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2018 Hyundai Kona

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$19,500 — $28,700 MSRP
22
Photos
SUV
5 Seats
27-30 MPG
(Combined)
Key specs of the base trim
 — 
Compare 4 trims

Overview

Is this the car for you?

The Good

  • Carlike maneuverability
  • Highway poise
  • Responsive steering
  • Refined six-speed automatic
  • Room for four adults to ride in comfort
  • Easy-to-use touchscreen system

The Bad

  • Driving position might not be high enough for some
  • Firm, busy ride can feel brittle at times
  • Gas-pedal lag in Normal drive mode
  • Limited reserve power on the highway (2.0-liter engine)
  • Extensive use of hard plastics in cabin
  • Unrefined air-conditioning dials
2018 Hyundai Kona exterior side view

What to Know

about the 2018 Hyundai Kona
  • All-new subcompact SUV
  • Choice of two four-cylinder engines
  • Front- or all-wheel drive
  • Apple CarPlay, Android Auto standard
  • Automatic emergency braking available
  • Wireless device charging available

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Our Take

from the Cars.com expert editorial team

Small crossovers and SUVs are all the rage these days. Everyone's buying one, and they're buying them more and more every single minute. Hyundai does not want to be left out of the party, which is why it has brought us this-the new 2018 Hyundai Kona.

By Mike Hanley
The verdict:

The all-new 2018 Hyundai Kona is distinctively styled and feels light and agile, but it's more a hatchback than a small SUV.

Versus the competition:

The Kona's lower stance mimics the Toyota C-HR's, and its nimble driving manners are reminiscent of a Fiat 500X. Meanwhile, the Chevrolet Trax has slightly better ride comfort, while the Honda HR-V is more versatile.

The subcompact SUV class has stretched the definition of sport utility vehicle more than most. Some entrants, like the C-HR, offer a carlike ride height and skip all-wheel drive (it's front-drive only). The Kona at least offers all-wheel drive, making it easier to think of it as an SUV, but its low ride height and overall shape call to mind a more traditional small hatchback.

Our test car was a front-wheel-drive Kona SEL with a $22,405 as-tested price ($980 destination charge included). See how the Kona's specs compare with the Trax, HR-V and C-HR.

How It Drives

The Kona's driving experience impresses in many ways. It's easy to maneuver in the city and secure at highway speeds. The transmission is quick to react when you need more power, and it shifts smoothly. It feels stable in quick corners, with limited body roll. Combine that with its responsive steering, and the Kona is surprisingly fun to drive.

The thing that reminds you of the Kona's entry-level position in Hyundai's SUV lineup, however, is its suspension tuning. It has a firm ride, like the C-HR and Ford EcoSport, and it lacks refinement when you hit bumps and ruts.

SE and SEL Konas are powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 147 horsepower. Limited and Ultimate trim levels get a turbo four-cylinder rated at 175 hp. The 2.0-liter engine revs smoothly and feels well-matched to the standard six-speed automatic transmission. There's some gas-pedal lag when accelerating ...

The subcompact SUV class has stretched the definition of sport utility vehicle more than most. Some entrants, like the C-HR, offer a carlike ride height and skip all-wheel drive (it's front-drive only). The Kona at least offers all-wheel drive, making it easier to think of it as an SUV, but its low ride height and overall shape call to mind a more traditional small hatchback.

Our test car was a front-wheel-drive Kona SEL with a $22,405 as-tested price ($980 destination charge included). See how the Kona's specs compare with the Trax, HR-V and C-HR.

How It Drives

The Kona's driving experience impresses in many ways. It's easy to maneuver in the city and secure at highway speeds. The transmission is quick to react when you need more power, and it shifts smoothly. It feels stable in quick corners, with limited body roll. Combine that with its responsive steering, and the Kona is surprisingly fun to drive.

The thing that reminds you of the Kona's entry-level position in Hyundai's SUV lineup, however, is its suspension tuning. It has a firm ride, like the C-HR and Ford EcoSport, and it lacks refinement when you hit bumps and ruts.

SE and SEL Konas are powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 147 horsepower. Limited and Ultimate trim levels get a turbo four-cylinder rated at 175 hp. The 2.0-liter engine revs smoothly and feels well-matched to the standard six-speed automatic transmission. There's some gas-pedal lag when accelerating from a standstill but selecting Sport mode wakes the Kona up; gas-pedal response is notably better, upshifts are delayed and the SUV feels a lot peppier as a result.

Acceleration is acceptable in the city, but the engine doesn't have much reserve power at highway speeds; even though the automatic transmission is quick to kick down, passing power is modest.

Regardless of the engine, front-wheel-drive Konas get an EPA-estimated 30 mpg in combined driving, while all-wheel-drive versions are rated 27 mpg combined. Looking at front-drive competitors, the Kona's estimated gas mileage tops the Trax (28 mpg) and C-HR (29 mpg) but trails the automatic-equipped HR-V (31 mpg).

The Inside

After taking in the Kona's daring exterior styling, the interior may be something of a letdown for shoppers. The cabin is very traditional, for one, and it uses relatively basic materials. The headliner is cardboard-like, and hard plastic is used extensively — from the door panels and dashboard to the center console. It's of the nicer, low-gloss variety, and some of it has unique patterns rather than ordinary graining, but since you touch it so often — whether resting your arm on the door or your knee against the center console — it's a frequent reminder of the Kona's entry-level status. Then there are the three dials for the manual air conditioning system that already feel 10 years old. Basic interior quality isn't uncommon in this class, but some competitors, like the HR-V and C-HR, do it better.

Other elements, though, impress. The cloth front seats are comfortable and feature an attractive houndstooth pattern. Even though seat comfort is good, I did want the height-adjustable driver's seat to go higher; even with the seat at its highest position I still felt like I was sitting too low.

The multimedia system is another highlight. It has a standard touchscreen with intuitive menus, as well as supplementary steering-wheel controls. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity are standard, and CarPlay worked well with an iPhone 8; the Maps app responded quickly, it was easy to switch between CarPlay and Hyundai's multimedia experience, and the screen looked great.

One minor multimedia downside, though, is reception quality for the available HD Radio; the HD signal kept going in and out during my testing — much more so than in other cars. It got annoying after a while, so I turned it off and just listened to the regular FM broadcast.  

There's also more backseat room than you might expect; taller adults sit comfortably with enough legroom and headroom. There's not much in the way of extra space, but the Kona is space-efficient enough to carry four adults.

Cargo and Storage

The Kona's cargo area measures 19.2 cubic feet. When you need more space, the 60/40-split backseat folds flat with the cargo floor for 45.8 cubic feet of maximum cargo room. A cargo cover and underfloor organizer for odds and ends are standard. Storage areas include a small console bin and a spot for a smartphone near the standard USB port.

Safety

In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tests, the Kona received the highest rating of good (out of a possible good, acceptable, marginal or poor) in all crashworthiness tests. Additionally, the SUV's optional automatic emergency braking system is rated superior — the best possible ranking. Poor headlight performance and a marginal rating for Latch connector usability (something we also observed in our Car Seat Check) were its only shortcomings in IIHS tests.

To get the most advanced active safety features you must upgrade to an SEL or Ultimate trim; a $1,500 Tech Package for the SEL adds forward automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-keeping assist and a driver-drowsiness monitor. (All these safety features are standard on the top-of-the-line Ultimate model.)

Should I Buy It?

If you want a small SUV that delivers decent utility and passenger space, is relatively fun to drive, includes a lot of standard features and looks like little else on the road (especially now that the Jeep Cherokee has different styling), the Kona is worth a look. The basic interior and at-times-harsh ride may be deal-breakers for some, but those are the biggest shortcomings in an otherwise-compelling package.

Cars.com's Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with Cars.com's long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don't accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of Cars.com's advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.

Consumer Reviews

What drivers are saying

4.8
156 reviews — Read All reviews
Exterior Styling
(4.9)
Performance
(4.7)
Interior Design
(4.7)
Comfort
(4.8)
Reliability
(4.9)
Value For The Money
(4.8)

Read reviews that mention:

(4.0)

Cute girlie car with power!!

by MsDre from Beckley WV on December 15, 2018

I love my new car! It is perfect for females who want a sassy car that catches your eye. Great gas milage just wish the wheels had better design for such a cute car. Read full review

(5.0)

I love it!!! Awesome car!

by Lesa N from Anderson, SC on December 15, 2018

Roomy for a more compact SUV. I am gonna love the gas mileage. Backup camera, so kool! I LOVE THIS CAR!!! Thanks so much, Jordan! Read full review

Safety

Recalls and crash tests

Recalls

The 2018 Hyundai Kona currently has 0 recalls


Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

The 2018 Hyundai Kona has not been tested.

Warranty

New car and certified pre-owned programs by Hyundai

New Car Program Benefits

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    60 months / 60,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    60 months / unlimited distance

Certified Pre-Owned Program Benefits

  • Maximum Age/Mileage

    Newer than 5 model years/less than 60,000 miles

  • Basic Warranty Terms

    5 years/60,000 miles (from remainder of original)

  • Powertrain

    10 years/100,000 miles and 10 years/100,000 miles for hybrid/electric vechicle batteries.

  • Dealer Certification Required

    150-point inspection

  • Roadside Assistance

    Yes

  • View All CPO Program Details

Latest 2018 Kona Stories

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All Model Years for the Hyundai Kona

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Kona received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*

Latch or Latch system

B

Infant seat

D

Forward-facing convertible

(second row)

B

Rear-facing convertible

C

Booster

(second row)

B
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.
For complete details,

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker

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