Hyundai, Road Test Reviews, Vehicles

2018 Hyundai Kona 2.0L & 1.6L Turbo – Road Test

2018 Hyundai Kona,, Iain Shankland

At this years’ AutoShow in Toronto, my wife and I came away more than impressed with the entirely new Hyundai Kona, and when we heard it was going to be available as an EV we were even more excited that it could go to the top of our next future car list. We were drawn to the Kona at the show by the unique look and the incredible paint colour – Acid Yellow (Lime Twist in the U.S.). 2018 Hyundai Kona,, Iain ShanklandWe always want something out of the ordinary – something better than the typically boring silver/black/charcoal/white options that permeate society – this was right up our alley! At the show Hyundai couldn’t tell us when the Kona EV would be coming to our shores, or the cost, but when the regular Kona started appearing on the roads we knew we had to take one out for a spin. Thanks to our local dealership – Grimsby Hyundai ( ) we spent some time behind the wheel of the 2.0L Luxury version of the Kona and then a quick spin with the 1.6L Turbo. Usually when we get a car to test it’s for a week at a time. This test was a little different, we only did a 45-60 minute test drive but it was still enough time to give us a good feel for the vehicle.

2018 Hyundai Kona,, Iain ShanklandWhat Is It? 

  • Small CUV
  • Available in 5 models: 2.0L Essential, Preferred and Luxury and 1.6L Trend and Ultimate – the test vehicles being the Luxury & Ultimate
  • 0L Atkinson 4-cylinder engine with a 6-speed automatic or
  • 6L Turbo-GDI 4-cylinder engine and a 7-speed EcoShift Dual Clutch Transmission
  • Essential and Preferred are FWD (AWD optional +$2,000)
  • Luxury, 1.6L Trend and Ultimate are All-Wheel Drive with Active Cornering Control

How Does It Look?

  • I really like the look of the Kona – it’s different from just about every small CUV out there with the exception of the weird-looking Toyota C-HR
  • If you take some time to really look at the front of the Kona (not in pictures) it’s a bit of an odd-ball collection of bits from different vehicles stuffed onto the front. After looking at it for a while it starts to look awkward. The All-New 2019 Santa Fe has a similar look – there seems to be a trend toward mis-mash front-ends these days
  • The 1.6 Trend model comes with a two-tone body colour – the roof is either black or dark charcoal, depending on the body colour – we think the two-tone makes the Trend stand out from the rest

2018 Hyundai Kona,, Iain ShanklandWhat’s It Like Inside?

  • Driver’s position is almost perfect with a very good sightline all around – as you’d expect from being just a bit higher than a traditional car
  • The dashboard and centre console was surprisingly bland – I kinda expected more, based on the outside look of the vehicle
  • I liked the nice high screen – right within eyesight
  • The seats are quite firm, but are comfortable, especially as they are heated for those cold days in winter
  • The 8-way power driver’s seat with lumbar adjustment in the Ultimate was a big improvement – it just “felt” better
  • The available 8.0″ Head-Up Display projects important information like speed, navigation commands, and safety warnings into your line of sight – only available on the 1.6L models. Every car should have this as standard.
  • Optional 8″ touch-screen with Navigation is only available on the top-of-the-line Ultimate – stupid idea when it’s basically just software that turns the screen into a Navigation enabled vehicle
  • Who’s going to buy/lease a vehicle with only an AM/FM/MP3 audio system? Well that’s the only system available on the two lower-end models – even the upper-end models don’t come with a CD player, just improvements like HD radio and the completely useless SiriusXM
  • Rear seating was comfortable, but a third person back there would probably make things very uncomfortable for all three passengers
  • Cargo capacity, rear seats up 544 L, rear seats down 1,296 L

So How Quick Is It & How Does It Handle?

  • Very quick if you’re driving the 1.6L turbo model – anemic and sluggish if you drive the 2.0L version
  • There is a huge difference in response to the go pedal when you’ve got the 1.6L under the hood. You owe it to yourself to try it out before committing to the 2.0 – the extra cost is worth it just in the giddy-up-and-go feel from the turbo model
  • Handling is very good for either model – the suspension is firm-ish but soaks up bad roads with aplomb
  • Steering input is very good and the weight is just right
  • Sport mode made an almost discernible difference with crisper upshifts

Horsepower: 2.0L – 147 @ 6,200 rpm  // 1.6L Turbo – 175 @ 5,500 rpm
Torque (lb-ft):  2.0L – 132 @ 4,500 rpm  // 1.6L Turbo – 195 @ 1,500-4,500 rpm
Top Speed:  217 kph / 135 mph
0 – 60 mph: 2.0L – 10.0 seconds  //  1.6L Turbo – 6.6 seconds

2018 Hyundai Kona,, Iain ShanklandWhat Does It Cost?
To Buy…   For up-to-date pricing and options in your region visit:
Base Price Canada: $20,999 / As Tested: Luxury: $27,499   Ultimate: $31,799

5 Year/100,000 Km Comprehensive Limited Warranty & Powertrain Warranty
5 Year/Unlimited Km Roadside Assistance Program

To Operate…
Fuel economy (L/100 km) is rated at:

  • 0L: City – 8.6 //  Highway – 7.0  // Combined – 7.9
  • 6L T: City – 9.0 // Highway – 8.0  // Combined – 8.6

Noteworthy Standard Features

  • Base models come with Air conditioning, Cruise control, Power door locks and windows, Remote keyless entry system with alarm, Heated front seats, Anti-lock Braking System with Brake Assist and Electronic Brake-force Distribution, Electronic Stability Control with Traction Control System, 7″ display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • The leather-wrapped heated steering wheel is standard on all but the base model

2018 Hyundai Kona,, Iain ShanklandThe Competition
Chevrolet Trax, Kia Soul, Kia Nero, Mazda CX-3, Subaru Crosstrek, Toyota C-HR

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
Good: Looks great, drives great – especially the 1.6 version
Bad: Price is affordable but quickly rises as you get closer to the options you really want
Ugly: Cool colour choices for a cool looking car… or not. Pulse Red, Phantom Black and Chalk White are available across the entire lineup, but the cool colours are available in an odd assortment of different trim levels. For example the colour that really grabbed us at the auto show – Acid Yellow is only available on the 1.6T Trend and 1.6T Ultimate (it’s been discontinued entirely for the 2019 model year!)  Can no one just break out commit to offer some fun colour options!?

What’s The Verdict? 
A great little urban vehicle with plenty of choices to make your version unique. With a very comfortable entry/exit this CUV is perfect for everybody. If speed isn’t your thing the 2.0L will be more than adequate for most people, but the 1.6L turbo is a lot more fun to drive.

By the end of 2018 there will be an EV version of the Kona to add to the mix. With more than 400 kms of range – that should be a huge seller and would probably be the one I’d purchase.2018 Hyundai Kona,, Iain Shankland

Copyright © 2018 by Iain Shankland
Text: Iain Shankland / Images: Hyundai