Hyundai, Reviews, Toyota
Apr12

2018 Hyundai Kona Review – Double Take

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2018 Hyundai Kona

2018 Hyundai Kona Ultimate AWD

1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder (175 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm; 195 lb-ft @ 1,500-4,500 rpm)

Seven-speed automatic, all-wheel drive

26 city / 29 highway / 27 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

9.0 city, 8.0 highway, 8.6 combined. (NRCan Rating, L/100km)

Base Price: $28,700 (U.S) / $31,799 (Canada)

As Tested: $29,805 (U.S.) / $33,704 (Canada)

Prices include $980 destination charge in the United States and $1,905 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can’t be directly compared.

One of my personal auto reviewer “rules” is that I try to test any vehicle I drove on a press junket later, at home, even if it’s months later (and even if it’s many months before I get around to writing about it). I do this because the potholed roads and unpredictable weather of the city I call home stand in stark contrast to the pleasant places where automakers hold their splashy first drive events.

I also do this because driving a car in normal grocery-getting duty is different than driving it hard on a twisty road, because I don’t always get to drive on the freeway on a junket, and because a car reveals things about itself over the course of several days or a week that it wouldn’t in just a few hours.

Enter the 2018 Hyundai Kona. Several months after driving it on the Big Island of Hawaii (not long before that volcano erupted — the same one I toured while there. Did I piss off the volcano gods somehow?), I took possession of one here in Chicago. Would I think differently about the Kona, in one way or another, after a week behind the wheel? Or would I just end up confirming my first-drive review?

Spoiler: It’s more the latter than the former.

This almost certainly because the same trim I drove in Hawaii showed up at my door – an Ultimate AWD with a 1.6-liter turbocharged direct-injection four-cylinder putting out 175 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque.

Those are far from eye-popping numbers, but the 1.6L gets the job done, at least if you’re not on the freeway. The Kona doesn’t feel fast, exactly, but quick enough to get you from stoplight to stoplight without drama. It does run out of breath a bit when merging, however. There’s also a bit of a delay to get the engine spooled up; the seven-speed automatic transmission could be a bit quicker on the downshift.

The most appealing aspect of the Kona, to me, is its handling. It’s sprightlier than a small crossover should be, with appropriately stiff steering. It’s fun to toss it around a corner, although the ride is a bit stiff. Slight lack of power aside, the Kona remains one of the more fun to drive small crossovers simply because Hyundai managed to dial some amusement into it.

2018 Hyundai Kona

I’m still curious how the 1.6-liter pairs to a front-drive Kona, or how the base engine/transmission combo work together, but OEMs love to throw full-zoot models into press fleets, no matter how representative they are (or aren’t) of the overall take-rate breakdown by trim.

As I said before, you can get a lot of content on your Kona if you’re willing to lay out the cash. In this case, that cash outlay is almost $30K before any incentives. Yep, for a subcompact/compact crossover (Hyundai calls it a compact in its press materials, but most observers would slot it in the subcompact class), that’s a tidy sum.

The only option on my test vehicle was carpeted floor mats. Standard features included blind-spot collision warning with lane-change assist, rear cross-traffic collision warning, forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection, lane-keeping assist, driver-attention warning, 18-inch wheels, fog lamps, sunroof, head-up display, leather seats, keyless entry and starting, wireless cell-phone charger, satellite radio, premium audio, Hyundai’s BlueLink infotainment system, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and navigation.

Fuel economy checks in at 26 mpg city/29 mpg highway/27 mpg combined.

2018 Hyundai Kona

Judging by the comments y’all left on my first drive of the Kona, the styling is somewhat, um, polarizing. It’s grown on me over time, watching Konas proliferating on the streets of my town, but I get that it’s not for everyone. The gaping grille and squinting headlights are the kinds of styling elements that divide, not unite, and the narrow taillights can be off-putting, too. I think the lower lights at each corner are a bit busy. Still, the overall look is at least tolerable to my eye, if not sexy.

Inside, the cabin is far simpler, with less fuss and muss, although a tacked-on center screen mars the look and body-color accents struck me as silly. Materials felt a little low-rent for the price.

The Kona isn’t the oddest-looking crossover in the class, at least. Thank you, Toyota C-HR.

2018 Hyundai Kona

If you can stomach the looks, and you’re willing to open your pocketbook a bit, a top-trim Kona is a fine around-town runabout. I’d still like to spend time with the other engine – our own Bark was not happy when he test drove that version – and I still wonder if a Limited trim with FWD is the best way to option out a Kona with the 1.6L.

2018 Hyundai Kona

Overall, though, my impressions from Hawaii translated back to the mainland. The Kona is a pretty decent, if not overpriced and overstyled, small crossover.

In other words – forget touring volcanoes. It’s a fine grocery-getting errand-runner, as long as you can live with the looks.

[Images © 2019 Tim Healey/TTAC]

– 2018 Hyundai Kona Review – Double Take –

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