There was a time when the typical markers of a quality vehicle that we use on gas-powered cars didn’t really apply to electric vehicles. EVs were desirable simply because they were electric, and that was a novel enough concept to forgive lagging performance or inconvenient range.
No longer. These days, consumers and critics alike are far less forgiving when EVs fail to deliver on things like performance, comfort, and good mileage. Manufacturers recognize this new trend and strive to meet the demand. The Hyundai Kona and Chevy Bolt are no exceptions.
These two EVs are some of the most affordable — and, resultingly, average — cars in the latest wave of electric vehicles designed for the budget-oriented driver. So, how do they compare?
Let’s break down the major differences between Hyundai Kona vs. the Chevy Bolt so that you can decide for yourself which EV is better.
Hyundai Kona vs. Chevy Bolt: Side-by-Side Comparison
|Hyundai Kona||Chevy Bolt|
|Performance||201 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque||200 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque|
|Battery||150-kWh lithium battery w/258 miles range||55-kWh lithium battery w/258 miles range|
|Safety||Collision-avoidance assist, pedestrian detection, blind spot monitoring, lane monitoring, lane departure assist, smart cruise control (premium)||Front pedestrian braking, forward collision alert, automatic emergency braking, lane assist, following distance indicator, IntelliBeam auto high beams|
|Interior||Seats 5, leather seats optional. 41.5/33.4 inches legroom (front/back)||Seats 5. 44.2/36.1 inches legroom (front/back)|
|Technology||Equipped with touch screen for in-car entertainment; Apple and Android compatible||Equipped with touch screen for in-car entertainment; Apple, Android, and Alexa compatible|
|Price||$33,550 (base); $37,300 (balanced); $41,550 (premium)||$27,495 (1LT); $30,695 (2LT)|
Hyundai Kona vs. Chevy Bolt: What’s the Difference?
Let’s start with the Hyundai Kona — the pricier of these compact EVs. Marketed as an SUV, this zippy EV has undergone a facelift since it initially hit the market in 2018. The front grille has been replaced by a smooth, rounded-out surface with slick LED lights to boot. The interior has been updated, as well, to add comfort and style to the cabin.
Beyond these superficial changes, the Kona has also received a boost in battery capacity and motor power. Its 150-kW battery gets an estimated 258 miles of range. Lastly, the Kona boasts an impressive 201-horsepower electric engine.
The Chevy Bolt, meanwhile, is the smaller of these two EVs — a hatchback rather than an SUV. Cosmetically, the Bolt is also far less showy than the sleek Kona.
It also underperforms compared to the Kona. When the Bolt initially launched in 2017, its battery capacity, range, and overall performance were considered best in class. Now, it has begun to fall behind on that front, so much so that there have been occasional rumors of the Bolt being discontinued.
However, the Bolt remains a compelling option because of its recent price decrease, which makes it even cheaper than it was before. At less than $30,000, it’s certainly cheaper than the Kona.
Let’s dig a little deeper into each facet of these two EVs to see how they really compare in terms of performance, comfort, safety, technology, and pricing.
If you’re hoping for earth-shattering performance, you’re probably not going to be blown away by either of these EVs. It’s simply not what they were designed for. Nevertheless, both these compact EVs provide a solid range and actually turn out to be a fun driving experience.
Here, though, the Hyundai Kona has a slight edge over the Chevy Bolt. You have three trims to choose from, but you get the same range and horsepower regardless of the trim. The Kona will drive about 258 miles on a full charge. It takes a little over 9 hours to charge the 150-kW battery at home. Quick charging stations will do the job in about an hour.
With its 201-horsepower engine, the Kona accelerates impressively and doesn’t require too much force to maintain a good speed. What’s more, the steering is nimble and responsive. Its speed and maneuverability make it an all-around fun drive. It does lose some points, however, for failing to offer all-wheel drive and lacking good suspension on bumpier roads.
The Chevy Bolt, meanwhile, has roughly similar range and horsepower, but inferior battery capacity. Its 55-kW battery makes for a longer charging time, which you will feel especially when looking for a quick charge on the road. As a result, it’s more suitable for city driving than longer trips.
Having said that, the Bolt deserves props for maintaining a competitive range even as it seeks to cut costs. Plus, its decent acceleration and maneuverability make it about as fun a drive as the Kona; however, it is more prone to choppiness than the Hyundai.
Fun to drive as both these cars may be, how does it feel sitting in the cabin? In terms of comfort, both these EVs have different advantages and disadvantages. Since receiving an update to its interior, the latest Hyundai Kona has more comfortable seating. If you opt for the premium trim, you get heated leather seats, as well as a heated steering wheel.
Yet, even with these upgrades, the Kona still lacks sufficient legroom — especially in the back. Front-row passengers get 41.5 inches of legroom, whereas backseat passengers only get 33.4. The cargo space is underwhelming, too. Though it’s marketed as an SUV, the trunk is more of a hatchback size: 19.2 cubic feet.
Due to its price, the Chevy Bolt’s seating is a tad less comfortable than you’d find in the Kona, though not a deal-breaker. If you get the L2 trim, you still get leather seating, as well as heated seats and a steering wheel. Though the seating isn’t as plush, there’s several inches more legroom in the Bolt than in the Kona. The cargo space isn’t quite as large as the Kona’s, but it’s also not pretending to be an SUV.
The latest versions of these compact EVs come equipped with the high-tech safety features you’d expect in any new car — be it powered by gas or electricity.
The Hyundai Kona is loaded with technical specs designed to deliver a safer ride. Grouped in a category called “SmartSense,” these features include collision-avoidance assistance and pedestrian detection, lane-keeping assistance, and blind spot monitoring.
If you get the premium trim, Hyundai throws in extra features like smart cruise control and highway driving assist — which qualify the upgraded Kona for level 2 autonomous driving.
The Bolt EV’s safety features are perfectly acceptable — probably even laudable, given the low cost of entry. You get front pedestrian braking, forward collision alert, automatic emergency braking, lane assistance, following distance indicator, and IntelliBeam automatic high beams under hazardous conditions.
Don’t expect to find many autonomous driving features with the Bolt, though. You’ll have to buy a more expensive EV if you want anything resembling a self-driving car.
The tech inside your average EV is equally important to consumers as the rest of the car. In addition to the high-tech safety features shown above, what else do these EVs offer in terms of technology?
Well, both vehicles have pretty decent tech, but the Kona again has a slight edge in this category. With the Hyundai Kona, you get a polished touchscreen infotainment system with prominent, easy-to-use knobs and shortcut buttons.
The Kona’s infotainment system also integrates with Apple and Android devices, and if you opt for the premium trim, you even get an upgraded Harman Kardon system for an optimized audio experience.
While the Chevy Bolt has its own color touch screen with Apple, Android, and Alexa compatibilities, it fails to really impress consumers who’ve come to expect more pristine audio quality and an optimized user experience. Basically, the tech hasn’t changed much since the Bolt was introduced in 2017.
But let’s say you’re especially budget-conscious, and let’s also assume that along with your thrifty attitude comes a tendency towards simplicity and practicality. If you’re that kind of person, the Chevy Bolt might be a great fit for you. For all of its drawbacks, the Chevy Bolt is currently the cheapest EV in the US. Even when buying the upgraded trim, it’s still only a little over $30,000.
The Hyundai Kona, meanwhile, ranges in MSRP from $33,550 to $41,550. That means that even the basic version is more expensive than the Chevy Bolt’s most expensive edition. When you consider that the Hyundai Kona is only a slightly higher-performing EV than the Bolt, and that its cargo space and legroom are disappointing, you have to wonder if the extra cost is worth it.
There’s also the question of availability. Unfortunately, the Kona is currently only available in 12 states. With these factors in mind, it appears that the Chevy Bolt is, on the whole, a better compact EV —especially if you’re a buyer in the U.S.
Hyundai Kona vs. Chevy Bolt: 6 Must-Know Facts
We’ve just hit you with a lot of information about both these EVs, so let’s summarize what we’ve learned about what sets these cars apart from one another.
- With a price point of $27,495 for a brand-new model, the Chevy Bolt boasts the lowest price on the US EV market, whereas the Kona will set consumers back more than $33,000.
- Although the Bolt has an economical design, it compromises slightly on its tech and safety features.
- Both of these compact EVs provide quick acceleration and good maneuverability, but the Kona rides a little smoother than the Bolt.
- The Chevy Bolt’s battery capacity puts it behind the rest of the pack, yet both the Chevy and the Hyundai manage to offer a competitive range with their respective models.
- Even though the Hyundai Kona is marketed as an SUV, its cabin feels cramped. The Chevy Bolt, meanwhile, makes good use of its interior space.
- The Hyundai Kona is currently only available in a handful of US states. On the bright side, this could make your buying decision a lot easier!
Hyundai Kona vs. Chevy Bolt: Which One Is Better?
Ultimately, we found that the Kona drives better and includes superior technology. The Chevy Bolt, however, comes in at an extremely competitive price point. While it lags behind the Kona in several features, its low price is alluring enough to let these faults slide.
The Chevy Bolt comes out on top as the better choice for budget-conscious buyers, especially in the US, since you’ll be able to take advantage of the federal EV tax credit. Performance is average, but satisfying enough for your daily drive to work and running errands.
On the other hand, the Hyundai Kona is a superior choice if you’re looking for better tech specs, a slightly better driving experience, and a more polished infotainment system. The Kona also has a larger battery capacity than the Bolt, offering you a longer range on a full charge.