2018 Hyundai Kona Review Peoria AZ

The first-ever 2018 Hyundai Kona brings style to simplicity

Hyundai's all-new Kona SUV is its smallest crossover yet, competing in the incredibly quirky and tough-to-pin-down subcompact sport utility segment. Some of its rivals include the Jeep Renegade, the Subaru Crosstrek, the new Kia Niro, the Toyota C-HR, and the Honda HR-V--and that's just a few. Our unique market is currently calling for super-capable, super-versatile, super-affordable, and super-family-friendly SUVs that also get stellar fuel economy.

Even a few years ago, that kind of demand would have seemed insane. But today, getting a bigger-on-the-inside teeny SUV that can comfortably fit five adults isn't as hard as it used to be. The challenge we face today, though, is finding the one that's going to have the right balance of price, "stuff", and style.

We're pretty confident in the new Kona to address a wide variety of needs: there are four trim levels currently (Kona SE, SEL, Limited, and Ultimate); the interior can be configured in multiple ways, and the new 2018 Hyundai Kona starts at only $19,000, which isn't all that bad for this class considering what it comes with.

A dramatic style for a usually mild-mannered brand

The Kona follows the lead of many of its rivals in this segment, adopting a pretty aggressive approach to exterior styling. While the flattish rear-end design is pretty subtle and practical--though it does offer some striking blacked-out plastic pieces at the edges of the rear windshield, behind the C-pillar--the front end is a whole different ballgame. The 2018 Kona uses the same "split light" design that we see in the all-new Santa Fe, which separated the daytime running lights (thin little LEDs up top) from the main headlights with high- and low-beam action square with the wavy grille, from the cute, fog lights down at the bottom. It's different from the norm, but the stacked and off-line lights look good.

Along the side, Hyundai also took some liberties with the conventional character line. The A-line of the Kona is nice and clean, with just a slight uptick at the C-pillar, but the deep and groovy line carved below the windows takes a dramatic dip toward the front wheel. It creates a waved, smooth design that looks subtly like wings. Surely, not an accident.

To hint at the Kona's muscular capability (for its size, at least) Hyundai has lavishly decorated the Kona with a lot of hefty plastic body cladding above the wheel wells at the front and back, and at the haunches of this fierce, tiny new crossover. These small but smart touches may be one of the reasons that KBB named it one of 10 Coolest New Cars Under $20,000.

Colors for the new Hyundai Kona include Chalk White, Sonic Silver, Thunder Gray, Surf Blue, Lime Twist, Pulse Red, and Ultra Black.

Grown-up interior deco, with a bit of youthful flair

The 2018 Hyundai Kona, unsurprisingly, fits five only. But, with 113.3 cubic feet of total interior volume, it's pretty easy to fit five real adults--even tall ones. The Kona gives you 19.2 cubic feet of storage space behind the middle row, and up to 45.8 cubic feet of total cargo room. Just pop one of both of the 60/40 split fold-down rear seatbacks, and customize interior space to your needs. These cargo estimates are neither the most nor the least in the segment, placing the Kona solidly in the middle of the pack.

Standard features in the new Hyundai Kona revolve mostly around infotainment and media--we'll get to that in a second--rather than premium comfort options. But, the somewhat barebones upholstering of the base Kona model does keep starting prices low, and Hyundai knows that those affordable, sub-20-grand crossovers will be big sellers among young families.

Bumping up to the second-level SEL, though, starts to break out the goodies: like standard heated front seats, leather wrapping on the steering wheel and shift knob, one-touch windows, and more. Shell out a little more for a Kona Limited, or even a little more for a Kona Ultimate, and you'll get multi-zone automatic climate control, premium leather upholstery, a power tilt-and-slide sunroof, and a huge list of tech and safety and driver-assistance features.

Interior colors include Black and Gray Cloth, and Black and Gray Leather.

Infotainment and technology

Like many modern subcompact crossovers geared toward younger people, the tech-laden cabin and dashboard is really where the new Kona shines. Standard features include steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, Bluetooth, compatibility for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a standard 7-inch touchscreen that--wait for it--gives you real, physical buttons to control tuning and volume. The all-touch design may look cool, but have solid buttons to twist and push won't ever truly go out of style.

On upper-level models, you'll get an 8-inch touchscreen, an eight-speaker Infinity premium sound system, Qi wireless device charging, and available Heads-up Display technology--the latter two, you're not going to find in a lot of the Kona's competitors.

Two engines, two transmissions, two drivetrains

At its base performance, the 2018 Hyundai Kona is a front-wheel-drive subcompact SUV, equipped with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that's paired to a six-speed automatic transmission--together, this system is good for a practical 147 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque.

On Limited and Ultimate models, you get a boost from a standard 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine paired to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission--together good for 175 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. Turbocharged Kona SUVs can offer an impressive 28 mpg in the city and up to 32 mpg on the highway, for a combined 30 mpg. You can opt for an All-Wheel-Drive System with multi-link rear suspension on all new Kona models.

An all-new and all-electric Kona EV crossover starts arriving in fall of 2018 as a 2019 model, and is expected to deliver up to 250 miles of all-electric driving range thanks to a 64-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack and a 150-kilowatt motor. The EV SUV will not offer AWD, but it will retain the versatility and flexibility of the gas-powered model.

Available safety and driver-assistance features

The new 2018 Hyundai Kona offers Blue Link® Connected Car Services for free, on select models that are equipped for it. It can help you lock or unlock your car remotely, can send you a vehicle health report, can help you find your car, and can even help you find other things while you're driving.

The list of standard safety features is a little short--apart from the usual run of airbags and such, the main standard feature is a Rear View Monitor with parking guidance, that displays right on your touchscreen. Available through Hyundai's Tech Package for the SEL, you can also opt for features like Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist with Pedestrian Detection, Driver Attention Warning, Blind-Spot Collision Warning with Rear Cross-traffic Collision Warning, and Lane Keeping Assist.

America's Best Warranty

Like peace of mind? Sure you do: the new 2018 Hyundai Kona comes with the brand's bragged-about best vehicle warranty in the country:

  • 5-Year/60,000-Mile New Vehicle Limited Warranty
  • 10-Year/100,000-Mile Powertrain Limited Warranty
  • 5-Year/Unlimited Miles 24-hour Roadside Assistance

Is it time to downsize?

If you're the type who's been discounting subcompacts and small crossovers because you thought they didn't have the space you needed, the power you wanted, or the stuff that you just had to have, give the new Hyundai Kona a chance to prove you wrong.