Subcompact crossovers show no signs of slowing down and the segment just gained a new member, the 2018 Hyundai Kona.
Although our Detroit Bureau Editor, Craig Cole, has taken a very brief prototype test drive, production models will be available soon. Hyundai knows it is late to the subcompact CUV party (with the popular Honda HR-V, Toyota C-HR, and Chevrolet Trax already dominating segment sales), but the Kona has some tricks up its sleeves that will help get it noticed.
2018 Hyundai Kona Pros and Cons
Looks Like Nothing Else in the Segment: The Hyundai Kona is taking a more radical approach to design, all while being less divisive than the funky Toyota C-HR. A multi-tiered front and rear lighting treatment coupled with plastic body cladding is inspired by sport utilities of the mid-’90s. The Kona gets the whole package right by uniting those nostalgic touches with select hints of modernity. This will help make Hyundai’s goal of attracting young buyers to the vehicle much easier. It’s also available with a contrasting/floating roof design and in a handful of unique and fun colors.
Entertaining Powertrain: The Kona offers two engines, a 2.0-liter with 147 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque and an uplevel 1.6-liter turbo with 175 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. The turbo is the real entertainer here and with the aid of a quick shifting seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, zero to 60 mph happens in under 8 seconds. Definitely the benchmark for the segment, where the average zero-to-60-mph time is about 9.0 seconds.
During his quick spin, Cole also said that the steering was surprisingly responsive and communicative, which is actually pretty rare in the segment. The uplevel engine also felt quite refined. Front-wheel drive is standard, but both engines are available with AWD.
Segment First Electric Version: An all-electric version of the Kona was just announced and it will be the only one in its segment. Its estimated range is also impressive at 292 miles on a single charge.
Low Starting Price: With a $19,500 ($20,999 in Canada) starting MSRP not including destination, the Kona undercuts similar offerings from Toyota, Honda, Nissan, and Ford. The Kona will be available with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, wireless smartphone charging, a 7-inch touchscreen, a head-up display, lane-keep assist, forward collision avoidance assist, blind spot collision warning, rear-cross traffic collision warning, high-beam assist, and more.
Cheap Feeling Interior: Despite boasting beautifully stitched leather and a color-coordinated interior in higher trim levels, the general quality of the interior materials especially on the doors and various touch points could be much better and feel a class below compared to offerings from Mazda and Jeep.
Perceived Weak Resale Values: The Hyundai brand has traditionally been seen as having weaker resale values, but some data shows otherwise. Although Hyundai hasn’t made KBB’s or Edmund’s best brands for resale values list or their list of cars with the best resale values (where Toyota and Honda do), Hyundai says certain vehicles, like the Sonata, for example, perform well in their segments in terms of holding their value according to ALG data. Because the Kona is new, there’s no data yet on how well it might hold its value.
No Adaptive Cruise Control: Strangely, the Kona will not be available with adaptive cruise control, a feature that is quickly becoming the norm in even economy cars.
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