2024 Hyundai Kona Crossover Steeped in Style, Performance to Earn Its Precious Price

Like many of you, I’m acutely aware that the prices of new cars have ridden the inflation curve like a SpaceX rocket heading to Mars, but even then, I wasn’t completely prepared for the precious nearly $35,000 sticker on the 2024 Hyundai Kona.  I mean, the Kona is one rung from the bottom of the Korean automaker’s crossover hierarchy.  I thought, “I sure hope it’s worth it”.  Fortunately, it mostly redeemed itself with the style and value for which Hyundai is renowned.

As automakers traverse the twilight between gas and electric, they must find a styling balance that hints at electric no matter the powertrain beneath.  While there is an all-electric Kona, this one burns fossils.  Designers penned a sleek front dominated by thin driving lights and headlamps set in the lower facia and bodysides accented by black plastic wheel arch protection.  Origami sheetmetal creasing, arched roofline, and a set of taillamps married to the lower rear facia complete the look.  Silver window trim that arches up and over the rear hatch is especially chic.

The light modern interior appears as if lifted in-whole from one of Hyundai’s IONIQ EVs.  Twin screens conjure instruments and infotainment in a broad glassy swath across the dashboard with silvery dual-zone automatic climate controls below.  Keep looking to find the wireless phone charger and deep console.  Tap around and you’ll find a lot of hard plastic, but nothing seems cheap given pebbly textures, contrasting colors, and satin chrome accents.

Our Limited trim came with faux leather seats that can be wiped clean, but are also heated and ventilated up front.  A heated steering wheel, power moonroof, crisp Bose audio system, and hands-free liftgate are suave too.  Don’t be concerned about safety because the Kona checks all of the boxes for adaptive cruise, automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist, and lane following.  A 360-degree camera, rear occupant detector, and safe exit assist protect the margins.

Base Konas run with a 2.0-liter normally aspirated four-cylinder engine delivering a tepid 147 horsepower and 132 lb.-ft. of torque.  It’s OK, but our Limited impresses with a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine pumping 190 horsepower and 195 lb.-ft. of torque.  Unlike many vehicles in this class, it employs a proper 8-speed automatic transmission instead of a CVT.  All-wheel-drive handles inclement weather and light trails.  All of this combines for peppy and natural drive feel.  Fuel economy rates just 24/29-MPG city/highway.

Beyond the spirited turbo, the Kona is a joy to drive whether rumbling over broken city streets or posting big highway miles.  It feels “German” in how the front suspension precisely absorbs rough roads.  Front-drive models have a simple torsion beam out back, but our AWD version has a proper independent suspension for more agile handling.  Most vehicles in this class clunk over rough roads, but the Kona’s ride justifies its price point.

So, did the Kona Limited earn its lofty price?  Its small with lots of hard interior plastic, but gives the impression of far more expensive crossovers while flaunting an exterior that cribs upscale EVs.  Driving is believing as the turbo and chassis return big smiles.  If you don’t want to spend $34,695 for our Kona, there’s good news.  They start at a very affordable $24,240, making them competitive with the Subaru Crosstrek, Honda HR-V, Chevy Trax, Buick Envista and Mazda CX-30.

Storm Forward!

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