2018 Hyundai Kona video road test

March 25, 2018

Make way for a big addition to the Hyundai crossover family: the pint-sized 2018 Hyundai Kona.

This small crossover has big ideas—including some future powertrains that’ll have us buzzing soon—but it’s the basics that we’re in Hawaii to discover.

The Kona sits at the wee end of Hyundai’s crossover family, about a foot shorter than a Tucson, and a country mile smaller than the Santa Fe XL.

MORE: Read our full review of the 2018 Hyundai Kona

What it lacks in size, it makes up for in styling. At least, it tries to. The Kona’s front, sides, and tail end have a lot going on, including split headlights and taillights. Along the doors, creases and folds break up the body sides, but nothing takes away from that busy roof and body cladding.

2018 Hyundai Kona first drive

2018 Hyundai Kona first drive

2018 Hyundai Kona first drive

2018 Hyundai Kona first drive

2018 Hyundai Kona first drive

2018 Hyundai Kona first drive

The inside is nowhere near as busy as the outside, and one special color combo will add green accents to the dials and leather. Skip it, we say: the “look at me” colors have flair, but the red and black combo you see here is better to live with, by our eyeballs.

Most Kona crossovers get a 7.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Fully loaded models get a top shelf stereo that is lovely, and it comes with a bigger 8.0-inch touchscreen, but the fully loaded version also includes a lot of stuff we don’t like.

There’s a lot of space for stuff inside the Kona, and average-sized folks will fit just fine. I’m a tall guy, so my knees are pressed into the seatbacks if I ever need to fold myself into the rear—thankfully, I’ll take the keys.

The Kona has more room behind the back seats than a Mazda CX-3, but not as much room as a Subaru Crosstrek. The seats fold down in the Hyundai—just like everyone else—and open up for more space. The Hyundai has an ace though: it has a low loading floor and wide rear opening. Useful stuff.

Even more useful: A standard 2.0-liter 4-cylinder that powers the front wheels—or all four wheels optionally—with a 6-speed automatic. A stronger 1.6-liter turbo-4 is available for $3,550 more, but more power isn’t necessarily better. That Kona gets a different, finicky, 7-speed dual clutch automatic that we’re not in love with.

DON'T MISS: 2018 Hyundai Kona crossover to start at $20,450

We’d spend more money for all-wheel drive instead. At $1,300 more it’s a steal. It has better all-weather capability and a smoother ride in back. It’s not fast, but it’s just fine for the class.

And we get why people like little crossovers like the Kona. It’s versatile and spacious, with a price tag that starts around $20,000.

2018 Hyundai Kona first drive

2018 Hyundai Kona first drive

That’s for base versions, without many features. Top trims get things like a head-up display that’s not very helpful, and that optional transmission we don’t like. Active safety is optional on one trim, standard on the top trim, but we think it’s a must for all models.

We expect that we’ll be charged up on what the future for the Kona is soon—an all-electric version—but for now, we admire its value.

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