The 2019 Hyundai Kona aims to offer its customers a fun, rugged hatchback with some aspirations to do mild off-roading. While it looks different than any of its competition, I took it out to see if it has the goods to take on the likes of the Jeep Renegade, Toyota C-HR and Honda HR-V, three of the best-selling crossovers in its segment.
First and foremost, styling is always a personal choice. We say that around here to cover our bases when a vehicle’s styling could be described as ‘controversial’. Certainly, this is one of those cars. Jeep tried doing the split headlight look with the pre-facelift Jeep Cherokee.
Clearly, that design was met with some pushback, as Jeep decided to redesign the car with a more traditional look. However, I am glad Hyundai tried this look with the Kona. It stands out from a crowd, while giving the car a certain rugged quality. The heavily applied, albeit, fake vents on the front look aggressive and sporty. Overall, the car looks like its ready for adventure, which is great in my book.
Please drop us a comment and tell us what you think of the Kona’s looks!
Under the hood of this Kona is a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that makes 175 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque. That power is sent to all-four wheels through a seven-speed dual clutch transmission. According to the EPA, this setup is good for 26 MPG in the city, 29 MPG on the highway and 27 MPG combined.
This powertrain is a mixed bag. The engine itself is a little gem. Even up here at high-elevation, there is plenty of power. It is the transmission that leaves us scratching our heads. Dual clutch transmissions saw a brief period of popularity in sports cars thanks to their rapid shifting ability. However, they have a number of disadvantages.
They have a harder time in slow-moving environments, like heavy traffic or on an off-road trail. Ironically, these are two places where this vehicle might spend a lot of its life. When Tommy drove a Kona up Gold Mine Hill last year, the transmission actually overheated:
Hyundai does have a six-speed torque converter automatic available in this car. Unfortunately, you have to get the much less powerful naturally aspirated 2.0-liter four cylinder to get that option. Sure, the dual-clutch shifts with good pace. But for this application — a small, economical crossover — it feels more than a little out of place.
Ride & Handling
The Kona comes with Mac-strut front suspension and multi-link rear suspension. Overall, the ride is pretty pleasant. Bumps are handled easily, while still providing well-composed handling characteristics. The cabin remains quiet on the highway, as well. This is no sports car, but it does have a certain fun-to-drive quality to it.
Comfort and Convenience
The 2019 Hyundai Kona, like a lot of the Hyundai lineup, comes packed with tech features. The dashboard features several screens to look at. The infotainment system features an 8.0-inch touchscreen display. And yes, it does have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. In the gauge cluster there is another 4.2-inch info screen. This tells you trip information, multimedia selections and other good stuff of the sort. Look up, and you also see a little heads-up display. Now, this HUD is not the fanciest in the world, but it does still offer a fun bit of futurism in a relatively inexpensive package.
One of my favorite tech features is the wireless charging pad in the center console, plenty large for my Google Pixel 3 XL. Of course, there is also a nice suite of driver safety and enhancement features like collision avoidance, lane keep assist, blind spot monitors and park-distance warning.
One beautiful part of the Kona’s construction has to be its hatch. Open that liftgate and you’ll find a respectable, but not huge, 19.1 cu-ft of space. Fold down the second row of seats and that expands to 45.8 cu-ft. This is by no means class-leading. The Subaru Crosstrek, for example holds 20.8 cu-ft, and 55.3 cu-ft when you fold everything. But still, 45.8 cu-ft does still hold quite a bit of stuff.
As far as passenger comfort is concerned, there is plenty of space in the front row. I am 6’2″ and despite the sunroof, I had no issues with headroom. However, the second row of seats is a little tight. If you have some relatively short friends, it won’t be a problem. But, I definitely do not fit sitting behind myself.
Take into account all of the features I have mentioned, and you might be surprised to hear that this 2019 Hyundai Kona totals out to a price of just $30,005. This is the Ultimate AWD trim, essentially fully loaded, and the price is still just a hair over $30,000? That is an incredible amount of value.
Despite being the most recent entry to the segment, the Kona’s combination of funky styling, fun performance, and incredible value might make it the car to beat in the subcompact crossover segment. While we would prefer a traditional torque-converter automatic transmission, there is really little to be upset about with this hatchback.
Stay tuned to TFlcar.com for the latest news, views & real-world reviews. Plus, more to come from the 2019 Hyundai Kona in the near future. Check out the video below to see the Kona tackle our famous Gold Mine Hill test. Though, the transmission gave us more issues than we were hoping for.