2018 Hyundai Kona Preview

2018 Hyundai Kona; Manufacturer images

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Competes with: Chevrolet Trax, Honda HR-V, Jeep Renegade, Nissan Juke and Rogue Sport, Toyota C-HR

Looks like: A less-edgy but still fashion-forward SUV more in the direction of the Toyota C-HR than the Chevy Trax. The front lighting arrangement echoes the Jeep Cherokee.

Drivetrains: Likely a 147-horsepower, 2.0-liter base four-cylinder with a six-speed automatic transmission and a 175-hp, turbocharged 1.6-liter with a seven-speed dual clutch automatic. Front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive

Hits dealerships: Not specified; expected early 2018

Hyundai is wading into the subcompact SUV wars with its new Kona, unveiling at an event in South Korea its entry for the hotly competitive and growing field of small crossover SUVs.

Related: Kia Plans New Stonic Subcompact SUV

The new SUV was revealed at an event at the company's design center in South Korea, at which the automaker also showed the Kona's first special edition — the Iron Man Special Edition — and Hyundai officials confirmed an electric version, at least for South Korea, in 2018 with a 390-kilometer (242-mile) range. The Iron Man edition has special styling details evoking the Marvel superhero's "technologically advanced Stark Industries armored suit."

The conventional Konas will go on sale in its home market this month and are expected in the U.S. in early 2018. Hyundai is somewhat late to the subcompact SUV party, which has entries from almost all major automakers, though Ford also will not have its EcoSport on sale in the U.S. until early next year. The Kona will slide into the Hyundai lineup under the Tucson compact SUV and is positioned to lift sales for Hyundai, which has seen results slip this year for its car-heavy lineup.

Exterior

The Kona is on a new platform and shows a new design flair for Hyundai, with a funky look that Hyundai says is intended to look both high-tech and capable, and designed to appeal to millennials. It has a wealth of what Hyundai calls "armor" (generous black cladding on all sides) that adds a rugged, outdoorsy (or urban warrior) effect. It gets a prominent version of Hyundai's "cascading" grille and an unusual front light arrangement, featuring skinny LED daytime running lights with turn signals high on the corners and the headlights in low pods flanking the grille. There is also a similar split-lighting configuration in the rear, with the slim LED taillights and pod with backup and turn signals.

2018 Hyundai Kona

Separate roof colors will allow for two-tone personalization. The overall effect is more in the distinctive direction of the Toyota C-HR subcompact or Nissan Juke and less a conventional SUV. Still, it's not quite as edgy as the preview renderings of sibling Kia's coming Stonic subcompact.

Interior

Hyundai says the Kona will deliver class-leading space, particularly in the rear seat, thanks to a platform design that minimizes intrusion of the drivetrain and suspension components and offers a lower, flatter floor. The split-folding rear seat folds flat, and the Kona offers a two-level load floor.

The center display will "float" on the dashboard and there will be 5-, 7- and 8-inch versions, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. Wireless phone charging will be available. Unusual for the class, a reflector head-up display (along the lines of the Mazda system with a clear panel on the dash) with good day and night visibility also will be offered.

Under the Hood

The Kona will offer a variety of gasoline and diesel powertrains for global markets as well as the expected electric version. Likely for the U.S. market are versions of the 2.0-liter base four-cylinder and turbocharged 1.6-liter four found in other Hyundai products. A 2.0-liter produces 147 horsepower and 132 pounds-feet of torque; Hyundai says that's good for a zero-to-62-mph time of 10 seconds. The turbo puts out 175 hp and 195 pounds-feet, with a zero-62-mph time of 7.7 seconds. The 2.0-liter will get a six-speed automatic, while the turbo engine will get Hyundai's seven-speed dual-clutch automatic.

Front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive will be available. Front-drive models will get a torsion-beam rear axle; all-wheel-drive models have a multilink rear suspension.

Safety

Unlike many in this class, the Kona will offer a full suite of electronic safety technology, including a front collision prevention system with automatic braking. It also will feature lane keep assist, high-beam assist and rear cross-traffic alert. It will offer a version of blind spot warning that uses the car's radar at higher speeds to detect approaching vehicles that are out of view.

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