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MSRP: $19,990 - 31,950

2019 Hyundai Kona Review

The 2019 Hyundai Kona ranks near the top of the subcompact SUV class. It has a nice cabin with an intuitive infotainment system, and its agile handling and turbocharged available engine help make it fun to drive.

Pros & Cons

  • Potent turbocharged engine option
  • Agile handling
  • Upmarket cabin
  • Intuitive infotainment system
  • Less cargo space than most rivals
  • Some road bumps disrupt ride quality

Is the Hyundai Kona a Good SUV?

The Hyundai Kona is an excellent subcompact SUV. Its superior combination of quality and value led us to name it our 2019 Best Subcompact SUV for the Money. The Kona’s available turbocharged engine feels peppier than most rivals' engines. Inside, the seats are comfortable, and the cabin is classy for a crossover SUV at this price. It also has a lot of standard tech and safety features. However, many competitors offer more total cargo space, and the base engine is underwhelming. Hyundai introduces an all-electric Kona for 2019, which we review separately.

Should I Buy the Hyundai Kona?

The 2019 Hyundai Kona is an appealing subcompact SUV with plenty to like, including its below-class-average starting price. However, it doesn’t hurt to shop around. The Honda HR-V is another decent crossover SUV, and it has a lot more cargo space than the Hyundai. The Mazda CX-3 delivers one of the peppiest performances in the class. Both rivals are a little more expensive than the Kona though.

Compare the Kona, HR-V, and CX-3 »

Should I Buy a New or Used Hyundai Kona?

Hyundai launched the Kona for the 2018 model year and made few major changes for 2019 (a few previously available safety features became standard). With few differences between the two models, you can consider used models and know that you're looking at essentially the same vehicle. There is no older version of the all-electric Kona, so shoppers interested in that model will need to purchase a new Kona.

If you're interested in an older model, check out our review of the 2018 Hyundai Kona. If you decide that a used model is right for you, check out our Used Car Deals page to learn about savings and discounts on used vehicles.

Compare the 2018 and 2019 Kona »

We Did the Research for You: 15 Reviews Analyzed

Our goal is to provide you with the information you need to make car shopping a breeze. You'll find everything you need to know about the Hyundai Kona in our comprehensive review. It combines concrete data (like fuel economy estimates, safety scores, and cargo space dimensions) with professional evaluations from 15 automotive sources. This Hyundai Kona review incorporates applicable research from the 2018 and 2019 model years.

Why You Can Trust Us

We’ve been 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 on an annual basis. To ensure our impartiality, a third party handles our advertising, and we don't accept expensive gifts from automakers.

How Much Does the Hyundai Kona Cost?

The base 2019 Hyundai Kona SE has an MSRP of $19,990. That’s more affordable than many class rivals. Prices rise with the SEL ($21,800) and Limited ($25,550) trims. The top-of-the-line Kona Ultimate starts at $27,500, which is more in line with the top-trim prices of other subcompact SUVs. For 2019, there's also a brand-new Kona Electric, which we review separately. 

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.

Hyundai Kona Versus the Competition

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

Refreshed for 2019, the Honda HR-V is a good subcompact SUV. It has more cargo space than the Hyundai, as well as more rear-seat legroom. The HR-V also features Honda’s Magic Seat, which can be configured in several ways to let you haul long, wide, or otherwise bulky items. Additionally, the HR-V is slightly more fuel-efficient than the nonelectric Kona. However, the Kona edges past the HR-V in several areas. It has more standard tech and safety features, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (both are optional in the Honda). Its cabin is a little nicer, and with its optional turbo engine, it feels livelier than the HR-V. The Kona is more affordable too, with a starting price that's about $600 less than the Honda's. The Hyundai is the better choice.

Which Is Better: Hyundai Kona or Kia Niro?

Both the Hyundai Kona and Kia Niro are good SUVs, but they have a few differences that may make one more appealing to you than the other. The Niro is available as a hybrid, a plug-in hybrid, and an electric vehicle. As you’d expect, the Niro is far more fuel-efficient than the nonelectric Kona (by about 20 mpg), though the Kona EV has a bit more range than the Niro EV – 258 miles versus 240 miles. The Niro has more passenger and cargo room than the Kona, and its ride is smoother. The Hyundai offers a stronger turbo engine option, sportier handling, and available all-wheel drive (not available in any Niro). The Niro costs around $3,500 more than the base Kona. The choice here largely comes down to personal preference.

Compare the Kona, HR-V, and Niro »

Hyundai Kona Interior

How Many People Does the Hyundai Kona Seat?

The 2019 Hyundai Kona SUV seats five people on standard cloth upholstery. A power-adjustable driver’s seat, heated front seats, leather seats, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel are available. Ventilated front seats and a heated steering wheel are optional in the Hyundai Kona Electric.

The front seats are spacious and comfortable, and while the same can generally be said for the rear, taller riders may feel a little cramped.

Hyundai Kona and Car Seats

The 2019 Hyundai Kona has two complete sets of LATCH connectors on the rear outboard seats and an additional upper tether anchor on the rear middle seat. The lower anchors are set deep in the seats and can be tough to maneuver around. For these reasons, the Kona's LATCH system received a Marginal ease-of-use rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. 

Hyundai Kona Interior Quality

For an affordable vehicle, the Kona has an upscale interior. Hard and soft plastics blend throughout the cabin. A few rivals, such as the Mini Countryman, look and feel nicer, but they also cost more.

Hyundai Kona Cargo Space

This Hyundai offers 19.2 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats. Folding down the rear seats opens up a maximum of 45.8 cubic feet. The first number is decent among subcompact crossover SUVs, surpassing both the Toyota C-HR and Mazda CX-3, but the total trails many rivals, including the Honda HR-V.

Hyundai Kona Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

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

The infotainment system has a simple layout and is easy to use. The touch screen responds quickly to inputs, and standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is a plus.

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

Read more about interior »

Hyundai Kona Performance

Hyundai Kona Engine: Turbo All the Way

There are two main Hyundai Kona models: electric and nonelectric. The nonelectric Kona has two powertrain offerings. A 147-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is standard and paired to a six-speed automatic transmission. A 175-horsepower turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder is optional; it's mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Both transmissions also have manual-shift modes. The base engine makes for a passable daily driver, but the turbocharged engine delivers noticeably quicker acceleration and livelier performance.

The all-new Kona Electric features a 150-kW motor that makes 201 horsepower. It's paired with a single-speed transmission.

Hyundai Kona Mileage: Great Gas, Great Range

The base front-wheel-drive Hyundai Kona gets an EPA-estimated 27 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway. The turbocharged engine gets virtually the same estimates – 28 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway. Those fuel economy estimates are slightly better than many competitors. For instance, you’ll save about $50 per year at the pump with the Kona compared to the Toyota C-HR and $150 per year compared to the Buick Encore. All-wheel drive knocks off 2 mpg in the city and 3 mpg on the highway.

The all-new Hyundai Kona Electric gets 132 MPGe in the city and 108 MPGe on the highway. It has 258 miles of electric range. Charging the all-electric Kona with a level 2 charger takes around 10 hours, though it’s possible to recharge 80% of the battery in about one hour using 50-kW or 100-kW Combined Charging System DC hardware.

Hyundai Kona Ride and Handling: Agile and Fun

The Kona conducts itself well on, and surprisingly even off, the road. The available multilink suspension soaks up most road imperfections, though some of them can disrupt riders. The Hyundai is agile too. It doesn’t match the Mazda CX-3, but it gets close. It’s controlled around turns, and features such as hill descent control and a locking rear differential give it some off-roading ability.

Front-wheel drive is standard in all Hyundai Kona models. All-wheel drive is available in all but the electric Kona.

Read more about performance »

Hyundai Kona Reliability

Is the Hyundai Kona Reliable?

The 2019 Kona has 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 »

Hyundai Kona Safety

Hyundai Kona Crash Test Results

The 2019 Kona received a Top Safety Pick+ designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, earning the highest rating of Good in all crash tests and a Superior rating for front crash prevention when properly equipped with optional safety features. Higher trims' headlights received the highest rating of Good for outward visibility while lower trims received the lowest rating of Poor. 

Hyundai Kona Safety Features

Standard driver assistance features in the 2019 Kona include a rearview camera, forward collision warning, lane keep assist, and a driver-attention monitor. Several more features are available, such as rear parking sensors, pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, and blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert.

Read more about safety »

Hyundai Kona Dimensions and Weight

The 2019 Hyundai Kona is about 13.7 feet long. Its curb weight ranges from 2,890 to 3,276 pounds.

Where is the 2019 Hyundai Kona Built?

Hyundai builds the Kona in South Korea.

Which Hyundai Kona Model Is Right for Me?

Hyundai offers two versions of the Kona: the standard Kona and the Kona Electric. The main difference between them is the powertrain. The standard Kona comes with one of two four-cylinder engines, while the Kona Electric has an electric motor. The gas-powered Kona is available in four trim levels, while the Kona Electric has three. The trim levels generally correspond to each other and offer comparable features. Front-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is available (but not in the Electric) for $1,400. You can read more about the Kona Electric EV here.

For most shoppers, the Limited trim is the best choice. It is the first trim to have the turbocharged engine, as well as comfort features such as leather seats and automatic climate control.

Hyundai Kona SE

The Hyundai Kona SE has an MSRP of $19,990. Standard equipment includes a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, a six-speed automatic transmission, a rearview camera, remote keyless entry, cloth seats, alloy wheels, two USB ports, Bluetooth, a six-speaker stereo, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a 7-inch touch screen. Forward collision warning, lane keep assist, and a driver-attention monitor are standard too.

There are no major packages offered for the base SE trim.

Hyundai Kona SEL

The Hyundai Kona SEL has an MSRP of $21,800. It adds proximity keyless entry, push-button start, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, heated front seats, blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, satellite radio, and HD Radio. A Tech package is available, offering a sunroof, fog lights, and an eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat.

The Kona Electric SEL’s equipment roster closely resembles the gas-powered Kona SEL, though it adds the Blue Link telematics system and adaptive cruise control.

Hyundai Kona Limited

With an MSRP of around $25,550, the Limited features a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, automatic climate control, leather seats, automatic high beams, full LED headlights, Hyundai’s Blue Link telematics system, an eight-speaker Infinity premium stereo, and all the features listed in the Tech package.

The Kona Electric Limited has many of the same features but adds wireless device charging as standard equipment.

No notable packages are offered with this trim.

Hyundai Kona Ultimate

The Hyundai Kona Ultimate (MSRP: $27,500) is the top-of-the-line for Hyundai Kona models. It has just about everything you can get in this car, including pedestrian detection, rear parking sensors, high-beam assist, rain-sensing wipers, an 8-inch touch screen, navigation, a head-up display, and wireless device charging.

The Kona Electric Ultimate adds ventilated front seats and adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go capability. As with the Limited, there are no packages offered with the 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 2019 Hyundai Kona specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2019 Hyundai Kona is a solid subcompact SUV. It has a lively turbocharged engine option, and the all-electric model has an impressive range of 258 miles. This Hyundai also has a nice cabin and is one of the most affordable vehicles in its class. However, it has a dull base engine, and many of its classmates have more cargo room. Its ride quality is generally good, but you'll feel some bumps throughout the cabin. The Kona is a good choice in this segment, but if you want more cargo space, consider rivals like the Kia Niro or Honda HR-V.

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

  • "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
  • "While smaller than many of its rivals, Hyundai has managed surprisingly good interior packaging, so except for rear-seat legroom, there's more space than you might expect. Wrapped in standout styling, the new Hyundai Kona makes a compelling case against ever-tougher competition." -- Kelley Blue Book (2018)
  • "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)


Expert Advice

Last Updated: October 4, 2019

Strong Sales: Introduced for the 2018 model year, the Hyundai Kona has gained a strong foothold in the competitive subcompact SUV segment. It’s currently selling in the upper half of the class, hot on the tail of popular alternatives like the Jeep Renegade.

Research more buying advice »
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