This week I bring you the all-new 2024 Hyundai Kona. The Kona has been a great addition to the Hyundai's lineup since launching in 2018. This is its first overhaul since its introduction and Hyundai didn't hold anything back in its redesign. That's largely due to the critical fact that it's actually based on an EV platform now - one shared by the gas-only models like my Limited test vehicle. It's the top trim of four in the gas-only lineup. The new Kona is visibly larger than the first-generation model, upgrades its technology and launches the new "Hyundai Pay" in-car payment system.
If you took one look at the new Kona and thought it was an electric vehicle, you wouldn't be the first to do so. That's what I thought, too. It gives off an all-electric vibe because as I mentioned earlier, Hyundai developed it on an EV platform.
The new Kona is longer and wider than its predecessor. It's also a lot bolder and, because of the EV platform, more futuristic looking. The Limited's chunky 19-inch wheels certainly make a statement. As does the hefty amount of Premium black body cladding on the wheel arches.
The Kona is outfitted with LED headlights, daytime running lights and LED combo tail lights. Side mirrors are heated. The Limited is distinguished by satin chrome window molding and a satin chrome rear spoiler. Roof side rails are standard on all but the base model.
There are two carryover engines available for the gas-only lineup and thankfully my Limited has the more powerful of the two: a 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that delivers 190-horses and 195 pound-feet of torque. These specs feel great on this small SUV. (The base engine only deliver 147 horsepower.) The engine is mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. My model is also equipped with Hyundai's available All-Wheel Drive. If you're not a fan of stop/start, you'll be pleased to hear that this engine does not have Idle Stop & Go. Remote start is standard across the lineup.
The new Kona's larger and wider cabin looks nothing like its predecessor, taking on a completely new feel. Think of it as an open floor plan or as Hyundai calls it interior ‘living space’. If you like a cozier feel, the spaciousness will take some getting used to.
The redesigned interior has other big changes. Hyundai says the front seats are 30% slimmer than the outgoing model. This maximizes legroom for the rear seats The range-topping Limited's cabin is nice with soft touch materials, but not overly cushy. Comfortable H-TEX leatherette trimmed front seats are heated and ventilated. The driver's seat is 8-way power. The leather-trimmed steering wheel is also heated. Satin chrome trim and door handles add some interest to an otherwise mostly dark interior with subtle contrast stitching.
The Kona's redesigned center console with an available wireless charger is one of the most minimalist I've come across in recent memory. There is a focus on smooth surfaces when it comes to controls. Hyundai's also relocated the gear shift. A shift-by-wire gear shift is now mounted to the steering wheel column. I'm a fan of the change and the gear shift's overall operation.
The second row features a Curveless Bench Seat that Hyundai says is also designed to make things roomier. The 60/40 split fold-down seat also reclines and offers a slim drop-down center console with cupholders. Second row passengers in the Limited get their own A/C vents.
Following the roominess theme, there's more cargo space in the new Kona, too. All trims feature a dual level cargo floor and cargo cover. The Limited is the only trim to benefit from a hands-free lift gate.
Standard Limited features include dual-zone climate and ambient interior lighting.
The new Kona wows in the technology department. It offers Hyundai's available 12.3-inch bright and easy to read digital instrument cluster. Graphics change with drive mode selection and they look terrific.
The Limited is also equipped with a fantastic and responsive 12.3-inch multimedia system. The next-generation touchscreen graphic quality is incredible. The integrated navigation looks great too as does the backup camera resolution. The only downside to the 12.3-inch screen is that it comes with wired (not wireless) Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. On the plus side, the Limited is treated to a great-sounding 8-speaker Bose Premium Sound system. Hyundai also excels in is its Dynamic Voice Recognition which works great.
As far as connectivity goes, a WiFi hotspot is standard on the Limited as is Digital Key 2. Four USB-C ports, two in front and two for the second row are standard across the lineup. The entire lineup also enjoys over-the-air updates.
Ride and Drive
The Kona is a superb daily driver. It's an easy vehicle to drive and the turbo engine's acceleration delivers confident acceleration. The AWD's suspension setup delivers a comfortable ride too. Steering feel is responsive as well. It's also easy park due to its size.
The Kona is packed with standard safety features thanks to Hyundai SmartSense. Rear Occupant Alert/Safe Exit Warning are standard across the lineup as well. The Limited is additionally equipped with other advanced safety features including Blind Spot View Monitor, Surround View Monitor, Smart Cruise Control and Highway Driving Assist - one of the industry's best semi-autonomous driving systems in my book. The Limited is also equipped with Hyundai's impressive Remote Smart Parking Assist system that helps you back in and out of a parking spot using the key fob.
What You'll Pay
My test vehicle has two options: Carpeted Floor Mats ($210) and the special paint ($450). Total MSRP as equipped is $35,145 which I think is a great value for this top-of-the-line loaded with goodies trim.
Hyundai's engineers and designers made some bold moves with the new Kona and it's clear they put a lot of thought into the Kona's evolution. The result is an impressive compact SUV with an entirely new persona that leaves the past in the rearview mirror. The new Kona will appeal to those looking to do the same.
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