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2021 Hyundai Kona vs. 2021 Mazda CX-30: Which Is Better?

The 2021 Hyundai Kona and the 2021 Mazda CX30 are two examples of the best the subcompact SUV/Crossovers segment has to offer. Both accomplish the same goal. Which is better?

Quick Facts

  • Hyundai Kona: Good looks and pleasant driving capabilities make it a standout.
  • Mazda CX-30: Semi-premium CUV with refined drive dynamics and raised height.

2021 Hyundai Kona

2021 Hyundai Kona

Base Price:  $21,540 / Rear our 2021 Hyundai Kona Review

What we like: Great features-for-dollars ratio; available turbocharged engine and AWD; All-electric Kona EV

What we would change: Increase cargo capacity; non-adjustable front passenger seat; upgrade quality of interior hard plastics

Overview: The Kona continues with its practicality, efficiency, value, engaging nature and excellent warranty, making it one of the top choices in its class. It has all the features the buying public wants, including a choice of powertrains and Apple and Android smartphone integration. The Kona was recently crash-tested and received top marks from both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

What’s new for 2021: The most noticeable change is the addition of the Kona “Night Edition” trim which includes a turbocharged engine. 2019’s wild Lime Twist and Sunset Orange color schemes have been discontinued.

Features and Technology: The Hyundai Kona is one of the first of Hyundai’s new generation of vehicles. It offers a 2.0-liter inline-4 engine with 147 hp and 132 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed automatic and front-wheel-drive get the power to the pavement. For those wanting more, an optional 1.6-liter turbocharged inline-4 with 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission is here. FWD is standard but AWD is a $1,400 optional throughout the product line. Even the base Kona SE includes forward-collision warning, lane-keeping-assistance, driver-attention warning, and a full complement of airbags.

The front-drive Hyundai Kona Electric is also available with a motor-generator capable of 201 hp and 290 lb-ft of torque from its lithium-ion power system. Maximum range is 258 miles and a level-3 charger can deliver 80-percent capacity in under 55 minutes. 

What does the future hold: Still relatively new, we expect just mild upgrades for the next few years. Those upgrades could possibly include a hybrid version. Find a 2021 Hyundai Kona for sale near you

2021 Mazda CX-30

2021 Mazda CX-30

Base Price:  $21,900 / Read our 2021 Mazda CX-30 Review

What we like: Upscale exterior design; luxurious interior trim; great handling and ride; quiet cabin

What we would change: Body cladding appears to be played out; no Skyactiv engine option; not totally unlike the CX-3

Overview: Attractive, modern and upscale, and destined to become one of Mazda’s best-sellers, the Mazda CX-30 offers an interesting bridge vehicle between the CX-3 and CX-5 crossovers. In most cases, it offers perfect dimensions for an urban dweller. Based on the Mazda’s excellent Mazda3, it offers all-wheel-drive, a raised height, and a luxury appearance that looks rich beyond its current sticker price.

What’s new for 2021: Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity become standard throughout the line, while the Preferred model gains a power moonroof. New top-line Premium model offers upgrades including a Bose 12-speaker audio system and more.

The new 2021 Mazda CX-30 2.5 Turbo offers 250 horsepower when used with 93 octane fuel. The new Turbo model will also include i-Activ all-wheel-drive, and 12-speaker Bose system. Exterior flourishes will add 18-inch black aluminum-alloy wheels, larger exhaust pipes, and gloss black outside mirrors.

Features and Technology: All-wheel-drive, available on all trim levels will now cost $1,400 on non-turbo models, but is standard on the CX-30 2.5 Turbo. Blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, dual-zone climate control, included on CX-30 Select. Top-tier CX-30 model now includes LED head- and taillights, adaptive front lighting, power liftgate, head-up display, a Bose premium audio system and Sirius XM satellite radio.

What does the future hold: The Mazda CX-30 was brand new for the 2020 model year; going forward, expect minor updates on all trim levels, standard equipment groupings and slight price increases. Find a 2021 Mazda CX-30 for sale near you

Kona vs. CX-30: Strengths comparison

Hyundai Kona: Great feature list for less money; sized-right for easy parking and maneuverability around town; available turbo engine and AWD are reasonably-priced; 10-year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty

Mazda CX-30: Fun-to-drive factor built into each Mazda, including the CX-30; base engine is fun; new 2.5-liter turbo Inline-4 will be even more fun, especially with AWD

2021 Hyundai Kona vs. 2021 Mazda CX-30:  Which is better?

Hyundai is on a tear, building great new vehicles at every turn. Mazda continues to build engaging, fun-to-drive rides. Both are similarly-sized with similar capabilities. It comes down to which vehicle would we like to drive more? For that reason, we recommend the Mazda CX-30.

Find a 2021 Hyundai Kona for sale or Find a 2021 Mazda CX-30 for sale

2021 Hyundai Kona 2021 Mazda CX-30
Popular Powertrains
Engine 2.0-liter I4 2.5-liter I4
Horsepower 147 @ 6,200 rpm 186 hp @ 6,000 rpm
Torque 132 lb-ft @ 4,500 rpm 186 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm
Transmission 6-speed automatic 6-spd automatic with O/D
Fuel Economy 30 mpg (27 city/33 highway) 28 mpg (25 city/33 highway)
Also Available AWD, Turbo, EV, 7-speed automatic. 2.5-liter turbo I4; AWD
Warranty 5 years/60,000 miles 3 years/36,000 miles
Powertrain Warranty 10 years/100,000 miles 5 years/60,000 miles
NHTSA Safety Rating 5-star 5-star
Max Seating Capacity 5 5
Wheelbase 102.4 inches 104.4 inches
Overall Length 164.0 inches 173.0 inches
Width 70.9 inches 70.7 inches
Height 61.0 inches 61.7 inches
Turning Diameter 34.8 feet 34.8 feet
Headroom, Front 39.6 inches 38.1 inches
Headroom, Rear 37.8 inches 38.3 inches
Legroom, Front 41.5 inches 41.7 inches
Legroom, Rear 34.6 inches 36.3 inches
Shoulder Room, Front 55.5 inches 55.6 inches
Shoulder Room, Rear 54.5 inches 53.6 inches
EPA Passenger Volume 94.1 cubic feet 94.1 cubic feet
Cargo Volume 19.2/45.8 cubic feet 20.2/45.2 cubic feet

Mark Elias
Mark Elias
Mark Elias is a writer and photographer specializing in automotive topics ranging from new and used cars to classics and motorsports. His first car was a Matchbox Jaguar D-Type. From there, things have only become larger. During his professional career, he has been a staff photographer for the Associated Press, a contract photographer for Bloomberg News, and a contributor to automotive outlets... Read More about Mark Elias

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