Excellent Value and Performance
March 31, 2019
Trim: SEL, AWD (2018)
This car is an excellent choice if you're looking for AWD with good ground clearance in a small vehicle and excellent fuel economy. I have the SEL trim which comes with the 2.0L engine and 6-speed automatic transmission. I live in a city and commute through poorly paved and barely plowed farm land in New England with lots of snow and ice. This car performs exceptionally well.
We have had very cold temperatures (averaging -15 degrees F one week) and my Kona still averaged 27.2 mpg when driving in mostly city and farm roads. In warmer temperature and the same driving conditions, the car gets 29.8 mpg. Strictly highway in optimal conditions is about 31.8 mpg. *My fuel economy is actually measured and not based on the dashboard readings*
The transmission and powertrain take some time to get used to when going up and down steep hills. It often shifts to 5th gear with high revs to climb. However, after driving it for a month, it became more natural to optimize the revs and the car no longer lagged up hills or revved excessively. It was a transition for me since my previous car had a V8 engine. Although it certainly isn't a fast/powerful car, it performs very well overall and the power will get you up hills.
The handling is exceptional no matter the condition. It drives wherever you steer it, even in wet, sandy, icy, or snowy conditions. I've even given coworkers rides when their Subarus weren't able to handle the snow (through ice, 8 inches unplowed, mixtures, etc.) and I have the stock tires.
Sport mode is fun to drive in, although I haven't experimented enough to thoroughly review it. It improves acceleration and handling but does reduce fuel economy by 1 or 2 mpg. Normal mode is sufficient for everyday driving and gets excellent fuel economy for a car with AWD.
Many people have commented that the storage space is small The Kona is one of the smallest crossovers, which makes it excellent for easy handling and parking in cities, but the downside is the smaller trunk size. The trunk is large enough for everyday items such as groceries, backpacks, duffle bags, etc. There's plenty of foot room in the cabin, and fitting four people is comfortable; thus, I usually just put the rear seats down if I have to fit large objects in the car.
The biggest problem I have had is the headlight bulbs. The headlamps themselves are great but the stock bulbs barely lit 10 ft in front of me, so I replaced them with cheap H7 bulbs and they are much better. I should also mention that replacing the headlights was extremely simple. It took me less than 5 minutes to replace the low beams and high beams, which is great. Older Hyundai models were tougher to do this with so this is an excellent improvement.
I think that reviewing the style is completely subjective but I have gotten many compliments on it's appearance.
The more expensive trims come with a dual-clutch transmission, which is not optimal for city or hill driving, so I recommend this transmission for most drivers. It is only available with the 2.0L engine, and although it does not have superior power, it does have outstanding handling and overall performance. I recommend this, particularly if you're looking for an AWD commuting vehicle to handle sandy, off-road, or wintery (New England) conditions. It is definitely the greatest value out there for the price, particularly if you have poor driving conditions.