SEATTLE: To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I got word that a 2019 Kona Limited AWD would be showing up for me to write about. While there’s plenty of reasons to be excited about Hyundai these days, the Kona was off of my radar. Thankfully, it arrived and I couldn’t be more delighted with the vehicle.
Forget what you think you know about entry-level, sub-compact SUVs that start at under $20k – this Kona not only raises the bar, it is the bar. Everything about those value SUV screams: “I should sell for way more money”.
From an aesthetics perspective, the Kona is a great-looking, sporty compact SUV. It has a stance about it that looks agressive and a bit on the rugged side. There aren’t any other competitors in its price range that we think look as good.
Engine and Powertrain:
The 1.6-liter, turbo-charged 4-cylinder engine in this Limited model is mated to a dual-clutch 7-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters and a “manual mode”. It’s good for 175 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque. However, thanks to the ultra-fast shifting transmission and torque that kicks in at only 1500rpm, it gets up to speed, quickly. You’re looking at 0-60 times around 6.6 seconds.
Traveling through inclement weather? No problem, Click the switch into all-wheel-drive and you have instantly added traction to your drive. It provides a 50/50 split of power override option to the front and rear wheels and also includes hill-descent control.
The EPA rates the fuel economy at 26mpg in town and up to 29mpg on the highway.
Our Limited model featured the stitched seating surfaces, green accents that augment the exterior paint job and an overall sporty look and feel to everything. It was very refreshing to get inside this car and have it feel so sporty. The Infiniti-powered infotainment system provides an easy-to-use 7-inch screen display with very nice audio reproduction. It remains rather clear as the volume goes higher and is one of the better-sounding systems you’ll find in this class of vehicle. Support for Apple/Android, mp3, Bluetooth, AM/FM, and SiriusXM satellite radio are all in tow.
Both front seats are heated and the driver’s seat is multi-way adjustable, including some pretty aggressive side bolster support. Like most subcompact SUVs, the front passenger seat isn’t a powerful one and there can be limited legroom for rear passengers if the front two seats are all the way back.
Driving and handling:
Driving the Kona is really where things start becoming clear. Its responsive throttle makes it feel like you’re jetting off the line. But the fun isn’t in just its straight-line performance, it’s how the car handles and feels (in sport mode). Minimal body roll while cornering and braking that feels very solid and didn’t show signs of brake fake help you feel confident.
The only real downside, compared to the competition, to the Kona – is its slightly smaller cargo space. It’s 19 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 46 with them folded down, feel a bit cramped. However, if that’s not an issue with you, there’s a lot to love about the Kona.
Our Limited AWD teste model sells for $26,980 and offers a lot for the money. In fact, we feel it’s likely the most sensible Kona available. Sure the cheaper ones are in play, however, they offer only front-wheel-drive and a far less exciting powertrain.
In the end, Hyundai has done a stellar job with the Limited model of Kona, it represents a solid value in a crowded marketplace. It also offers best-of-class warranty protection – a key selling point for many consumers.
For more information, visit: www.hyundaiusa.com