2023 Hyundai Kona

Consumer Reviews
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2022
The Car Connection
2022
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Andrew Ganz Andrew Ganz Senior Editor
July 15, 2022

Buying tip

The 2023 Hyundai Kona N-Line offers a good balance between power, performance, and features.

features & specs

Limited DCT AWD
Limited DCT FWD
N Line DCT AWD
MPG
27 city / 32 hwy
MPG
29 city / 35 hwy
MPG
27 city / 32 hwy
MSRP
$30,300
MSRP
$28,800
MSRP
$29,200

Reasonable pricing and a huge lineup make the 2023 Hyundai Kona a small crossover SUV worth adding to your shopping list.

What kind of vehicle is the 2023 Hyundai Kona? What does it compare to?

The 2023 Hyundai Kona is a small SUV with room for five passengers that competes with the Subaru Crosstrek and Kia Seltos. 

Is the 2023 Hyundai Kona a good SUV?

Review continues below

It’s a solid overall choice, with a huge lineup of variants that offer something for just about everyone looking for a small SUV. Overall, we rate the range at 6.2 out of 10, though more powerful turbocharged versions could score even higher. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Notably, the Kona Electric is evaluated separately. 

What's new for the 2023 Hyundai Kona?

The Kona sees no tweaks for 2023 after some updates last year that brought new styling and more power options. 

A single body style that blurs the line between hatchback and small SUV serves up decent interior space from a small package that measures just 167 inches long overall. The Kona looks best with color-matched trim in N-Line and Kona N configurations, but even then, it’s still a busy piece of styling.. 

Base SE and SEL versions use a frugality-minded inline-4, but the turbo engine that comes on N-Line and Limited trims is nearly as thrifty while delivering far better acceleration in any driving situation. Look for fuel economy as high as 30 mpg combined, though optional all-wheel drive can add thirst in exchange for traction—and a smoother ride. 

The Kona N operates more like a sports car with a somewhat elevated seating position. Its 275-hp engine and race-style automatic gearbox pair with a crackling exhaust and a honed suspension to give the Volkswagen GTI and Subaru WRX a serious run for their money. 

Even though it’s small, the Kona carves out decent interior space and has a reasonably useful trunk. Its cabin lacks the classy touches seen in other Hyundai models, though, reminding us of its low position in the automaker’s hierarchy.

Safety-wise, it’s no slouch, though, with good standard crash-avoidance tech and impressive scores from the NHTSA and the IIHS. 

How much does the 2023 Hyundai Kona cost?

The 2023 Hyundai Kona should start around $24,000 and climb to about $36,000 in Kona N configuration. Most buyers will be well-served with a $26,000 or so SEL, though the N-Line is only slightly costlier and delivers better acceleration. Final prices should be announced this fall.

Where is the 2023 Hyundai Kona made?

In South Korea.


5

2023 Hyundai Kona

Styling

Half hatchback, half crossover, the Hyundai Kona wears busy lines.

Is the Hyundai Kona a good-looking car?

It’s not one of our favorites, though we don’t mind its hunchback shape. The 2023 Hyundai Kona saw some updates last year including wider availability of color-matched exterior trim that looks a lot better than the standard unpainted flares and bumpers. Still, this isn’t a stylish vehicle inside or out, which merits it a perfectly average 5 out of 10 on the TCC scale.

The high-riding LED running lights atop the front bumper look too reptilian for our tastes. Most Kona variants try to be rugged with their unpainted trim, but N-Line and Kona N variants go for a sporty style with a body kit and red trim. 

All that said, the Kona has some great-looking wheel options on higher trims. 

Its interior hardly thrills, with plenty of black or gray plastic adorning the doors and dash. An 8.0-inch screen perched atop the dash can grow to a 10.3-inch display on higher trims.

Review continues below

5

2023 Hyundai Kona

Performance

Turbocharged power can make the Kona a lot of fun to drive.

The Hyundai Kona comes in a wide range of configurations, though our 5 out of 10 score applies to the most popular versions—SE and SEL—which are light on power and provide just adequate handling and ride. 

Opt for the Kona N-Line and Limited with their turbocharged engines, and we’d probably add another point. The Kona N is in its own league entirely. 

Is the Hyundai Kona 4WD?

All-wheel drive is optional across the lineup, aside from the range-topping Kona N. Curiously, that’s the model that would most benefit from power to all four corners. 

How fast is the Hyundai Kona?

That depends on what’s underhood. SE and SEL versions use a 147-hp 2.0-liter inline-4 linked to a CVT that delivers low-thrill acceleration, especially right off the line. It takes a while for power to build in urban driving, and highway passing is weak at best. 

Better yet is the 195-hp turbo-4 in N-Line and Limited trims, though their impressive scoot is marred by a busy 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission that can feel lost at lower speeds. 

Suspension and steering tuning varies little between SE, SEL, N-Line, and Limited trims, which provide a relatively soft ride and decent but hardly exciting handling. All-wheel drive adds a multi-link rear suspension that delivers a marked improvement in ride and handling.

Then there’s the Kona N, which uses a 275-hp 2.0-liter turbo-4 linked exclusively to a race-style 8-speed wet dual-clutch automatic gearbox with paddle shifters. The Kona N is downright fast, though its automatic proves especially challenging in low-speed maneuvering. Parallel parking can be a jerky affair—and that’s before you factor in those gorgeous wheels that act like magnets for curbs. 

The Kona N features adjustable suspension dampers and a host of drive modes. Loping around in the most comfort-oriented mode, the Kona N can be a little stiff for day-to-day use on bumpy terrain. Notch things up and it’s even firmer, which makes it perfect for canyon carving or even a track day. Its electronic limited-slip differential helps make up for its lack of all-wheel drive.

Review continues below

6

2023 Hyundai Kona

Comfort & Quality

The 2023 Hyundai Kona’s cabin is reasonably roomy, but hardly luxurious.

Though awash in plastic, the 2023 Hyundai Kona features a comfortable interior with good room for its small footprint. We score it at 6 out of 10 primarily thanks to a spacious cargo area. 

Front-seat occupants have well-bolstered seats with available power adjustment for the driver. N-Line and Kona N versions have beefier seats that may be confining to wider occupants, so try before buying if you can. 

With 35.2 inches of rear-seat leg room, the Kona can accommodate four adults in reasonable comfort, though a fifth is asking a lot. 

The 19.2 cubic-foot cargo area can grow to about 46 cubic feet with the rear seatbacks folded down. That’s not great for a small SUV, but then again the Kona is particularly tiny even against some of its rivals. 

Hard black or gray plastic trim dominates the Kona’s cabin, giving it a low-buck feel even with optional leather.

Review continues below

8

2023 Hyundai Kona

Safety

The 2023 Hyundai Kona has done well in crash tests.

How safe is the Hyundai Kona?

It’s a safe choice, with a five-star overall rating from the NHTSA and high marks from the IIHS. For now, we rate it at 8 out of 10 thanks to those scores and good crash-avoidance tech, but it could do even better once the IIHS evaluates its headlights. 

Every trim comes with automatic emergency braking and active lane control, while adaptive cruise control and blind-spot monitors are available on higher trims. Curiously, the Kona N lacks adaptive cruise control.

Outward vision isn’t great, however, due to big side pillars and chunky rear-seat head rests.

Review continues below

9

2023 Hyundai Kona

Features

In just about every configuration, the 2023 Hyundai Kona is a good value.

We expect the 2023 Hyundai Kona will start at about $23,000, which buys decent crash-avoidance tech, alloy wheels, cruise control, and an 8.0-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.

Add in a 5-year/60,000-mile warranty that includes 3 years/36,000 miles of schedule maintenance,  as well as a broad lineup of choices, and the Kona earns 9 points on the TCC scale. 

Which Hyundai Kona should I buy?

We’d bypass the SE for the SEL with its blind-spot monitors and keyless start, though the $1,700 Convenience package that adds a sunroof, heated seats, and a wireless charging pad may also tempt. 

If you live where it’s hilly, though, the extra upcharge to the $27,000 N-Line with its turbo may be a smart buy. It also includes the upsized 10.3-inch touchscreen, though its Apple CarPlay and Android Auto lose their wireless function.

How much is a fully loaded Hyundai Kona?

The Kona Limited crests $30,000 with standard leather and adaptive cruise control, while the Kona N exists on its own planet for around $36,000 with all of its performance upgrades. 

We’ll update this section when prices are final.

Review continues below

4

2023 Hyundai Kona

Fuel Economy

The 2023 Hyundai Kona is fairly frugal.

Is the Hyundai Kona good on gas?

It’s not bad, though keep in mind that we evaluate the Kona Electric separately. 

The base engine earns 30 mpg city, 35 highway, 32 combined, which drops to 28/33/30 mpg with all-wheel drive. Those figures are good enough for a 4 on the TCC scale.

Even though they’re a lot more powerful, the turbocharged models aren’t that much thirstier. Look for 29/35/32 mpg with front-wheel drive and 27/32/29 mpg with all-wheel drive.

The Kona N is the thirstiest of the bunch at 20/27/23 mpg, which still isn’t terrible for all that power. 

Review continues below

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The Car Connection Consumer Review

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$21,990
MSRP based on SE Automatic FWD
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6.2
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 5
Performance 5
Comfort & Quality 6
Safety 8
Features 9
Fuel Economy 4
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