Subcompact SUVs are hot, and Hyundai is jumping into the marketplace with the radically styled Kona. The squinty-eye running lights, contrasting-color roof, and black plastic body cladding remind us of both the Jeep Cherokee and the Toyota C-HR. Love it or hate it, there's no question the Hyundai Kona is going to stand out among the competition.
While the styling may be a radical departure from that of the rest of Hyundai's lineup, the Kona's basic value equation remains the same. The Kona's various models are nicely equipped, so you can expect a healthy dose of traditional Hyundai value. Our short stint in a preproduction prototype revealed some flaws in the driving experience, although, knowing Hyundai, some of these issues will be addressed by the time production starts. But there is no easy fix for the Kona's shortage of backseat headroom, and that may be a deal-breaker for would-be buyers of this otherwise intriguing little crossover.
Current Hyundai Kona
The Hyundai Kona is sold in SE, SEL, Limited and Ultimate models. All including the SE are nicely equipped with power accessories and an Android Auto/Apple CarPlay-compatible stereo. Hyundai is not stingy with its option choices, and the top-of-the-line Ultimate has luxury touches such as leather upholstery, automatic wipers and navigation, as well as crash detection with automatic braking.
The Kona offers two engines. SE and SEL models are powered by a 147-horsepower 2.0-liter engine that sends power through a six-speed automatic, while Limited and Ultimate models get a 175-hp turbocharged 1.6-liter engine with a seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission. Both engines offer both front- and all-wheel drive.
Those who find the exterior styling a bit too controversial will be pleased to find the interior is more subtle. Several of the styling cues seem to be lifted from Mazda, including the tabletlike infotainment screen and a head-up display projected in a plastic panel that rises from the dash when the car is switched on. There's an abundance of hard plastics, but that's par for the course in this class of low-cost SUVs. The front seats are relatively comfortable, but the back seat lacks headroom compared to what other small SUVs offer.
Used Hyundai Kona Models
The Hyundai Kona first hit the market for the 2018 model year.