The 2019 Hyundai Kona subcompact crossover is continuing to sell very well for Hyundai. With sales approaching 7,000 units per month, the Kona is now outselling the Mazda CX-3 by about six to one and closing in on segment leaders the Subaru Crosstrek and Honda HR-V. Among the field, the Kona in its top trims is our favorite on-road crossover in this segment by a country mile. Here are the top three things we think the Kona does best, and two things we see as missing in this versatile vehicle.
2019 Hyundai Kona – Best In Class Drivertrain
The Kona has four trim levels. The top two, Limited and Ultimate, come with a 1.6-liter turbocharged engine and 7-speed DCT automatic transmission. Simply put, nothing in the segment can compare to the pull and power of this combination. With 195 ft-lbs of torque at a crazy-low 1,500 RPM, the Kona can pull like a diesel, yet still has power in the top-end of the rev band. The DCT transmission snaps off quick shifts and always seems to be in the right gear. Particularly in Sport Mode, which is smooth enough that it can be used in normal daily driving.
The engine and transmission in the Hyundai Kona Ultimate and Limited make driving the Kona a fun experience. Most of the competitors in this class forgo the turbo and they don’t have the same verve. The Kona Ultimate we tested had the optional AWD system and it puts all of the power to the ground in all conditions. This drivetrain alone is reason to opt for the Kona among its peers in the industry.
2019 Hyundai Kona – Best In Class Infotainment
The folks at Hyundai also know how to make a great infotainment system. With Android Auto & Apple CarPlay standard on every Kona and a great touchscreen interface, we loved the Kona’s simplicity and connectivity. We rocked Google Maps and Pandora with Android Auto and found the system’s menus very intuitive. Subaru’s Crosstrek has an equally good infotainment system, but most of the others in this class don’t measure up.
2019 Hyundai Kona – Best In Class Packaging
The 2019 Kona is a subcompact crossover that never makes the driver feel confined. The Kona has ample leg, shoulder and headroom, and our right knew was comfortable in the vehicle. This kind of spacious feeling is rare in the segment. The rear seats are limited in space, of course, because the Kona is in a small vehicle class. However, with a minor adjustment to the front passenger seat, fitting a child in back is not a problem and a pair of couples could easily head out for an evening together in the Kona.
We love the roomy cargo area and the fold-down rear seatbacks. We folded the Kona in a split second and put in a full-size men’s bike with no trouble at all. You won’t find any sedan at this price point that has this kind of flexibility and comfort.
2019 Hyundai Kona AWD– So What’s Missing?
The Kona Ultimate and Limited trims in AWD seem to have it all. Heated power-adjustable seats. A head-up display (Ultimate). Leather seating and steering wheel. Great infotainment. So what did we miss in the $30,070 Hyundai Kona Ultimate AWD? Just two things. A heated steering wheel and a spare tire. We could not find the heated steering wheel on any trim. The Kona has a spare tire included in its front wheel drive trims, but the Ultimate and Limited AWD trims have no spare and no run flats. Given that one of the Kona’s roles is as a family car, and since AWD crossovers are intended to be used for limited off-road adventures, this puzzles us. Here in New England, a tire repair kit is of no use in winter or if a sidewall is damaged, and in the Western United States there are many areas that are hours from the nearest help.
2019 Hyundai Kona AWD – Conclusion
Hyundai’s Kona brings a smile to our face every time we get behind the wheel. The packaging, drivetrain and infotainment system are ideal for this size and price point vehicle. However, there are two features you cannot get in a Kona Ultimate AWD that others offer in this segment that we feel are important.