2021 Hyundai Kona

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2021 Hyundai Kona Review: Ticks All The Right Boxes

by Deiondre van der Merwe

The Hyundai Kona is like a talented kid who comes from a tough neighborhood and frightens the cookie-cutter children for being brilliant, but different. In this case, the cookie-cutter children are the Mazda CX-3 and the Honda HR-V. The squinty front end is not the only unique thing about the Kona; it's unmistakable from the outside, but the inside is what counts. The available 175-hp 1.6-liter turbo is a boon and makes running errands more bearable. It's a comfortable crossover that competes with the best of them and actually stands a chance of winning. We're talking about comfort and athleticism doled out in equal parts and an interior loaded with modern tech and creature comforts.

Read in this review:

  • Exterior Design 8 /10
  • Performance 9 /10
  • Fuel Economy 8 /10
  • Interior & Cargo 7 /10
  • Infotainment & Features 9 /10
  • Reliability 8 /10
  • Safety 9 /10
  • Value For Money 9 /10
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2021 New Hyundai Kona Changes: What’s The Difference vs The 2020 Kona?

The 2021 Hyundai Kona rolls over mostly unchanged from the previous model year, aside from the addition of a new Night Edition trim that adds 18-inch wheels, gloss black interior and exterior accents, LED headlights and taillights as well as aluminum-alloy sport pedals. There were also a few interior and exterior colors dropped from last year's selection.

Pros and Cons

  • Unique exterior style
  • Multiple engine options
  • Frugal fuel economy
  • Well-stocked with standard features
  • Not as spacious as rivals
  • Steering is numb
  • Lazy standard engine

What's the Price of the Kona?

The Hyundai Kona's price sits slightly lower than mentioned rivals, but it's by less than $1,000. The cheapest way into the range is the FWD SE that has a starting MSRP of $20,400. Adding AWD to base FWD models will add $1,400 to the Kona's price overall. The SEL increases the MSRP to $22,200, and the SEL Plus will set you back by $24,050. For the new Night Edition, you can budget $25,600, while the Limited goes on sale for $26,200. The Ultimate trim asks for $28,050. The cost of the Hyundai Kona mentioned here is exclusive of the $1,175 destination and handling fee.

Best Deals on 2021 Hyundai Kona

2021 Hyundai Kona Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
2.0L Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
2.0L Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
SEL Plus
2.0L Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
1.6L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
7-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
1.6L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
7-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
See All 2021 Hyundai Kona Trims and Specs

Handling and Driving Impressions

The Kona is an expert at blending decent handling with superb ride quality. That's a great advantage because athleticism usually comes at the cost of comfort at this price point. The compact crossover is just as confident in the city as it is on the highway. Tight dimensions mean that it's great for zipping around the city and delivers handling characteristics similar to smaller hatches. The way the Kona behaves will likely inspire some confidence in even the most cautious of drivers, making it an excellent choice for those with newly printed licenses. One of its very few flaws is the steering that's devoid of any feeling, although the Kona will eagerly obey steering commands. It's actually quite an entertaining little machine to pilot. Is it super fast? Hardly. But its quirky attitude makes the number on the speedometer seem rather irrelevant. You also get the choice between front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive systems, the latter being the better choice for those who live in rainy areas. The best part is that you get all of this without sacrificing the characteristics that make up an excellent little SUV for the family.

Verdict: Is the Hyundai Kona a car worth buying?

The Kona is an undeniably good crossover. It puts effort into everything it does, which makes owning it one of the easiest things you'll have to do for the next few years. It's excellent in most categories, only falling behind rivals when we consider trunk space. It's one of the few vehicles in the segment that offers a turbocharged engine option, so that's a definite win for shoppers who value some extra zest. Aside from offering some pretty decent power outputs from its top-tier engine, the Kona is comfortable and easy to drive. In the USA, the Hyundai Kona is one of the safest car options, too, with a Top Safety Pick accolade under its belt. The cabin is one of the more decent versions at this price point, though the evidence of discounted materials is quite obvious in certain places. The infotainment set-up is great regardless of trim, but there's a notable improvement in this regard for upper trim levels.

If you're looking for a uniquely styled crossover that offers a pleasant experience behind the wheel, the Kona is a great way to go. It's comfortable, modern, and affordable, which means that it simply ticks all the right boxes for a shopper in this segment.

What Hyundai Kona Model Should I Buy?

There are several trims to choose from, so the right model will depend on what you want out of the crossover. The lower models will suffice if you're okay with having less power. There's the option of adding AWD to the mix if you're prone to being caught in adverse weather conditions. If you're after the eager little turbocharged motor, you'll have to go for a higher trim. This means you'll also get more luxury on the inside by default. For us, the Limited trim is the best because it's not as expensive as the Ultimate, but boasts a lot of similar features, and gets features such as automatic climate control and an auto-dimming rearview mirror to give it an extra bit of appeal.

Check out other Hyundai Kona Styles

2021 Hyundai Kona Comparisons

Hyundai Tucson Hyundai
Subaru Crosstrek

2021 Hyundai Kona vs Hyundai Tucson

Coming from the same family, it's not surprising that the two crossovers share some DNA. They are so similar that it may be an arduous task to really define which of them is the better one for you. But, for starters, as a result of its size, the Tucson offers far more legroom for rear occupants, which may be a distinct advantage for families with teenagers. This is no surprise since the Tucson is over 12 inches lengthier. It also offers far more cargo space at 31 cubic feet in comparison to the Kona's 19.2 cubes. Both prioritize safety, but the Kona has a more modern appearance. Both rely on a 2.0-liter motor as standard with more powerful optional engines available, but the Tucson is more powerful in both cases. The better car will ultimately depend on your personal needs but if you need the extra space and prefer a more premium-feeling cabin, the Tucson takes the cake.

See Hyundai Tucson Review

2021 Hyundai Kona vs Subaru Crosstrek

The crossover segment is a warzone, but the Kona comes heavily armed. You'll notice immediately that the Crosstrek is significantly larger than the Kona. It's over ten inches longer and is slightly wider as well. As a result of this, the Subaru offers a notable amount of extra space by comparison. The Kona is the more attractive one of the two and offers excellent fuel economy. The Kona also offers a far better interior despite being smaller, and more power from its turbocharged engine. On dirt roads, the Crosstrek is the more capable vehicle, even if both are far from true off-roaders. Both received excellent safety ratings from the NHTSA and IIHS, so they're on par in that department. That being said, the Kona is a better car overall.

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