2018 Hyundai Kona Ultimate AWD new car reviews

Kona. Just the name conjures up images of sunny beaches, relaxing days and fruity drinks decorated with those little umbrellas.

Now Kona has another meaning. The Hyundai Koni is the brand’s first entry into the B-segment crossover market. While Kona might be far from big city hustle and bustle, in Hyundai-speak it’s built for “Urban Adventurers.”

The lower-spec cars–starting MSRP is $19,500–are powered by a 2.0-liter engine matched to a six-speed automatic transmission. Both front- and all-wheel drive are available, even in the least expensive spec.

The upper-tier cars–MSRP of $24,70 and up–get the turbo 1.6 backed by a seven-speed, dual-clutch transmission. And, again, front- and all-wheel drive are available.

Our tester, of course, was fully loaded to the tune of $28,700.

Other staff views

David S. Wallens David S. Wallens
Editorial Director

Small CUVs are nothing new. We have been driving them for years. This is the first one, I admit, that really had me at hello. Something about the entire package—the seating position, the touch points, the driving experience, the interior appointments and, yes, the styling–won me over.

It drives as I’d want one to drive. No weird CVT. No cheap-o interior. The seats weren’t too flat nor overly bolstered. The steering wheel felt perfect.

No manual box? I’m fine with the dual-clutch.

However, I did feel it hiccup once or twice when going from backwards to forwards–just a tiny stutter. I have felt Porsche PDKs do the same thing, so maybe it’s a twin-clutch thing.

Props to Hyundai for offering all-wheel drive across the board. Does everyone need it? Maybe, maybe not, but some of you dinged the Toyota C-HR for only being available as a front-driver.

Ed Higginbotham Ed Higginbotham
UberDork

The Kona reminds me a lot of the new Toyota C-HR. They're both small crossovers with bold looks and very similar drivetrains.

The main difference that I noticed was refinement. The Kona just didn't seem to be built to the same standards as the Toyota, which is not what we've come to expect from Hyundai recently.

An example of this is an occasional noticeable hesitation when you first start moving in forward gear. Also the heads-up display takes quite a few noisy seconds to pop up out of the dash, rather than being projected onto the windshield.

The Kona makes more power than the Toyota, but it's also almost $5000 more expensive. If I was chosing between the two, I'd go with Toyota.

Join Free Join our community to easily find more articles.
Comments
View comments on the GRM forums
The0retical
The0retical UltraDork
6/18/18 1:58 p.m.

So Kona, CX-3, or C-HR if you had to choose?

Would the entire package be made better by the upcoming electric version?

ultraclyde
ultraclyde PowerDork
6/18/18 1:59 p.m.

I was just looking at these. Intriguing little cars. err...suv....err...vehicles.

dculberson
dculberson UltimaDork
6/18/18 2:05 p.m.

That's some mighty weird headlight positioning. Really reminds me a lot of the Aztek.

pres589
pres589 PowerDork
6/18/18 3:02 p.m.

In reply to The0retical :

I'd give the HR-V from Honda a serious look as it's available with a manual trans.  I don't believe any of the others are at this time.

fidelity101
fidelity101 UltraDork
6/18/18 3:30 p.m.

looks like the jeep that everyone hated. 

 

and another car where people think the DRL is their low beam and will be driving around with essentially running lamps at night... god people are dumb... 

spandak
spandak Reader
6/18/18 3:35 p.m.

In reply to The0retical :

Don’t forget the crosstrek. It’s smack in the middle of the that market and it’s arguably the best offering currently. 

That is if AWD is on your list. 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
6/19/18 9:51 a.m.
ultraclyde said:

I was just looking at these. Intriguing little cars. err...suv....err...vehicles.

They're like modern little people-movers. 

mtn
mtn MegaDork
6/19/18 10:13 a.m.
fidelity101 said:

looks like the jeep that everyone hated. 

 

and another car where people think the DRL is their low beam and will be driving around with essentially running lamps at night... god people are dumb... 

I accidentally did it in a rental 2015 Focus. The DRL on the Focus were brighter than the low beams on the 2003 Corolla that was in the shop. If you assume they're automatic (which was a reasonable assumption, as I could see in the dark), how does that make people dumb? I'd never have known if I didn't get pulled over. Cop was stunned too when I pointed out the illuminated road in front of me. 

 

 

Carsandbikes
Carsandbikes New Reader
6/19/18 2:26 p.m.

There are a few reviews of the Kona on YouTube, and ALL of them mention that momentary "stutter" when you pull away from a stop. 

I want to like this...car(?), but some of the styling touches are a bit....too much.  Like the flat black surrounds to the rear light clusters. 

The0retical
The0retical UltraDork
6/19/18 3:02 p.m.

In reply to pres589 :

I'm really holding out for the electric version if it ever comes stateside. Between the Niro, Kona, and Bolt it's highly probable I'm going to end up with an electric cute ute. The question is which one.

Edit: I'm actually drawn the styling of the Kona.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
6/19/18 3:03 p.m.
Carsandbikes said:

There are a few reviews of the Kona on YouTube, and ALL of them mention that momentary "stutter" when you pull away from a stop. 

I want to like this...car(?), but some of the styling touches are a bit....too much.  Like the flat black surrounds to the rear light clusters. 

Our tester was white. I thought that it all looked good in that color 

ultraclyde
ultraclyde PowerDork
6/19/18 3:11 p.m.
Carsandbikes said:

I want to like this...car(?), but some of the styling touches are a bit....too much.  Like the flat black surrounds to the rear light clusters. 

Every time I see a statement like this I hear it being said in 1959 ... "I want to like this...Cadillac, but some of the styling touches are a bit....too much. Those fins are just ridiculous when they're that big."

I guess my point is the stuff that we often see as too weird to be like-able are the very elements that make a car stand out from the crowd enough to be valued when looking back at them..

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
6/19/18 3:13 p.m.

See also: All cars are boring and look alike. 

fidelity101
fidelity101 UltraDork
6/19/18 3:19 p.m.
mtn said:
fidelity101 said:

looks like the jeep that everyone hated. 

 

and another car where people think the DRL is their low beam and will be driving around with essentially running lamps at night... god people are dumb... 

I accidentally did it in a rental 2015 Focus. The DRL on the Focus were brighter than the low beams on the 2003 Corolla that was in the shop. If you assume they're automatic (which was a reasonable assumption, as I could see in the dark), how does that make people dumb? I'd never have known if I didn't get pulled over. Cop was stunned too when I pointed out the illuminated road in front of me. 

 

 

Its a dog eat dog world out there, and I'm wearing Milk Bone underwear

I'm a bit biased because I have worked several years in OEM lighting. 

 a lot of the times the low or high beam isn't automatic (that is becoming more common though) but the DRL dims when you use your low beam/high beam but what I hate is that im flashing my brights at people and they look at me confused when i am trying to signal to them their lights aren't on. and inside the cab all of the new cars have bright display dashboards so you never think the wiser.  I would not be surprised if many people in the general public think those are their low beams. 

you have an excuse because its a rental car in something you dont own or have ever owned and driven, but typically these are people's every day car that they have owned for years.

You can spot the Cherokees clear as day as the front is lit up but there is not tail function on the rear lamps and its all dark back there until they hit the brakes. 

 

Also ford's DRL spec for lumen output on the road is pretty ignorant, not too far off from a low beam in regards to lumens

mad_machine
mad_machine MegaDork
6/19/18 8:55 p.m.
Carsandbikes said:

There are a few reviews of the Kona on YouTube, and ALL of them mention that momentary "stutter" when you pull away from a stop. 

I want to like this...car(?), but some of the styling touches are a bit....too much.  Like the flat black surrounds to the rear light clusters. 

I am thinking cheap(er) repair if you back into something. No paint to match to the body

Our Preferred Partners
TYTHNIsf03ghUMVX05tUFrRHM7bhXHbFlWVuxYFh3K2igZnfelqTh52lLbVjudWW