DRIVEN: 2024 Hyundai Kona Limited AWD

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Cool new styling updates the whole Kona package

The compact Hyundai Kona came to market as a 2018 model, in a variety of trim levels with a few powertrain choices.  It practically defined the term “Cute-Ute.”  And it was.  Yet also a little small, not particularly powerful, nor roomy.  Yet it was attractive, easy to squirt around town in, affordable, reliable, and backed by that killer 100K mile warranty.  It’s been “facelifted” a time or two throughout its early production life, although recently more reinvented and now a more chiseled, mature looking, and otherwise much upgraded machine — still cute, but grown well beyond cutesy.

Small but mighty – the 1.6 Turbo is a gem

High tech looking LED lighting is handsome, and does the job in the dark

Our Mirage Green, Limited AWD tester was as packed and stacked with features as you can imagine.  There are still trim level and powertrain options up and down the scale, and besides all-wheel drive and all the safety, comfort, and tech hardware it’ll hold, the Limited is powered by a turbocharged 1.6-liter four, spooling out a commendable 190 horsepower, backed by an 8-speed automatic transaxle.  There are also less costly, less powerful gas powered options, plus now a pure EV version.  Having recently sampled so many Hybrid and EV powered Hyundai products, it was interesting to get back behind the wheel of a very sophisticated, yet generally conventional turbocharged gas-engined machine.  And it’s excellent.  Even though it was several times saddled with four full sized adults, and a cargo bay full of heavy luggage, this powertrain packs all the zing you could ask for.  It steps out smartly from a stop and will handle any onramp you encounter.  Mid-range punch is also more than adequate, and passing is impressive, as the 8-speed trans provides a ratio for every occasion; the engine management system always finds it and pairs it perfectly with the engine’s power curve.  No slow bunny this.

The latest and freshest dash and IP gear here

And if you’ve never experienced this 360 degree view capability, you must try it, and you’ll be the best parallel parker in your neighborhood

And those adults and all that luggage were very comfy too.  Ingress and egress are easy, with good head-, leg-, knee-, and shoulder-room.  The H-Tex seating material is a high tech cross between vinyl and the look and feel of real leather (although it’s not); its comfortable, easy to clean, and appears sturdy enough for the long haul.  The infotainment hardware is also outstanding; the 12.3″ Nav and audio system screen is bright, clear, and easy to operate.  Plus all the Blue Link, Wi-Fi, and HotSpot capabilities you’d want.

Our tester was not the performance-tuned N-Line Kona, yet it’s fun to drive, and handles nicely; the suspension tuning, and chassis integrity help a lot here, as does the 19-inch, all season rolling stock on handsome, modern looking alloy wheels.  Road rumble is low, as is windnoise.  Gripes?  Not much not to like here; while no car is perfect, anything to complain about here would be to pick nits.  Plus you get a great value message with Kona, the base SE version starting in the mid-$20K region, and our full packed Limited AWD topping out at about 10K more.  Not to mention that 100,000 mile limited powertrain warranty you get with every Hyundai.

Now, given the name Kona, aren’t you happy I didn’t include any coffee joints in any of the photos.