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2020 Hyundai Kona Review

The 2020 Hyundai Kona boasts balanced driving dynamics, a strong turbocharged engine option, and a lovely cabin with a straightforward infotainment system. As a result, it ranks near the top of the subcompact SUV class.

Pros & Cons

  • Punchy turbocharged engine available
  • Composed handling
  • Upscale interior
  • Straightforward, feature-rich infotainment system
  • Small maximum cargo capacity for the class
  • Cramped rear seats

New for 2020

  • Available adaptive cruise control
  • Renamed trims and shuffling of some features

8.2

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 8.9
Performance: 7.7
Interior: 7.4
Safety: 9.8
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Is the Hyundai Kona a Good SUV?

The 2020 Hyundai Kona is a good SUV in the competitive subcompact SUV class. Despite being one of the more affordable options in the class, the Kona looks and feels like a pricier vehicle on the inside. In fact, we named the Kona as a finalist for our 2020 Best Subcompact SUV for the Money award, thanks to its combination of quality and value.

It’s outfitted with a good number of standard features, nice materials, and an easy-to-use infotainment system. All in all, the Kona doesn’t have many flaws, but its small size may dissuade shoppers who want spacious back seats and a large cargo hold.

Should I Buy the Hyundai Kona?

The 2020 Hyundai Kona should be on your short list of subcompact SUVs. Its sporty handling, low base price, and stylish interior is an attractive combination for many shoppers. That said, if you need more cargo space, have a look at the 2020 Kia Soul. In addition to having roomier seats than the Kona, the Soul has one of the largest cargo capacities in the class. The 2019 Nissan Kicks is another affordable option. It has lots of cargo space, excellent fuel economy, and sharp handling.

Compare the Kona, Soul, and Kicks »

Should I Buy a New or Used Hyundai Kona?

The Kona launched for the 2018 model year, and there have been few changes since its inception. For 2019, many of the previously optional safety features from the 2018 model became standard, including forward collision warning, lane keep assist, and pedestrian detection. The 2020 Kona sees no significant changes over the 2019 version. If you can find a used 2018 loaded with the safety features you want, you’ll likely save money and get an SUV that is very similar to the new 2020 Kona.

If you're considering an older model, be sure to read our 2018 Kona and 2019 Kona reviews to help make your decision. Also check out our Used Car Deals page to learn about savings and discounts you can find on used vehicles.

Compare the 2018, 2019, and 2020 Kona »

We Did the Research for You: 29 Reviews Analyzed

We strive to provide you with the facts and figures you need to make an informed buying decision. Our comprehensive review of the 2020 Hyundai Kona includes conclusive data (like fuel economy numbers, safety and reliability ratings, and cargo space), as well as professional evaluations from 29 automotive authorities. This Hyundai Kona review incorporates applicable research from the 2018 through 2020 model years.

Why You Can Trust Us

We’ve been ranking and reviewing cars since 2007, and our Best Cars team has more than 75 years of combined automotive experience. We also award the Best Cars for the Money, Best Cars for Families, and Best Vehicle Brands every year. To ensure our impartiality, a third party manages our advertising, and we never accept expensive gifts or trips from automakers.

How Much Does the Hyundai Kona Cost?

The base 2020 Hyundai Kona SE has an MSRP of $20,100, which is on the low end for the class. The top-level Kona Ultimate trim starts at $27,750. We review the new-for-2019 Kona Electric separately.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Hyundai dealer. You can also find great manufacturer incentives on our Hyundai deals page.

Hyundai Kona Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Hyundai Kona or Honda HR-V?

The 2019 Honda HR-V offers a lot of space for a subcompact SUV. It comes equipped with Honda's Magic Seat, which has seat cushions that you can flip into several positions. This allows you to carry large items of various shapes and sizes that other cars in this class could never handle. Rear-seat legroom is also very good for the class. On top of all that, the Honda stands out in the segment with excellent fuel economy, a pleasant cabin, and a good safety score. However, the Kona has stronger engines, nimbler handling, a nicer cabin, and more standard safety features than the Honda. The Kona also has more standard tech features, such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which are optional in the Honda. The Hyundai is priced a little lower to boot. If you can live with the Kona’s smaller-than-average size, it’s the way to go.

Which Is Better: Hyundai Kona or Nissan Kicks?

If you’re looking for a subcompact SUV with more cabin and cargo space than the Kona offers, consider the 2019 Nissan Kicks. It has two roomy rows of seats and about 7 more cubic feet of cargo space than the Kona. Despite having a higher starting price than the Nissan by about $1,500, the Kona gives you a lot more for your money. It has standard features like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which are optional in the Kicks. This Hyundai also has stronger engines. Its standard four-cylinder engine has 25 more horsepower than the Kicks’ sole engine, which is a 122-horsepower four-cylinder, and the Kona’s available 1.6-liter turbo-four has 53 more horsepower. Unless you just need the extra space, the Kona is the better choice in this comparison.

Compare the Kona, HR-V, and Kicks »

Hyundai Kona Interior

How Many People Does the Hyundai Kona Seat?

The 2020 Hyundai Kona SUV seats five people on standard cloth upholstery. An eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, heated front seats, leather upholstery, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel are available.

Front-seat space is suitable for most average-sized adults. However, taller folks may want to avoid the cramped rear seats, which have less head- and legroom than most subcompact SUVs.

Hyundai Kona and Car Seats

There are two complete sets of LATCH connectors for the rear outboard seats and an additional upper tether anchor for the rear middle seat.

Hyundai Kona Interior Quality

The cabin is handsomely styled and features quality materials. Even its plastics look good. Only a few competitors, like Mini Cooper Countryman and Kia Soul, match the Kona’s interior appeal.

Hyundai Kona Cargo Space

The Kona has 19.2 cubic feet of storage space behind the second row, which is about average for the class, and 45.8 cubic foot behind the first row. This total cargo capacity is on the low side for a subcompact SUV. 

Hyundai Kona Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

Standard equipment includes a 7-inch touch screen, two USB ports, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a six-speaker stereo. A larger 8-inch touch screen, a navigation system, an eight-speaker Infinity premium sound system, wireless device charging, satellite radio, HD Radio, and a head-up display are available.

Hyundai’s user-friendly infotainment system is one of the best on the market. The standard touch screen quickly responds to user inputs, and the available navigation system includes handy pinch-to-zoom functions. The center stack is just as intuitive, featuring straightforward and easily accessible buttons and knobs for common functions. Standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto allow you to access several smartphone features and apps through the vehicle’s infotainment screen.

For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay? and What Is Android Auto?

Read more about interior »

Hyundai Kona Performance

Hyundai Kona Engine: Turbo Is the Way to Go

The Kona has two powertrain options. A 147-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder and a six-speed automatic transmission come standard, and a 175-horsepower turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic is available. Both transmissions have manual shift modes.

The base engine has sufficient power for normal driving. However, the turbo-four delivers noticeably faster acceleration, which is especially helpful when merging onto the highway.

Hyundai Kona Mileage: Above Average with Either Engine

The base front-wheel-drive Hyundai Kona returns an EPA-estimated 27 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway, which is a little above average for the class. The turbocharged engine gets nearly the same estimates: 28/32 mpg city/highway.

Hyundai Kona Ride and Handling: Composed and Comfortable

The front-wheel-drive Kona’s ride strikes a nice balance between sporty and soft. Its suspension is flexible, absorbing common blemishes in the road. Harsher road imperfections like potholes tend to jostle passengers. With its tight turning radius and small stature, the Kona is fun to drive and maintains its composure around corners. Features such as hill descent control, a locking rear differential, and all-wheel drive make it a good vehicle for tackling dirt roads.

Read more about performance »

Hyundai Kona Reliability

Is the Hyundai Kona Reliable?

The 2020 Hyundai Kona earns a slightly above-average predicted reliability rating of 3.5 out of five from J.D. Power.

Hyundai Kona Warranty

Hyundai backs the Kona with a five-year/60,000-mile limited warranty and a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. These are longer warranties than you get with many competitors.

Read more about reliability »

How Much Does It Cost to Insure a Hyundai Kona?

The cost of insuring a Hyundai Kona will depend on a variety of factors, including your deductible, the level of coverage that you want, and the type of insurance that you choose. Your age, gender, location, credit score, and driving record can also have an impact on your insurance rates. Check out our car insurance guide to find the best policy for you.

Hyundai Kona Safety

Hyundai Kona Crash Test Results

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2020 Kona an overall safety rating of five out of five stars. The NHTSA also gave it five stars in frontal and side crash tests, as well as four stars in the rollover test.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the 2020 Kona the highest rating of Good in all six crash test categories. The Kona also received the highest rating of Superior for front crash prevention when equipped with its optional pedestrian detection system. The Kona’s headlights received mixed reviews for their ability to illuminate the road ahead: the lowest rating of Poor for the standard halogen lights and the highest rating of Good for the available LED lights.

Hyundai Kona Safety Features

Standard driver assistance features include a rearview camera, forward collision warning, lane keep assist, and a driver attention monitor. Rear parking sensors, pedestrian detection, automatic high-beam headlights, and blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert are available. For 2020, Hyundai added adaptive cruise control in Ultimate models. This system features radar sensors that keep the SUV at a fixed following distance behind other vehicles.

Read more about safety »

Hyundai Kona Dimensions and Weight

The 2020 Hyundai Kona is about 13.7 feet long. Its curb weight ranges from 2,890 to 3,276 pounds.

Where is the 2020 Hyundai Kona Built?

Hyundai builds the Kona in South Korea.

Which Hyundai Kona Model Is Right for Me?

The Kona is available in five trims: SE, SEL, SEL Plus, Limited, and Ultimate. If you would rather ditch the gas station, check out our separate review of the Kona Electric.

The Limited trim is suitable for most shoppers. It’s the lowest trim level with the turbocharged engine, which critics prefer. It also comes with cabin upgrades like leather seats, automatic climate control, and a premium stereo.

Hyundai Kona SE

The base Hyundai Kona SE has an MSRP of $20,100. It comes with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, a six-speed automatic transmission, a 7-inch touch screen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, two USB ports, Bluetooth, a six-speaker stereo, a rearview camera, remote keyless entry, cloth seats, and alloy wheels. Forward collision warning, lane keep assist, and a driver-attention monitor are also standard.

There are no major packages available with the SE trim.

Hyundai Kona SEL

The Hyundai Kona SEL has an MSRP of $21,900. It adds proximity keyless entry, push-button start, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, heated front seats, satellite radio, HD Radio, and blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert. A Tech package is available, offering a sunroof, fog lights, and an eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat.

Hyundai Kona SEL Plus

The new-for-2020 Hyundai Kona SEL Plus ($23,750) has the SEL trim’s features and adds Hyundai’s Blue Link telematics system, an eight-speaker Infinity premium stereo, a sunroof, fog lights, an eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat. It also comes equipped with a 4.2-inch color display and wireless device charging.

Hyundai Kona Limited

Pricing for the Kona Limited starts at $25,900. It features a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, automatic climate control, leather seats, automatic high-beam headlights, and full LED headlights. It also comes with all the features from the Tech package.

Hyundai Kona Ultimate

The top-of-the-line Hyundai Kona Ultimate (MSRP: $27,750) comes with nearly every amenity Hyundai offers for this model. It has several advanced safety features, including pedestrian detection, rear parking sensors, automatic high-beam headlights, rain-sensing windshield wipers. Hyundai’s new Smart Cruise Control system comes standard in the Kona Ultimate and isn't available in any other trims. An 8-inch touch screen, a navigation system, and a head-up display are also standard in the Kona Ultimate.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Hyundai dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Hyundai deals page.

See 2020 Hyundai Kona specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2020 Hyundai Kona is one of the best options among subcompact SUVs. It’s affordable, well-equipped, upscale, and fun to drive. Its base engine is a bit underpowered for some drivers, but its optional turbocharged engine brings this crossover to life. It’s most notable shortcoming is its less-than-roomy rear seats and small cargo hold. If you can get over those flaws, the Kona is a good choice in the segment.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "In this burgeoning segment, the Kona competes against rivals like the Honda HR-V, Toyota C-HR and Nissan Kicks. While those small SUVs are tempting in their own right, we think the Kona is currently the best of the bunch. It took our award for Subcompact SUV Best Buy of 2019 thanks to its combination of practicality, efficiency, value, fun nature and excellent warranty." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Overall, we think the Hyundai Kona is an excellent pick. … Factor in Hyundai's lengthy warranty coverage and the value proposition is undeniable. No matter what you may think of its styling, the Kona deserves a second look." -- Edmunds (2019)
  • "Overall, the 2018 Hyundai Kona has all the makings of a standout model in one of the auto industry's quickest-accelerating segments. Its refined power and handling combine with a strong complement of advanced safety and convenience tech to make it must-drive if you're shopping for a new small SUV -- provided, of course, that you like its bulldog looks." -- CNET (2018)

Buying

Expert Advice

Last Updated: January 30, 2020

Strong Sales: After nearly two full years of sales, the Kona has secured a solid sales position in the subcompact SUV segment. 2019 sales placed the Kona in the middle of the segment, behind popular competitors like the Ford EcoSport. The Kona still has a way to climb, as the class-leading Subaru Crosstrek outsold it by nearly 2 to 1 last year.

Research more buying advice »
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