2018 Hyundai Kona

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MSRP: $19,500 - 28,700

2018 Hyundai Kona Review

In its inaugural model year, the 2018 Hyundai Kona finishes near the top of our subcompact SUV rankings. The Kona is more fun to drive than many rivals. It also boasts a comfortable cabin, user-friendly features, and an above-average predicted reliability rating.




Critics' Rating: 8.9
Performance: 8.2
Interior: 8.0
Safety: N/A
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Pros & Cons

  • Agile handling
  • Potent available turbo-four engine
  • Intuitive infotainment system
  • Above-average predicted reliability rating
  • Lower maximum cargo capacity than rivals
  • Uninspiring base engine

Is the Hyundai Kona a Good SUV?

Yes, the Hyundai Kona is a good SUV. The available turbocharged engine makes the Kona feel more energetic than many rivals, but the base engine, though not bad, fails to impress. Both engines get good mpg ratings. Inside, you'll find an attractive interior with comfortable seats. The Kona offers plenty of driver assistance features, and an intuitive infotainment system comes standard. Many competitors offer more maximum cargo space, however.

Should I Buy the Hyundai Kona?

The Kona offers subcompact SUV shoppers plenty to like, and with one of the lowest base prices in the class, it also represents a great value. But shopping around never hurts, so before buying a Kona, you may want to look at competitors like the Subaru Crosstrek and Honda HR-V.

Compare the Kona, Crosstrek, and HR-V »

Should I Buy a New or Used Hyundai Kona?

The Kona is brand new for 2018, so there are no previous model years to choose from.

We Did the Research for You: 14 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.

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News & World Report has been ranking the best cars, trucks, and SUVs since 2007, and our staff has more than 75 years’ worth of auto industry experience combined. To keep our reviews unbiased, we don’t accept expensive gifts or trips from car companies, and an outside company manages our advertising.

How Much Does the Hyundai Kona Cost?

The Kona debuts with a base price of $19,500. That's lower than almost every competitor's starting price, and by several thousand dollars in some cases. There are three higher Kona trim levels. To get the turbocharged engine, you'll have to step up to the Kona Limited, which starts at $24,700. The top trim, the Kona Ultimate, starts at $27,400, which is middle of the pack for a top trim 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

Which Is Better: Hyundai Kona or Subaru Crosstrek?

The Subaru Crosstrek finishes below the Kona in our class rankings, but its base price is about $2,300 higher. The Crosstrek has just one engine available, and it falls between the Kona's two engine options in terms of horsepower. The Subaru feels slow and doesn't handle as well as the Kona, but both SUVs are reasonably capable off road. These two also have nicer interiors than most rivals, but the Subaru has more passenger and cargo space. The Crosstrek is a good SUV, but the Kona is better.

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

The Honda HR-V joins the Kona near the top of the class rankings. The Kona is more athletic, delivering better handling and more power with its available turbo-four engine. It also rides a bit more smoothly. The Hyundai feels more upscale inside, but the Honda has more rear-seat space and much more cargo room. The Kona offers more in the way of features. At the end of the day, the Kona brings more to the table than the HR-V.

Compare the Kona, Crosstrek, and HR-V »

Kona Interior

How Many People Does the Kona Seat?

This Hyundai seats five people. The front seats are generally roomy and supportive. The rear seats are a bit cramped for tall adults, but shorter and average-sized adults will find little to complain about.

Kona and Car Seats

There are two full sets of LATCH connectors for installing car seats.

Kona Interior Quality

Inside, the Kona looks good. Though the interior styling isn't as striking as the exterior, it still makes for an inviting cabin. There's a mix of high- and low-quality materials, but the Kona manages to feel refined given its price point.

Kona Cargo Space

The Kona outpaces many rivals by providing more than 19 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats – enough for a cooler and some beach chairs. When it comes to maximum space, however, the Kona trails many competitors, offering just under 46 cubic feet with the rear seats folded. Still, that's enough room for some outdoor gear.

Kona Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

Standard features in the Kona include a USB port, Bluetooth, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and an infotainment system with a 7-inch touch screen. Available features include a sunroof, an eight-speaker Infinity audio system, satellite radio, wireless device charging, navigation, and an upgraded infotainment system with an 8-inch touch screen.

Unlike some rivals, the Kona comes standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity. The infotainment system is user-friendly, with an easy-to-understand interface and a touch screen that responds well to inputs.

For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay? and What Is Android Auto? Then, see the Best Cars With Apple CarPlay and Best Cars With Android Auto.

Read more about interior »

Kona Performance

Kona Engine: The Turbo Is Worth It

You have two engine options with the Kona: the 147-horsepower four-cylinder base engine and the 175-horsepower turbo-four that comes with higher trims. The base engine is fine for daily driving, but the turbo-four is noticeably more energetic and delivers better acceleration.

Kona Gas Mileage: No Gas Guzzler

The Kona gets better fuel economy estimates than many competitors, earning 27 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway with the base engine and front-wheel drive. Compared to the Subaru Crosstrek (which has standard AWD), the Kona will save you about $4 per month in gas money (though the AWD Kona will cost you about $8 more per month than the Crosstrek). Compared to the Honda HR-V, the Kona will cost you about $4 more per month.

Kona Ride and Handling: Surprisingly Adept

The Kona acquits itself well both on- and off-road. On the pavement, you get a generally smooth ride, and this Hyundai is one of the few subcompact SUVs within spitting distance of the Mazda CX-3 in terms of athleticism. Off road, while this is no Jeep, the Kona handles terrain changes better than most vehicles in the class.

Read more about performance »

Kona Reliability

Is the Hyundai Kona Reliable?

The 2018 Kona has an 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 »

Kona Safety

Kona Crash Test Results

Neither the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety nor the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has crash tested the Hyundai Kona.

Kona Safety Features

A rearview camera comes standard. Available driver assistance features include a head-up display, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, rear parking sensors, lane change assist, lane keep assist, forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, driver drowsiness monitoring, and autonomous emergency braking.

Read more about safety »

Which Hyundai Kona Model Is Right for Me?

There are four trim levels for the all-new Kona: SE, SEL, Limited, and Ultimate. All models come standard with front-wheel drive, and you can add all-wheel drive to any trim for $1,300. A naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine comes standard in the two lower trims, while the two upper trims have a more powerful turbocharged four-cylinder. Most trims don't offer option packages, so you generally must move up in trim level to get more features.

The Limited is the best choice in the Kona lineup. It comes with plenty of tech and driver assistance features, as well as some upscale comfort touches like leather upholstery. Perhaps most importantly, it comes with the turbocharged engine, which improves your driving experience.

Hyundai Kona SE

The Kona SE has a base price of $19,500. It comes with a 147-horsepower four-cylinder engine, a six-speed automatic transmission, and front-wheel drive. Standard features include a rearview camera, a USB port, Bluetooth, a six-speaker audio system, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and an infotainment system with a 7-inch touch screen.

There are no option packages offered with the SE.

Hyundai Kona SEL

The Kona SEL has a starting price of $21,150. In addition to the SE's features, the SEL comes with blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, lane change assist, satellite radio, HD Radio, and heated front seats.

You can add the Tech package ($1,500), which includes a sunroof, a power-adjustable driver's seat, driver drowsiness monitoring, lane keep assist, forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, and automatic emergency braking.

Hyundai Kona Limited

The Kona Limited starts at $24,700. The Limited comes with a 175-horsepower turbo-four and a seven-speed automatic transmission. Standard features include a sunroof, leather upholstery, and a power-adjustable driver's seat. As with the base trim, there are no available option packages.

Hyundai Kona Ultimate

The Kona Ultimate has a starting price of $27,400. This trim comes with pretty much every feature you can get in a Kona.

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 2018 Hyundai Kona specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2018 Hyundai Kona makes a strong debut, finishing near the top of our subcompact SUV rankings. It delivers on just about every front; the Kona has the athleticism to let you enjoy your drive, but it also provides a quality interior and lots of features. This Hyundai deserves a look from anybody looking to buy a small crossover SUV.

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

  • "The Kona's main competitors are the Honda HR-V, the Mazda CX-5 and the Toyota C-HR. It drives and performs as well as the Mazda, and it's as spacious as the Honda. The Kona enjoys a price advantage over most rivals as well, which is even more impressive when you consider it delivers more features than many. Add in the industry's most generous warranty coverage and the 2018 Hyundai Kona earns an enviable position at the top of the subcompact crossover class." -- Edmunds
  • "The 2018 Hyundai Kona is the Korean manufacturer's entry into the newest and most competitive part of the crossover-SUV market: small crossovers. Going head-to-head against the Honda HR-V, Toyota CH-R, Mazda CX-3, Chevrolet Trax and many others, the Hyundai Kona offers up a compelling formula. … 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
  • "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
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