2019 Hyundai Kona Ultimate FWD new car reviews

2019 marks a carryover year for the relatively new Hyundai Kona. Don’t think of it as Hyundai resting upon their laurels, but rather as Hyundai taking a breather. They’ve been busy as of late, with all-new versions of the Santa Fe and Veloster being released this year, alongside the new Nexo—their newest fuel cell vehicle.

So slight changes abound for 2019, with minutiae such as dual front USB outlets now being standard across the range or Sunset Orange being added to the color palette.

Pricing for a base Kona SE FWD starts at $19,990, with AWD adding about $1200 on top. You can spec a Kona up to more than $32,000 if you opt for the Tony Stark-approved Iron Man edition. Better act quick, though: The Kona Iron Man is no more for 2020.

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David S. Wallens David S. Wallens
Editorial Director

Are you or a loved one looking for a “right-sized” SUV? Take this one for a drive.

The Kona is neither cramped nor too huge.

It’s comfortable and all of the controls are easy to understand.

Looks great. Feels solid.

Makes plenty of power for the class, and the twin-clutch transmission is a welcome touch.

It has all of the latest features, including my favorite, Apple CarPlay.

The seats aren’t flat and uncomfortable.

At $28k for our tester, that’s also right in the ballpark. If I had to drive a smaller SUV, I’d be pretty happy here.

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nderwater
nderwater UltimaDork
9/13/19 1:50 p.m.

Entry-level cars have gotten a whole lot nicer now that I'm not in the market for one.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
9/13/19 1:54 p.m.
nderwater said:

Entry-level cars have gotten a whole lot nicer now that I'm not in the market for one.

They really have--like, this didn't feel entry-level at all. 

1988RedT2
1988RedT2 UltimaDork
9/13/19 1:58 p.m.

Am I in the right place?  I feel like I walked into the Korean car cheerleaders' lounge.

johndej
johndej HalfDork
9/13/19 2:01 p.m.

Literally just got out of one of these (lower spec rental) in Atlanta.

Will be on the look out for one in a few years.

nderwater
nderwater UltimaDork
9/13/19 2:07 p.m.

In reply to 1988RedT2 :

For a practical family car, the truth is that these days I'd take a Korean car over a Chevy or a Nissan or a Mitsubishi or a Dodge.

_
_ HalfDork
9/13/19 2:23 p.m.

Friends of mine have one. Aside from the tallness, it’s a fun, quick cuv thingy. 

nutherjrfan
nutherjrfan UberDork
9/13/19 2:25 p.m.

It's attractive but I'm getting very luddite about tall cars lately.  cool

Jordan Rimpela
Jordan Rimpela Digital Editor
9/13/19 2:26 p.m.

In reply to 1988RedT2 :

You get a Hyundai Pony! And you get a Hyundai Pony! EVERYONE GETS A HYUNDAI PONY!

 

I only drove this thing once but it was clear to see why these are so popular. And for the price/warranty, why not?

bobzilla
bobzilla MegaDork
9/13/19 2:35 p.m.

I'm telling you people......... when will you start listening?

NickD
NickD PowerDork
9/13/19 2:45 p.m.
nutherjrfan said:

It's attractive

Really? I think the styling is hideous. Weird gray plastic surfaces here and there, squinty headlights(?) up top with big lights down low , massive grille with a pointless tiny slit above it. It's an absolute mess, like a Juke's buff cousin.

bobzilla
bobzilla MegaDork
9/13/19 3:11 p.m.

In reply to NickD :

The wife likes it. She's odd though. 

Duke
Duke MegaDork
9/13/19 3:43 p.m.
NickD said:
nutherjrfan said:

It's attractive

Really? I think the styling is hideous. Weird gray plastic surfaces here and there, squinty headlights(?) up top with big lights down low , massive grille with a pointless tiny slit above it. It's an absolute mess, like a Juke's buff cousin.

This.  Didn't the world learn from that stupid Cherokee a few years ago?  The horn might as well have said "ME SO SOLLY" like Krusty the Klown doing his racially insensitive old shtick.

 

spacecadet
spacecadet Dork
9/13/19 3:46 p.m.
Duke said:
NickD said:
nutherjrfan said:

It's attractive

Really? I think the styling is hideous. Weird gray plastic surfaces here and there, squinty headlights(?) up top with big lights down low , massive grille with a pointless tiny slit above it. It's an absolute mess, like a Juke's buff cousin.

This.  Didn't the world learn from that stupid Cherokee a few years ago?  The horn might as well have said "ME SO SOLLY" like Krusty the Klown doing his racially insensitive old shtick.

 

I think the big difference visually vs the old juke is the use of a think slit of LED's vs a big giant 2nd headlight... thats my take. 

I don't have the same retching reaction to the Konda as I did the Juke. Which honestly just grew to be mundane anyway. 

ProDarwin
ProDarwin UltimaDork
9/13/19 3:53 p.m.
nutherjrfan said:

It's attractive but I'm getting very luddite about tall cars lately.  cool

Its 1" taller than a Fit.  At least track width >= height. 

Tactical Penguin
Tactical Penguin SuperDork
9/13/19 3:55 p.m.

I've had one as a rental and really liked it, very comfortable and worked well for my needs.  But I'm hoping the next Hyundai I have to talk to a sales droid about is the Veloster N. laugh

_
_ HalfDork
9/13/19 4:32 p.m.

I’d love to lower one and autocross it. Could be really fun

BlueInGreen - Jon
BlueInGreen - Jon SuperDork
9/13/19 5:27 p.m.

I think they are pretty good looking. Enough that I stopped to give a second look in the grocery store parking lot. But... about that slit above the grille... It’s just filled with black plastic isn’t it? As a styling element it confuses me.

1988RedT2
1988RedT2 UltimaDork
9/13/19 5:39 p.m.

So do a comparo with the RAV-4.  What's the Hyundai do better, other than cost less and spend more time in the shop?

ProDarwin
ProDarwin UltimaDork
9/13/19 6:50 p.m.
1988RedT2 said:

So do a comparo with the RAV-4.  What's the Hyundai do better, other than cost less and spend more time in the shop?

Odd comparison.  Rav4 is much taller.  This is CX-3 sized.

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
9/13/19 6:57 p.m.

While in the Target parking lot today, I parked behind a bright blue Kona (Kona Blue?)  It was an attractive color.  I see these sized more like a Kia Soul or similar to Pontiac Vibe that I was driving.  

Sample:

1988RedT2
1988RedT2 UltimaDork
9/13/19 7:54 p.m.
ProDarwin said:
1988RedT2 said:

So do a comparo with the RAV-4.  What's the Hyundai do better, other than cost less and spend more time in the shop?

Odd comparison.  Rav4 is much taller.  This is CX-3 sized.

 

I see.  So, for midgets?  Micro-car lunatic fringe?  Sorry, I thought it was targeted at mainstream buyers.  I can't really get my head around a market for vehicles even smaller than so-called "cute-utes."

 

MazdaFace
MazdaFace Dork
9/13/19 8:49 p.m.

In reply to 1988RedT2 :

I would say a better comparison would be a Toyota chr

BlueInGreen - Jon
BlueInGreen - Jon SuperDork
9/13/19 8:58 p.m.
1988RedT2 said:
ProDarwin said:
1988RedT2 said:

So do a comparo with the RAV-4.  What's the Hyundai do better, other than cost less and spend more time in the shop?

Odd comparison.  Rav4 is much taller.  This is CX-3 sized.

 

I see.  So, for midgets?  Micro-car lunatic fringe?  Sorry, I thought it was targeted at mainstream buyers.  I can't really get my head around a market for vehicles even smaller than so-called "cute-utes."

 

Think of it as a hatchback with ground clearance and a slightly higher seating position.  Better?

Error404
Error404 New Reader
9/16/19 5:45 p.m.
BlueInGreen - Jon said:
1988RedT2 said:
ProDarwin said:
1988RedT2 said:

So do a comparo with the RAV-4.  What's the Hyundai do better, other than cost less and spend more time in the shop?

Odd comparison.  Rav4 is much taller.  This is CX-3 sized.

 

I see.  So, for midgets?  Micro-car lunatic fringe?  Sorry, I thought it was targeted at mainstream buyers.  I can't really get my head around a market for vehicles even smaller than so-called "cute-utes."

 

Think of it as a hatchback with ground clearance and a slightly higher seating position.  Better?

"Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!"

Ground clearance in case there's a stray pine cone in the driveway that you need to parkour over.

These work because of higher beltlines and headlight lines which are pushing things higher. SWMBO was saying she felt like if she was carrying anything it might fall out of the window of my '89 Mustang but she's never really driven anything pre-2000 before they all got so high-waisted.

DeadSkunk  (Warren)
DeadSkunk (Warren) PowerDork
9/16/19 6:05 p.m.

I'm waiting to see the new Hyundai Venue, coming later this year. It's a similar concept to the Kona, but the next size smaller. It'll be their entry level CUV, but I've driven a couple of Hyundais and Kias and "entry level" is a pretty decent car.

BlueInGreen - Jon
BlueInGreen - Jon SuperDork
9/18/19 8:49 p.m.

I have an actual question.

How roomy is the cargo area and do the rear seats split/fold flat?

Also, how is the backseat for grownup size people?

ProDarwin
ProDarwin UltimaDork
9/19/19 6:28 a.m.

45.8 cu. ft. with seats down... so not very big.

 

Speaking of which... GRM,  I would love to know some details on how the above # is created.  Is that manufacturer's discretion or is there a measuring standard?

yupididit
yupididit UberDork
9/19/19 6:33 a.m.

My gf had one as a rental. Once we tried to honk the horn at someone and it digs hilariously childish. We burst out into laughter, whew! 

As far as the car goes, it's ugly and not really enjoyable (except the horn)

Suprf1y
Suprf1y UltimaDork
9/19/19 7:55 a.m.

These pics really flatter it.

I was beside one of these at a light yesterday and surprised at just how ugly it was.

NickD
NickD PowerDork
9/19/19 8:01 a.m.

I think the EV version is a bit better looking, but that might just because it reminds me of the Citroen Cactus

Duke
Duke MegaDork
9/19/19 8:09 a.m.
ProDarwin said:

45.8 cu. ft. with seats down... so not very big.

Speaking of which... GRM,  I would love to know some details on how the above # is created.  Is that manufacturer's discretion or is there a measuring standard?

I don't think there is a real standard.  I know in that crappy V60 review from Jalopnik that I posted a while ago, the guy was lambasting the V60 for poor cargo room.  But actually, Volvo's published numbers only include cargo stacked up to the bottom of the back windows, not the total volume of the whole available space.  They don't include any volume that would interfere with the driver's line of sight.  Other manufacturers may or may not do the same.

 

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