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New Hyundai Kona Checks All the Right Boxes For Compact Crossover Shoppers

This week we drive the all-new 2018 Hyundai Kona. See how it checks all the right boxes.

The 2018 Hyundai Kona gives the Korean automaker a toe-hold into a fast-growing and youthful compact crossover niche, to compete against cars that include the Toyota C-HR, Subaru Crosstrek, and Mazda CX-3. It offers a high seating position, good ground clearance, split-fold rear seats, and a rear liftgate for easy cargo loading.

The subcompact crossover SUV class is gaining in popularity and the latest entrant Kona has a lot of potential to take the lead. Its exterior style may be somewhat polarizing, but it offers plenty of utility and offers AWD like most of the competition. It also delivers a lot for the money and checks all of the boxes that shoppers want in this type of vehicle.

What’s new for 2018?

The 2018 Hyundai Kona is an all-new model, making it four crossovers for the South Korean automaker. Kona will be the smallest and lowest-cost Hyundai SUV in the stable.

Features and options

At the top of the Kona lineup is the Ultimate trim ($28,700). It comes loaded with automatic wipers, Hyundai's Blue Link communications, a head-up display, an 8-inch touchscreen, a navigation system, a wireless charging pad, and an Infinity premium audio system.

It also features automatic LED headlights, a telescoping steering wheel, a height-adjustable driver's seat, 60/40-split folding rear seats and a split-level cargo area. Tech features include a rearview camera, Bluetooth, a 7-inch infotainment touchscreen, a USB port, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, and a six-speaker audio system.

Other standard features include 17-inch wheels, heated side mirrors, keyless entry and ignition, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, heated front seats, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and satellite radio.

The Hyundai Smart Sense suite of advanced safety features, with forward collision warning and mitigation, lane keeping assist, a driver attention monitor and automatic high beams, is also standard on this trim. Total MSRP including destination: $29,775.

Interior highlights

Stepping inside the Kona reveals a stylish dash with an 8-inch central touchscreen with navigation and a rearview monitor. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay also come with this upper-trims infotainment system. Material quality is what you would ex[ect for this price point, offering hard plastic panels, and some textured and soft-touch surfaces. Overall, the interior is visually appealing.


The front seats are big enough for larger and tall passengers and comfortable for longer commutes. The rear seats will accommodate the average adult, with an adequate amount of room for knees, shoulders, and heads.

The Kona offers good outward visibility for a compact SUV and the mirrors are big enough to keep tabs on the traffic around you. We thought The rear window is a bit short, but the rearview camera makes up for any deficiency. We are impressed with the head-up display in this new compact crossover.

In the back, there’s 19.2 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, and more when you fold down the rear seats. Kona comes in slightly above average for the class in cargo-carrying ability.

Engine and fuel mileage specs

The 2018 Hyundai Kona is powered by a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine making 175 horsepower and 196 pound-feet of torque and comes mated to a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. This tester came with all-wheel-drive. EPA fuel mileage estimates come in at 26/29 city/highway mpg and 27 combined mpg.

Driving dynamics

The Kona’s strong point is the engine/transmission pairing. Hyundai uses a smart turbo engine and slick 7-speed automatic to drive all four wheels. This engine and transmission combination is one of the best in the compact crossover class. We were impressed at how quickly the Kona gets up to highway speeds, much quicker than the competition. Although that power does sacrifice some in fuel mileage. The transmission changes gears smoothly and quickly.

The Kona is the ideal size for urban dwellers. Its compact size allowed us to squeeze into smaller parking spots this week, and it navigates well through narrow city streets and heavy Denver traffic.

We made liberal use of the head-up display allowing us to keep eyes on the road. We cranked up the Infinity premium audio system and had a comfortable commute, and the fog lights helped us see in the heavy fog around 1-70 near Genesee.


The 2018 Hyundai Kona Ultimate trim sets itself apart from the rest of the class with a powerful turbocharged 1.6-liter engine, a comfortable leather interior, extra safety features, and one of the strongest warranty coverages. You should put the Kona high on your must-drive list if you're in the market for a compact crossover.

Photo credit: Hyundai USA