Test Drive Notes Library
- Good handling. Lots of small crossovers are dull, but the Kona’s steering is quick, and handling is controlled. It’s kind of fun to drive.
- Engine/transmission. While the base Kona comes with an older, 2 liter engine, there’s an upgrade available. As usual these days, the upgrade is smaller, more efficient, and more powerful. In this case, it’s a 1.6 liter turbo paired with a dual clutch, 7-speed automatic. It’s one of the smoother dual-clutch transmissions we’ve driven lately, and the combination moves the car well. It’s not a fast car, but it has just enough power that it doesn’t feel sluggish. It also returned an impressive 29 mpg in mixed driving. EPA says to expect 30 mpg.
- Styling. We think Hyundai has done a particularly good job with the Kona in the looks department. The Kona stands out without being outrageous. It’s sharply styled. It looks modern and up to date without trying too hard.
- Versatility. It’s a five-door, which automatically makes it more versatile than any sedan. Add to that good use of interior space and the Kona is a very useful vehicle that can cover a lot of circumstances: from schlepping kids and their stuff to toting home a 65-inch TV and a couple of cases of Two Buck Chuck.
- Standard safety. Forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking come standard. Blind spot monitoring is available, and recommended.
- Clean interior. The controls are well laid out. The touchscreen, with Apple Car Play and Android Auto, is located all the way at the top of the console, where it can be seen easily by the driver. The front seats are comfortable, and we liked the driving position. Back seats are typically cozy. Our Kona had the optional 8-inch touch screen, wireless charging, and an inexpensive head up display, with a large, plastic screen in the driver’s view instead of built into the dashboard.
- The price is right. Our loaded “Ultimate” Kona rang in at a little over $28K. Hyundai makes a more expensive, all electric version of the Kona, with a nearly 260 mile range. Certainly smoother and quieter, and probably more solid feeling due to the weight of the batteries.
Test Drive Notes Library
- Dual clutch syndrome. As mentioned above, the optional 1.6 liter Turbo engine is paired with a seven-speed dual clutch automatic transmission. As with many dual clutch set ups, there can be an occasional stumble out of the box. Purely a low speed problem.
- Takes some bumps hard. The price of good handling is a bit more of stiffness in the ride, especially in this price range. The Kona is fine on smooth roads, and not bad on not-so-smooth roads, but larger bumps will jolt the passenger compartment.
- Inexpensive, and it shows on the inside. The copious amounts of hard plastic do nothing to fool you into thinking you’re driving an expensive car. That said, the leather steering wheel is a nice touch, and something you touch every time you drive the car!
- Road noise. Like its compact peers, the Kona is no isolation tank. You’ll hear road noise at highway speed.
- All wheel drive penalty. For some reason, you get 3 fewer mpg with the all wheel drive version of the same exact car. That’s a larger than usual penalty.
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