The Hyundai Kona is powered by a choice of two different 4-cylinder engines. The base 4-cylinder engine displaces 2.0L and sends power to the front wheels via a 6-speed automatic transmission. Making 147 horsepower, this engine helps to return fuel economy of up to 33 mpg on the highway. Higher trim levels of the Kona come with a more powerful, but smaller displacement 1.6L engine. It makes 175 horsepower with the help of a turbocharger. This powerplant gets a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. The Kona is designed with on-road city and suburban driving in mind, but it does offer decent ground clearance and all-wheel drive can be had with either drivetrain choice for an additional $1,300.
The Kona comes in one of five different trim levels, starting with the SE. Hyundai has a lot of experience building smaller, high-value cars that pack a surprising amount of standard equipment. The base-level SE is no exception and its standard equipment includes a 7-inch LCD touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capabilities, a rearview monitor camera with dynamic parking lines displayed on it, a tilt and telescoping steering wheel with audio and Bluetooth controls built in, LED daytime running lights, alloy wheels, remote keyless access, automatic headlights, power door locks and windows and a 3.5-inch multifunction display.
The Kona SEL adds bigger 17-inch alloy wheels, a blind spot warning system that includes rear cross-traffic alert, heated front seats, a push button starter with a proximity key, SiriusXM satellite radio, heated side mirrors, a leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, automatic windows and an illuminated vanity mirror.
The Limited trim comes standard with the bigger engine and nicer transmission. It also gets bigger 18-inch alloy wheels, full LED headlights and taillights, front fog lights, leather seats, automatic temperature control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and some exterior brightwork around the grille.
The Ultimate trim sits at the top of the Kona line. The Ultimate trim comes equipped with a head-up display, a forward collision avoidance assist system, a lane keep assist system, an 8-inch LCD touchscreen with navigation, a high beam assist system, rain sensing wipers, an automatic garage door opener, parking sensors, an Infinity sound system with 8 speakers and a subwoofer, a bigger 4.2-inch multifunction display, wireless device charging and three years of Hyundai's Blue Link connected car services program. The Ultimate trim still starts well below $30,000 at just $27,400 and includes so many features as standard that Hyundai doesn't even need to offer any optional equipment packages for the trim.
The Kona EV offers extended range estimated at 258 miles on a full charge. It comes in SEL, Limited and Ultimate trims. All trims come with the same fully electric drivetrain that makes 201 horsepower and 291 lb-feet of torque. Base Kona EV SEL models come with 17-inch wheels, automatic climate control, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and proximity entry. The Limited adds a sunroof, heated mirrors, heated power-adjustable front seats and leather interior. The top-of-the-line Ultimate trim includes a premium Infinity audio system, heated and ventilated front seats, a heated leather steering wheel and adaptive cruise control.
Like pineapple as a pizza topping, you'll either love the Hyundai Kona's looks or not, and you can decide for yourself if it's something you want to make monthly payments on. If, however, you're firmly in the naysayer camp because of the design, that's a shame because there is so much to like here.
I get it. This crossover's styling is not for everyone. The Kona is a small vehicle with a lot of grille. That slitlike applique above the main opening looks like a complete afterthought. Those superangular lamp assemblies that house the daytime running lights are positively alien. And then there's the dark-gray body cladding, which is always of questionable tastefulness. Personally, I don't mind the Kona's design and appreciate that Hyundai was willing to take a gamble here because some of this crossover's rivals are pretty boring, like, waiting on hold with your internet service provider boring. Seriously, have you seen a ?
To appeal to a broad range of drivers, the Hyundai Kona is offered in five trim levels, from entry-level SE to highfalutin' Ultimate. My top-shelf all-wheel-drive tester rolls on stylish 18-inch alloy wheels, is fitted with standard LED headlights and features plenty of driver-assistance tech.
The Good ~ Strong real-world fuel economy ~ Friendly and useful tech ~ Nicely designed interior ~ Spunky performance
The Bad ~ Low-speed transmission judders ~ Engine sounds like death ~ Backseat is a little tight
The Bottom Line Hyundai absolutely nailed it with the Kona, full stop.
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