Hyundai’s new Kona small crossover/SUV can be looked upon as a cute ute. And cute it is. And with it comes loads of competition in its class.
But as good as it is, it has gone one-up on everyone but adding an electric version, making it a complete model offering for all new, small car buyers.
Kona catches the eyes with its unique and edgy styling. It offers efficient interior space, digital technology, impressive fuel economy, and above all, carries an affordable price.
Offered in SE, SEL, Limited and Ultimate and in FWD and AWD, we tested the top-end AWD Ultimate that came loaded with a very long list of standard items. The only extra cost was for carpeted floor mats ($125). And the Ultimate includes the higher powered 1.6-liter, turbocharged inline 4-cylinder that produces 175-hp and 195 lb/ft of torque for EPA mileage estimates of 26 city, 29-highway mpg.
A 2.0L, 147-hp inline-4 that generates 132 lb/ft of torque, comes standard on SE and SEL trim models. With AWD, that engine gets EPA estimates of 25 city, 30 mpg.
With the 1.6L, that’s coupled to a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, acceleration was strong and spirited with loads of low-end torque. Punch the accelerator and when the turbo kicks in, it’s a linear explosion of power. The combination was independently tested at 7.2 seconds for 0-60 mph. There are also two driving modes. Normal and Sport with the latter tightening things up while offering sportier response from the engine, trans and steering.
The dual clutch trans, if you’re not familiar with one, feels a bit different from typical automatics. It seems to be a tad sluggish at low speeds, and when turning off the engine, there’s a slight clicking sound that is a normal system self check.
As for handling, there’s negligible body lean in sharp turns and the car remains composed throughout all driving maneuvers. It also parks easily thanks to its small size.
Kona’s ride is slightly taut on Goodyear 18-inch tires. Again, because of its short wheelbase that is common in all vehicles of this class. And it’s relatively quiet with supportive leather seats that absorb most minor road imperfections.
Step-in into the cabin is a low 16.5 inches. Once in you’re treated to a handsome cockpit with 8-inch touchscreen display with split screen capability. It also offers Hyundai’s proprietary BlueLink connection, voice commands, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and the navigation screen showing nearby filling stations, restaurants and more.
Kona’s HVAC controls are easy to use and a high-five to Hyundai for including as standard on the Ultimate model, a wireless smartphone charger. We’re currently testing an $80K priced vehicle that doesn’t have it.
Included too is Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keeping Assist Forward Collision Warning and a rather tall Head-Up-Display that shows posted speed limits and vehicle speed. And within the gauge set is a driver’s information display showing various operating information plus 4WD lock notification that is a capability many Kona competitors don’t have. It’s an important feature to have if getting stuck in deep snow or mucky mud. That feature alone makes Kona extra attractive for those in the Snowbelt.
Ingress/egress into the back seat is easy thanks to wide opening doors. The seat can accommodate two adults with ample headroom and decent leg room provided the front seats aren’t racked too well rearward.
Back in the cargo area, and with the back seats upright, there’s 19.2 cubic feet of space. That too is above average for the class. Those cubes measure out to 28 inches deep, 42.5 wide and 29 high. Flip the seats backs and space increases to 45.8 cubic feet or 58 inches of cargo loading depth. Beneath the cargo floor is a nifty hard foam, five compartment small item storage bin. And beneath it, the space-saver spare tire.
Now here’s the real compelling incentive to own a Kona. With an extremely long list of standard features, and as mentioned, the only option was floor mats, Kona bottom-lined at $29,805 with delivery after a base price of $28,700. Affordable and attractive especially with Hyundai’s generous warranties of 5-year/80,000-mile new vehicle; 10-year/100,000 powertrain; 7-year/unlimited anti-perforation (rust); and 5-year/unlimited roadside assistance.
Kona is a compelling subcompact, crossover/SUV that should attract all ages of buyers.
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