Hyundai Joins the Compact Crossover Class With the 2018 Kona | Edmunds

Hyundai Joins the Compact Crossover Class With the 2018 Kona

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Compact crossovers have been gaining in popularity in the few short years they've been around. For shoppers who are drawn to the elevated ride height but don't need as much space as a traditional SUV, choices such as the Mazda CX-3 and Honda HR-V are enticing alternatives. Not to be outdone, Hyundai rolled out its entrant in this emerging segment in the form of the 2018 Kona.

When the Kona arrives in dealerships in March, it will benefit from Hyundai's reputation for value as well as the industry's most generous warranty. Four trim levels will be offered: SE, SEL, Limited and Ultimate, all of which will come with a 147-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. The top two trims will be eligible for an engine upgrade, a 175-hp, turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder, which will be mated to a seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission. All-wheel drive will be available with any trim and any engine. We're told that alternative powerplants (hybrid, EV and hydrogen) are being developed, but there's no word if or when they'll be available in the U.S.

2018 Hyundai Kona

Feature highlights for the SE include 16-inch alloy wheels, a 7-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. The SEL model will add 17-inch wheels, keyless entry and ignition, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. The Limited brings 18-inch wheels, LED headlights, a sunroof, leather upholstery, automatic climate control and a premium audio system. The Ultimate adds rear parking sensors, a frontal collision mitigation system, lane keeping assist, a driver attention alert system, a head-up display, a wireless charging pad, an 8-inch touchscreen, a navigation system and Hyundai's Blue Link emergency telematics system.

On paper, all of this bodes well for the 2018 Hyundai Kona, but in person, some may find the styling rather challenging. It's one of the least cohesive designs we've seen in quite a while, with elements seemingly inspired by an odd assemblage of other vehicles. We were particularly thrown off by the gray plastic wheel arches that extend to surround the headlights and taillights. It's possible that these pieces could look less awkward if they were painted to match the rest of the body, but we're told that will not be an option.

2018 Hyundai Kona

The interior will likely find greater appeal with its more traditional design. In many ways, it's similar to Mazda's direction with a tabletlike touchscreen mounted atop the dash and a flip-up clear plastic head-up display. (Hyundai was keen to point out that the Kona's is bigger.) The cabin has its fair share of hard plastics, but that's not entirely unusual for the class, nor is its lack of rear-seat headroom. We had a very brief drive at Hyundai's test center and came away with positive impressions of the turbocharged 1.6-liter engine. We weren't impressed, however, by the noticeable wind and road noise and busy rear suspension feel over rough pavement.

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