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2019 Hyundai Kona Performance Review


Performance: 8.1

The 2019 Hyundai Kona is a decent daily driver. Its base engine is serviceable, but the available turbocharged engine is more engaging and delivers quick acceleration by class standards. The Kona's ride quality is generally comfortable, though some bumps can jostle the car. Handling is smooth and agile.

  • Overall, the Kona is a sporty subcompact SUV with above-average acceleration and handling. However, the turbocharged engine's transmission exhibits some bad behavior at low speed, and braking performance is subpar." -- Edmunds
  • "The 2018 Hyundai Kona is comfortable, reasonably quiet on the road, quick-ish with the turbocharged engine, and all-around, nicely executed." -- Kelley Blue Book (2018)
  • "As we mentioned earlier, driving dynamics fall below price and style for most small crossover buyers. Still, the Hyundai Kona is a pretty nice vehicle to drive enthusiastically." -- Autoblog (2018)

Acceleration and Power

There are two main Hyundai Kona models: electric and nonelectric. The nonelectric Kona has a 147-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. A turbocharged engine is also offered. It produces 175 horsepower and comes with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Both transmissions have manual-shift modes.

With the base engine the Kona is OK for driving around town. It won’t blow you away, though, and it struggles when climbing uphill and passing on the highway. The turbocharged engine feels more robust and provides quicker acceleration.

Fuel economy is decent in this crossover SUV. With the base engine and front-wheel drive, the Kona gets 27 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway. The turbo engine gets nearly the same fuel economy (28/32 mpg), while all-wheel drive docks a few mpg from each estimate.

The Kona Electric has an electric motor that makes 201 horsepower. It comes with a single-speed transmission. The electric Kona gets 132 MPGe in the city and 108 MPGe on the highway, and it has a 258-mile electric range. That’s an impressive range, surpassing the Hyundai Ioniq electric by more than double.

It takes about 10 hours to recharge the all-electric Kona using a level 2 charger. Opting for 50-kW or 100-kw Combined Charging System DC hardware lets you recharge up to 80 percent of the battery in about an hour.

  • "When equipped with its optional turbocharged engine, it gets up to speed far quicker than anything else in the class." -- Edmunds
  • "There's no doubt the 1.6T engine delivers a more robust kick and would be my choice, but the average small utility buyer isn't going to miss it if they opt for the cheaper SE or SEL -- the non-turbo mill just needs more revs to deliver its torque." -- Autoweek (2018)
  • This [base engine] is about what many of its competitors offer, and it's sure to be a good choice for those who keep their acceleration ambitions modest. Limited and Ultimate models come with a 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder connected to a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. While notably quicker than many other vehicles in its class, the turbocharged engine doesn't exactly make the Kona fast, and the transmission's slow shifts and unrefined character leave a lot to be desired. It offers up plenty of torque though, and at very low engine speeds." -- Kelley Blue Book (2018)

Handling and Braking

The Hyundai Kona is comfortable to drive and ride in. Its multilink suspension keeps it planted and absorbs most rough patches in the road, though sudden bumps can jostle the car. Its strong brakes, minimal body roll, and responsive steering help make the Kona fun to drive. It even has some mild off-road capability. Front-wheel drive is standard, while all-wheel drive is available. The all-electric Kona is front-wheel drive only.

  • Smaller imperfections are ironed out, and the suspension takes the edge off just about any bump. But the ride quality can feel a bit too rigid and busy at times. Very bumpy roads can make the vehicle feel excessively unsettled." -- Edmunds
  • "The ride and handling compromise is reasonable, with a smooth but well-controlled ride." -- Autoblog (2018)
  • "Taut and stiff over small, sharp bumps in the road, the Kona's ride can get busy depending on the road surface. Otherwise, I have no complaints. Handling genuinely impresses, and Hyundai includes torque vectoring at every wheel when the Kona is equipped with AWD, making another case for this optional upgrade." -- New York Daily News (2018)
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