Entry price: $20,100
Price as tested: $28,980
This week, it’s the 2020 Hyundai Kona we’re testing, a front-drive smaller compact crossover that debuted in 2017 as an all-new Hyundai model. The Kona name comes from the western district of Hawaii and is also available in an AWD 4x4 version.
Kona is a sales success with a 27% increase for October 2019 versus last October, and a near double with 60,652 Konas sold year to date versus 32,795 through the same 10-month period in 2018.
Kona is adept at attracting consumers from all demographic age groups. It’s a fine looking little car that offers consumers lots of reasons to buy in the “small station wagon/crossover” category. With attractive trims in numerous configurations, Kona’s 4x4 model is especially popular and its pricing structure is surprising considering what you receive for dollars spent.
Specifically, Hyundai Kona offers lots for the money, including sporty exterior and interior and high-tech safety features that cost extra on many competitor offerings.
Our tester is the top line and more luxurious Kona Ultimate, which starts at $27,750. Delivered with front-drive mechanicals, Kona is ready to adapt to the needs of the majority of demographic age groups. Everything from the shape of the driver’s door panel to an expansive foot well is built in to ensure that entering and exiting a Kona is quick, easy and non-cumbersome, especially for senior citizens.
Starting at just $20,100 for the base 2020 Kona SE, pricing moves up the ladder to the SEL at $21,900; SEL Plus at $23,750; Limited at $25,900; and our aforementioned tester Ultimate at $27,750. If you want the 4x4 version, add $1,400 to the above front-drive prices which, in my opinion, is very reasonable and will increase trade-in value when the time arrives.
Built on an all-new manufacturing platform in Ulsan, Korea, a 2.0-liter, 12.5 to 1 compression four-cylinder powers the SE, SEL and SEL Plus while a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder motivates the upper-class Limited and Ultimate models.
The 2.0-liter produces 147 horses and 132 lb. of torque, just enough to allow acceptable passing and merging power. A six-speed automatic is standard on the non-turbo models while the turbo models come with a seven-speed dual clutch transmission.
The turbo ups the horsepower to 175 with 195 lb. ft. of torque which moves the lightweight Kona pretty well. The only drawback is the Ultimate’s $27,750 entry price, which is a bit high considering the entry SE is some $7,650 less.
The 2.0 delivers good fuel mileage, with 27 city and 33 highway the EPA estimates. The turbo models are a bit less on the highway at 32, but do better in the city at 28. If you opt for the 4x4 models, they are nearly identical at an EPA 26 city and 30 highway for the non turbo and 26 city and 29 highway for the turbo.
All Kona trims feature a sleek front end with large grille, pronounced fender flares, decent cargo room, raised trunk hatch and a really neat boomerang style taillight motif. These sculptured highpoints help deliver Kona’s “fun to drive” ideology and a strong family resemblance to the other Hyundai siblings.
Suspension highlights include a MacPherson strut setup up front and a coupled rear torsion beam layout out back. The Ultimate trim comes fully-equipped and feature Hankook 18-inch tires on sporty alloy wheels that improve ride, handling and comfort. The ride is on the firmer side but is still comfy while handling is good for a small vehicle. If you need to park in city traffic, it’s a breeze.
Important safety equipment includes lane keep assist and emergency front collision avoidance even on the entry model, which is outstanding considering SE’s low price. The usual safety features are also included across the board like rearview camera, all the airbags, four-wheel ABS disc brakes, traction and stability controls and even a driver attention warning.
As you move up to SEL, more high tech safety equipment kicks in ala blind spot collision warning, rear cross traffic alert and lane change assist at no extra cost. If you want Smart Cruise and an enhanced front emergency collision setup, it’s only available on the Ultimate. Still, a tip of the hat to Hyundai for offering excellent safety features regardless of a customer spending $21,000 or $27,500.
Inside, the cabin features a sporty instrument panel cluster, high-tech steering wheel controls, enhanced seating, and lots more amenities than expected. All Kona trims feature Apple and Android smart phone compatibility and your Hyundai dealer will fully explain all options, trims and incentives when you visit. The only option on our tester was a $135 floor mat package that brought the final tally to $28,980 with $1,095 delivery included.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 102.4 inches, 6.7 inch ground clearance, 3,043 pound curb weight, from 19.2 to 45.8 cu. ft. of cargo space, 13.2 gallon fuel tank, and a 34.8 ft. turning circle.
Considering Hyundai’s 10-year, 100,000 mile warranty, it’s tough to find major faults with the Kona, regardless of dress. It is a well-built, fun, economical car and by keeping your choice to the lower priced versions, you’ll help ease any depreciation concerns that a $27,000 turbo model brings with it. Start with either the SE or SEL trims as they both come with desired safety features.
Overall, Kona is yet another winner from the folks at Hyundai.
Likes: Design, roomy interior, more safety per dollar spent, warranty.
Dislikes: Turbo models get expensive, some road noise, non-turbo needs more horses.
Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and Gannett Co. Inc. Contact him at email@example.com or at 303 Roosevelt St., Sayre, PA 18840.
Test Drive: 2020 Hyundai Kona
Entry price: $20,100