2019 Hyundai Kona Performance

$19,990 - $28,900
Price Range (MSRP)

There are few subcompact crossovers that drive and handle as well as the Hyundai Kona does. It has its flaws, primarily weak brakes and steering that feels unnaturally weighted, but they’re outweighed by numerous redeeming traits. Exemplary ride quality is matched by supportiveness while cornering with minimal body roll, while the levels of grip are highly impressive. The Kona rides on a firmer suspension setup than some rivals, which can unsettle the Kona slightly over mid-corner bumps. The base 2.0-liter engine, with 147 horsepower, is lackluster but the six-speed automatic gearbox is half decent. The 175-hp 1.6-liter turbo motor is arguably one of the best in class, giving the Kona top performance in a segment not generally known for speed. But the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox hampers performance and is jerky at low speed. Front-wheel drive is standard, while all-wheel drive is optional and equips a more sophisticated independent rear suspension.

2019 Hyundai Kona Engine and Transmission

The 2019 Hyundai Kona offers two engine choices, each mated to their own gearbox. The Kona SE and SEL makes use of Hyundai’s familiar 2.0-liter naturally aspirated four cylinder engine, with outputs of 147 horsepower and 132 lb-ft of torque. It’s mated to a six-speed torque converter automatic that slurs through the gears comfortably and efficiently, but the pairing is ultimately let down by the lackluster figures from the engine itself. It’s suitable for shuffling around town, but it’s not so well suited to highway driving and overtaking.

On the Limited and Ultimate derivatives, Hyundai has equipped its now-standard performance motor, a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. Outputs of 175 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque are substantially better than those of the base engine, and the performance is exponentially increased. Mid-range torque is immense, and there’s an abundance of overtaking punch. A seven-speed dual-clutch automatic is the only available gearbox for the turbo engine, and while it’s great on the move, at low speeds it’s jerky and ill-mannered, stunting performance and usability.

Still, the turbocharged motor’s merits far outweigh the marks against its name and it provides some of the best performance in this segment making it well worth the extra cost of buying the Limited Kona derivative. 

Hyundai Kona
2.0-liter Gas Engine
Honda HR-V
1.8-liter Gas Engine
Hyundai Tucson
2.0-liter Gas Engine
Horsepower 147 @ 6200 141 @ 6500 161 @ 6200
Torque 132 @ 4500 127 @ 4300 150 @ 4700
Transmission 6-Speed Automatic SHIFTRONIC Continuously Variable with Sport Mode 6-Speed Automatic with SHIFTRONIC

Drivetrain

Front-wheel drive is standard throughout the Kona range, but optionally available on all derivatives is an all-wheel drive system for $1,400. Not only does this add an extra driven axle to the Kona’s repertoire, but it upgrades the rear suspension from torsion beam to a more sophisticated independent suspension setup. More than that, the system also features a lockable center differential which makes traversing slippery surfaces an easier affair. While most will never need more than the highly capable front-wheel drive system, which makes no compromise in handling or comfort, those in colder and wetter states may want to opt for the highly capable all-wheel drive setup. Not only is the sophisticated suspension setup an upgrade, but the diff-lock is something most don’t offer, and the extra pair of driven wheels manage the turbocharged engine’s torque more efficiently in adverse conditions.

MPG

In a competitive segment such as the subcompact CUV one, economy matters a lot more than in others. The base 2.0-liter engine boasts claimed EPA estimates of 27/33/30 mpg for the city/highway/combined driving cycles when equipped with front-wheel drive, while the addition of all-wheel drive reduces these figures to 25/30/27 mpg on the same cycles. The more powerful, turbocharged motor boasts economy estimates of 28/32/30 mpg with front-wheel drive, while the all-wheel drive derivative loses a couple of mpg with estimates coming in at 26/29/27. With consumption estimates near on matching the base engine, but with hugely improved performance, the 1.6T is the superior motor in all aspects.

Hyundai Kona
2.0-liter Gas Engine
Honda HR-V
1.8-liter Gas Engine
Hyundai Tucson
2.0-liter Gas Engine
Combined 30 mpg 30 mpg 26 mpg
City 27 mpg 28 mpg 23 mpg
Highway 33 mpg 34 mpg 30 mpg
Fuel Tank Capacity 13 gallons 13 gallons 16 gallons