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Hyundai Kona has distinct look at a reasonable price
Small SUV latest in automaker's can't-miss stable
Published Monday, September 3, 2018 7:48 am
by Winfred Cross | For The Charlotte Post

Hyundai’s Kona offers a distinct look at a competitive price.

I’m beginning to think Hyundai can’t miss these days.

Each new vehicle seems to be a triple or a home run. The Kona, its newest small SUV, is close to a grand slam.

How could you not like the Kona? OK, the looks are a bit out there, but hey, the audience this vehicle is aimed is into out there.

I actually like the Kona’s looks. It is an aggressive looking vehicle with Hyundai’s corporate wide-mouth grille and blackened fenders. The separated headlamps add to the mean look. The rest of the body looks much like other crossovers in its class.

Hyundai does several things to make the Kona stand out from the class. First and foremost the Kona drives better than much in the class, if you opt for either the Limited or Ultimate trims with all wheel drive. Why? Both trim levels come with the 1.6-liter turbo engine and, when paired with AWD, have multi-link rear suspensions.

My test vehicle was the ultimate. The turbo engine has 175 horsepower with 195 pounds-feet of torque. That’s significantly more power than the standard 2.0-liter engine in the SE and SEL. The engine is mated to a seven-speed, double clutch automatic transmission which can be shifted manually. This set up makes this crossover feel very, very quick.

Hyundai estimates about 7.4 seconds to 60 miles per hour. That makes this one of, if not the fastest vehicles in its class.

The Kona is agile as well as quick. Zipping in and out of traffic will actually make you grin. The steering feels good and the brakes work effectively. The fully independent suspension, combined with all-wheel drive, make this a spirited driver. You can get satisfaction hustling down a straightaway or maneuvering the Kona around twisty roads. This is certainly a well-sorted crossover.

You can take the Kona for some offloading as long as you remember this is more of a crossover than an SUV. From what I gather, it holds its own with other cars in its class. You do get a locking differential and this is essentially the same 4x4 system used on Hyundai’s bigger SUVs.

The ride quality is good over most surfaces but degrades if you hit some very rough patches. The noise levels are noticeable but not intolerable. It’s mostly from the road with just a bit of wind noise around the roof.

That’s one of the Kona’s few faults. The interior isn’t a fault but the company could have used better materials. It’s not that the stuff used is bad; it’s that that rest of the vehicle feels more upscale. I like the overall look, though, especially the contrast stitching on the seats and color around the air vents.

The ultimate version has about everything you could wish for.

There are no packages available, just a few accessories. Stepping up to the ultimate gives you everything on the limited plus a heads up display, forward collision avoidance, navigation, 8-inch touch screen, rain sense wipers, high beam assist, infinity premium audio with eight speakers, wireless phone charging, 4.2-inch color multi-information display and Hyundai’s Blue Link services.

The base price for the Kona ultimate is $28,700. The as-tested price with destination was $29,680.

If you haven’t guessed, a low price also separates the Kona from the rest of the pack. This has to be the least expensive small crossover with this kind of equipment.  Throw in

Hyundai’s warranty and you’ve got something that’s hard to resist. This needs to be on your “must see” list.

Email Winfred Cross: cross@alldaytech.com.

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