2018 Hyundai Kona Review
2018 Hyundai Kona Review
View more photos
View more photos
View more photos
View more photos
View more photos
Used Kona for saleAppraise This Car
See Edmunds pricing data
Has Your Car's Value Changed?
Used car values are constantly changing. Edmunds lets you track your vehicle's value over time so you can decide when to sell or trade in.
Edmunds' Expert Review
Mark 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. Mark has also contributed to Motor Trend, Auto Aficionado, Chevy High Performance and several motorcycle magazines in various roles. Mark is also a juror on the North American Car, Truck and Utility Vehicle of the Year Awards and can be seen regularly on the Edmunds YouTube channel and sometimes representing the company in media interviews.
- 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.
Calculate my fuel costs
Cost to DriveCost to drive estimates for the 2018 Hyundai Kona SE 4dr SUV (2.0L 4cyl 6A) and comparison vehicles are based on 15,000 miles per year (with a mix of 55% city and 45% highway driving) and energy estimates of $3.57 per gallon for regular unleaded in Virginia.
Monthly estimates based on costs in Virginia
$150/mo for Kona SE
Avg. Compact SUV
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).
4.5 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
2018 Hyundai Kona 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!
Jean Haddon, 05/31/2018
2018 Hyundai Kona 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.
4 out of 5 stars
My First Hyundai!
2018 Hyundai Kona SEL 4dr SUV (2.0L 4cyl 6A)
As a "Baby Boomer" who favors practical cars over "flash" cars these days, the Hyundai Kona fills many of my current requirements. It's not fast, but fairly reliable; It doesn't have a leather interior, but that's OK; and It does have ample storage space with the back seats folded down. One of the main features is that it sits and feels like a full-sized car in a compact configuration, … with a high roof. It really is too new to discuss reliability or car maintenance, but these should not be a problem. I only have three issues with this car: (1) The motor should have a larger option than the 2.0L version, (2) it doe not come with a sunroof, and (3) this car is unbearably noisy - especially in heavy rainfall or storms. The noise of the rain hitting the roof of the cabin becomes deafening! Really the acoustics could stand a great improvement - especially compared with other competitors in this class. So I guess this car hit the mark for its target audience, but with just a little more of an upgrade option, and better noise deadening technology for a quieter cabin, this car would satisfy the requirements of a wider audience.
5 out of 5 stars
Can't wait to drive it in the snow!
2018 Hyundai Kona 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.
2018 Hyundai Kona video
MARK TAKAHASHI: Aloha from beautiful Hawaii, where we're checking out the all new 2018 Hyundai Kona. [SURF MUSIC] The 2018 Hyundai Kona is the latest entrant into the subcompact crossover class. It competes against the Honda HR-V, Toyota CHR, and Mazda CX-3. Prices start right around $20,000 for the base SE trim. You get a two-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 147 horsepower. It's made it to a six-speed automatic transmission. Once you step up to the limited trim, you get an upgraded 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that puts out 175 horsepower. It's made it to a seven-speed, dual clutch transmission. That is the pick because it seems to get off the line a lot better with that engine and transmission. This, however, is the fully loaded, all-wheel drive, ultimate trim. Comes in just shy of $30,000. Admittedly, when this was first unveiled last year in Korea, I was not a fan of the design. Seems like it was designed by committee using spare parts from other cars. There's a lot of things that bothered me about it, but after seeing it on the road for the last couple days, I'm starting to warm up to it. The things that bother me are this fake vent here. It's completely blocked off. I feel like the car might be a little cleaner without it. These running lights up top remind me a lot of the Jeep Cherokee before the latest refresh. The actual headlights are down here, and they kind of remind me of a Nissan Juke. These unpainted gray plastic parts remind me of a Honda Element, and even this rear roof pillar has echoes of something from Land Rover. You may like it a lot more than I do, but honestly, I don't hate it as much as I did, either. As far as car capacity is concerned, the Hyundai Kona has 19.2 cubic feet behind the rear seats. That's a little less than the Honda HR-V, but a lot more than the very small Mazda CX-3. You have a nice little hook here for shopping bags, a compartment below to keep things out of view, and this floor actually drops down about three inches for even more capacity. From behind the wheel, the Hyundai Kona drives pretty much as you'd expect. This 1.6-liter turbo gets up to speed just fine. In fact, it's a lot more capable than what I've found in the Toyota CHR or in the Mazda CX-3. But of course, it is the upgraded engine. There is no laboring. It doesn't make you want to floor the pedal just to get onto the highway, and it cruises just fine. Brakes are also appropriate for this kind of car. Moderately firm, very controllable under heavy braking, and handling is surprisingly good. You can actually have quite a bit of fun on a twisty road with this car. One thing I am noticing, though, is there's quite a bit of road noise. It's not intrusive, and honestly, if you turn up the volume just a little bit on the radio, problem solved. On top of that, it has the Clarify audio system that we're used to seeing in the Genesis luxury line. That fills in some of the digital information on your files for a richer, and fuller experience. Seat comfort is pretty good. I'm getting a lot of support. Now the seat cushion's a little on the short side, but this powered driver's seat tilts up a little with the cushion, so I can make up that with a little bit of angle. Side bolstering is not super aggressive, but it holds me in just fine. And it's not constricting, so larger drivers, they won't have a problem getting comfortable in here. I do feel like I'm sitting a little high, though. I usually like being a little lower to the deck, and this seat is actually lowered down as far as it goes. That said, I still have plenty of headroom, and it's something you'd probably just get used to after a while. Visibility is great. This A pillar is well-contoured so that I can see almost right through it. The mirrors are well-sized and out far enough so that I'm not going to get surprised by something coming up. And the head-up display is incredibly bright. Now it's the flip-up screen, kind of like what we see out of Mazda, so on a bumpy road, it can get a little jittery, a little fuzzy. It's easy to read, and it gives you a lot of information. Not just speed, but also speed limit, as well as turn-by-turn directions for navigation. I do also like how the infotainment screen is mounted on top of the dash. It's right in the driver's sightline. Maybe not as well-executed as some of the other ones, where it looks like a tablet dropped right at the very top of the dash, but it's easy to see, and it actually looks better than some of those tacked-on tablet looking things. It is a hot, humid day here in Hawaii, and these perforated leather seats are breathing just fine. I'm comfortable. Ventilated, cold seats they're not an option. Judging from how well they're breathing, not really that necessary, either. For colder climates, you do get heated front seats. Overall, the interior of the Kona is pretty good for the class. You have your padded elbow touch points, and almost everything else is kind of hard or plastic, but that's to be expected for cars in this price range. And as affordable as it is, it looks fairly attractive. Everything works really well. All the buttons are placed where you expect them to, the infotainment is super easy to use, everything just works. And trust me, I'd rather have slightly boring over gimmicky that's hard to use any day of the week. Now even though the Kona is pretty decent at handling, the ride quality doesn't suffer. It's compliant enough, fairly comfortable. There's some jostling over some of the left-right undulations, but pretty much everything else in this class rides like this. It's not too stiff, not too soft, it's just pleasant. In the upper trim levels, the Kona comes with quite a few advanced safety features. That includes frontal collision warning and mitigation. That generally means it also has the hardware needed for adaptive cruise control. Unfortunately, that's not offered, either as standard or optional equipment, which is too bad, because on some of the longer stints I've been driving on, it would have come in really handy. In its defense, very few other cars in this class have adaptive cruise control. Here I am in the back seat, and I have plenty of room. I'm 5'10", and the driver's seat is set for me, and I have plenty of room for my knees, my feet slide under the seat just fine. All the elbow touch points are nicely padded. As far as visibility is concerned, well, I have a nice view outward to the side, and even this little cutout window here opens it up, makes it feel a little more airy. Like the front seats, these cushions are a little short for me, but I am getting a lot more support than I normally would from other cars in this class. What I mean there is those cars have their cushions mounted a lot lower to the floor, and it leaves me with almost no support for my thighs. All things considered, I'd be fine back here for a long road trip. It's a pleasant place to spend some time. Now, the Kona is by no means an off-road capable SUV, but it does have a locking differential that gives it a lot more ability than some of its competitors. I'm on this rough, volcanic, rocky trail here, and it's handling the climb just fine. Ground clearance, now that's not so great, so I'm avoiding anything that's poking up. Overall though, it's impressive for a subcompact crossover. I was fairly unimpressed with the Kona when it was unveiled last year. Now that I've spent some time and driven it quite a bit, I have to say it's pretty good. I'd consider it in a heartbeat against the Toyota CHR, the Honda HR-V, and Mazda CX-3. When you consider its price, it has an advantage in a number of ways there, as well as the features you get. The better than average car capacity, all of these things start stacking up. And on top of that, when you add in the industry-leading 100,000-mile warranty, well, it's hard to pass up. Styling aside, I think most people would be really happy with the Kona. For more information on the Kona, head on over to edmunds.com. You want to see more videos like this, hit subscribe. [SURF MUSIC]
2018 Hyundai Kona First Drive
Edmunds Senior Writer Mark Takahashi somehow landed a trip to Hawaii to drive the latest entrant in the subcompact crossover SUV class: the 2018 Hyundai Kona. He's not a big fan of the exterior styling but considers the Kona one of the best-driving vehicles in the class. Add in… plentiful features, an accessible price and Hyundai's industry-leading warranty coverage, and the Kona becomes a strong value contender.
2018 Kona Highlights
|Combined MPG||30 MPG|
|Cost to Drive||$150/month|
|Cargo Capacity |
All Seats In Place
|Drivetrain||front wheel drive|
|Warranty||5 years / 60,000 miles|
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.