The results of last week's United Nations climate study reveal that Earth's climate situation is much more dire than previously thought. Unless we do something drastic to stop pumping carbon emissions into our atmosphere, we'll do irreversible damage by 2030. It seems almost prophetic, then, that Hyundai is launching two vehicles — the hydrogen-powered Nexo FCV and an all-electric variant of the recently launched Kona crossover. The more compelling of the two is the Hyundai Kona Electric. It joins other purely battery-powered machines such as the Nissan Leaf, the Chevy Bolt and the Tesla Model 3, but the Korean automaker one-ups the competition by arriving in the form of a crossover. Americans can't get enough of them, and no other pure electric on the market offers it unless you're talking about the $83,000 Tesla Model X. The Kona EV's next closest competitor is the boxy electric Soul, and in case you didn't know, Kia's affiliate company is none other than Hyundai. In truth, the crossover moniker isn't entirely accurate. Like its internal-combustion-engined counterpart, the Kona EV doesn't really sit above regular car height. Rather than call it a compact crossover, it'd be more appropriate to label it a hatchback with some rugged-looking body cladding. The Kona Electric does, however, top nearly all of its EV rivals for cargo space, with 19.2 cubic feet. Only the Leaf tops it at 23.6 cubic feet, but the Kona's footprint is almost a foot shorter than the Nissan's. Visually, the Kona Electric is distinguished from its petrol-powered sibling by a grille-less face, replaced by an LCD readout grid pattern with the charging port neatly hidden beneath a panel on the left side. A new light bar spans the prow, connecting the upper driving lights in a digital wave pattern repeated in the lower front, side and rear skirts. It's meant to evoke the pathways in a circuit board, according to senior chief designer Chris Chapman. Inside, more differences serve to remind you that you're sitting not just at the helm of a crossover, but a shuttle to the future. An array of PRND buttons and an electronic parking brake await your instructions. Neither seemed necessary nor an improvement over the Kona classic's tried-and-true gear selector and handbrake, but there they were. The e-e-brake perhaps does permit the double-decker center console, though, the lower level meant for gadget recharging, whether via USB or Qi wireless. In our Kona Electric Limited tester, the cabin proved generally a pleasant place to be. Our 7-inch touch screen was intuitive and user-friendly for auxiliary functions such as radio and nav. Exclusive to the Kona Electric is an LCD screen that replaces the traditional instrument gauges, but we prefer lag-free sweep of the analog needles. On the Unlimited trim level, an 8-inch display, ventilated front seats and a heated steering wheel offer additional posh options not available on the dead-dinosaur-driven Kona. Also unique to the Kona Electric is a nicely designed three-tone light gray interior with silver trim. The materials …
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|MPG||28 City / 32 Hwy|
|Transmission||7-spd auto-shift man w/OD|
|Power||175 @ 5500 rpm|
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