2024 Hyundai Kona Review

2024 Hyundai Kona - The Kona gets its first major overhaul with a more futuristic look


The Hyundai Kona first came to market in 2019 as a new subcompact crossover entry that slots below the popular Tucson. For 2024, it gets its first major overhaul to launch the second generation. With new sheet metal, new LED lighting, updated interior, safety and more. The standard Kona is available in four trims (SE, SEL, N Line, and Limited) and three powertrains. The Kona Electric is available in three trim levels (SE, SEL, and Limited)  which are paired to either a 99 kW lithium-ion battery or a 150 kW lithium-ion battery. The electric is available exclusively with front wheel drive while the standard engine version does offer all-wheel drive depending on the trim. Base Konas start at $24,100 for an SE and climb up to a starting price of  $34,485 for a Limited AWD; and the Kona Electric models start at $32,675 for the SE and climb to a starting price of $41,045 for the Limited. Competition includes other compact SUVs such as the Chevrolet Trailblazer, Kia Soul, Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-30, Subaru Crosstrek, Volkswagen Taos, and Buick Envista.  I spent time in the 2024 Kona Limited and here's what stood out...

Styling (+)
The Kona ditches its rugged body-clad exterior of the first generation for a sleek EV-look across the entire platform. The updated style is futuristic with an LED light bar that stretches across the front of the vehicle. Headlights are dropped to the lower fascia at the side corners and wrap into the fender with an edgy style. Proportions have also changed as the Kona has increased in size with an extra 5.7" of length, 2.3" in wheelbase, and an inch wider than the outgoing model. The side profile showcases a more aerodynamic look with sculpted wheel arch cladding, Hyundai's parametric surfaces (similar to the Tucson), and chrome lines that connect the beltline up to the rear spoiler. Around back, another LED tail lamp stretches across the hatch with additional sharply angled brake lights in the lower fascia pushed out to the sides. It has a rounded rear with Kona spelled out across the rear.

The N Line model boasts body color cladding, 19-inch N Line alloy wheels, N Line rear spoiler, dual-outlet exhaust tips, Bose premium audio, sport seating with red accents, aluminum sport pedals, N Line scuff plates, and black mirrors. In addition, aggressive, wing-shaped front and rear fascia designs emphasize a lower stance for an even sportier appearance.

Various wheel designs are available depending on the trim ranging in size from 17" up to 19". My test model came with 19" two-tone alloys with gloss black and brushed silver finishes. They complimented the car with a sporty, razor-like design. It is available in ten colors across the lineup including some bright ones that include Soultronic Orange, Neoteric Yellow, and Meta Blue. The new style may be polarizing, but it falls in line with the rest of Hyundai's line up of boldly styled vehicles.

Performance (+/-)
The Kona's powertrain options carryover from the previous generation. The standard base engine (SE and SEL) is a 2.0L four-cylinder that generates 147 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque. Stepping up to the N Line and Limited will get you the turbocharged 1.6L four-cylinder with 190 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque.

Having spent time in the Limited, the 1.6L turbo offers a fair amount of pep in acceleration as it launches from 0-60 MPH in around 7.5 seconds. It's one of the quicker options in the class, but still falls short of competitors like the Mazda CX-30 which is more powerful and more refined. The Kona pairs with an 8-speed automatic transmission that is smoother than the previous 7-speed unit. It appropriately and smoothly shifts through the gears directing power as needed.

There are three driving modes known as comfort, eco, and sport which can be switched on at the touch of a button. As expected, Sport mode is most engaging but not overly athletic.

At highway speeds the ride is smooth, and it feels planted to the roadway. Road noise was more noticeable in Chicago traffic compared to similarly sized vehicles like the VW Taos and Toyota Corolla Cross. Its compact size makes it easy to handle around corners although the steering tends to be on the softer side.  It's nimble around town and through traffic with enough pep to feel confident in your driving. Overall, it delivers a composed ride with a touch of fun and athleticism.

Fuel Economy (+)
When it arrived with a full 13.2-gallon tank it offered between 340-420 miles of driving range. It's rated at 24/29/26 MPG city/highway/combined for the AWD model I drove.  After a week of primarily suburban driving, I average 28 MPG. Front wheel drive models will fare even better with up to 34/35 MPG city/highway. It's one of the better-rated vehicles in its class and is available as a pure electric for those wanting to ditch conventional fuel altogether.

Interior Design / Layout (+)
Based on the Kona's larger dimensions, Hyundai designed a larger interior space. The driver-centric front row is accentuated by a floating horizontal C-Pad with integrated, dual 12.3-inch panoramic display screens that affirm Kona's high-tech character. The digital cluster offers customized views and modern graphics. As part of Kona's new layout, the shift-by-wire gear selector has been relocated from the center console to a stalk behind the steering wheel, allowing more storage in the open console area. Brushed metal accents surround the interior on the Limited to give it a more upscale vibe.

The layout emphasizes Kona's larger, wider interior, providing a versatile and comfortable space for driver and passengers. This impression is further reinforced by the relocation of driver controls around the steering wheel, allowing a multi-use center console storage area with a rotational cupholder design. Ambient interior lighting options are also available that correspond to drive modes, acceleration, or to suit the mood of the driver.

Interior Materials (-)
Most new Hyundais have over-delivered inside with better-than-expected materials loaded with tech, however the Kona still feels basic inside with hard plastics all around. After spending time in the new Elantra and Tucson which offer modern materials, I expected the same from this trendy little crossover. These materials would be more forgivable in a base model, but with price tags in the $35k range and up, the interior quality did not feel up to par.

Technology (+)
Drivers will face an expensive dual 12.3" touch screen display set up with a 4.2" driver information display. The visual graphics will update with the various drive modes. The infotainment system integrates wirelessly with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, includes two front USB-C ports, and two rear USB-C ports. Unfortunately, higher trim models like the Limited an N Line that come with the navigation system lose the wireless connection to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The Kona does offer wireless charging in a functional location at the top of the center console.  Hyundai's system is intuitive and offers additional features such as ambient lighting and sounds of nature for those moments you need to recline the seats back (while parked) and de-stress. Drivers can also activate and control features like climate, radio station, rear window and side mirror heating as well as steering wheel heating through Dynamic Voice Recognition. Built-in navigation, an eight-speaker Bose premium audio system, cameras, and Hyundai's digital key all add to the overall package.

The all-new Kona takes connectivity to the next level with Over-the-Air technology for software updates, allowing car owners to save time by having their cars updated with the latest software, providing a convenient, upgradable experience.

Seating (+)
The Kona is quite roomy inside with comfortable seats both up front and in back. There is noticeably more space in the new model compared to the outgoing first generation. The Limited came with heated and ventilated seats that worked well. The leather seats are supportive with sufficient padding. The driver's chair offers eight-way power adjustability to find an ideal driving position. Head and leg room was impressive up front and will accommodate adults of all sizes. Second row seats will be tighter for adults, but legroom has improved. The front seats are 30 percent slimmer to maximize rear passenger legroom and the second row Curveless Bench Seat also enhances available space. Even more, a two-stage latching system allows rear seat reclining.

Cargo (+)
As a compact crossover, expectations should be minimal for cargo. The Kona offers 25.5 cu.ft. behind the second row and 63.7 cu.ft. with the seats folded flat, both significantly improved.  In comparison to similarly sized models, the Hyundai has more overall space and is among the most spacious cargo areas in the class. Hyundai adds nice touches such as storage clips to  secure the cargo cover and some under floor storage.

Safety (+)
Kona is packed with a range of safety and driver assist features regardless of the trim level. The new model is offered with the latest Hyundai SmartSense Advanced Driver Assist and S Safety features that include blind-spot collision avoidance, rear cross-traffic collision avoidance, forward collision-avoidance with pedestrian-detection, lane keep/follow, driver attention warning, safe exit, and rear seat occupant alert. Stepping up to the Limited model will add additional features such as highway driving assist, high beam assist and parking distance warning in reverse.

Available Remote Smart Parking Assist aids drivers in getting in and out of parking spaces remotely. A press of the smart key button can move the vehicle forward or backward out of various parking scenarios. Blind-spot View Monitor can help when the driver makes a lane change by providing the driver with live video of the blind spot area in the instrument cluster.

During my time in the car, all these features worked well and were intuitive to control/adjust to personal preferences.  Kudos to Hyundai for making all these elements standard.

Final Statement
The Kona is an important vehicle to Hyundai as it serves as an entry point for many buyers with a low starting price of $24,100. The new generation is even better than the last with more interior space while maintaining its compact size. Technology is improved and it has a much more modern vibe. Whether or not you like the new exterior style, it stands out as something different and modern.

First Impression Summary:
Test Vehicle:
2024 Hyundai Kona Limited AWD
Exterior Color: MIrage Green
Interior Color: Gray
Options: None
MSRP as tested: $34,695 (With Delivery/Destination)

Jim OBrill

Jim is Director of Marketing for the Chicago Automobile Trade Association and Chicago Auto Show and a co-host of Drive Chicago Radio on WLS 890 AM Chicago. His passion for cars started young and he’s often referred to as the ‘car-guy’ among family and friends. As a former auto detailer, he has an eye for identifying solid used cars and tags along on many car buying adventures. Early in his career he worked at several car dealerships in various areas of the business. As a co-host on Drive Chicago and member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, Jim has had opportunities to attend track school and drive vehicles on multiple circuits such as Road America and Gingerman Raceway. With a background in photography, taking pictures of vehicles has always been a hobby.

Jim also enjoys the trails and taking trucks like his 4Runner off road. He has a special appreciation for older cars and can often be found spending free time at cruise nights or home washing one his four vehicles. Jim resides in the northwest suburbs with his wife and three kids. Follow Jim on Instagram at @jpcars22 for new vehicle content or @forgotten_survivors.312 for shots of older cars still on the streets of Chicagoland.