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2020 Hyundai Kona

$20,300 - $29,350
Price Range (MSRP)
Hyundai Kona

2020 Hyundai Kona Review: A Winning Formula

by Roger Biermann

We've come to accept that the age of awkward-looking crossover SUVs is truly and firmly upon us. Gone are the days when you simply had to choose between a four-door sedan, a two-door sports car, and a truck. Well, if you can't beat them, join them, right? The Hyundai Kona has been at the head of the compact crossover crusade since 2018 and has become so good at what it does that it is making us forget what we used to do before cars like these were around. The Kona drives superbly, it's as safe as a nuclear bunker and when selected with the 175-horsepower 1.6T engine, goes like a bat out of hell. Pair all of this with a class-leading warranty and highly competitive pricing, and you've got yourself a clear winner. The Kona goes up against the likes of Honda's HR-V, and the Subaru Crosstrek.

2020 Hyundai Kona Changes: What’s the difference vs 2019 Kona?

The Kona is a relative newcomer to the American market, having been first introduced in 2018, but that doesn't mean that Hyundai has rested on its laurels; for 2020, the Kona's standard features list gets a remix while 2019's Iron Man Edition model has been discontinued. SEL models now come with a 4.2-inch color display and include a wireless charging pad while Limited and Ultimate models get a standard auto-dimming rearview mirror with HomeLink. Adaptive cruise control now comes standard on all Ultimate models. If you like orange, there's also a new interior theme in this color to go with your Limited trim when specced in Sunset Orange exterior paint.

Pros and Cons

  • Edgy exterior design
  • Powerful available force-fed engines
  • Good road manners
  • Feature-rich interior
  • Some competitors offer more cargo space
  • It lacks steering feedback
  • Some cheap-feeling interior bits

Kona Exterior

The subcompact crossover SUV market is swamped with cars that try to blend edgy design language and premium aspirations with a relatively disingenuous wanderlust for the great outdoors. The 2020 Hyundai Kona falls squarely within this description, but we don't care because it looks really cool. The Kona wouldn't look out of place in a near-future sci-fi movie or an episode of Black Mirror, and while the jury is still out on how it will age, we think it looks terrific in 2020. Standard exterior features include automatic projector-beam headlights and LED daytime running lights (Limited and Ultimate cars get LED headlights), heated side mirrors, and body-color door handles. Higher up in the range, Hyundai offers standard features such as LED tail lights on Limited and Ultimate variants as well as smaller details such as rear privacy glass, a power tilt and slide sunroof, shark fin antenna, and roof rails.

2020 Hyundai Kona Front View Hyundai
2020 Hyundai Kona Rear View Hyundai
2020 Hyundai Kona Three-Quarter Front Left View Hyundai
See All 2020 Hyundai Kona Exterior Photos

Dimensions

One of the most appealing aspects of owning a subcompact crossover is the fact that they don't take up a whole lot of space, but offer a good amount of interior space. A shorter wheelbase and raised ride height also afford these types of cars a modicum of off-road capability. The 2020 Kona measures 164 inches in length, which is considerably shorter than the Subaru Crosstrek at 175.8 inches, sits 61 inches off the ground, and is 70.9 inches wide, not including the side mirrors. The Kona gets a useful 6.7 inches of ground clearance and rolls on a 102.4-inch wheelbase. Its compact exterior design translates into a car that's relatively lightweight: a front-wheel-drive base model weighs only 2,890 pounds while top-spec all-wheel-drive models can weigh up to 3,276 lbs.

Exterior Colors

Kia offers the 2020 Kona SE, SEL, and SEL Plus in a total of seven exterior paint colors while Limited and Ultimate models are provided in eight. Such a fresh exterior design begs to be covered in vibrant and head-turning paint colors, and that's exactly what Hyundai has supplied. Obviously the Korean auto manufacturer had to include the basics such as Chalk White, Sonic Silver, and Ultra Black, but they have added a few interesting colors that are set to become brand icons in the near future. Sunset Orange gives the Subaru Crosstrek's Sunshine Orange a run for its money, and Hyundai's popular Surf Blue also makes an appearance. Limited and Ultimate models add the option of Lime Twist, which reminds us of early 90s kids game show goo.

  • Sonic Silver w/Black Roof
  • Pulse Red w/Black Roof
  • Surf Blue w/Dark Gray Roof
  • Sonic Silver
  • Chalk White
  • Thunder Gray
  • Sunset Orange
  • Ultra Black
  • Pulse Red
  • Surf Blue
  • Lime Twist

Kona Performance

One of the primary determining factors when it comes to the overall performance of any car is its weight. The Hyundai Kona takes full advantage of its lightweight construction, especially in the lower trims. Base models are fitted with a naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine, which does a good job of hustling the Kona around town, but lacks the low-down grunt to get the subcompact crossover out of tricky situations around town - it makes 147 horsepower and 132 lb-ft of torque. Thankfully Kia has included a turbocharged four-pot with 175 hp and 195 lb-ft in the lineup, which adds an entirely different dynamic to the platform. Cars fitted with the base engine will get up to sixty in the high eight to low nine-second bracket depending on drive type; the naturally-aspirated AWD car is the slowest accelerating, while turbocharged Limited and Ultimate models will get there in a fraction over six seconds, according to independent testers.

2020 Hyundai Kona Three-Quarter Front Left View In Motion Hyundai
2020 Hyundai Kona Rear View In Motion Hyundai
2020 Hyundai Kona Engine Hyundai

Engine and Transmission

The 2020 Hyundai Kona is available with two engine and transmission configurations and powers the front wheels as standard; AWD is an available option. SE, SEL, and SEL Plus models are all powered by a 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine, which produces a lethargic 147 hp and 132 lb-ft at 4500 rpm. Power is sent to a six-speed automatic transmission with SHIFTRONIC technology and provides a decent surge of power to the front wheels, but sounds strained higher up in the rev range - it lacks any notable low down punch. The turbocharged 1.6-liter inline-four engine is the star of the show and gives the Kona the go to match the show. This force-fed small capacity four-pot produces 175 hp, but more importantly, it offers 195 lb-ft of torque between 1500 and 4500 rpm, which makes the turbocharged Kona feel like its traveling at light speed when compared to the base engine. Power is sent to a seven-speed EcoShift dual-clutch transmission, which adds to the overall sportiness of the Limited and Ultimate Kona, but we found that it struggled in low-speed driving situations and felt hesitant to disengage first gear.

  • Engines
    1.6-liter Turbo Inline-4 Gas, 2.0-liter Inline-4 Gas
  • Transmissions
    6-Speed Automatic, 7-Speed Automatic
  • Drivetrains
    AWD, FWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

Hyundai has hit the nail on the head with the Kona's handling and overall driving experience; this small crossover SUV feels agile and light-footed around town and on quiet backroads, and loves to dart its nose in the direction ordered by the driver. Its short wheelbase could make some think that they're in for a choppy ride, but quite the opposite is true; the independent MacPherson strut with coil springs in the front and independent multi-link design with coupled torsion beam axle in the rear soaks up bumps and road imperfections without breaking a sweat and inspires confidence when driving at higher speeds. The only notable fault we could find regarding the Kona's handling characteristics was a painfully numb steering feel that did little to let the driver know about the temperament of the front tires and, despite its weighted steering, still required constant adjustment when driving on the highway.

Kona Gas Mileage

Modern compact crossover SUVs have their hands full with having to look good, drive well, offer practicality as well as advanced infotainment, and are still expected to deliver great gas mileage. We're pleased to report that the Kona manages to return class-competitive numbers: the base model FWD car will return 27/33/30 mpg city/highway/combined while force-fed FWD models will see 28/32/30 mpg. Opting for an AWD model will naturally see those numbers taking a dip, but not by much; the naturally aspirated car will return 26/30/28 mpg while turbocharged models will get 26/29/27 mpg. The Kona comes fitted with a 13.2-gallon fuel tank, which should give the 2020 car a maximum range of between 356 and 396 miles.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    13.2 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 27/33 mpg
* 2020 Hyundai Kona SE Automatic FWD

Kona Interior

The exterior of the 2020 Kona might scream mid-level advertising creative, but the interior falls short of truly impressing; it's not an ugly place to sit in, not by a long shot, but it feels a little too cool and calculated to us. What you get is a bunch of swooping lines, rounded inserts, and the general sense that you could be sitting inside the cabin of any number of faceless modern compact cars. We have to hand it to Hyundai, though - the interior feels well put together, and you'll have no trouble reaching and interacting with most of the controls on offer. Hyundai is known for packing a lot of standard features into their cars, and the Kona is no different: in base form, you get standard manual air conditioning, remote keyless entry, power windows with drivers auto-down feature as well as a rearview monitor with parking guidance. The driver's seat is manually adjustable in six different ways, and there is steering wheel mounted audio Bluetooth and cruise control buttons mounted on the steering wheel. Higher up in the range you get a power-adjustable driver seat a head-up display on the Ultimate model as well as wireless phone charging and an auto-dimming rearview mirror with HomeLink on SEL Plus, Limited and Ultimate models.

2020 Hyundai Kona Dashboard Hyundai
2020 Hyundai Kona Infotainment System Hyundai
2020 Hyundai Kona Driver Seat Hyundai
See All 2020 Hyundai Kona Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

The Kona has no problem fitting five average-sized adults with relative comfort, and getting in and out of the small crossover SUV is easy thanks to wide-opening front doors and a handy 6.7 inches of ground clearance. Getting in the back is just as hassle-free. Once inside, the driver sits quite high, and forward visibility is good, but a small rear window means that the standard rearview camera has to be relied upon frequently. Those sitting in the front will enjoy 39.6 inches of headroom or 38 inches with the power sunroof fitted; in either case, it's more than enough, even for six-footers. Back seat passengers get 37.8 inches of headroom. Legroom in the front is a generous 41.5 inches, but those in the back aren't as lucky, with only 34.6 inches of space. The Kona's front seats offer a good balance of support and comfort, but we wish they had a slightly more sporty design, especially in the zippy turbo models.

  • Seating capacity
    5-seater

Interior Colors and Materials

Hyundai keeps the interior of the Kona understated in base form, where you get the option of cloth upholstery in your choice of black with black trim accents or black with gray interior accents. Limited and Ultimate models benefit from leather seats, which can be had in black or Gray, but for those looking for something a bit zestier, selecting the Lime Twist exterior paint color adds black leather seats with lime accents, or you can go for Sunset Orange with the new corresponding orange seat accents. As can be expected by Korean motoring giants Hyundai, the cabin materials on offer feel solid and long-lasting, but as is inevitable in this price range, some cheap plastics do creep through. All-important touchpoints have a quality feel to them, though.

Kona Trunk and Cargo Space

The Kona straddles the line between small sedan and SUV, so if you're upgrading from a traditional small four-door sedan, you'll appreciate the added space, but if you're used to a conventional SUV then don't hold your breath. With the rear seats in the upward position, the Kona offers a decent 19.2 cubic feet worth of trunk space, which is slightly more than you get in something like the 2019 Mazda CX-3, but is entirely overshadowed by the Honda HR-V which offers 24.3 cubic feet of space. Drop the 60/40 split fold-down rear seat, and the Kona offers a handy 45.8 cubic feet of space, which should be more than enough to carry two mid-sized rescue pups and their accompanying toys and treats, or enough wine and books for an epic weekend-long book club marathon. The Kona's dual-level cargo floor adds another few cubic feet of storage space under the trunk floor - a handy little secret.

Small items are swallowed up by front door pockets, a small glovebox, and center console storage bin as well as a flip-open storage binnacle in front of the shift knob.

2020 Hyundai Kona Trunk Space with Seat Folded Hyundai
2020 Hyundai Kona Trunk Floor Storage Hyundai
2020 Hyundai Kona Floor Storage Opened Hyundai

Kona Infotainment and Features

Features

Hyundai has been winning over the hearts and minds of American consumers by offering cars that are packed with standard features and provide excellent value for money, and the same strategy has been applied to the 2020 Kona. In base form, the list might not sound that impressive, but the features pile on thick and fast as you climb up the trim ladder. Standard exterior features found across the range include LED daytime running lights, auto headlights, heated side mirrors, and body-colored door handles, while LED headlights, fog lights, a power sunroof, and roof rails become available as you make your way up the range. Inside all models excepting the Limited and Ultimate get cloth seats, and base models get manually adjustable driver's seats. Eight-way power-adjustability becomes available in the SEL Plus and upward. A rearview monitor with parking guidance comes as standard across the lineup, as does a single USB charging port. Wireless phone charging and an auto-dimming rearview mirror with HomeLink are reserved for SEL Plus cars and above, while Limited and Ultimate models enjoy automatic climate control. Driver assistance features such as driver attention warning and lane keep assist come standard across the range.

Infotainment

Never before has the infotainment system played such a large part in the overall success of a vehicle as right now. It is absolutely essential that this system performs flawlessly, especially in a car targeted at younger buyers, so does the Kona's system make the cut? The standard seven-inch touchscreen display is mounted high up on the dash, which makes it seem larger than it actually is, and makes interacting with the touch-sensitive screen that much easier. As part of the standard infotainment package, you get Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration. HD Radio and SiriusXM satellite radio is available on SEL models and upwards. If you're looking for a more substantial offering, then you should opt for the upgraded eight-inch system available on the Ultimate model. This system includes navigation, a head-up display, and shares its eight-speaker Infinity sound system with SEL Plus and Limited models. SEL Plus models and upwards are also offered with a host of Blue Link services, including their Connected Car, Connected Care and Guidance package.

Kona Problems and Reliability

The Hyundai Kona is one of the most reliable cars in its class, and has not been recalled once since its introduction back in 2018. Owners have complained about fickle blind-spot monitoring systems and flakey interior bits, but all major mechanical and electrical features seem to be reliable enough. J.D. Power seems to think the same, giving the 2019 Kona a consumer-verified reliability rating of 82. To sweeten the deal even further, Hyundai offers one of the most comprehensive warranties in the class. You get a five-year/60,000-mile basic warranty, which includes a seven-year/unlimited-mile corrosion warranty, a five-year/unlimited mile roadside assistance plan, and an incredible ten-year/100,000-mile drivetrain warranty.

Kona Safety

The Kona will be bought by young professionals and old-timers alike, and safety is high on the priority list for both groups. The good news is that the 2020 Hyundai Kona has been put through its paces by both the NHTSA and IIHS, and the even-better news is that it absolutely dominated both tests - it's one of the safest cars you can buy for its price range. The NHTSA gave the Kona a full five out of five stars, and the IIHS was so impressed with its performance that it bestowed its highest honor, the Top Safety Pick+ award.

Key Safety Features

With a Top Safety Pick+ award behind its name, you'd better believe that the 2020 Kona comes with its fair share of safety gear. Standard safety equipment includes nine airbags, lane keep assist, forward collision avoidance as well as driver attention warning, an anti-theft alarm system with integrated remote keyless access and panic alarm, and body side impact reinforcements. To get your hands on the full spectrum of safety goodies available for the Kona, you'll have to look higher up in the range; SEL cars and above come standard with blind-spot warning, lane change assistance, and rear cross-traffic assistance. The top of the line model gets forward collision avoidance with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, parking distance warning, as well as a head-up display and high beam assist.

Verdict: Is the 2020 Hyundai Kona a good SUV?

It's getting harder to tell the difference between a good crossover and a so-so crossover; automakers have stepped up their game in a big way, especially in the highly competitive subcompact crossover SUV segment where the Kona battles it out with the likes of the Honda HR-V and Subaru Crosstrek. Luckily for Hyundai, they knew exactly what they were doing when they released the Kona back in 2018. A fresh exterior design matched with good interior space, a long list of standard features, an excellent reliability record, and an award-winning safety rating are but a few of the Kona's significant achievements. We can also mention the punchy 1.6-liter turbocharged engine, good fuel economy and stunning road-holding. Starting at a touch over $20,000, the 2020 Hyundai Kona represents excellent value for money and offers a good balance of looks, practicality, and performance in a market filled with cars that deliver either one or the other, but not all.

What's the Price of the 2020 Hyundai Kona?

The Kona manages to use the all-important cost-factor to its advantage: it's competitively priced and offers a great deal of car for a relatively small amount of money. The base model starts off with an MSRP of $20,100, which includes destination charges but excludes tax, title, and license fees. One step up from the SE is the SEL, which sells for $21,900, followed by the SEL Plus, which will set you back $23,750. The Limited with its leather seats and upgraded Infinity sound system goes for $25,900, and finally, the Ultimate goes for $27,750. There's $7,650 and a big basket of features separating the base model from the top, so finding one that suits your needs should be simple enough. Fully kitted, the Ultimate can reach upwards of $31,500.

2020 Hyundai Kona Models

You can have your pick of five different trim levels for 2020. Kia starts off the Kona range of subcompact crossover SUVs with the SE, which is powered by a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine sending power to either the front or all four corners. The SE shares its engine and six-speed automatic transmission with SEL and SEL PLUS cars. Standard features on the base model include daytime LED running lights, cloth seats, a seven-inch infotainment display with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration as well as lane keep assist and forward collision avoidance.

Next up is the SEL, which gains heated body-color side mirrors, rear privacy glass, roof rails, as well as interior goodies such as heated front seats, HD Radio and SiriusXM satellite radio, an external temperature display as well as a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob amongst others. The SEL also adds safety features such as blind-spot monitoring, lane change assistance, and rear cross-traffic assistance.

SEL Plus models gain front fog lights, a power-folding sunroof, and shark antenna. Inside the SEL PLUS comes equipped with an eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat with power lumbar support, an eight-speaker Infinity sound system, a wireless phone charging pad, as well as an auto-dimming rearview mirror with HomeLink.

Limited models add a potent turbocharged 1.6-liter four-pot engine mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, LED headlights and taillights, leather seats, and automatic climate control.

The range-topping Ultimate adds high beam assistance, an eight-inch infotainment display with integrated navigation, a head-up display system, as well as forward collision avoidance with pedestrian detection, smart cruise control, and parking distance warning.

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
SE
2.0-liter Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$20,300
SEL
2.0-liter Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$22,100
SEL Plus
2.0-liter Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$23,950
Limited
1.6-liter Turbo Inline-4 Gas
7-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$26,100
Ultimate
1.6-liter Turbo Inline-4 Gas
7-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$27,950
See All 2020 Hyundai Kona Trims and Specs

Additional Packages

The Kona is sold as an all-inclusive package, which means each trim level receives a set amount of features, and the only way that you'll be able to get the features you're looking for is to go for the trim that includes it. Makes sense? Hyundai does give you the option of swapping out the FWD system for an AWD one at an additional cost of $1,400. Other than that, there are a few accessories on offer, including a $30 first aid kit and carpeted floor mats for $135.

What Hyundai Kona Model Should I Buy?

It should be clear to you by now that we're big fans of the Hyundai Kona. From the outside, it looks cutting edge despite being three years old already, and should keep looking good for quite some time. The interior might not be as visually stimulating, but everything feels sturdy and sits in the right place. Out on the road, the Kona delivers a sublime driving experience that compares to SUV's higher up in the size and price class. Which one would we go for then? With five trim levels on offer, it could get confusing to some, but we would skip straight to the top of the range to the Ultimate. With such a good little chassis and well-balanced ride, the Kona deserves nothing less than the 1.6-liter turbocharged four-pot engine - forget about the 2.0-liter unit. And if you're going straight for the more powerful engine, you might as well dole out the extra $1,850 for adaptive cruise control, pedestrian detection, a head-up display, and more.

Check out other Hyundai Kona Styles?

2020 Hyundai Kona Comparisons

2020 Hyundai Kona Hyundai
2020 Hyundai Kona Subaru

2020 Hyundai Kona vs Hyundai Tucson

The Tucson sits above the Kona in the Hyundai SUV lineup and starts off with an MSRP of $23,350, a premium of $3,250 over the smaller Kona. The Tucson is powered a pair of naturally aspirated inline-four-cylinder engines: the 2.0-liter unit produces 161 hp and 150 lb-ft of torque and will return 23/28/25 mpg city/highway/combined in FWD configuration. The larger 2.4-liter engine produces 181 hp and 175 lb-ft of torque and will get 22/28/25 mpg. Power is sent to the front or all four corners via a six-speed auto transmission. The turbocharged 1.6-liter four-pot in the Kona is a far superior engine and makes the Tucson feel dated and sluggish in comparison. The Tucson is the larger car, and is over 12 inches longer than the Kona, but sits lower to the ground with a clearance of 6.4 inches. Inside the Tucson offers the same amount of front-seat legroom, but offers 38.2 inches in the rear, significantly more than what you get in the Kona. Trunk space and overall cargo space is also superior. The Tucson, being a larger and heavier car, misses out on the nimbleness of the Kona, but still drives beautifully, and could really do with the extra grunt a turbocharger provides. Both cars are stocked with similar features and share more or less the same trim levels as well. We would only suggest the Tucson if you're desperate for the extra passenger and cargo space, other than that, the Kona is the better car.

See Hyundai Tucson Review

2020 Hyundai Kona vs Subaru Crosstrek

Subaru's Crosstrek is basically an Impreza covered in camo face-paint and is Subarus take on the subcompact "whatever, it kinda looks like an SUV" class. It sure looks the part thanks to a slathering of bulky plastic trim pieces and a lifted ride height and flared fenders, but it has a few drawbacks that are hard to ignore. Power is supplied by a tepid 2.0-liter flat-four engine producing 152 hp and 145 lb-ft of torque and is possibly the Crosstrek's biggest weak point - that, and the coma-inducing CVT auto transmission (the manual isn't great either). The Crosstrek makes up for lukewarm performance with a gas mileage figure of 27/33/30 mpg city/highway/combined. The Crosstrek is a larger car and offers more passenger and trunk space, and its interior is arguably more attractive than the Kona's. Standard features include a touch screen display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration as well as safety features such as lane-departure warning. On the road, the Crosstrek offers a good driving experience, but it is off-road where its 8.7 inches of ground clearance and X-Mode AWD system makes it shine. The Crosstrek is the one to get if you're serious about going off the beaten track, but for everything else, the Kona is better.

See Subaru Crosstrek Review

Hyundai Kona Popular Comparisons