Sub-compact crossovers are all the rage right now with just about everyone jumping into the ring to release one. Hyundai is a little late to the game with the 2019 Kona, since rivals, like the Honda HR-V and Jeep Renegade have already been around for a few years. Even if Hyundai is one of the last mainstream automakers to introduce a sub-compact crossover, you could easily say that Hyundai took its time to make sure the Kona had the right goods to compete.
The 2019 Hyundai Kona is now the entry-level model in Hyundai’s growing crossover lineup, which already includes the Tucson, Santa Fe, Santa Fe XL and the upcoming Hyundai Palisade. Even with its small footprint, the Kona has plenty of room for the urban city dweller aka millennial that wants the versatility and style of a crossover, but that don’t have the space or a big bank account.
To help it attract that coveted millennial buyer, Hyundai gave the Kona a distinctive exterior, the latest tech features and a choice of two powertrains. To start the 2019 Kona comes standard with a 2.0L four-cylinder engine that generates 147 horsepower and 132 lb-ft. of torque that’s mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. That’s more power than you’ll get under the hood of the Honda HR-V or Nissan Kicks. For buyers that want a little more fun, the Kona is offered with a turbocharged 1.6L four-cylinder that generates 175 horsepower and 195 lb-ft. of torque that’s mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. Either engine is available with all-wheel drive.
The 2.0L four-cylinder is rated at 27/33 mpg with front-wheel drive and 25/30 mpg with all-wheel drive. The more fun turbocharged 1.6L four-cylinder is rated at 28/32 mpg with front-wheel drive and 26/29 mpg with all-wheel drive. The HR-V is slightly more fuel efficient than the base Kona with the 2.0L engine, while the 2.0L engine beats the front-wheel drive only Toyota C-HR with its 27/31 mpg rating.
Hyundai dropped off the keys to a Kona equipped with the 1.6L engine and all-wheel drive. After a week we were impressed with how fun the Kona is. The 1.6L and dual-clutch transmission are a great combination that makes the Kona more fun to drive than its rivals, like the Honda HR-V, Toyota C-HR and the new Nissan Kicks. Around town the Kona is zippy and agile, which makes it the perfect little city runabout, while on the freeway it’s more relaxed, but still engaging.
Inside the Kona’s interior is just as stylish as the exterior. Our lime green Kona’s exterior carries over into the interior with the same color being applied to the stitching on the seats and other trim bits. There are a few hard plastic parts that could be a bit softer, but at this price point we couldn’t complain too much. It would be nice if the Kona offered a panoramic sunroof, instead of a small sunroof.
Given its small footprint, it’s no surprise that the Kona’s rear seat and cargo capacity may be a little limited. With 34.6-inches of legroom in the back, you’re friends might find it a bit tight. To compare, the HR-V almost has five inches more rear legroom than the Kona. Behind the rear seat the Kona has 19.2 cubic feet of space, which is beaten by the HR-V with its 24.3 cubic feet of space. Fold the rear seat down and the Kona’s cargo volume expands to 45.8 cubic feet, which is more than you’ll get with the Nissan Kicks or Toyota C-HR.
Since the Kona is aimed at a younger audience, it would simply be ignored if it didn’t have the latest tech features. Fortunately Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity is standard, in addition to a 7-inch touchscreen for the audio system and 3.5-inch multi information display in front of the driver. Step up to Ultimate trim level and you’ll get a larger 8-inch touchscreen, a 4.2-inch multi information display, wireless charging for your fell phone and a head-up display.
On the safety front the 2018 Kona is available with the latest driver assistance features, like lane change assist, a blind spot monitor, lane keeping assist, a forward collision avoidance system and rear cross traffic alert. For some reason Hyundai doesn’t offer adaptive cruise control on the Kona, which seems a bit odd considering all of the other tech features that are available.
After a week with the 2018 Hyundai Kona we were impressed with how fun it is to drive. The Kona is more responsive and engaging than many of its rivals, like the Honda HR-V and Toyota C-HR. It also looks more upscale and stylish than the Nissan Kicks. With a starting price at $20,480, the 2018 Kona is also easy on the wallet.