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2021 Hyundai Kona Review

The 2021 Hyundai Kona comes in near the top of our subcompact SUV rankings. This crossover has composed handling, a smooth ride, and a well-built cabin, making it one of the most well-rounded vehicles in the class.

Pros & Cons

  • Upscale cabin
  • Easy-to-use infotainment system
  • Energetic turbocharged engine available
  • Poised handling and comfortable ride
  • Rear seats less spacious than rivals’
  • Subpar maximum cargo capacity

Rankings & Research

The 2021 Hyundai Kona's #1 ranking is based on its score within the Subcompact SUVs category. Currently the Hyundai Kona has a score of 8.3 out of 10, which is based on our evaluation of 22 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.

8.3

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 9.1
Performance: 7.8
Interior: 7.4
Safety:
This rating isn’t available yet for the current model year. In the meantime, last year’s rating of 9.8 for safety is being used to calculate this vehicle’s overall score.
TBD
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Thinking of leasing a Hyundai Kona?

The U.S. News Best Price Program saves users an average of $3,206 off the MSRP, and a lower price equals lower monthly lease payments. That means you could see a savings of $90 a month on a 36-month lease.

Is the Hyundai Kona a Good SUV?

Yes, the Hyundai Kona is a good subcompact SUV. The base four-cylinder engine is OK, and the optional turbocharged engine feels energetic. The Kona rides smoothly and handles well, on top of getting good gas mileage. Inside, the cabin looks good and feels upscale, and the front seats are superb. There's a nice assortment of features, including a user-friendly infotainment system.

Why You Can Trust Us: 22 Reviews Analyzed

We don’t base our car reviews on our personal opinions. Instead, we combine the findings of professional test drivers with data such as reliability ratings and safety scores to give you a complete overview of every vehicle we rank.

This 2021 Kona review incorporates applicable research for all models in this generation, which launched for 2018.

U.S. News Best Cars has been ranking vehicles since 2007, and our team has more than 75 years of combined experience in the automotive industry. Our car reviews are objective. To keep them that way, our editorial staff doesn’t accept expensive gifts or trips from automakers, and a third party handles all the advertising on our site.

Should I Buy the Hyundai Kona?

The Kona makes a great choice for any small SUV shopper for all of the reasons listed above. What's more, this Hyundai delivers plenty of bang for your buck because its price tag is right in line with – if not slightly below – the MSRPs of many of its classmates. If you're in the market for an entry-level crossover, you should absolutely give the Kona a look.

Find a 2021 Hyundai Kona for sale near you »

2020 vs. 2021 Hyundai Kona: What's the Difference?

The only notable change for the 2021 Hyundai Kona is the introduction of the new Night Edition trim, which slots into the lineup between the SEL Plus and Limited trims.

Compare the 2020 and 2021 Kona »

Here are the key changes for the Hyundai Kona since it was introduced for 2018:

  • 2019: gained more standard driver assistance features including forward collision warning, lane keep assist, and pedestrian detection; all-electric Kona EV (which we review separately) debuted
  • 2020: gained available adaptive cruise control; renamed trim lineup
  • 2021: Night Edition trim joins lineup

If you're considering an older model, be sure to read our 2018 Kona, 2019 Kona, and 2020 Kona reviews to help make your decision. Also, check out our Best New Car Deals and Best New Car Lease Deals pages to learn about savings and discounts you can find on new vehicles.

How Much Does the Hyundai Kona Cost?

The Hyundai Kona starts at $20,400. That's a little below average for a small crossover. At the top end of the spectrum sits the Hyundai Kona Ultimate, which starts at $28,050. That's in the typical range for a top-trim price in this class.

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

Hyundai Kona vs. Honda HR-V

The Honda HR-V finishes in the middle of our subcompact SUV rankings. It has a few advantages over the Kona, such as its superior cargo capacity and more spacious rear seats. The HR-V also gets good gas mileage and has Honda's Magic Seat, which has rear-seat cushions that you can flip into several positions for added cargo flexibility.

The Kona, on the other hand, has stronger engines and a more upscale interior than the HR-V. The Hyundai also has more standard features and an easier-to-use infotainment system. Finally, the Kona's starting price sits a bit below the HR-V's.

Compare the Kona and HR-V »

Hyundai Kona vs. Toyota C-HR

The Toyota C-HR is an uninspiring small crossover. It has its bright spots, such as reasonably spacious seats, a long list of standard features, and a comfortable ride. But it trails the Kona and several other competitors in many key areas. The Hyundai has more cargo space than the Toyota, more powerful engines, better handling, and a much more upscale interior, all for a lower starting price. Also, the C-HR does not offer all-wheel drive, which the Kona and many other subcompact SUVs do.

Compare the Kona and C-HR »

Compare the Kona, HR-V, and C-HR »

Kona Interior: Well-Built and Functional

Kona Cargo Space

The Kona's cargo capacity behind the rear seats, 19.2 cubic feet, is typical for the class. However, its maximum capacity of 45.8 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down is below average compared to other small crossovers.

How Many People Does the Kona Seat?

The Kona seats five people. The front-row seats provide plenty of head- and legroom and are comfortable and supportive, even on longer drives. The rear seats are a tighter squeeze. They're not as spacious as some competitors' rear seats, and many adults will wish for more legroom.

Kona and Child Car Seats

There are two complete sets of LATCH connectors for the Kona’s rear outboard seats, as well as a tether anchor for the rear middle seat.

Kona Interior Quality

The Kona looks good inside. There are some hard plastics interspersed with quality materials, but the interior has modern styling and a nice feel overall.

Kona Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

This Hyundai features a user-friendly infotainment system. You can adjust settings via the responsive touch screen or physical controls, and the buttons are easy to see and reach from the driver's seat, though some of the touch-screen buttons are on the small side. Standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto make it easy to sync your smartphone to the system.

  • Standard infotainment features: a 7-inch touch screen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a six-speaker stereo, two USB ports, and Bluetooth
  • Available infotainment features: an 8-inch touch screen, an eight-speaker Infinity sound system, navigation, HD Radio, satellite radio, and wireless device charging
  • Additional standard features: remote keyless entry
  • Other available features: a sunroof, automatic climate control, proximity keyless entry, and push-button start

Read more about interior »

Kona Performance: Easy to Drive

Kona Engine

The Kona comes standard with a 147-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. It gets the job done without a fuss in most driving situations, but it's not the most inspiring powertrain.

For a more enthusiastic driving experience, opt for the available 175-horsepower 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, which is mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. This turbo-four engine makes the Kona feel quicker off the line and more capable on the highway.

Kona Gas Mileage

This small Hyundai's mpg ratings are right in line with many competitors' numbers. It gets 27 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway when equipped with the base engine and front-wheel drive. Opt for the turbo-four engine, and the Kona's ratings are 28/32 mpg city/highway. With either engine, the numbers dip slightly if you select an all-wheel-drive model.

Kona Ride and Handling

The Kona does a good job of balancing ride comfort and handling agility. Its suspension soaks up most small bumps in the road, though large road imperfections may jostle passengers. As for handling, this Hyundai feels composed on winding roads, and its small stature makes it highly maneuverable.

Read more about performance »

Kona Reliability

Is the Hyundai Kona Reliable?

The 2021 Hyundai Kona has a slightly above-average predicted reliability rating of 3.5 out of five.

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 »

Kona Safety

Kona Crash Test Results

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2021 Hyundai Kona an overall safety rating of five out of five stars, with five stars in the frontal and side crash tests and four stars in the rollover test.

At the time of writing, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has not crash tested the 2021 Kona.

Kona Safety Features

Standard advanced safety features:

  • Rearview camera
  • Forward collision warning
  • Lane keep assist
  • Driver drowsiness monitoring

Available advanced safety features:

  • Blind spot monitoring
  • Rear cross traffic alert
  • Rear parking sensors
  • Pedestrian detection
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Head-up display

Read more about safety »

Kona Dimensions and Weight

The Kona is 13.7 feet long. Its curb weight ranges from 2,890 to 3,276 pounds, and its gross vehicle weight rating is between 3,979 and 4,255 pounds.

Where Is the Hyundai Kona Built?

Hyundai builds the 2021 Kona in South Korea.

Which Hyundai Kona Model Is Right for Me?

The Kona comes in six trims: SE, SEL, SEL Plus, Night Edition, Limited, and Ultimate. There's also the Kona Electric, an EV, which we review separately.

Many buyers will want to look to the top three trims, all of which come with a turbocharged engine that's preferable to the base four-cylinder. The Limited trim makes a great choice. In addition to the upgraded powertrain, it comes with cabin upgrades like leather seats, automatic climate control, and a premium audio system.

Hyundai Kona SE

The Hyundai Kona SE carries a base price of $20,400. It comes with a 147-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, a six-speed automatic transmission, cloth seats, a 7-inch touch screen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, two USB ports, Bluetooth, and six speakers. Standard driver assistance features include a rearview camera, forward collision warning, lane keep assist, and driver drowsiness monitoring.

Hyundai Kona SEL

The Hyundai Kona SEL sports an MSRP of $22,200. It adds proximity keyless entry, a sunroof, 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.

Hyundai Kona SEL Plus

The Hyundai Kona SEL Plus starts at $24,050. In addition to the SEL's features, the SEL Plus comes with Hyundai’s Blue Link telematics system, an eight-speaker Infinity premium stereo, wireless device charging, and a power-adjustable driver’s seat.

Hyundai Kona Night Edition

The Night Edition, an all-new trim for 2021, starts at $25,600. It has unique styling elements and comes with a 175-horsepower turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine and a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Features-wise, it's similar to the SEL Plus, though the Night Edition doesn't have a sunroof or wireless device charging, and it comes with satellite radio and HD Radio.

Hyundai Kona Limited

The Kona Limited sports a starting price of $26,200. It features a sunroof, automatic climate control, leather seats, and full LED headlights.

Hyundai Kona Ultimate

The range-topping Hyundai Kona Ultimate (MSRP: $28,050) comes with nearly every feature Hyundai offers for this model. It has several advanced safety features, including pedestrian detection, rear parking sensors, and adaptive cruise control. 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 2021 Hyundai Kona specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2021 Hyundai Kona has a lot going for it. It's easy to drive and has a comfortable interior, and it has an above-average predicted reliability rating. It finishes near the top of our subcompact SUV rankings, and it actually has a slightly below-average starting price, making it a great value in the class. Every small crossover shopper would be wise to give the Kona a look.

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

  • "The 2021 Hyundai Kona is a subcompact SUV/crossover that would still be a tempting proposition even if subcompact SUV/crossovers weren't suddenly the most popular new vehicle in the world. A slight exaggeration, perhaps, but this kind of vehicle does seem to be proliferating in a big way. They come with the much-cherished raised driving position, a good helping of practicality and quite often with the option of all-wheel drive. Manufacturers are also loading them up with plenty of features that were once rare in this price bracket. The Kona can compete with the best of them. Heck, the Kona is among the best of them." -- Autotrader
  • "The 2021 Hyundai Kona is … one of the top choices in its class. It took our award for Subcompact SUV Best Buy of 2019 and 2020, by virtue of its combination of practicality, efficiency, value, engaging 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)

Buying

Expert Advice

Last Updated: October 8, 2020

Strong, Steady Sales: After nearly two full years on the market, the Kona has secured a solid sales position in the upper half of the subcompact SUV segment, behind popular competitors like the Subaru Crosstrek. However, sales have remained consistent in 2020 relative to the same span in 2019. The Kona still has a way to climb, as the class-leading Chevy Trax is outselling it by 52 percent.

Research more buying advice »
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