Torque News avoids “win/lose” comparisons. The reason is that every vehicle has its good points, and every vehicle can be improved in some way. However, we love to compare two great vehicles and offer a list of choices that buyers can make when shopping.
Related Story - Is the Hyundai Kona Crossover Big Enough?
For those small shoppers looking for the best possible off-road performance, we suggest the Subaru Crosstrek or the Jeep Compass Trailhawk. However, for the 95% of shoppers who do not put off-road capability first, we feel that the Mazda CX-30 and Hyundai Kona Ultimate are the two best vehicles in the small two-row crossover class. We will contrast the two and highlight the differences, but first, one quick word on how they are the same.
Both the Mazda CX-30 and Hyundai Kona share three important strengths. First, they are very fun vehicles to drive. They are sporty on back roads, comfortable on commutes, and great highway vehicles. Second, they are modern, eye-catching designs. Third, they are both equipped with modern infotainment systems that we find easy to operate (but very different).
Hyundai Kona and Mazda CX-30 Similarities - Size, Safety
Both the Hyundai Kona and Mazda CX-30 offer 94.1 cubic feet of passenger volume. Identical inside to the tenth of a cubic foot. They both have about 20 cu ft of cargo space behind the rear seats and 45 when the seats drop. In terms of interior volume, they could not be closer. The Mazda CX-30 is 9-inches longer, and it is all in the nose. They are the same width and the same height.
Related Story: Mazda CX-30 Crossover- Is It Big Enough?
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety ranks both the Mazda CX-30 and Hyundai Kona Top Safety Picks. In vehicles, this size, a high level of safety is always an important factor, and both score at the top of the class.
Hyundai Kona Ultimate AWD vs. Mazda CX-30 Premium AWD- Prices, Warranty, Included Maintenance
The Mazda CX-30 Premium has a price of $30,700K. The Hyundai Kona Ultimate a price of $30,590. These prices do not include accessories or special paint, but both come fully-equipped. As you can see, they are priced identically. However, Hyundai has a much longer warranty and Hyundai includes three years of maintenance. Hyundai has the value edge in this comparison.
Hyundai Kona Ultimate AWD vs. Mazda CX-30 Premium AWD - Engines, Fuel Economy, Transmissions
As similar as these two compact crossovers are, they could not be more different in terms of engines and transmissions. The CX-30 has a non-turbo 2.5-liter gas engine and the Kona Ultimate uses a 1.5-liter turbo. The CX-30 uses a 6-speed geared conventional automatic transmission and the Kona Ultimate a dual-clutch 7-speed automatic. We like both, but the Kona has a more satisfying Sport Mode. On the other hand, the CX-30 is more satisfying in normal mode when cruising. Both earn a 30 MPG Combined EPA estimate, and both use regular unleaded fuel. This one is a toss-up.
Hyundai Kona Ultimate vs. Mazda CX-30 Premium - Infotainment
The infotainment in both the Hyundai Kona Ultimate vs. Mazda CX-30 Premium is outstanding. However, they are very different in their operation. The Mazda CX-30 has a remote interface to control its screen which is up on top of the dash and closer to the windshield. It is out of reach. The idea is to use the mouse to make selections, or choose from main menus on the center console if the steering wheel controls are not what you need.
By contrast, the Kona Ultimate has a simple-to-operate touch screen. We prefer the touch-screen.
Both the Kona Ultimate and Mazda CX-30 Premium have a multi-information head-up display and can connect to both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Thus, both are at the top of their segment for infotainment capability.
Hyundai Kona Ultimate vs. Mazda CX-30 Premium- Spare Tire
Thus far, we have given the edge to the Hyundai Kona Ultimate in three areas - Sport Mode driving, Infotainment interface, and value. The CX-30 has an edge in normal mode driving. However, the Mazda CX-30 also has an ace up its sleeve. Or, rather in the trunk. Unlike Hyundai, Mazda gives you a compact spare tire under the cargo floor. Hyundai steals your spare tire. Whether this matters to you will depend on your preference and your past experiences with flats. For us, any crossover without a spare fails to get our recommendation. It’s just too important to us based on our experience. And since the CX-30 actually has a smidge more cargo room and the same mileage rating, nothing is lost by keeping the spare.
Hyundai Kona Ultimate vs. Mazda CX-30 - Conclusion
As you can see, Hyundai’s Kona Ultimate and Mazda’s CX-30 Premium are as close in many ways as any two compact crossovers can possibly be. However, they take different approaches in terms of drivetrains, infotainment systems, warranty and included maintenance, and spare tires. Only you can make the choice about which is right for your needs. Tell us in the comments below which you would choose and why.
John Goreham is a long-time New England Motor Press Association member and recovering engineer. John's focus areas are technology, safety, and green vehicles. In the 1990s, he was part of a team that built a solar-electric vehicle from scratch. His was the role of battery thermal control designer. For 20 years he applied his engineering and sales talents in the high tech world and published numerous articles in technical journals such as Chemical Processing Magazine. In 2008 he retired from that career to chase his dream of being an auto writer. In addition to Torque News, John's work has appeared in print in dozens of American newspapers and he provides reviews to many vehicle shopping sites. You can follow John on Twitter, and view his credentials at Linkedin
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