Hyundai Kona test drive

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The Hyundai Kona is a very nice looking small crossover.
The only thing I am not crazy about would be the big grille (but I never like them), or the busy rear bumper black plastic part that includes the lights.
(These lights could have been included in the ones right above…)

Otherwise, it has a wonderful personality. And the new color, Sunset Orange, that came with my test car really makes the small Hyundai stand out.

Things are a bit more conservative inside. But still very nice.
Everything is where it is supposed to be. The infotainment is very easy to figure out and use.
The “pretend stick shift” automatic shifter looks good. And everything feels solid.

While the upgraded stereo sounded quite good, it was lacking in bass quite a bit.
As easy fix was turning the bass adjustment all the way up. (Which works, but is kind of strange to do…)

While the screen works well, its plastic housing looks a bit cheap when compared to most of the competition. It has a bit of an aftermarket look to it.

The door handle design is really nice and simple (The overall shape includes the speakers)
But the hande itself is plastic. Which is rather strange since most cars these days have metal handles…

The rubbery texture covering the lower dash looks and feels great. And adds a bit of originality to the interior. A nice touch…

The rear seat is pretty roomy.
This is much more comfortable than the Mazda CX-3 back seat.
There is plenty of room for 2 adults back there.

The Kona’s 1.6 Liter Turbo is a very quiet small engine. (Even when cold in the morning.)
It even idles so silently that it is sometimes hard to tell it is even on.

And whenever you push it a bit, it always sounds refined.
Although with turbo power and torque you really almost never need to “push it”.
The Kona has plenty of power available all the time. More than most people will ever want.
There is still a “sport” mode if you need more punch. But I found it really unnecessary.

The steering has a nice feel to it. Precise and not too light.
The transmission is smooth and easy to downshift.
And the suspension strikes a nice balance between ride and handling. It is not quite as smooth as the Honda HR-V, but almost.
And much, much nicer than the skateboard like ride of the CX-3.
The Kona FWD is rated at 28/32MPG.
I did get 28 in the city. Even 30.
But I never was able to get anything less than 40MPG on the freeway. I even got close to 45 many times.
Cruising at the speed limit or slightly above.
(Which is better than the CTV equipped and much less powerful HR-V)
I am actually wondering why it only gets an official rating of 32MPG…
This is a very punchy engine. And this kind of MPG is quite amazing for such a fun car to drive.
As you can see above (click to enlarge), the loaded Ultimate version of the Kona is pretty much the same price as the loaded HR-V and CX-3. (So there is, as usual, no price competition between similar cars anymore)
While its interior is a little bit less refined than the Mazda or Honda, the Kona is a more engaging and fun drive than both. While getting great gas mileage.
It is a comfortable car around town or on the freeway. 
It ultimately felt sportier than the MAZDA CX-3. With a really nice steering feel and even more power. 
A comfortable ride and better MPG.
Plus, the Hyundai infotainment system is light years ahead of the Mazda’s.
The Kona is definitely the best sporty pick of its class.

Conversation 6 comments

  1. Is that the cheapest car with a HUD?

    Looking at the specs, to get the Turbo instead of the NA 2.0, you get 18" wheels, leather & sunroof whether you want them or not. I hate that about modern cars.

    Agree about the rear bumper. The original Honda Element had that problem, which they wisely fixed.

  2. Good review. Now i previously mentioned on here that I do like this turbo Kona and if i had the cash, i'd probably buy one. The other thing that holds me back (besides being broke) is the DCT ( dual clutch transmission). Going back to about 2016, Hyundai has had a lot of consumer complaints regarding the reliability of the DCT and eve a class action lawsuit was brought against them. Some owners were satisfied after their DCT got a software upgrade, others still are dissatisfied. The Hyundai Tuscon with the DCT in 2016 had numerous problems/software upgrades and still was plagued with issues. I notice for 2019, the Tuscon ditched the DCT and now has a regular 6 speed auto tranny. So all things considered, like all new vehicles, i think potential buyers might want to hold off a year or more and see what transpires in terms of Kona DCT issues .

  3. I do understand the concern about the DCT… I was not aware of all these problems. (Thanks for pointing them out)

    Not sure about the cheapest car with a head-up display…

    Since I am not a fan of leather, I also wish you could get a sunroof and high-end stereo with nice cloth seats. But that seems impossible these days.
    There seems to be a weird obsession with leather…

  4. I also agree about the DCT in the Kona matched with the 1.6T. As well as the Veloster, Elantra Sport, Elantra GT N-line (not to be confused with the Veloster N). The upcoming Forte GT also uses the 1.6T with DCT,fyi. A great way of checking before shopping or purchasing is this link, scroll down and enter the year and make, and then select from the models that come up in the makers lineup. I also value consumer reports reliability ratings as well, another great shopper tool, especially when it comes to the preowned market.

  5. Quite possibly yes, but it is not a windshield projected HUD, but a similar to 2016-2017 Mazda 6 hinged plastic panel design. Mazda for 2018, ditched that system and implemented a real windshield projected hud in the Mazda 6 and CX5. The 2016-current CX9 also has a real hud.

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