2018 Hyundai Kona Review
2018 Hyundai Kona Review
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Edmunds' Expert Review
Senior Reviews EditorMark Takahashi has worked in the automotive industry since 2001. He has written thousands of car-related articles and tested and reviewed hundreds of vehicles over the course of his career.
- Optional turbocharged engine provides quick acceleration
- Nimble handling makes it enjoyable to drive
- Lots of features for your money
- Weak base engine
The 2018 Hyundai Kona is an all-new vehicle.
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.
Notably, we picked the 2018 Kona as one of Edmunds' Best Small SUVs for 2018.
Edmunds' Expert Rating4.0 / 5
The 2018 Hyundai Kona joins the popular and growing subcompact crossover SUV class. Its exterior styling is somewhat polarizing, but even if you're not a fan, we recommend checking it out. It's enjoyable to drive and offers plenty of value.
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).
|Overall||4.0 / 5|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Which Kona does Edmunds 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.
2018 Hyundai Kona models
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 dual-clutch automatic 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).
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most helpful consumer reviews
5 out of 5 stars
Still Greatly Appreciate 2018 Huyndai KONA SEL suv
George in Washington,04/24/2018
SEL 4dr SUV (2.0L 4cyl 6A)
As of April 2020 we still like our Kona. It has been fine and has not had any difficulty. The 2018 Huyndai KONA SEL suv without contrasting roof looks good and drives like a charm. The ride and comfort of the KONA is unusual in this sub-compact segment. We werre really surprised when we went to see it two weeks after hearing about. Purchased it at the second dealer we visited. … It was a same day deal. It beat out a huge discount on Ford Escape, a larger vehicle. Over the last year we had looked at Honda HR-V, Toyota CH-R, Mazda CX-3, Nissan Juke, Jeep Compass, Chevy Trax and Buick Encore. For our purposes the 2.0 L base engine is fine. I did notice the cargo and passenger rating is an additional 860 pounds. Traded in a 2015 Honda Fit EX-L Navi. The Kona has Android Auto which when used with a Android smartphone will handle the Navigation aide task just fine. I appreciate the variaty of four trim levels and additional optional equipment being available for those that choose to upscale. We are fine with a SEL. I'm a 6 foot 3 420 pound senior citizen and the comfort, legroom and headroom UP FRONT is just fine. The front shoulder room is fine. The rear seats are restricted. The front doors are easy to get in and out. Defintely appreciate the standard warraanty.. traction control is fine. safety aides are controllable and not a nuisance. Greatly appreciated.
5 out of 5 stars
Love this car!
Ultimate 4dr SUV AWD (1.6L 4cyl Turbo 7AM)
I have high praise for everything I've experienced with this car, having had it for only six weeks. The safety features are fantastic, especially the glass pop up screen that tells me my speed, shows me cars approaching on either side of me, and shows me my next navigation turn. It holds the road like a champ. It does everything automatically -- turns my lights on and off, turns the … brights on and off, and runs the windshield wipers at whatever speed the rain requires. The electronics are a bit complicated, but very exciting once you've mastered them. (Love that it charges an i-phone 8 or higher by just lying it on the shelf under the dashboard.) I'm a senior and feel that this car makes me a far safer driver. It won't let me make a mistake. It beeps at me for everything from wandering out my lane to leaving my keys in the car. Navigation is not as good as Google maps, but I use it anyway as I like having my turns crop up on the glass panel. Also, really crowded in backseat with grandkids' babyseats. Think this new model offers a huge value for the price.
5 out of 5 stars
Kona Ko's The Competition
SEL 4dr SUV (2.0L 4cyl 6A)
The 2018 Hyundai Kona is a must have for budget concious, style seeking and overall performance buyers. I have mine for about 4 weeks now and the smoothride and the perfect height to get out of the vehicle ( not to low ...not to high) reaffirms my decision to go with this vehicle. I have the SEL version which includes Sirius radio and a bunch of safety features. I can recommend this … vehicle without any reservation!
5 out of 5 stars
Can't wait to drive it in the snow!
Limited 4dr SUV AWD (1.6L 4cyl Turbo 7AM)
I love the car so far. It has plenty of cargo space for what I need, the front seats are super comfy. The only problem I have is the visibility at night. The low beams are nice and bright but pointed too low. If you're any more than 2 seconds behind someone, too close for high beams, there is a big black void between you and the car you're following. I'm going to see if they can be … adjusted a bit higher. I live in a mountainous area, the roads aren't level, the headlights are pointed directly at the road so it's hard to see what's standing on the road. Like moose and deer. Update- I've driven in the snow. A lot. Winter started here mid-November this year. It's great! It glides through 8-10" like nothing. I thought I'd be stuck in my driveway in the super slushy, heavy, icky "snow" up past the license plate with a thick coating of ice underneath, and nope, didn't skip a beat.
Features & Specs
Our experts like the Kona models:
- Forward Collision-Avoidance
- Warns if a front collision is imminent and applies the brakes if the driver doesn't react in time.
- Driver Attention Warning
- Uses sensors to determine if the driver is becoming fatigued, then triggers an alert with a suggestion to stop for a rest.
- Blind-Spot Collision Warning
- Alerts the driver if another vehicle is lurking in the blind spot. If the turn signal is activated in that direction, a warning is triggered.
More about the 2018 Hyundai Kona
Used 2018 Hyundai Kona Overview
The Used 2018 Hyundai Kona is offered in the following submodels: Kona SUV. Available styles include SE 4dr SUV AWD (2.0L 4cyl 6A), Limited w/Lime Accent 4dr SUV AWD (1.6L 4cyl Turbo 7AM), Limited 4dr SUV (1.6L 4cyl Turbo 7AM), Ultimate w/Lime Accent 4dr SUV (1.6L 4cyl Turbo 7AM), SEL 4dr SUV (2.0L 4cyl 6A), SEL w/Contrast Roof 4dr SUV AWD (2.0L 4cyl 6A), Limited w/Lime Accent 4dr SUV (1.6L 4cyl Turbo 7AM), SE 4dr SUV (2.0L 4cyl 6A), Ultimate 4dr SUV (1.6L 4cyl Turbo 7AM), SEL w/Contrast Roof 4dr SUV (2.0L 4cyl 6A), SEL 4dr SUV AWD (2.0L 4cyl 6A), Limited 4dr SUV AWD (1.6L 4cyl Turbo 7AM), Ultimate w/Lime Accent 4dr SUV AWD (1.6L 4cyl Turbo 7AM), and Ultimate 4dr SUV AWD (1.6L 4cyl Turbo 7AM). Pre-owned Hyundai Kona models are available with a 2.0 L-liter gas engine or a 1.6 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 175 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 2018 Hyundai Kona comes with all wheel drive, and front wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 6-speed shiftable automatic, 7-speed automated manual. The Used 2018 Hyundai Kona comes with a 5 yr./ 60000 mi. basic warranty, a 5 yr./ unlimited mi. roadside warranty, and a 10 yr./ 100000 mi. powertrain warranty.
What's a good price on a Used 2018 Hyundai Kona?
Price comparisons for Used 2018 Hyundai Kona trim styles:
- The Used 2018 Hyundai Kona SEL is priced between $19,990 and$26,999 with odometer readings between 7355 and79239 miles.
- The Used 2018 Hyundai Kona SE is priced between $19,990 and$24,499 with odometer readings between 30041 and77625 miles.
- The Used 2018 Hyundai Kona Limited is priced between $23,998 and$25,590 with odometer readings between 27097 and53098 miles.
- The Used 2018 Hyundai Kona SEL w/Contrast Roof is priced between $22,990 and$22,990 with odometer readings between 35343 and35343 miles.
- The Used 2018 Hyundai Kona Ultimate is priced between $23,990 and$23,990 with odometer readings between 66757 and66757 miles.
- The Used 2018 Hyundai Kona Ultimate w/Lime Accent is priced between $29,499 and$29,499 with odometer readings between 12331 and12331 miles.
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Which used 2018 Hyundai Konas are available in my area?
Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2018 Hyundai Kona for sale near. There are currently 32 used and CPO 2018 Konas listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $19,990 and mileage as low as 7355 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2018 Hyundai Kona.
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Should I lease or buy a 2018 Hyundai Kona?
Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.