2018 Hyundai Kona

2018 Hyundai Kona Review

Style may be subjective, but the Kona is objectively one of the best in its class.
4.0 / 5
Edmunds overall rating
author
by Mark Takahashi
Edmunds Editor

Edmunds expert review

The subcompact crossover SUV class is gaining in popularity and the latest entrant, the 2018 Hyundai Kona, has a lot of potential to take the lead. Its exterior style may be somewhat polarizing, but it drives better than the competition. It also delivers a lot for the money and checks all of the boxes that shoppers want in this type of vehicle.

The Kona sets itself apart from the rest of the class with a powerful turbocharged 1.6-liter engine that Hyundai offers on the top two trim levels. The Kona also gets high marks for the features you get for the price as well as Hyundai's strong warranty coverage. For these reasons, you should place it high on your must-drive list if you're in the market for a crossover in this class.



What's new for 2018

The 2018 Hyundai Kona is an all-new vehicle.

We recommend

The 2019 Hyundai Kona in Limited trim gets you the preferred turbocharged 1.6-liter engine as well as an appealing number of features. Whatever climate you live in, we also suggest springing for the all-wheel-drive option since it comes with a more sophisticated rear suspension that provides a more composed ride quality.




Trim levels & features

The 2018 Hyundai Kona is a five-passenger subcompact crossover SUV that is available in four trim levels: SE, SEL, Limited and Ultimate. The SE and SEL models are powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (147 horsepower, 132 pound-feet of torque) that is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission that drives the front wheels. The Limited and Ultimate trims get a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder (175 hp, 195 lb-ft) that's mated to a seven-speed automated dual-clutch transmission.

All-wheel drive is available as an option for all Konas. It comes bundled with a more sophisticated rear suspension design and a lockable center differential. The latter enhances off-road traction.

Standard features for the SE trim include 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic LED headlights, remote keyless entry, air conditioning, a telescoping steering wheel, a height-adjustable driver's seat, 60/40-split folding rear seats and a split-level cargo area. Tech features include a rearview camera, Bluetooth, a 7-inch infotainment touchscreen, a USB port, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, and a six-speaker audio system.

The SEL trim adds 17-inch wheels, heated side mirrors, keyless entry and ignition, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, heated front seats, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and satellite radio. A sunroof and a power-adjustable driver's seat are available as options.

Stepping up to the Limited trim gets you all of the above plus 18-inch wheels, LED taillights and leather upholstery.

At the top of the lineup is the Ultimate trim. It comes loaded up with automatic wipers, Hyundai's Blue Link communications, a head-up display, an 8-inch touchscreen, a navigation system, a wireless charging pad, and an Infinity premium audio system.

The Hyundai Smart Sense suite of advanced safety features, with forward collision warning and mitigation, lane keeping assist, a driver attention monitor and automatic high beams, is standard on this trim and available as an option only on the SEL trim (minus the automatic high beams).



Trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the Hyundai Kona Ultimate (turbo 1.6L inline-4 | 7-speed dual-clutch automatic | AWD).

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall4.0 / 5

Driving

4.0 / 5

Acceleration4.5 / 5
Braking3.0 / 5
Steering3.0 / 5
Handling5.0 / 5
Drivability2.5 / 5

Comfort

3.5 / 5

Seat comfort3.5 / 5
Ride comfort3.0 / 5
Noise & vibration3.0 / 5
Climate control4.0 / 5

Interior

4.0 / 5

Ease of use5.0 / 5
Getting in/getting out4.0 / 5
Driving position3.5 / 5
Roominess4.0 / 5
Visibility4.0 / 5
Quality3.0 / 5

Utility

3.0 / 5

Small-item storage3.0 / 5
Cargo space3.0 / 5

Technology

4.5 / 5

Audio & navigation5.0 / 5
Smartphone integration4.0 / 5
Driver aids4.0 / 5
Voice control4.0 / 5

Driving4.0

Overall, the Kona is a sporty subcompact SUV with above-average acceleration and handling. However, the turbocharged engine's transmission exhibits some bad behavior at low speed, and the braking performance is subpar.

Acceleration4.5

The turbocharged 1.6-liter engine delivers strong acceleration and provides plenty of thrust at city speeds or in freeway passing maneuvers. From a stop, the engine's power is somewhat muted by the dual-clutch automatic transmission's sluggish responses. Still, the Kona zipped from 0 to 60 mph in 7.2 seconds in our testing, which absolutely crushes the competition.

Braking3.0

The brake pedal is smooth and easy to modulate in typical driving. The Kona is well-behaved under hard braking, too. Unfortunately, our as-tested 60-0 mph braking run was 129 feet, which puts the Kona well behind its competitors.

Steering3.0

The steering feels a bit rubbery, with heavy, artificial resistance. But there is some feedback from the tires, and resistance builds in a linear fashion (feeling more natural in Sport mode), which helps the steering feel accurate. It is surprising how heavy the steering is both in Normal and Sport.

Handling5.0

Other than a propensity for bounciness when driving over midcorner bumps, the Kona is surprisingly composed through turns. It stays under control and doesn't exhibit excessive body roll. Tire grip is also impressive for the class. Overall, this is one of the Kona's strengths.

Drivability2.5

There's a distinct delay when accelerating from a stop. And at low speed, the transmission's shifts can be jerky and slow. Once the Kona gets going, upshifts are usually smooth, but downshifts are always a little rough. Sport mode improves the experience but saps fuel economy.

Comfort3.5

It's not the most comfortable vehicle in its class, but the supportive seats, easy-to-use climate control and above-average noise isolation make the Kona a decent place to spend time. The firm seat cushions and a stiff ride can make bumpy roads or long drives wearing.

Seat comfort3.5

The front seats are well-shaped and pretty supportive. There is plenty of adjustability but not a whole lot of lateral bolstering. The perforated leather is stiff, and the cushions are noticeably firm. In back, the seats are flat and broad but not too upright.

Ride comfort3.0

Smaller imperfections are ironed out, and the suspension takes the edge off just about any bump. But the ride quality can feel a bit too rigid and busy at times. Very bumpy roads can make the vehicle feel excessively unsettled.

Noise & vibration3.0

When driving at freeway speeds, voices must be raised considerably due to intrusive road noise and noticeable wind noise around the doors. Overall, noise isn't worse than average for the class, with a cabin that's frequently quieter than those of competitors in city driving.

Climate control4.0

The climate control struggles a bit to cool the entire cabin when it's sweltering outside, but the rest of the time it's effective at keeping you comfortable. The controls are clearly marked and straightforward to use, making it an easy system to operate.

Interior4.0

Though it has a lot of plasticky materials, the Kona's interior gets high marks. The controls are logically arranged, outward visibility is good, and there's a decent amount of room. Taller drivers and passengers will encounter a few issues.

Ease of use5.0

Buttons are grouped logically and clearly labeled, and Hyundai's infotainment interface is easy to use. Some of the touch buttons are small on the screen, but otherwise there's nothing to complain about.

Getting in/getting out4.0

The relatively short doors can be opened wide even in tighter parking spaces. The height of the seat cushions makes the seats easy to slide in and out of. Taller drivers will have to duck a bit when climbing in, and the tight rear kneeroom complicates backseat entry and exit. But that's pretty common for this class of vehicle.

Driving position3.5

The gauge cluster and the steering wheel are mounted low in the vehicle, making for a slightly awkward angle up toward the driver. The seat's good vertical adjustment means you can sit in an upright SUV position, but that makes the low armrests difficult to use.

Roominess4.0

There is a suitable amount of space for the driver and front passenger. Rear headroom is decent for the class — more than enough for average adults — but legroom is tight, especially behind a tall driver. Fortunately, there is generous space under the front seats for the rear passengers' feet.

Visibility4.0

The relatively narrow roof pillars up front make for good forward and side visibility. The rear roof pillars are wide, but adjacent small windows help you see what's over your shoulder. The rearview camera provides a broad and clear picture.

Quality3.0

Everything feels robustly built, but only the primary touchpoints such as the steering wheel and shifter have been treated with soft-touch materials. Otherwise, the cabin looks and feels very plasticky. The alternating textures break things up visually a bit, but there's no hiding the dreary hard plastic.

Utility3.0

The Kona really only falters in terms of utility when compared directly to class leaders. The trunk is a usable space, and there are a decent number of small-item storage options. But in every metric, there are competitors that offer superior ways to store your stuff.

Small-item storage3.0

All four doors get pockets that can hold a water bottle, and the anti-tip cupholders can handle anything short of a large cup. The center console box and glovebox are relatively small. Overall, the Kona is OK with small-item storage but doesn't offer the variety or space of some competitors.

Cargo space3.0

The trunk is easy to use thanks to a wide, flat load floor. But with 19.2 cubic feet behind the rear seats, the Kona is a little less accommodating than some rivals. The seats fold flat to open up 45.8 cubic feet of space.

Child safety seat accommodation3.0

LATCH points are clearly marked and close to the surface, but they're tucked between firm cushions.

Technology4.5

The Kona is a feature-rich vehicle with lots of standard tech that works well. It also offers a nearly full suite of user-friendly safety features, not to mention a solid optional sound system. The lack of adaptive cruise is notable, and there's only one USB port.

Audio & navigation5.0

The optional Infinity stereo system is excellent for this class, with plenty of bass response and good sound quality. The navigation system is simple to use and gets the job done. It has an easy-to-read display and useful turn-by-turn prompts.

Smartphone integration4.0

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, but there's only one USB port. There are two 12-volt outlets for the front seat, and higher trims get a wireless charging pad.

Driver aids4.0

Blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are fitted on all but the base trim, and a more extensive suite of features is available. That said, adaptive cruise control is missing, even as an option. The Kona's systems are consistently accurate, not triggering false alarms in our time with the vehicle.

Voice control4.0

The Kona's built-in voice controls have limited functionality but work well for what they do, responding slowly but accurately. Step-by-step prompts appear on the screen, but the Kona will allow you to skip steps if you know what you want to do.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.