multi-link rear suspension design — FWD models make do with a torsion beam rear axle. However, the Kona Electric is the exception here, as it’s FWD but features a multi-link rear suspension. The N Line won’t enhance performance, but it will look considerably sportier with unique 19-inch wheels, revised front/rear fascias, an aggressive rear spoiler and dual exhaust. The extra sportiness transfers inside, too, as it gets red accidents all over N Line scuff plates and aluminum sport pedals.
As for a future Kona N, Hyundai was mum for now, but we wouldn’t doubt it if it comes back in the new generation.
N-Line pictured in top row; Electric pictured in bottom row
Inside all Kona models you’ll find a completely new interior that is far more spacious due to the Kona being a larger vehicle than before. In total, the Kona is 5.7 inches longer and an inch wider than the outgoing model, which means more cargo room and more backseat space. Hyundai says the loudest feedback about the previous Kona was a lack of backseat space, so it used most of the extra length to add there. Hyundai even thinned out the front seats and gave the rear bench couch-like curved edges to make it feel like more of a lounge. Of course, it’s still a Kona, so don’t expect a big lounge-like experience. In the front, Hyundai says the 12.3-inch screens (same size for both the cluster and infotainment system) will run next-gen software that we’ll be eager to try out.
Other notable tech enhancements include more charge ports in both front and rear, an available Bose 8-speaker audio system, Hyundai’s Digital Key 2 Touch (allows you to use your smartphone as a key), OTA update-capable infotainment, remote smart parking and lots more driver assistance features like Blind-Spot View Monitor and the always excellent Highway Drive Assist.
Pricing isn’t available for the new Kona yet, but Hyundai says the combustion engine version will hit dealers this summer. The Kona Electric will closely follow in late fall.