The sub compact crossover segment has exploded in the last three or four years.
And every auto maker's trying to carve out its own little niche.
The Nissan Juke helped pioneer the segment and we always respected it for being weird and proud of it, but the Juke has sailed off into the sunset, so now it's time for another cute ute to take up the mantle of peculiarity.
In my opinion the new king of quirky is this, the Hyundai Kona.
It's Hyundai's first stab at a super small SUV and it's a good one.
Behind it's freaky dicky face lies a veritable cornucopia of quality, whether we're talking about how it drives or how well it's equiped.
Let's check it out.
Now, the Kona definitely stands out from the crowd, and it doesn't even take all four of my eyes to notice why.
Aside from the retina-searing lime paint job, the whole shebang is kind of wacky.
Take these lights up here, for example.
They're just the running lights.
The real peepers are located below.
And they're ensconced in a rugged-looking gray plastic that extends back to each wheel arch.
The whole front end is kind of busy, but I still think it looks pretty cool.
Out back, the Kona rocks a floating roof design here on the D-pillar.
Beneath that, the lights are split up into two.
Once again, we have the break lights up top, and the turn signal and reverse lights below wrapped in this hardy looking gray plastic.
Now, the lines are kinda all over the place, like they are on the front end, but I feel like the rear is just a little less put together.
But you don't have to look at it when you're in it.
That wacky green paint adds a dash of color to the dashboards, steering wheel, and seats, but otherwise the Kona's interior plays it pretty straight.
You've got a floating infotainment screen, plenty of physical buttons and storage cubbies, and enough head and leg room in the back for a six foot tall passenger.
But while there's space for people, there's not a ton of space for cargo.
At just 19 cubic feet, the [UNKNOWN] cargo room is the second lowest in its segment ahead of only the Mazda CX3.
Folding the rear seats down doesn't make matters much better.
It still lags behind the Honda HRV, Kia Soul and Nissan Sport.
Now the top two Trims have kinda ditched the two liter in-line form, replaced it with a turbo charged 1.6 liter.
175 horsepower and 195 poundfeet of torque might not seem like much, but this thing scoots.
It is surprisingly fun to flit about and push through traffic.
It's seven-speed, dual-clutch gearbox lives largely in the background, calling up shifts smoothly.
I wouldn't exactly call this a hot-hatch on stilts, but it does pack some very composed handling.
All though at highway speeds, it does require a fair bit of steering effort to say centered in the.
And that feeling of composure translates to the suspension too.
It does a really good job of eating up most of the bumps and holes that cover, well, just about every road in Michigan.
But while the bumps might not creep into the cabin, the noise sure does.
There's a fair amount of both wind and tire noise at highway speeds, not all of which can be drowned out by simply turning up the stereo.
Now even though it's quick, it's still pretty efficient.
The EPA rates to 1.6 litre all wheel drive [UNKNOWN] at 26 MPG city and 29 MPG highway.
Now I got a little [UNKNOWN] In the city about 25 MPG but once I was out of the highway speed, I was getting closer to 30-31 MPG.
Not too bad.
The Hyundai is very egalitarian with it's tech, which means even the littlest Kona here gets a decent amount of it, especially in it's top ultimate trip.
Standard safety equipment includes, automatic braking, forward collision warning, lane keep assist, and rear parking Sensors.
Now, it's kind of a shame that there's no adaptive cruise control, and in my opinion, the lane keep assist might work a little too hard with the steering wheel to try and stay centered in its lane.
The Kona Ultimate also packs a small head-up display that can retract into the dash when it's not in use.
I'm a huge fan of the fact that I can see the speed limit, the driver aid status, and blind spot monitoring all at the same time.
The only problem with it is, it's a little low on the dash, which makes it kind of awkward for taller drivers to look at.
Now as for infotainment, most Konas make do with a 7-inch touch screen featuring Apple car play and Android auto.
Here on the Kona Ultimate, that's upgraded to an 8-incher with.
Standard embedded navigation.
I'm a huge fan of Hyundai's Infotainment System.
The response time is good.
And the layout is straightforward.
And best of all there's a series of buttons on either side of the touchscreen for jumping to quick menu.
Good news, it works and it works well.
Hyundai's cars are by and large, very sensible machines.
The 2018 Kona is one of those, but sensibility doesn't automatically mean that it's as boring as a burlap sack of white rice.
It's wacky enough to get attention, but it doesn't let that eccentricity impede on its functionality.
As crossovers go, the Kona's a good one.
It drives quite nicely and it'll hold adults in comfort.
Although, the bags in the back might be a little cramped.
And like many other Hyundais, it is positively brimming with the sort of tech that'll get drivers a little extra peace of mind With starting price of $19,500 and this one topping out a hair under 30 grand, it is pretty affordable for what it offers.
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