2018 Hyundai Kona Review, Ratings, Specs, and Price

Hyundai Motor Company have been largely absent from the ever-growing subcompact crossover segment, But, all that is about to change with the launch of what is possibly the most absurd looking vehicle ever from the brand and it’s called the 2018 Hyundai Kona.

The Hyundai Kona is an all-new vehicle developed from scratch for the subcompact segment. It sits below the mid-size Tucson and Santa Fe SUV in the product portfolio. The exterior styling is bound to turn heads from day one due to its peculiar front and rear fascia.

For a base price of $19,500 for the FWD variant and $20,800 for the AWD variant, Hyundai Kona successfully undercuts most of its rivals in the segment by some margin. By the looks of it, Hyundai has arrived in the segment with what is perhaps, one of the better overall subcompact crossovers of the year.

What’ll Impress You

  • Modest performance
  • Feature loaded
  • Enthusiastic turbo engine
  • Intuitive Multimedia Interface

What Won’t

  • Rather expensive upper trims
  • Limited cargo space
  • Bumpy ride
  • Average ride quality

What’s New in 2018 Hyundai Kona?

The 2018 Hyundai Kona is an all-new vehicle for this year.

2018 Hyundai Kona Trims and Features

Hyundai Kona is available in a total of 4 trims namely the base SE, SEL, Limited and the top end Ultimate. There are two engines on offer, a 2.0L petrol burner on the SE and SEL variants and a 1.6L turbocharged unit on the Limited and Ultimate variants. Both AWD and FWD powertrains are available in all the trims. A 6-speed auto shifter is standard on the lower pair of trims while a 7-speed DCT is standard on the upper pair of trims.

2018 Hyundai Kona Rear
2018 Hyundai Kona Rear Profile

The base SE variant is up for grabs at a lucrative $19,500 and offer a fair bit of kit for a base trim. Features such as a 7-inch screen, cruise control and LED daytime running lamps to come as standard on the trim. One step up is the SEL variant which goes for a little more than $1,000 over the base variants. Features such blind spot collision warning, proximity key with button start and projector headlamps become standard on the variant.

Further step ups take you to the Limited and the range-topping Ultimate trims. Luxury features such as power sunroof, wireless charging, heads-up display and auto air conditioning become standard on these trims.

Trim Hyundai Kona SE Hyundai Kona SEL Hyundai Kona Limited Hyundai Kona Ultimate


$19,500 $20,650 $24,200 26,900


$20,800 $22,450 $26,000 $28,700


·         7-inch display audio with AM/FM, Android Auto & Apple CarPlay

·         Bluetooth® and cruise control

·         LED Daytime Running Lights

Fully Galvanized Steel Panels

Tailgate/Rear Door Lock Included w/Power Door Locks

Radio: AM/FM Audio System -inc: 7″ LCD touchscreen display, 6 speakers, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Siri, and Google Now support and USB/aux input jack

Integrated Roof Antenna

·         Blind-Spot Collision Warning with Lane Change Assist

·         Proximity Key with push-button start

SACHS Gas-Pressurized Shock Absorbers

Battery w/Run Down Protection

Permanent Locking Hubs

Multi-Link Rear Suspension w/Coil Springs

Bluetooth Wireless Phone Connectivity

Fully Automatic Projector Beam Halogen Daytime Running Lights Preference Setting Headlamps w/Delay-Off

·         Power tilt-and-slide sunroof

·         LED headlights and taillights

Transmission w/Driver Selectable Mode

SACHS Gas-Pressurized Shock Absorbers

Manual Tilt/Telescoping Steering Column

Bluetooth Wireless Phone Connectivity

Black Grille w/Chrome Surround

Radio: AM/FM/HD Radio/SiriusXM Audio System -inc: 7″ LCD touchscreen display, 6 speakers, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Siri and Google Now support, USB/aux input jack and voice recognition

·         Wireless device charging

·         Heads-up Display

Permanent Locking Hubs

Black Grille w/Chrome Surround

Fully Automatic Projector Beam Led Low/High Beam Daytime Running Lights Preference Setting Headlamps w/Delay-Off

Bluetooth Wireless Phone Connectivity

Integrated Roof Antenna

Automatic Air Conditioning

We Recommend

Straight off the bat, the Limited trim easily makes the most sense amongst all the trims. You get a peppy 1.6L turbo motor along with feel good features such as a sunroof and LED lights in the back and front. If put side by side, the $4,000 difference from the base model immediately starts to make sense.

2018 Hyundai Kona Engine and Performance

“The new-for-2018 Hyundai Kona features an adequate base engine, but it offers a lively optional turbocharged engine that makes for a more engaging driving experience. Both engines get good mpg ratings. The Kona generally rides smoothly, and it handles better than many class rivals.”- cars.usnews

Engine and Transmission

There are two engine options available with the 2018 Hyundai Kona. One of them is a 2.0L unit good for 147 bhp while the other one is a sprightlier 1.6L turbocharged banger good for 175 bhp. The 2.0L unit is paired with a 6-speed auto tranny while the 1.6L unit is paired with a 7-speed DCT. Although both the motors are efficient at moving the vehicle, it is the turbocharged unit that is livelier amongst the two.

2018 Hyundai Kona Engine
2018 Hyundai Kona Engine

A brief comparison reveals that the Hyundai Kona is the most powerful and cheapest vehicle on paper. The second in line is the Mazda CX-3 while the CH-R and HR-V fall behind in terms of power.

Models Hyundai Kona SE Toyota CH-R XLE Mazda CX-3 Touring Honda HR-V LX
MSRP $19,500 $22,500 $22,195 $19,670
Engine 2.0L l4 2.0L l4 2.0L l4 1.8L l4
Transmission 6-speed automatic continuously variable-speed automatic 6-speed automatic continuously variable-speed automatic
Horsepower 147 hp @ 6200 rpm 144 hp @ 6100 rpm 146 hp @ 6000 rpm 141 hp @ 6500 rpm
Torque 132 lb-ft @ 4500 rpm 139 lb-ft @ 3900 rpm 146 lb-ft @ 2800 rpm 127 lb-ft @ 4300 rpm


Acceleration on the Hyundai Kona start at balmy pace but the vehicle quickly builds up substantial momentum. There is no sense of urgency at any time throughout which ensures that the passengers do not feel uncomfortable while the car is zipping through the road.

It’s the Mazda CX-3 which sprints 60 mph from a standstill at 8.5 seconds. Second in line is the Honda HR-V with 9.5 seconds. Both the Hyundai Kona and CH-R fall behind in terms of the performance.

Models Hyundai Kona SE Toyota CH-R XLE Mazda CX-3 Touring Honda HR-V LX
0-60 MPH 10.0 10.8 8.5 9.5
Quarter mile 17.3 N/A N/A 17.1
Engine 2.0 L 2.0 L 2.0 L 1.8 L

(Tons/yr of CO2 Emissions @ 15K mi/year)

5.9 6.0 5.7 5.7

Ride and Handling

Ride and handling on the Hyundai Kona are nothing to boast about. The extra distance from the ground does take away some of the handling abilities but it still manages to be amongst the better handling subcompact crossover. The car grunts through the corner with a modestly less body roll for a vehicle its class.

But, going over big potholes reveals that the chassis does indeed produce noises and vibration that easily seep through to the cabin making the occupants uneasy.


Hyundai Kona features 11.0-inch rotors on the front and 10.3-inch rotors at the back. The braking performance is sufficient but it’s certainly some distance away from the segment leaders. The brake pedal is a little too spongy for the liking and disrupts immediate feedback from the calipers.

Model Hyundai Kona SE Toyota CH-R XLE Mazda CX-3 Touring Honda HR-V LX
Brake Front (in.) 11.0 11.8 11.0 11.5
Brake Rear (in.) 10.3 11.1 11.1 11.1
Curb Weight (lbs.) 2,890 3,300 2,809 2,902
60-0 MPH (ft.)

Fuel Economy

With the rise in fuel prices, fuel economy surely holds a lot of importance whilst the buyer look for a suitable vehicle. Hyundai has understood today’s buyers need as their vehicle is available to return a modest fuel economy of 30 mpg combined.

It’s the Mazda CX-3 that leads the charge in terms of FE but only by 1 mpg more than the Kona. There isn’t much difference amongst the other rivals either.

Model Hyundai Kona SE Toyota CH-R XLE Mazda CX-3 Touring Honda HR-V LX
MPG (city) 27 27 29 25
MPG (highway) 33 31 34 33
MPG (combined) 30 29 31 28

2018 Hyundai Kona Exterior

“There’s a lot going on with the Kona’s styling, but despite the multiple textures, lines and surfaces, it all works surprisingly well. We like the narrow LED running lights mounted atop the fenders, and the taper at the bottom of Hyundai’s grille refreshes the look without redefining it.”- Kelley Blue Book

Dimension and Weight

Although the Hyundai Kona is a crossover but it is actually the smallest vehicle in the segment. Its overall exterior orientation gives it a low slung look which makes it appear more like a hatchback. It is also one of the lightest vehicles in the segment at 2,890 lbs.

2018 Hyundai Kona Side Profile
2018 Hyundai Kona Side Profile

Toyota CH-R is clearly the heaviest vehicle in the segment at 3,300 lbs. The CH-R, due to its large overhangs, is also the longest vehicle in the segment at 171.2 inches against 164 inches of the Kona.

Model Hyundai Kona SE Toyota CH-R XLE Mazda CX-3 Touring Honda HR-V LX
Curb weight (lbs.) 2,890 3,300 2,809 2,902
Length(in) 164.0 171.2 168.3 169.1
Width(in) 70.9 70.7 69.6 69.8
Height(in) 61.0 61.6 60.7 63.2
Ground clearance (in) 6.7 5.9 6.2 7.3
Wheelbase (in) 102.4 103.9 101.2 102.8
Track width (in) F/R 61.9/62.3 60.6/60.6 60.0/59.9 60.4/60.6

Exterior Features

Exterior features on the Hyundai Kona subcompact include

  • Sunroof
  • Led DRL
  • Multi-Spoke alloy wheel
  • LED tail lights
  • Projector headlamps
  • Roof rails.

2018 Hyundai Kona Interior

“The materials quality is average for the class. That means there’s a lot of hard plastic panels, but most are textured to look decent. The elbow touch points are well-padded. Overall, the interior looks a bit drab and lacks some visual appeal.”- edmunds

Seating and Comfort

Although the Hyundai Kona crossover is not the biggest from the outside there certainly is no shortage of space on the inside. With a front legroom of 41.5 inches, the vehicle is actually one the better-spaced cars in the segment.

2018 Hyundai Kona Seating
2018 Hyundai Kona Seating

The second-row legroom is where the Honda HR-V takes the game away from everyone with a segment-leading 39.3 inches against that of 34.6 inches of the Hyundai Kona.

Model Hyundai Kona SE Toyota CH-R XLE Mazda CX-3 Touring Honda HR-V LX
Passenger capacity 5 5 5 5
Front (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (In.) 39.6/55.5/41.5 38.1/49.0/43.4 38.4/53.5/41.7 39.5/56.8/41.2
Second (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (In.) 37.8/54.5/34.6 38.3/52.5/31.7 37.2/50.4/35.0 38.3/54.5/39.3


2018 Hyundai Kona Infotainment
2018 Hyundai Kona Infotainment

A 7-inch screen is standard on the Hyundai Kona while the top end ultimate trim sports an 8-inch screen. All modern connectivity features such as Bluetooth connectivity, Apple Carplay, and Android Auto are available as standard throughout the trim line. The MMI is easily the most fluid in the segment. The screen takes a few moments to register the touch but there is not much lag while switching through the menus.

Interior Features

Some key interior features of the Hyundai Kona are

  • Leather upholstery
  • 7 or 8-inch screen
  • Automatic air conditioning
  • Color accented A/C vents
  • Steering mounted controls

Cargo Capacity

Cargo volume on the Hyundai Kona leaves a lot to be desired. Although the car brands itself as an SUV but it doesn’t even have the marginal utility of an SUV. Airport runs are certainly going to be of the problem and so are going to be long vacations.

2018 Hyundai Kona Cargo
2018 Hyundai Kona Cargo

Hyundai Kona is 2nd to only the CH-R in terms of the smallest boot. While the clear winner here is the Honda HR-V with a humongous 24.3 cube.feet of space behind the 2nd row.

Model Hyundai Kona SE Toyota CH-R XLE Mazda CX-3 Touring Honda HR-V LX
Cargo Volume with 2nd row up (ft.3) 19.2 19.0 12.4 24.3
Cargo Volume with 2nd row folded (ft.3) 45.8 34.6 44.5 58.8

2018 Hyundai Kona Safety Rating and Reliability

Major crash-testing agencies are yet to give a crash test score to the Hyundai Kona so nothing can be said of on that topic as of now. However, Hyundai has paid special attention to the safety of the passengers as they’ve fitted the car with numerous safety features as standard on the vehicle. There are a number of paid extra safety features on offer as well.

Dual Stage Driver And Passenger Seat-Mounted Side Airbags
Dual Stage Driver And Passenger Front Airbags
Curtain 1st And 2nd Row Airbags
Rear Child Safety Locks
Driver Knee Airbag
ABS And Driveline Traction Control

*NHTSA and IIHS have not yet rated Hyundai Kona SE

2018 Hyundai Kona Head-to-Head Competition Check

Honda HR-V

The Honda HR-V is a great vehicle but is certainly not an attention-grabbing vehicle like the Hyundai Kona. The interior and space on offer is quite good and quite frankly, no other car in the segment can beat the utility and ergonomics on the Honda

Driving dynamics is where the Honda loses out big time to the Hyundai Kona. Honda is just too comfort-oriented to be any fun to drive. Hence, if you a want a passenger-centric vehicle, look out for the Honda, otherwise, the Hyundai Kona is a cheaper and better choice.

Mazda CX-3

The Mazda CX-3 is the most driver-centric compact crossover in the segment. The car is just a hoot to drive and is well complemented by the peppy engine and firm chassis. The contemporary styling also does well to add to the overall appeal.

The Hyundai Kona, on the other hand, a similar sort of vehicle with its driver-centric nature but the everything is just marginally better on the CX-3. Hence, in our opinion, the CX-3 is a better car indeed.

Toyota CH-R

The Toyota CH-R, just like the Hyundai Kona, follows a wild and whacky design philosophy. The exterior features sharp edges and big overhangs throughout the body. The engines are fuel efficient and are the chassis are modestly rigid.

But, the CH-R lacks the driving dynamics of the Hyundai Kona. Neither are the engines punchy nor is the handling anywhere near to the taste of an enthusiast. Hence, the Hyundai Kona is a better choice in the segment.

Final Verdict for the 2018 Hyundai Kona

The Hyundai Kona thrives on the fact that it is has a quirky exterior which is what most people in the segment look out for. Extra added bonus, it is fairly fun to drive around the town especially in its 1.6L turbo motor guise. The amount of kit for the price tag is modest as well. All in all, there are better styled or more practical vehicles in the segment but none of them show the flair of the Hyundai Kona which is what is going to a big factor in the sales of the vehicle.