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- Highs Cheeky design, gutsy optional turbo engine, plentiful standard features.
- Lows Not particularly cargo friendly, vague steering feel, poky standard engine.
- Verdict The Kona's as fun to drive as it is to look at, making it one of our favorite small SUVs.
Even three model years into its initial run, the 2021 Hyundai Kona continues to turn heads with its bold styling and earned an Editors' Choice award. But this SUV is more than just a style item, as it offers crisp handling and a gutsy optional turbocharged four-cylinder engine. If you can't afford to upgrade to the 175-hp turbo powertrain, the base nonturbo model is slower but still plenty fun to drive. The Kona's cabin is nicely trimmed and comfortable for four adults, although rear-seat headroom and cargo space aren't as generous as slightly larger rivals. Despite its practical downfalls, the Kona remains one of the best looking and best driving small SUVs available today and it's one we're happy to recommend.
What's New for 2021?
The Hyundai Kona loses its two brightest paint colors—Lime Twist and Sunset Orange—for 2021. Luckily, it picks up a new Night model which pairs the more desirable turbocharged engine with LED exterior lighting, gloss-black 18-inch aluminum wheels, and matching gloss black exterior and interior trim pieces for a more menacing appearance. The Night model also comes with black cloth upholstery, a black headliner, and aluminum gas and brake pedals.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
If it were our money, we'd spring for the nearly loaded Limited model, as it offers nearly all of the most sought-after equipment without being too expensive. Standard equipment includes a sunroof, automatic climate control, fog lamps, leather upholstery, and a power-adjustable driver's seat. Going with the Limited also gives us the spunky turbocharged four-cylinder engine and exterior styling that mimics that of the top-spec Ultimate model, so no one will know you saved the extra cash. The prices above are for front-wheel-drive variants; all-wheel-drive models cost $1400 more.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Two powertrains are available with the Kona: SE and SEL models come with a 147-hp four-cylinder and a six-speed automatic transmission. This setup could use a bit of caffeine; in our testing, an all-wheel-drive SEL model required 9.2 seconds to reach 60 mph. Limited and Ultimate models are powered by the considerably peppier 175-hp turbocharged four-cylinder paired to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. With the turbo four, the Kona scampered from zero to 60 mph in 6.6 seconds, just 0.1 second behind the rapid Kia Soul Exclaim. The seven-speed dual-clutch automatic shifts quickly and smoothly once you're rolling, but it stumbles at low speed in parking lots and in bumper-to-bumper traffic, engaging and disengaging first gear hesitantly until the driver offers more throttle input. The Kona delivers agile handling and a surprising amount of fun. This doesn't translate to a rough ride over choppy roads; in fact, the suspension offers quite the opposite, damping out bumps and providing occupants with a cabin that is well isolated from pavement imperfections. The steering is perhaps the Kona's biggest dynamic downfall: it's an uncommunicative helm that requires frequent corrections when cruising the highway despite its heavy-weighted feel.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
In this class of fuel-sipping mini SUVs, the Kona's EPA ratings are good but only average among its rivals. Despite this, the Kona impressed us during our real-world testing, besting much of its competition. With the turbocharged engine under the hood, the Kona delivered 32 mpg in our 200-mile highway fuel-economy test; we managed 33 mpg with the base four-cylinder.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
Hyundai's designers managed the tough task of bringing the charm of the Kona's exterior design to the cabin while maintaining comfort and convenience. Quality materials, good ergonomics, and comfortable seats feel grown up and refined but not out of step with the Kona's funkadelic outward appearance. The driver faces a pair of simple analog gauges framing a slim digital readout; the steering wheel is wrapped with a nicely grained leather with contrast stitching and offers integrated controls for cruise control and audio settings. Those upgrading from a compact hatchback or sedan will find the Kona's cargo space perfectly suitable, but buyers downsizing from a larger SUV will most likely feel the pinch. The Kona narrowly beat the pipsqueak Mazda CX-3 in our testing to see how many carry-on suitcases could fit. The Kona managed to hold 14 of our carry-on suitcases—two more than the CX-3 but eight fewer than the Honda HR-V.
Infotainment and Connectivity
Standing atop the Kona's dashboard is a touchscreen infotainment system flanked by simple shortcut buttons that allow you to easily switch between common menus. We found the system to be intuitive in its operation but leisurely when responding to inputs. The SE, SEL, and Limited trims come with the smaller, standard 7.0-inch touchscreen, but buyers of the Ultimate model are treated to the larger 8.0-inch unit that also features navigation with real-time traffic updates. Driving directions can be projected onto the Ultimate's head-up display that flips up from the dashboard and also shows the vehicle's speed and other information. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability are standard, so buyers of one of the three lower trims can still access turn-by-turn directions from their smartphones.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
Overall Safety Rating (NHTSA)
View Crash Test Results
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has given the Kona a five-star safety rating and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has named it a Top Safety Pick+. Buyers searching for popular driver-assistance features will find them on the Kona, which offers automated emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, and a driver-attention monitor as standard equipment. Other more advanced features are still optional. Key safety features include:
- Standard automated emergency braking
- Standard lane-keeping warning
- Available automatic high-beam headlamps
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
By now, Hyundai's 10-year powertrain warranty is well known in the automotive industry as being one of the most generous policies available, and the Kona receives the same coverages as the rest of the lineup. The company also now offers complimentary scheduled maintenance that bests mainstream rivals such as Toyota.
- Limited warranty covers five years or 60,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers 10 years or 100,000 miles
- Complimentary maintenance covers three years or 36,000 miles
2019 Hyundai Kona Ultimate 1.6L FWD
front-engine, front-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door hatchback
PRICE AS TESTED
$28,680 (base price: $28,545)
turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve inline-4, aluminum block and head, direct fuel injection
97 cu in, 1591 cc
175 hp @ 5500 rpm
195 lb-ft @ 1500 rpm
7-speed dual-clutch automatic with manual shifting mode
Suspension (F/R): struts/multilink
Brakes (F/R): 12.0-in vented disc/11.2-in disc
Tires: Goodyear Eagle Touring, 235/45R-18 98V M+S
Wheelbase: 102.4 in
Length: 164.0 in
Width: 70.9 in
Height: 61.0 in
Passenger volume: 92 cu ft
Cargo volume: 19 cu ft
Curb weight: 3072 lb
Zero to 60 mph: 6.0 sec
Zero to 100 mph: 16.7 sec
Zero to 120 mph: 29.0 sec
Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 6.5 sec
Top gear, 30–50 mph: 3.2 sec
Top gear, 50–70 mph: 4.5 sec
Standing ¼-mile: 14.7 sec @ 95 mph
Top speed (drag limited, C/D est): 135 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 167 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.92 g
Observed: 27 mpg
75-mphhighway driving: 34 mpg
Highway range: 440 miles
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/city/highway: 30/28/32 mpg
More Features and Specs
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Is the Hyundai Kona Reliable? The 2021 Hyundai Kona has a predicted reliability score of 82 out of 100. A J.D. Power predicted reliability score of 91-100 is considered the Best, 81-90 is Great, 70-80 is Average, and 0-69 is Fair and considered below average.Is the 2021 Hyundai Kona a reliable car? ›
Is the Hyundai Kona Reliable? The 2021 Hyundai Kona has a predicted reliability score of 82 out of 100. A J.D. Power predicted reliability score of 91-100 is considered the Best, 81-90 is Great, 70-80 is Average, and 0-69 is Fair and considered below average.Is Hyundai Kona worth buying? ›
The 2023 Hyundai Kona's #3 ranking is based on its score within the Subcompact SUVs category. It is the winner of our 2023 Best Subcompact SUV for the Money award and the winner of our 2023 Best New Cars for Teens award.How much does a 2021 Hyundai Kona cost? ›
A front-drive 2021 Hyundai Kona in entry-level SE trim has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $20,400. Add the $1,140 destination charge to reach a total of $21,540. The more recommendable Kona SEL starts at $23,340, and the SEL Plus is priced from $25,190.Are there any recalls on 2021 Hyundai Kona? ›
Summary: Hyundai Motor America (Hyundai) is recalling certain 2019-2020 Elantra, 2019-2021 Kona and Veloster vehicles equipped with 2.0L Nu MPI engines. The piston oil rings may not have been properly heat-treated, which could result in engine damage.Is Hyundai Kona good for long distance driving? ›
You can drive the Hyundai Kona on the highway, but you might not want to. This SUV is made for city driving, making passing difficult, accelerating off an exit troublesome, and dealing with wind on the highway problematic for you.How many miles will a Hyundai Kona last? ›
How many miles will a Hyundai Kona last? The Hyundai Kona should easily last between 150,000 and 200,000 miles. Based on the average annual driving range, that works out to over 10 years of ownership. The average new vehicle ownership period is only 8.4 years.How much should I pay for new Kona? ›
The 2023 Hyundai Kona subcompact SUV offers a broad range of variants to please many types of buyers. Prices start at $21,990 and climb to $34,700 for the Hyundai Kona N.Is Hyundai Kona a big SUV? ›
small SUV size you need. It's your journey. A complete guided tour of premium KONA Limited and sporty KONA N Line. Video depicts 2022 models.What is the gas mileage for a Kona 2021? ›
Kona Limited w/AWD = 26 City/29 Highway/27 Combined mpg. Kona Ultimate = 28 City/32 Highway/30 Combined mpg. Kona Ultimate w/AWD = 26 City/29 Highway/27 Combined mpg.
Hyundai Motor America (Hyundai) is recalling certain 2019-2020 Elantra, 2019-2021 Kona and Veloster vehicles equipped with 2.0L Nu MPI engines. The piston oil rings may not have been properly heat-treated, which could result in engine damage. A damaged engine may stall, increasing the risk of a crash.Do Hyundai konas have issues? ›
Forward collision, engine, and powertrain issues are among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners.What is the transmission problem on the 2021 Hyundai Kona? ›
2021 Hyundai Kona transmission problems could include shifting delays, grinding when accelerating, the car shaking at any speed, or whistling noises and a burning smell coming from under the hood.Is the Hyundai Kona good on gas? ›
The new 2023 Hyundai Kona is a small, upgraded SUV with exceptional fuel-efficiency. The new Hyundai Kona is capable of achieving an EPA-estimated 30 city and 35 highway mpg when equipped with the standard 147-hp 2.0L MPI Atkinson 4-cylinder and FWD on SE and SEL trims.How many miles does a Hyundai Kona get on a full tank of gas? ›
Kona Fuel Tank
Combined with an EPA-estimated 35 MPG on the highway, you'll be able to travel over 462 highway miles on just one tank of gas alone.
Big Island by Bus
Hele On Bus is the Big Islands Public Transportation system. If renting a car isn't an option for you, but you want to get out of Kona, you can Hele On to some pretty awesome places. Keep in mind, the bus does not run Sundays and public holidays and the fare is $2 exact change each way.
How often does a 2022 Hyundai Kona need an Oil Change? An oil change is one of the most basic and essential services for your car. Synthetic oil frequently should be changed every 7,500 - 10,000 miles. Hyundai suggests getting your 2022 Hyundai Kona oil & filter changed every 3,000-5,000 miles for conventional oil.How far does a Hyundai Kona go on a full charge? ›
|Fuel Type||Transmission||ARAI Claimed|
From a full charge to empty, the Kona EV can travel up to 258 miles without needing to stop.What is the difference between Kona SE and Kona SEL? ›
The SEL uses the same engine and transmission as the SE and offers AWD as an option. Building off the SE's standard features, the Kona SEL adds 17-inch alloy wheels, rear privacy glass, roof rails, and a proximity key fob that allows locking and unlocking the doors by pulling on the handle.
As of 2022, **Hyundai produces the Kona for the North American market in Ulsan, South Korea, and ships the product across the Pacific Ocean.What is the difference between Kona N line and Kona Limited? ›
Both trim levels offer the best safety standards, such as child safety locks and collision mitigation features. The 2022 Hyundai Kona Limited is a premium vehicle suited for all drive types, while the N Line is more suited for sports performance. Both cars provide all-wheel drive, stellar looks, and fresh interiors.How long will a 2021 Hyundai Kona last? ›
The Hyundai Kona should be able to exceed 100,000 miles if properly maintained, with a minimum of major parts replacements or serious repairs required. The Kona has been engineered to last well past the 100,000 miles mark, as the Hyundai brand also carries a reputation of longevity in all of its vehicles.Is the 2021 Hyundai Kona good in snow? ›
Q: Is the Hyundai Kona good in snow? A: In general, the Hyundai Kona drives well in the snow. Its compact size allows for easier maneuverability and responsive handling, even in adverse road conditions. Meanwhile, models equipped with all-wheel-drive systems deliver added traction and control in snowy conditions.What is the gas mileage of a 2021 Hyundai Kona? ›
Kona Limited w/AWD = 26 City/29 Highway/27 Combined mpg. Kona Ultimate = 28 City/32 Highway/30 Combined mpg. Kona Ultimate w/AWD = 26 City/29 Highway/27 Combined mpg.What kind of mileage does the Hyundai Kona get? ›
2023 Hyundai Kona SE MPG: 30 City/35 Highway/32 Combined MPG*Is Hyundai A Good Car to buy? ›
According to RepairPal, Hyundai boasts a reliability rating of 4.0 out of 5.0, ranking 4th out of all 32 car brands. In addition, Hyundai ownership is on the inexpensive side, with only $468 annual repair costs of scheduled and unscheduled repairs.How long do Kona batteries last? ›
Your Hyundai Kona battery will typically last between 3 to 5 years, but that can vary heavily depending on type of battery, weather conditions battery size, and driving habits.What is the battery range of the Kona? ›
Kona EV is a relatively unsung mass-market electric SUV compared to the Tesla Model Y and Mustang Mach-E, but now it's been redesigned from the ground up as primarily an EV. It carries a 65.4 kWh battery that enables about 304 miles (490 km) of range on a full charge based on European WLTP estimates.Is Hyundai Kona AWD or 4wd? ›
Hyundai Kona models. The 2023 Hyundai Kona is a subcompact crossover with space for up to five passengers. It comes in five trim levels: SE, SEL, N Line, Limited and N. Front-wheel drive comes standard, with all-wheel drive optional on all models except for the Kona N (which sticks with front-wheel drive).
Highs Cheeky design, gutsy optional turbo engine, plentiful standard features. Lows Not particularly cargo friendly, vague steering feel, poky standard engine. Verdict The Kona's as fun to drive as it is to look at, making it one of our favorite small SUVs.Does the 2021 Kona have heated mirrors? ›
Apart from Live Services and the Bluelink smartphone app, the KONA N is also equipped with additional voice recognition features. Drivers can activate and control features like climate, rear window and side mirror heating, as well as steering wheel heating through a simple voice command.How much does it cost to fill up a Kona? ›
|2022 Hyundai Kona FWD|
|Annual Fuel Cost*||$1,650|
|Cost to Drive 25 Miles||$2.77|
|Cost to Fill the Tank||$47|
|Tank Size||13.2 gallons|
The new 2023 Hyundai Kona is a small, upgraded SUV with exceptional fuel-efficiency. The new Hyundai Kona is capable of achieving an EPA-estimated 30 city and 35 highway mpg when equipped with the standard 147-hp 2.0L MPI Atkinson 4-cylinder and FWD on SE and SEL trims.