IT’S A BEST BUY BECAUSE:
The Kona matches most of its competitors in terms of driving manners and all-around practicality, and bests most of them with its peppy available turbo engine and rare-for-the-class comfort and convenience features.
In lower trim levels, the interior materials aren’t as nice as some rivals’.
A pure-electric variant named Kona Electric is available in select states; it has a 201-hp electric motor and an estimated driving range of 258 miles.
WHAT IS IT?
The Kona is the larger and pricier of Hyundai’s two entries in the subcompact crossover SUV segment (the other is the Hyundai Venue). Unlike most of its class rivals, the Kona offers a choice of two engines: SE, SEL, and SEL Plus models have a 147-horsepower 2.0-liter 4-cylinder, while the Limited and Ultimate models get a gutsy-for-the-class turbocharged 1.6-liter 4-cylinder that makes 175 hp. All are available with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. Available safety features include forward collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking, driver attention warning, lane-keep assist, lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, rear parking sensors, and automatic high-beam headlights.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity are standard. Available comfort and convenience features include a navigation system with an 8-inch touchscreen, wireless device charging, rain-sensing wipers, leather upholstery, heated front seats, and a head-up display with a pop-up display screen. Also available is Hyundai’s Blue Link connectivity system, which includes smartphone-app remote-access functions such as Car Finder, Remote Start with Climate Control, Remote Door Lock/Unlock, and Stolen Vehicle Recovery.
A Night Edition trim level joins the Kona model lineup; it includes the turbo engine, LED headlights and taillights, and special trim touches such as 18-inch black-finished alloy wheels and gloss black interior and exterior trim accents.
The base 2.0-liter engine is EPA-rated at 27 mpg city/33 mpg highway with front-wheel drive and 25/30 with all-wheel drive. The turbo 1.6 is rated at 28 mpg city/32 mpg highway with FWD and 26/29 with AWD. In Consumer Guide® testing, a front-drive SEL model averaged 27.3 mpg and an AWD Ultimate averaged 25.5 mpg in an even mix of city and highway driving.
VALUE IN CLASS
In addition to its spunky styling and likable driving demeanor, the Hyundai Kona has a lot going for it. Prices are highly competitive, the features-per-dollar ratio is excellent, the available equipment list is impressive, and the step-up turbo engine offers satisfying pep with little penalty to fuel-economy numbers.