With the compact SUV segment gaining more and more popularity, Hyundai launched the Kona in 2018, and since then, it has sold in good numbers. Kona is the smallest SUV in Hyundai’s line up in the US market and goes up against cars such as the Buick Encore, Mazda CX-3, and Subaru Crosstrek

Its demand was such that Hyundai even launched an all-electric version in 2019, which goes against the Bolt EV and Nissan Leaf. Kona is a unique car as it was the first car to feature Hyundai’s new design language of split headlamps and a new grille. 

The Kona was given the title of 2019 North American Utility Vehicle of the Year, and it was the 5th car on the sales chart in the year 2018. After 3 model years, the 2021 Hyundai Kona is rumored to receive many changes and additions. The 2021 Kona has been spied on in S. Korea, where the Asian carmaker usually tests it. 

What’s New?

For the 2021 model year, the Hyundai Kona should receive the new performance-oriented Kona N version. It is also expected to receive a new updated infotainment system as well as features. A few changes will also be done to its exteriors and interiors, but nothing major will be taking place due to it being just a facelift year.


Release Date & Price

We expect the 2021 Hyundai Kona to launch around late 2020. However, the performance-oriented N version could launch in the first half of the year 2021. The car is expected to go into production very soon as the Spy shots have already appeared through various sources. The 2021 Hyundai Kona powered by a conventional gas-powered engine should be priced at around $19,000 (Expected). On the other hand, the all-electric Kona shall be priced at about $37, 000. The fresh new N version should demand about $32,000. There might be a slight bump in the pricing as well.

Engine and Performance

The 2021 Hyundai Kona is expected to receive a new transmission, which will be done in favor of better fuel efficiency than performance. Apart from this, the 2021 Hyundai Kona would be returning with the same powertrain and options. It will be available with two transmission and engine options, which will produce the same amount of power and torque as the 2020 model. 

The conventionally powered Kona gets the same 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine which will be mated to a 6-speed automatic gearbox. This engine currently makes 147 hp of power and 132 lb-ft of torque. The other engine option you will be able to use is the turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder mill, paired with a slick-shifting 7-speed DCT or dual-clutch transmission. This engine is much more potent as it produces 175 hp of power and 195 lb-ft of peak torque. Both the engine options will be available with a front-wheel-drive as standard, and all-wheel drive will be optional. Both engines perform well on the 2020 model and feel smooth and refined.

2021 Hyundai Kona N testing in the Nurburgring

On the other hand, the performance-focused N trim is expected to ship with a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine that would generate a healthy 275 hp of power and 260 lb-ft of peak torque. It will be the engine carried over from the Veloster N, which might receive a different state of tune as well. The upgrade will not be limited to the engine department but will also extend to the chassis. It will be a much-improved chassis that will be paired with a reworking suspension and a braking system.

All three gas-powered engines will be able to take on city life and a highway ride. The steering will be the same and hence will be feedback-rich. The Kona is easy to steer in the city, and the steering also weighs well on the highway. The ride, on the other hand, is also quite a complaint about a compact-sized car. However, it is free of problems as the ride could feel a bit stiff for some. This helps in taking over sharp corners confidently, but the trade-off is a bit of comfort. 

Models

Hyundai Kona

Buick Encore*

Mazda CX-3*

Subaru Crosstrek*

MSRP

$20,000 (Expected)

$23,200

$20,390

$21,859

Engine

2.0 Liter Inline-4

1.4 Turbocharged Inline-4

2.0 Liter Inline-4

2.0 Liter Boxer-4

Transmission

6-speed automatic with manual shifting mode

6-speed automatic with Overdrive and auto-manual

2-speed CVT with Overdrive and Manual mode

Continuously variable-speed automatic

Horsepower

147 hp @ 6200 rpm

138 hp @ 4900 rpm

148 hp @ 6000 rpm

152 hp @ 6000 rpm

Torque

132 lb. ft. @ 4500 rpm

148 lb. ft. @ 1850 rpm

146 lb. ft. @ 2800 rpm

145 lb. ft. @ 4000 rpm

*2020 Model Year specs used for comparison purposes only

In comparison to its rivals, the Kona scores well in terms of the refinement levels. The queen of the segment in terms of performance is the Subaru Crosstrek. But it is also on the expensive side. To attract performance-focused customers, Hyundai is expected to launch the N version of the car and take over the Subaru. On the other hand, the Mazda CX-3 is the most engaging to drive and is the most driver-oriented. The Buick Encore, on the other hand, offers the most comfortable ride and cabin to be in.

The Kona EV will also get the same battery pack, and the power output shall remain the same. The EV generates 201 hp with a 64-kWh battery pack with 258 miles of range. Hence, overall there will not be many changes, but you will get sorted engine options as well as performance. 

Fuel Economy

The Hyundai Kona has always been known for providing excellent fuel economy, and the same shall continue with the 2021 model. The 2021 Hyundai Kona is expected to receive a bump in its fuel efficiency. The CVT will return a mileage of around 29/35/32 mpg city/highway/combined with the front-wheel-drive setup and 27/32/29 with All-Wheel-Drive. These are one of the best fuel efficiency figures in its segment, and with the expected new transmission, it shall keep its new customers even happier.

Model

Hyundai Kona

Buick Encore*

Mazda CX-3*`

Subaru Crosstrek*

MPG (city)

29

26

29

27

MPG (highway)

35

31

34

33

MPG (combined)

32

28

31

25

*2020 Model Year specs used for comparison purposes only

The new Kona will offer one of the best fuel economy figures in comparison to its rivals. It will return 32 MPG instead of 30 MPG that the 2020 model provided. This means that the Kona is just behind the Mazda CX-3 and overtakes many of its other rivals in the segment when it comes to fuel efficiency.

Interior

The new Hyundai Kona will be getting the same interiors as the 2020 model. But there could be a few changes on the inside along with an updated infotainment system. It is also supposed to get some additional features on the inside. The new Kona is expected to receive a larger touchscreen, and Kona EV will be available with a 10.3-inch touchscreen. On the other hand, the Kona N version will get a more premium-looking cabin. The changes will be small, however noticeable in terms of Alcantara leather inserts and red stitching on the seats. The model might get a redesigned steering wheel and gear lever. The seats are supportive and come with adequate cushioning.

Model

Hyundai Kona*

Buick Encore*

Mazda CX-3*

Subaru Crosstrek*

Passenger Capacity

5

5

5

5

Headroom

39.6

39.6

38.4

39.8

Shoulder room

55.5

54.2

53.5

56.7

Legroom

41.5

40.8

41.7

43.1

Headroom

37.8

38.8

37.2

38

Shoulder room

54.5

52.5

50.4

55.6

Legroom

34.6

35.8

35

36.5

*2020 Model Year specs used for comparison purposes only


The interior materials and fit finish are expected to remain the same which is going to be top-notch. There would not be a lot of soft-touch materials but expect the plastics to be pleasant to touch. Also, the standard equipment level will remain the same with the base trim also getting touchscreen infotainment like in the 2020 model. It will be a 7-inch unit that will support Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto.

2021 Hyundai Kona gets a new infotainment display

The cabin is not going to be a very spacious place to be in but it scores high on technology and quality. The seats in the Kona are quite comfortable. There is quite some space in the interiors. The rear bench is nice and wide and can seat three people in fair comfort. The rear legroom is not the best in class but there is sufficient space still. Long hours can be spent easily in this cabin as it’s a comfortable space to be in. The Subaru Crosstrek comes with the poshest cabin while the Kona’s feel more advanced in terms of the tech on offer. The Subaru is also the most spacious on the inside.


Exterior

The exteriors of the 2021 Hyundai Kona are expected to receive some changes and updates as well. But it will be counting up as minor as this model will be a facelift rather than a through update. However, Hyundai will make sure that you will be able to differentiate it from the previous model. There might be the addition of some new colors with some changes on the front and rear. The wheels will also receive a new design, which will make the new Kona look way more stylish. In terms of styling the all-new, N version could offer sportier inserts and look much more sleek and unique. You can expect it to get a much aggressive bumper with additional air openings.

2021 Hyundai Kona gets minor design tweaks

On the other hand, the rear styling will also come with a sleeker bumper design and dual exhausts. Expect the N model to get a few red inserts on the outside to make it look more attractive and sporty. In terms of the boot space, the Kona is not the best, but hauling in a weekend worth of your luggage will not be a big deal for the car. The Kona is quite balanced when it comes to dimensions. It has compact proportions for a crossover and sits quite low as well. It has the least length but in spite of that, it has a longer wheelbase than the Buick and the Mazda. The compact proportions and less ground clearance really helps the handling of the car.

Model

Hyundai Kona*

Buick Encore*

Mazda CX-3*

Subaru Crosstrek*

Curb weight (lbs.)

2890

3237

2809

3157

Length(in)

164.0

168.4

168.3

175.8

Width(in)

70.9

70.1

69.6

71

Height(in)

61

65.2

60.7

63.6

Ground clearance (in)

6.7

6.2

6.1

8.7

Wheelbase (in)

102.4

100.6

101.2

104.9

Track width (in) F/R

-

60.62/60.62

60/59.5

61/61.2

*2020 Model Year specs used for comparison purposes only

As evident from the spec sheet, the 2021 Hyundai Kona will be one of the smallest cars in the segment. If you are looking for a road presence, then the Subaru Crosstrek is the car for you as it is the most prominent car in every way. However, its the Mazda that looks apart and will grab the most eyeballs.

Safety

The 2021 Hyundai Kona uses the same 5-star safety rated platform as the outgoing version. The Kona is loaded with quite a lot of safety features and that is quite reassuring. Even the base trim comes with standard features such as Forward collision warning, Lane-keeping Assist, and Driver attention monitor.

Standard safety features include:

  • Advanced dual front airbags (SRS) with Occupant Classification System (OCS)
  • Dual front seat-mounted side-impact airbags (SRS)
  • Front and rear roof-mounted side-curtain airbags (SRS) with rollover sensors
  • Adjustable front-seat shoulder belt anchors
  • Front seatbelt pretensioners and load limiters
  • LATCH Lower Anchors and Upper Tether Anchors
  • Power window lock-out button
  • Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with 4-wheel disc brakes
  • Electronic Stability Control (ESC) with Traction Control (TCS) and Brake Assist
  • Vehicle Stability Management
  • Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) with individual tire indicator
  • Blind-Spot Collision Warning
  • Lane Change Assist
  • Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Warning

Final Verdict

The 2021 Hyundai Kona is expected to be launched in the late 2020 and go against compact SUVs such as the Subaru Crosstrek, Chevrolet Trax, and Honda HR-V. Kona has always been a sorted urban compact crossover, and the 2021 model will only reinforce its pros. However, it is not a reinvented car in any way and will not be very different from the 2020 model. The introduction of the N version will only add more spice to the line-up, and Kona will offer a complete package with the addition of the new trim as well as the EV model. Hence, it is a no brainer to go for it, and we advise you to wait for the 2021 Hyundai Kona instead of going with the 2020 model.

Also Read:

Check out our In-Depth review of the 2020 Kia Soul.

Heres everything you need to know about the 2021 Buick Encore.

FAQs

Can the Hyundai Kona be flat towed? 
The Hyundai Kona should not be flat towed. While it would be mechanically possible, through available all-wheel drive, to set up a Kona to be flat towed, the process would damage the vehicle.

Does the Hyundai Kona have Apple CarPlay?
All trims of the Hyundai Kona support Apple CarPlay®, along with most major mobile/wireless connectivity options. Other options for wireless accessibility include standard Android Auto™ and Bluetooth® hands-free controls.

How many seats does the Hyundai Kona have?
The Hyundai Kona can comfortably seat up to five people, with a total passenger volume of 94.1 cubic feet and a cargo volume of 19.2 cubic feet behind the backseats.