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2019 Hyundai Kona Ultimate AWD Review By John Heilig


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THE AUTO PAGE
By John Heilig
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
Mid-Atlantic Bureau
The Auto Channel

REVIEWED MODEL: 2019 Hyundai Kona Ultimate AWD

ENGINE: 1.6-liter turbocharged 4

TRANSMISSION: 7-speed automatic Ecoshift

HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 175 hp @ 6,500 rpm/195 lb.-ft. @ 1,500-4,500 rpm

WHEELBASE: 102 in.

LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT: 164 x 71 x 61 in.

TIRES: P235/45R18

CARGO CAPACITY: 22.5 cu. ft.

ECONOMY: 26 mpg city/29 mpg highway/23.4 mpg test

FUEL TANK CAPACITY: 15.0 gal. (est.)

CURB WEIGHT: 3,145 lbs.

TOWING CAPACITY: Not recommended

COMPETITIVE CLASS: Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-3, Buick Encore

STICKER: $30,005 (includes $980 delivery, $125 options (carpeted floor mats))

BOTTOM LINE: While the Hyundai Kona may seem like a small SUV/CUV, it is in reality a compact car with issues.

When I approached my test Hyundai Kona, I couldn’t avoid a sticker on the side window that proclaimed it the “2019 North American Utility Vehicle of the Year.” I wonder who voted and how desperate were they to select this vehicle. Kona is a decent compact car, but utility vehicle, no!

First, the Kona is subcompact, so utility is compromised. Second, although it has a locking differential, 4WD, or even AWD capability is questionable. So I wonder….

Our tester wore a “Lime Twist” exterior, which is by itself worth a visit to your local Hyundai dealer. It’s great for finding the Kona in a crowded parking lot. The color does make for striking interior accents, however.

The 1.6-liter turbocharged four under the hood offers decent power, but you can hear or feel every transmission shift. The engine is noisy anyway, but the shifting gets old fast. The engine is bad enough in normal mode, but in sport mode it’s even noisier.

On Kona’s plus side is that it is filled with useful features. I mentioned the locking differential, but it also has a blind spot monitor, lane assist, and a heads up display that consists of a glass panel that rises from the top of the dash.

The driver faces clear white-on-black instruments. In the center of the dash is a standard infotainment screen with the usual options.

Front seats are comfortable and heated with the lime stitching and trim. In our tester, the driver’s seat was powered but the passenger’s wasn’t, and my wife couldn’t figure out how to raise it to a decent height. Rear seat legroom is very tight. Four assist handles aid in entry and exit.

Interior storage consists of a small center console/arm rest and a cubby at the base of the center stack with two 12-volt outlets, AUX and USB. All doors have room for water bottles.

Cargo capacity is okay, but really not in the “utility vehicle” class. Besides, I had to lower a rear seat back to fit my golf clubs. There are four tie-downs in the cargo area. An interesting nod to relationships was the Kia-branded ice scraper under the cargo floor.

The Hyundai Kona is touted as a utility vehicle (it even has the award to show for it) but it’s severely lacking in my estimation. It is, however, okay as a subcompact sedan.

(c) 2019 The Auto Page Syndicate