2018 Hyundai Kona

Frank Washington | 7/17/2018, 10:52 a.m.
It’s real simple. As sport utilities and crossover vehicles become ever more popular, automakers are developing new models to meet ...

As corny as that sounds, it is true. We made several U-turns in a gas station and the Kona accounted itself well. We also had to stop on I-94 coming back to the city, cross over two lanes of traffic to get off because traffic had slowed to a crawl. No problem.

There was also drive mode select which we didn’t bother with. However, in sport mode, there is a greater emphasis on acceleration with earlier downshifts, while in normal mode fuel economy is prioritized over performance with a more conservative, lower-rpm shift schedule.

All the capability came in an eye-pleasing package. The Kona had a low and wide stance with a long wheelbase and short overhangs. It had LED daytime running lights over the LED headlights. It incorporated Hyundai’s new family identity, the cascading grille, featuring a sporty mesh pattern, flanked by flared, wing-like fenders.

Hyundai said the side-profile design elements reinforce the Kona’s tough and functional qualities. Contrasting black armor provides a protective skin and visually connects the front to the rear. As with the front LED arrangement, the rear light configuration also creates a truly unique, signature appearance. The slim brake lights, turn indicators and reverse lamps are in a separate configuration, surrounded by protective skin that begins at the C-pillar garnish.

I thought the interior was minimalist without looking barren. There was a circular motif – speakers, vents and dials. There was some soft-touch material on the dash and on the doors, especially the arm rest. That’s the place that comes in contact with driver and passenger the most.

There was a seven-inch touch screen atop the dash. We could connect to Android Auto™ and Apple CarPlay™ capability. What’s called the floating display design adds to the sense of space, at least that’s what the automaker said. The climate controls were beneath the central vents. And beneath that were the USB and auxiliary jacks. What I thought was particularly nifty was an adapter plugged into the second 12V socket; it held two more USB jacks.

Depending on the model trim, the Kona could be equipped with forward collision-avoidance assist with pedestrian detection, driver attention warning, lane keeping assist, blind-spot collision warning, rear cross-traffic collision warning and automatic high beams.

There is also Premium technology availability: an eight-inch navigation system, standard Android Auto™, Apple CarPlay™, next generation Blue Link® which can remotely unlock car doors and remotely start the engine, monitor the Kona’s mechanical health, send collision notifications, as well as communicate with Amazon Echo or Google Home and much more. It also had a heads-up display with an active pop-up display screen, rain-sensing wipers and wireless device charging.

There are four trim lines. The SE starts at $19,500; the SEL starts at $21,150, the Limited starts at $24,700 and the Ultimate starts at $27,400. Add a $985 freight charge to all base prices.

Now that Hyundai has spun off the Genesis nameplate to form a new luxury brand, Hyundai once again has to move beyond its original identity as a value brand. The company wants to be known for offering a lot more than a great value. The 2018 Hyundai Kona is a good start.

Frank S. Washington is editor of AboutThatCar.com