This is an increasingly significant category in our autoTRADER.ca Awards and as more Canadians consider green vehicles, automakers are stepping up to the plate with some impressive and efficient new offerings all meant to be accessible and help make green cars more mainstream. This segment grows every year and is an exciting one to watch.
After extensively evaluating all of the market’s options for green cars under $50,000 (which includes hybrids, plug-in hybrids and full electric vehicles), our panel of more than 20 automotive experts have voted the Hyundai Kona Electric as the Best Green Vehicle Under $50,000.
Our experts looked at every single alternative-powertrain vehicle under $50,000 and evaluated them across 12 criteria to vote on a winner. The runners up in this category were the Kia Niro EV, Kia Soul EV, Nissan Leaf EV, and Chevrolet Bolt EV, which our jury voted to shortlist to the final stage of voting.
In this segment, a winning vehicle has to offer more than just range, though the higher the range the better. Innovation is key, but a winning green car also has to be easy to live with and not make huge compromises. A win, therefore, requires something above-average, unexpected, and game-changing.
Here’s how the Hyundai Kona Electric took home the trophy.
In our Overall Excellence category, the vehicle is considered in big-picture scale. It will set a new standard or benchmark, moving the industry as a whole. The package has no serious flaws, many strengths, and has an overall execution that goes above and beyond. The Kona excelled in this section.
Consumer appeal is as high as it gets. Gasoline-powered Kona variants are excellent (in fact, our judges also voted it as the Best Subcompact SUV), and the Kona Electric has everything that makes those crossovers so popular with the added benefit of zero trips to the gas station.
Our judges were most impressed by how little effort the Kona Electric required of drivers to make the switch to electric vehicles – thanks to an easy-to-drive package that has plenty of useful and intuitive technology. Just-right sizing and city-friendly agility make this one stand out, too.
Pricing from about $45,000 (before any government incentives) puts this 415-kilometre electric crossover within reach of many shoppers, effectively drawing them in with its unique looks, generous range, and approachable tech. This ties into Kona Electric’s high scores in our Value criteria, too. For the money, drivers after abundant electric range with all of the toys will find Kona Electric an excellent return on their investment.
Inside and out, the Kona Electric’s styling definitely stands out, which helped it score high in the Design section of our evaluations. There’s a strong sense that the Kona’s designers wanted to put the latest tech at the driver’s fingertips, without overwhelming them. Controls are logically arranged and easy to find, and the touchscreen interface is straightforward and very easy to learn. The Kona’s impressive performance in our Design section came mostly from its user-friendliness. Little about driving or interacting with the Kona will cause you any stress, and we loved clever little design touches, like the slick graphics to help drivers keep easy watch over its systems at all times.
autoTRADER.ca expert and president of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) Stephanie Wallcraft describes her experience with the Kona’s interfaces in a recent comparison test.
“Where the Kona stands out most in my mind is in its successful gamification of the EV driving experience,” she wrote. “Most electrified vehicles provide some degree of feedback and control over braking strength and driving efficiency, but the Kona takes it to new heights with three regen levels, a not-so-super-secret ECO+ mode with a speed limiter, real-time braking effectiveness results, and graphs and percentages for tracking your progress.”
This, along with the Kona’s state-of-the-art heat-pump heater, and various structural and chassis innovations that help it turn in a refined and quiet drive and helped it score high in the Innovation and Technology sections of our voting.
Driving enthusiasts will be well served by Kona Electric’s top marks in our Performance, Engineering Excellence, and Driver Satisfaction sections. Thanks to the all-electric driveline and over 200 instant-on horsepower, the Kona Electric boasts hilariously fun throttle response and incredible low-end torque for zipping through city traffic noiselessly.
Engineers carefully calibrated each system off of the next, giving the Kona Electric a quick and mischievous steering to match its athletic power output, and specifying a sporty and eager suspension to help transmit it all to the road.
In a nutshell, the Kona Electric is the best Green Vehicle Under $50,000 this year because of how easy it makes the transition into electric motoring and how nicely it appeals to the electric-curious shopper with its unique design and excellent use of modern tech.