2024 Hyundai Kona Debuts in New York

Jeff Wilson
by Jeff Wilson

Hyundai’s sub-compact Kona SUV has been a strong seller since its arrival in 2018.

Based on its funky styling, strong feature count, and sporty demeanour, the little Hyundai quickly became one of the brand’s most popular offerings. Hyundai has just pulled the wraps off the 2024 Hyundai Kona that’s based on a new, larger platform that should address the outgoing model’s biggest failing: its interior size.

More Space

While sporty and fun to drive, the old Kona could be a bit of a squeeze for larger occupants, particularly in the back seat. The new model stretches nearly six inches (145 mm) in length enabling a modest increase in leg room up front, but a notable gain of just over three inches (77 mm) in the back seat. Headroom also grows incrementally up front and by a little over half an inch in the rear, and the added inch of width offers up more hip- and shoulder room.

The utility of this little SUV improves thanks to a larger cargo hold, as well. Behind the folding rear seats, the Kona’s luggage space grows by 6 cubic feet (170 L) and is accessed through a wider hatch opening. With the rear seats folded, there’s 64 cubic feet (1,803 L) of space available, making the Kona more competitive in its rapidly growing segment than the old model. The Kona Electric benefits from an additional cubic foot (27 L) up front in the small front trunk.

Carry-Over Gasoline Powertrains

The new Kona will continue to be offered with three drivetrain variants. Base and middle-trim models will feature a 2.0-litre 4-cylinder Atkinson engine that generates a modest 147 horsepower and 132 lb-ft torque and is mated to a CVT. The N-Line trim (which will also include the new Ultimate trim) gets the 1.6-litre 4-cylinder direct-injected turbocharged engine with 190 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque between 1,700 – 4,000 rpms. Rather than fitting this engine to the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission from last year’s model, a new eight-speed is hoped to offer the same sportiness, but with smoother shifts.

Aside from the N-Line’s transmission, the two gas-powered drivelines receive only minor updates to ensure continued compliance with the various emissions regulations in the markets around the world the Kona will be sold. Front- and all-wheel-drive versions will continue to be offered.

Electrified Priority

Typically, carmakers working with an existing platform spanning both internal combustion and electrified variants will start with the gas versions and work from there, but Hyundai has taken the opposite approach with this generation of the Kona. With global pressure toward electrified machines Hyundai is giving priority to its battery electric (BEV) machines including the Kona as it brings no fewer than 11 new EV models to market by 2030.

The 2024 Hyundai Kona EV gets a 64.8 kWh battery pack (only 0.8 kWh larger than last year’s) and continues with a single-motor, front-wheel-drive format. Like the ICE versions, the EV’s horsepower (201) and torque figures (188 lb-ft) are unchanged.

Despite the added size and mass of the new Kona models, the EV’s range is predicted to increase, albeit fractionally, up by only a few miles to 260 (418 km). The battery carries on with temperature conditioning to facilitate quicker charge-ups, and will support up to 400V systems, enabling a 10-80% charge in roughly 43 minutes, and the Kona will allow Vehicle-to-Load (V2L) capability, meaning the car is capable of being a giant battery pack to help power other things that require electricity at times or places where it isn’t available through a wall plug.

Updated Styling

The new Kona’s styling was also based first on the EV version, giving it a more futuristic appearance than the funky previous generation. The Electric models are distinguished from the gas-powered Konas by their body-coloured fender flares and the pixelated light strip that spans the full width of the nose. The absence of the front grille is has helped contribute to the Kona Electric’s slippery 0.27 drag coefficient

The N-Line gets a more aggressive roofline spoiler and 19-inch wheels, along with a series of N-Line badges around the body, plus some snazzy red-striping and ultra-suede seat inserts inside.

Interior and Tech

The first-generation Kona represented a good value in its segment and while pricing hasn’t yet been announced for the new models, it’s a fair bet to assume it’ll carry on the tradition. Some interior finishes hint at the modest pricing with cheap, hard plastics on some of the door and console panels, but otherwise, the cockpit offers a contemporary design with plenty of little cubbies and shelves for storage of stuff we all have in our cars. Most notably, Hyundai’s designers freed up space by moving the shifter stalk from the console to the steering column.

Commendably, although moving to a pair of 12.3-inch panoramic screens for both the gauge and infotainment displays, Hyundai has still utilized actual physical buttons on the dashboard, console and steering wheel, ensuring properly user-friendly functionality, and proof that a modern design doesn’t need to have every switch and feature condensed into glass panels.

The Kona’s systems will now enable over-the-air updates to help improve vehicle functions or even performance through firmware updates as they come available. Hyundai is also offering the 2024 Kona with Digital Key functionality whereby the owner’s phone can serve as the key and enable secure sharing of keys with up to three people. Even Hyundai’s Smart Parking Assist is now available on the Kona, allowing drivers to remotely move their car into or out of tight spots.

The Kona will be offered with Hyundai’s driver assistance features and active safety including high-beam assist, driver attention warning, rear passenger safe exit warning, blind-spot warning, junction collision monitoring and frontal emergency automated braking, many of which are rare features in this segment.

Final Thoughts

Hyundai has wisely given the Kona incremental changes to improve upon the things buyers are sure to appreciate most like updated technology and safety, and a larger, more user-friendly interior that should keep it poised for continued success. The 2024 Hyundai Kona is expected to start arriving in dealer showrooms this summer with the Kona Electric showing up by early 2024.

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Jeff Wilson
Jeff Wilson

If there’s anything better than a good road trip through the desert, Jeff probably hasn’t heard of it. He’s got a propensity for buying less-than-perfect sports cars like a well-worn Boxster, an M Roadster and an MR2, but has applied a lifetime of passion to more than a dozen years of automotive and motorcycle reviews. He’s even collected several awards in the process including recognition for Best Automotive Review and Best Published Photography from the Automobile Journalists of Canada in 2023.

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