In the eyes of many buyers, tiny SUVs seem to have replaced small cars as the economical transport of choice. The 2020 Hyundai Kona is one such example, offering buyers a compact vehicle with maximum space utilization, the option of all-wheel drive and a host of creature comforts that are unexpected at this price range. Couple that with Hyundai‘s reputation for building solid cars and an unbeatable 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty and an argument against the Kona seems almost impossible to make.
With its carlike ride and driving dynamics, the Kona is designed to take on such challengers as the Mazda CX-3, the Toyota C-HR and the Honda HR-V. The Kona is shorter than all of them and significantly shorter than the C-HR and the Subaru Crosstrek. Because its wheelbase is in the middle of the segment mix, however, the Kona’s passenger space is competitive in this segment. In addition, it has more cargo room behind the second-row seat than most named competitors. The Kona is also available as an all-electric vehicle.
What’s New for 2020?
For 2020, Hyundai’s Kona subcompact crossover gains adaptive cruise control on the top-of-the-line Ultimate trim. Last year’s Tech Package contents are added to the new SEL Plus trim, which also gets a 4.2-in multi-information color display and wireless phone charging. The Iron Man Edition has been discontinued. See the 2020 Hyundai Kona models for sale near you
What We Like
- Standout styling
- All-electric version
- Entry-level trim has 7-in touchscreen
- Available Blue Link with Alexa capability
- Available 1.6-liter turbo and AWD
- Available locking center differential
What We Don’t
- Uncomfortably low
- Lots of hard plastic surfaces
- EV version is pricey
$21,195-$30,000. The Kona Electric starts at $37,190 before federal tax credits and destination fee.
The three lower Kona grades use a 147-horsepower 2.0-liter Atkinson Cycle 4-cylinder engine mated with a 6-speed automatic transmission. The two upper trims qualify for the 175-hp 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine married to a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. According to government measurements, both engines deliver 30 miles per gallon in combined city and highway driving. The 2.0-liter does it with 27 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway with front-wheel drive and 26 mpg city/30 mpg hwy with AWD. The 1.6-liter, however, achieves it with 28 mpg city/32 mpg hwy on FWD models and 26 mpg city/29 mpg hwy with AWD. To date, we have only driven the top-end grade with the 1.6-liter and 7-speed setup. It works well with the 7-speed and has plenty of get-up-and-go.
Standard Features and Options
The 2020 Hyundai Kona comes in five trims: SE, SEL, SEL Plus, Limited and Ultimate. The Kona Electric has four distinct trim levels, they are similar to the gasoline-powered Kona: SEL, Limited and Ultimate.
The SE ($21,195, FWD) ($22,595, AWD) comes fairly well-equipped with a 2.0-liter engine, 6-speed automatic transmission, 16-in alloy wheels, a backup camera, hill-start assist, forward-collision warning, lane-keeping assist, driver attention warning, seven airbags, power windows, power door locks, power outboard mirrors, remote keyless entry, LED headlights with auto on/off, LED daytime running lights, air conditioning, a tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel, Bluetooth connectivity, two USB ports, driver’s-seat height adjustment, six-way driver’s-seat adjustment, 60/40-split fold-down rear seat, a 7-in touchscreen, an audio system with satellite radio capability/Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, cargo cover and dual-level cargo floor.
The SEL ($22,995, FWD) ($24,395, AWD) beefs up the SE content with 17-in alloy wheels, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, keyless entry, rear privacy glass, heated outboard mirrors with turn-signal indicators, proximity key with push-button start, lighted vanity mirrors, leather-wrapped steering wheel/shift knob and heated front seats.
The SEL Plus ($24,795, FWD) ($26,245, AWD) brings a power sunroof, 8-speaker Infinity audio, an 8-way power driver’s seat with power lumbar support, wireless charging, fog lights and Blue Link.
The Limited ($26,995, FWD) ($28,395, AWD) adds all SEL Plus features plus the 1.6-liter turbocharged engine, leather seating, 18-in wheels, automatic climate control, lime color paint and interior accent option and LED headlights and taillights.
The Ultimate ($28,845, FWD) ($30,245, AWD) comes fully loaded and adds to the Limited’s features with high-beam assist, rear parking distance warning, a head-up display, Blue Link with remote care/remote access/destination guidance, adaptive cruise control and an 8-in touchscreen navigation radio with traffic info. If you’re looking at the Ultimate version of the electric Kona, that’s a little more than $45,000. With the Kona, as with most cars like it, the gasoline-powered version is, by far, the better value.
In crash tests, the government gives the 2020 Hyundai Kona a 5-star rating overall, with five stars in the front and side impact tests and a 4-star rating in the rollover test. The independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gives the 2020 Kona top marks in every crash test as well as a Top Safety Pick+ honor.
Behind the Wheel
When you settle back into the driver’s seat, which is supremely comfy and supportive, a quick look around doesn’t offer much in the way of polarizing styling — that is, the rather dynamic exterior styling doesn’t carry through to the interior. Yes, it’s well-built and the bulk of the materials are top-notch, but there’s nothing outrageous in terms of the lines or component arrangement. If you pony up for a Limited or Ultimate grade, you can get some lime-green accents. Otherwise, there’s nothing crazy happening.
We found the 1.6-liter turbo to be engaging and spunky. The 7-speed DCT is a good match. Steering is responsive and the turning radius is remarkably tight. Our test Kona had AWD so it came with a multi-link rear suspension rather than the FWD’s solid beam rear axle. Regardless of the suspension, torque vectoring through the brake system increases the Kona’s cornering acumen. The ride is surprisingly smooth and quiet.
The Kona Electric, like many EVs, is rewarding to drive. It’s combination of quick, quiet and comfortable make it a go-to choice for anyone that has “no gas stations” on their wish list. Give the Kona Electric a serious look if you really want a Tesla Model Y but don’t have the cash or credit for that kind of electric ride.
As far and the driving range for the electric version of the Kona, Hyundai says that range is 258 miles. However, we kept driving well beyond that. At 299 miles, the car ran out of juice. Our suggestion, you can go up to 280 or so in perfect conditions but don’t push it. This also depends on the kind of driving you’re doing. If it’s very cold outside or very hot outside or you’re going up a lot of hills, you may not even make it to the 258 mark.
Other Cars to Consider
2020 Subaru Crosstrek — With its standard AWD, the Crosstrek is a smart pick for anyone with an eye on some outback adventure. Solid fuel economy and a roomy cabin are big pluses.
2020 Jeep Renegade — The most off-road-capable of the Kona’s competitors, the Renegade, when properly equipped, can take on terrain that most in this class would need to detour around. People love or hate its styling but the Jeep DNA is apparent.
2020 Mazda CX-3 — Great styling, solid mileage and athletic driving dynamics make the CX-3 a must-see for shoppers in this segment. There’s plenty of technology, too.
2020 Toyota C-HR — If the Kona’s looks aren’t far enough out there for you and you don’t want AWD, the C-HR is a good place to begin your search. With its quirky styling, loads of safety tech and decent fuel economy, it’s like the Venza reflected in a funhouse mirror.
Used Hyundai Santa Fe Sport — A 2014-2017 Santa Fe Sport will give you a lot more interior room, horsepower, and features. Plus, if you buy a certified pre-owned model, Hyundai reinstates the duration of the original 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.
When considering price, content and options, we think the SEL Plus is the way to go. No doubt the turbo is more fun to drive, so if you go that route, go big and get the Ultimate. If you’re really looking for an electric car, we like Kona Limited. The combination of excellent range and comfort and convenience features make it one of the best EVs you can get. Find a Hyundai Kona for sale