Class: Subcompact Crossover
Miles driven: 413
Fuel used: 16.2 gallons
|CG Report Card
|Room and Comfort
|Power and Performance
|Fit and Finish
|Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.
|Big & Tall Comfort
|Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. "Big" rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, "Tall" rating based on 6'6"-tall male tester.
Real-world fuel economy: 25.5 mpg
Driving mix: 65% city, 35% highway
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 26/29/27 (city/highway/combined)
Fuel type: Regular gas
Base price: $29,150 (not including $1095 destination charge)
Options on test vehicle: Carpeted floor mats ($135)
Price as tested: $30,380
The great: Acceleration from turbocharged engine; generous list of comfort and safety features
The good: Respectable passenger and cargo room within tidy exterior dimensions
The not so good: Some drivers dislike the behavior of the dual-clutch automatic transmission
Now you get adaptive cruise control.
That’s how Hyundai has elected to improve the Ultimate model of its Kona subcompact crossover for 2020. Adding an extra bit of standard driver-assistance tech to an already well-equipped, roomy, and surprisingly powerful little vehicle is a good way to help it keep its place as a Consumer Guide “Best Buy” selection.
As we’ve seen in prior Kona test drives—including a 2019 Ultimate very much like our ’20 tester—it doesn’t let being one of the smallest subcompact SUVs around keep it from delivering generous passenger and cargo space. (It used to be the smallest Hyundai crossover, but it finds itself undercut by the 2020 debut of the Venue.) Plus, the 175-horsepower 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine used in Limited and Ultimate models is near the top in the Kona’s class for power output.
The Smart Cruise Control (SCC) operates up to a driver-set speed and uses radars to maintain distance from vehicles ahead. It has its limits, though. SCC switches off once the Kona slows to six mph. It is designed for highway use only and, Hyundai advises, “should not be used in poor weather, heavy or varying traffic, or on winding or slippery roads.” It won’t stop the vehicle to avoid a collision.
Starting price of the Kona Ultimate is $30,245 as an all-wheel-drive version, a $1400 premium over the rear-driver. In addition to the turbo mill and the adaptive cruise control, that buys seats, steering wheel, and shifter knob wrapped in leather; pedestrian detection; parking-distance warning; navigation; 8-inch color touchscreen; 4.2-inch color vehicle-information display; wireless device charging; head-up display; enhanced Blue Link telematics; 18-inch alloy wheels; automatic high-beam headlights; LED headlights and taillights; fog lights; side roof rails; heated exterior mirrors; power sunroof; rain-sensing windshield wipers; automatic climate control; tilt/telescoping steering wheel; keyless entry; push-button starting; 8-way power-adjustable driver’s seat; auto-dimming rearview mirror; 8-speaker Infinity premium audio system with HD and satellite radio; Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity; forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking; driver-attention warning; lane-keep assist; lane-departure warning; blind-spot monitor; and rear cross-traffic alert. Indeed, the only extra added to the test truck was a set of carpeted floor mats.
The turbo engine counts on its full 195 lb-ft of torque from 1500 to 4500 rpm. It feels eager off the line (CG tests in 2019 had the Kona Ultimate at 7.6 seconds for 0-60-mph acceleration). “Normal” or “Sport” driving modes can be selected from a console button, with Sport triggering allowing more revs to build between gear changes. One editor who tromped our latest tester from rest in Sport mode reported that the Kona surged quickly until the first upshift from the 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, which made for a momentary—but clear—break in the action before power ramped up again. Sport shines in delivering extra go for expressway merging or passing. A Kona like the one CG drove is rated by the EPA at 26 mpg in city driving, 29 mpg on the highway, and 27 combined. Our experience in mixed driving is around 26 mpg.
The Kona is a pleasant driver with good maneuverability and a better ride from the front-strut/rear-multilink suspension than something this small likely would be expected to deliver.
In addition to the Ultimate’s many amenities, passengers enjoy surprising roominess, with legitimate space for four adults and good driver vision, even to the rear corners—something rare in small sport-utes. Gauges and the central information display show up well. The touchscreen is flanked by buttons for various infotainment choices, but managing them on the screen is easy. The climate system mixes handy dials to set temperature and fan speed with a short row of function buttons.
Utility starts with the cabin, where there’s a generous glove box, small console box, net pouches on the backs of the front seats, map pockets in all four doors, and cup holders in the console and the pull-down rear armrest. With the rear seats up, there’s room for 19.2 cubic feet of cargo—and 45.8 cubic feet with the 60/40-split second-row seats down. There’s additional small-item storage to be found in a pair of foam organizers under the load floor.
Settling on the Hyundai Kona as a CG Best Buy was easy. Passing it up as a shopper should be hard.
2020 Hyundai Kona Ultimate Gallery
2020 Hyundai Kona