We’ll begin our comparison with some of the basics then move into more vehicle-specific details like weight, aerodynamics, and fuel economy. Finally, we’ll wrap up our comparison with a dive into the impact of various driving conditions on each vehicle, with an emphasis on how these impacts change the effective cost to operate each vehicle.  

Although this article is a deep dive into the Kona, it is a great illustration of how gas and electric drivetrains perform under different conditions. --Liz Najman, Director of Market Insights


The starting price (including destination costs) for the base Hyundai Kona is $25,625 for the gasoline model, and $34,050 for the EV model, a roughly 30% difference in premium. However, federal and state incentives or rebates for EVs may help offset some of the upfront costs. Although no federal credits are available to buy the Kona EV, many Hyundai dealers have been offering very attractive lease terms that effectively “pass through” the $7500 tax credit to drivers. 

Options & Packages

Both Kona versions come in three trims: SE, SEL, and Limited. Only the gasoline version includes an AWD option and different tire sizes. On the EV, only R17 is available, representing a shift in mindset towards efficiency rather than that of luxury. 

from Hyundai.com

Both the Kona EV and the gasoline model offer a similarly equipped base trim level, although the EV has options tailored to electric vehicle technology, such as: 

  • energy-saving climate control system optimized for electric vehicles, and 
  • an infotainment system with EV-specific functions like energy consumption monitoring and charging status. 

Another perk of the EV is that advanced cruise control and collision-avoidance systems come standard, but are an add-on for the gas version. 

Summary of Comfort & Convenience:

Following options only available to EV:

  • Hands-free smart liftgate with auto-open
  • Remote Smart Parking Assist
  • Remote Start
  • Solar front glass (front doors and windshield)
  • Rear privacy glass
  • Aero wiper blades

Following options standard on EV (upgrades on ICE):

  • Dual automatic temperature control with Auto Defog and driver-only mode

Summary of Safety Features:

Following options only available to EV:

  • Intelligent Speed Limit Assist 

Following options standard on EV (upgrades on ICE):

  • Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist with Pedestrian Detection, Junction Turning and Direct Oncoming
  • Highway Driving Assist
  • Navigation based Smart Cruise & Curve Control 

Fuel Cost

In this next section, we’re going to do a deeper dive into estimated fuel costs per mile under various conditions. The EPA fuel efficiency values we’ll use are: 

  • Kona ICE - 29 MPG
  • Kona EV - 116 MPGe (3.45 mi/kWh)

Additionally, we’ll compare fuel costs across three states, which have different weather, road conditions, and fuel prices. For simplicity, we’ll also assume 15,000 miles of driving per year, and compare 100% charging at home versus 100% public fast charging to represent the far ends of the driving spectrum.

State Avg. gas price Avg. electricity price
Avg. DCFC price
Avg. temp
Avg. temp
CA $4.558 $0.2911 $0.50 46.5F 71.5F
TX $2.604 $0.1458 $0.50 53.5F 78.1F
MA $3.383 $0.2885 $0.52 38.7F 58.8F

Summary of Fuel Costs using EPA efficiency numbers

State Kona ICE
(29 MPG)
Kona EV
(116 MPGe)
Kona EV
(116 MPGe)
CA $0.157 $0.0844 $0.145 Per Mile
$2358 $1266 $2175 Annual
TX $0.090 $0.0423 $0.145 Per Mile
$1347 $634 $2175 Annual
MA $0.117 $0.0837 $0.1508 Per Mile
$1750 $1255 $2262 Annual

We start our analysis using EPA-estimated efficiency numbers, combined with the average fuel cost for each state. 

Comparison 1: Exclusive home charging

In this situation, regardless of the state, the Kona EV will come out on top. Home electricity rates combined with high fuel efficiency results in a very low cost per mile, which may be ½ or ⅓ of the cost to fuel the Kona ICE. This means that the gasoline Kona will need to become twice as efficient, or gas needs to get half as cheap, to make the cost per mile similar. 

Winner: Kona EV

Comparison 2: Exclusive public fast charging

Public DC fast charging is often quite expensive as we are paying a premium for convenience. We used the average DC fast charging rate per state to create the most expensive public charging scenario. In CA, exclusive DC fast charging a Kona EV is still cheaper than operating the gasoline counterpart, due to very high gasoline prices. In TX, where the DC fast charging rate is more expensive than gas, the cost per mile for a publicly charged EV is higher than that of the gasoline Kona. Even in MA, where the gas prices are higher than in Texas, the gas version of the Kona is still cheaper to drive than an EV that is exclusively fast charged.

Winner: It depends on gas and fast charge prices

Comparison 3: Mixed home & public fast charging

Most EV drivers today are homeowners with access to cheaper home charging, and estimates are that ~65% of charging is done using residential electricity rates. We’ll assume the other 35% of charging is at public DC fast chargers. This is still an extreme, since many public chargers are level 2, which are far cheaper than DC fast charging.

In this real-world example, we see that the cost per mile becomes similar, particularly where gas prices are below the national average. As gas prices increase, the cost advantage shifts towards the Kona EV. As a bonus, sometimes utility companies offer special EV charging plans or auto manufacturers offer free public charging perks. Both these situations favor EVs even more. 

Winner: Kona EV

Driving Style

Only 15-30% of the energy derived from gasoline is translated to the wheels, depending on the drive cycle. The efficiency of gasoline vehicles improves at highway speeds (relative to low speeds), despite increases in drag force.

On the other hand, vehicles with electric motors are able to convert roughly 80% of electrical energy into mechanical energy, and have the ability to recapture energy through regenerative braking. Studies indicate that the aerodynamic drag of an electric vehicle is responsible for a large part of a vehicle’s fuel consumption and may contribute up to 50% of the total vehicle fuel consumption at highway speeds.

In this section, we will look at how driving speed affects the fuel costs for the Kona EV and gasoline counterpart. 

At low speeds, the fuel economy of the Kona EV is nearly 8x that of the gasoline Kona. However, at highway speeds, the EV drops to only 3x the efficiency of the gas version. 

Translating these efficiency numbers to driving costs, we can see that in states with high gas prices such as CA, the Kona EV remains cheaper across all average driving speeds, with significant savings in low speed, city conditions. As speed and highway use increases, the savings decrease. Similarly, as use of public charging increases, the savings decrease. 

In MA, the Kona EV remains cheaper in most cases, except when you exclusively fast charge and drive predominantly at highway speeds. If you have to rely on public fast charging, the gas Kona becomes cheaper once you go faster than ~60 mph. 

In TX, results are similar to MA, but with the breakeven point between gas and EV happening at lower speeds, due to the large cost discrepancy between home versus public charging. If you’re exclusively fast charging in Texas, the gasoline Kona becomes cheaper above ~45 mph. Relying solely on public fast charging is, however, a rare situation, and like in the other two states, the Kona EV is usually going to be cheaper to drive. 

Takeaway - the Kona EV is nearly always cheaper to drive per mile, with the gap closing at very high speeds or when public fast charging (not level 2) is the only option. Charging at home results in significant savings across all three states. 

Weather & Terrain

The nice thing about traditional gasoline cars is that heating them is essentially free. This is because gas engines produce a large amount of waste heat that can be directed into the vehicle to heat the cabin. Since EVs do not have engines, very little waste heat is produced. Many groups have shown that the HVAC system is the largest energy consumption system in an EV, with several studies indicating that an average decrease of 30-40% driving range is to be expected with conventional AC systems.In this section, we evaluate driving costs under winter and summer conditions in the three states. For simplicity, we will use the mixed charging scenario (65% home, 35% public fast) for comparison to gasoline driving costs.

Cold Temperatures

The data in the previous sections assumes ~77F, or near ideal conditions where neither heating or cooling is needed. For this section, we use 23F for the cold temperature, representing a below-freezing condition that may be seen frequently in mountain areas or the northeast during the winter. As the temperature decreases, the efficiency of both the Kona EV and gasoline version decrease, but the impact is significantly higher for the EV. 

Despite the bigger hit to efficiency, the Kona EV is still far cheaper under normal winter driving conditions in a state like CA, where gas prices are high. At very high speeds, the difference becomes less significant. 

In MA, a state where these low temperatures are more likely to occur, the spread between the Kona EV and gasoline version is much smaller. In fact, above ~75 mph, the EV becomes more expensive per mile. As the temperature decreases, the speed at which this cross occurs also drops, and at some temperatures (-4F), the gasoline Kona is cheaper per mile at all speeds [data not shown]. 

The results in TX are similar, with cost parity occurring above 85 mph. At low speeds, the Kona EV is significantly cheaper per mile, with the difference becoming minimal above ~60 mph. As the temperature decreases, the speed at which this cross occurs also drops [data not shown]. 

Takeaway - when it’s near freezing conditions, the Kona EV is nearly always cheaper to drive per mile, with the gap closing at very high speeds or with a lot of fast charging. Charging at home results in significant savings across all three states, despite the dramatic reduction in Kona EV efficiency.

Hot Temperatures

For this section, we chose to use 122F for the hot temperature, representing a peak-summer condition that may be seen in the desert areas of CA or TX. As the temperature increases, the efficiency of the Kona EV will decrease as battery cooling (and AC needs) increases. Compared to cold conditions, however, the temperature impact on the EV efficiency will be less severe. On the other hand, the gas version will need extra cooling due to the heat from the engine. In other words, the gas Kona will lose more efficiency in the heat than in the cold – the opposite of the EV. 

Given the impact of high temperatures on gasoline vehicles, the Kona EV is a clear winner in all three states, regardless of speed. Once again, this assumes a mix of home and public fast charging, and results will shift as relatively expensive public charging use increases. In states where the home charging rate is extremely low, such as Texas, the gasoline Kona is nearly 3x expensive across all speeds. In CA and MA, where the rates are higher, the spread is reduced, although savings are still significant. 

Takeaway - under very hot conditions, the Kona EV is always cheaper to drive per mile, with a slight reduction in savings at very high speeds or extreme dependence on public fast charging. Charging at home results in significant savings across all three states.


It’s no surprise that cars are more efficient on a flat road than on hills. Studies confirm that fuel economy on the flat route is superior to that of the hilly routes by ~15% to 20%. Additionally, although EVs are heavier than gasoline vehicles, they are less affected by roundtrip road grades because they can recover energy during any period where they decelerate. Thanks, regenerative braking!

The chart above describes the relationship between fuel economy for each Kona as a function of increasing slope grade starting from a flat route, assuming 77F ambient temperature and 65 mph driving speed. As the slope increases, the demand for fuel increases, yet the Kona EV remains far more fuel efficient. The second chart describes the relationship between fuel economy for each Kona as a function of decreasing slope grade starting from a flat route, under the same conditions. 

Here we can see where the Kona EV really shines, being able to recapture energy through regenerative braking. When the downhill drive is not that steep, the difference is not very drastic, since the gas Kona can coast. However, as the decline gets steeper, both vehicles will need to brake. For the gas version, braking means wasted energy. But for the Kona EV, regenerative braking adds energy back into the battery. The steeper the decline, the more energy is recaptured. 

Using CA as an example, we can see that the Kona EV becomes almost free to drive at significant declines, while the gas Kona barely cuts the cost in half. This suggests that the Kona EV would be the preferred vehicle for a round-trip hilly route. For an uphill-only one-way trip, the Kona EV is still significantly cheaper to operate, particularly when charging at home.

Mechanical Specifications

The following mechanical specifications for both the ICE and EV version of the Kona affect the results above.


Electric vehicles typically weigh more than similar gasoline vehicles due to the weight of the battery pack. The gasoline Kona ranges from 3005 pounds on the low end (SE FWD) to 3505 pounds on the high end (Limited AWD). The AWD system adds roughly 200 pounds of weight to the vehicle, and higher trims are heavier due to additional safety/convenience features and larger wheels and tires. 

The base EV weighs 3571 pounds, 66 lbs more than even the heaviest gasoline configuration, and tops out at 3891 pounds for the fully loaded trim. 


Electric vehicles are much more sensitive to aerodynamic drag than gasoline vehicles due to their much higher drivetrain efficiency. It’s worth it to minimize an EV’s drag because it helps fuel efficiency so much more. The Kona EV has slightly lower drag at 0.78 square meters, compared to the gas version at 0.87 to 0.89 square meters. For context, the average modern vehicle has 0.80 square meters, a Toyota Prius at 0.58 square meters, or a Land Rover Discovery at 1.60 square meters.

Efficiency & Range

The gasoline Kona comes in many options, which includes several trims, multiple engine and transmission configurations, and even different size gas tanks! Overall, the gasoline Kona has an average fuel efficiency, near the US average of ~28 MPG. 

The Kona EV, on the other hand, boasts an EPA estimated 129-131 MPGe in the city. On the highway, this number drops to 103-105 MPGe, a phenomenon that is typical for EVs. Combined, the EPA estimated efficiency is 116-118 MPGe, slightly above the average EV efficiency at ~115 MPGe combined (3.4 miles/kWh). It is important to note that for both versions, EPA numbers represent ideal conditions, and as we will see in later sections, they can increase or decrease depending on driving conditions (e.g. speed, terrain, temperature).