NewCarTestDrive

2018 Hyundai Kona

The 2018 Hyundai Kona is a new model, making it four crossovers for the Korean manufacturer. Kona will be the smallest and lowest-cost Hyundai SUV, smaller than the compact Tucson. Above them are the Santa Fe Sport, and midsize Santa Fe.

Kona moves into a fast-growing and youthful niche, to contend against cars that include the Toyota C-HR and the Nissan Juke. It has a high seating position, good ground clearance, split-fold rear seats, and cargo space with two levels.

Kona rides on original architecture. It’s 164.0 inches long, 70.9 inches wide, 61.0 inches tall, and rides on a 102.4-inch wheelbase.

Two four-cylinder engines are available, a 2.0-liter with six-speed automatic transmission, or 1.6-liter turbo with seven-speed dual clutch automatic, the same powertrain used in hotter models of the Elantra and Veloster.

Kona is front-wheel drive, with all-wheel drive available.

Taking a peek at what’s possible, the Kona will be sold around the world as a high-mileage 1.6-liter turbodiesel, and 1.0-liter turbo. A battery-electric Kona may be in the Korean carmaker’s future, as well. Rumors give it a range of 200 miles, to contend with the Chevy Bolt.

Hyundai hadn’t announced pricing for the Kona when this was written, but it’s expected to be less than $20,000 for the 2.0-liter engine and six-speed automatic.

Navigation, in-car data, a rearview camera, a head-up display, smartphone wireless charging, Bluetooth with audio streaming, and HD and satellite radio, are all optional. Available safety equipment will include forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking, active lane control and blind-spot monitors.

The wedgy Kona looks ahead to the styling of the next generation of Hyundai SUV’s. It has stout fenders, armor-like body cladding, and a contrasting roof. Its LED headlamps ride on the upper corners of a tall mesh grille, with stubby roof pillars, slim taillamps, and deeply sculpted doors.

The cabin has a softly styled dash with a central touchscreen that’s 5, 7 or 8 inches, depending on the infotainment display. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay will come with the upper infotainment system.

The base four-cylinder is a non-turbo 2.0-liter with a 6-speed automatic. It makes 147 horsepower and 132 pound-feet, and can accelerate from zero to sixty miles per about in about 10 seconds, and reach a top speed of 121 mph.

The 1.6-liter turbo makes 175 horsepower and 196 pound-feet of torque with a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic, so it should be a lot more fun. Hyundai predicts 0-60 mph times of 7.7 seconds and a top speed of 131 mph.

There are three driving modes, eco, normal and sport, that alter the power delivery and shift timing.

Kona uses a strut suspension in front; in the rear, the front-drive models sport a rear torsion beam, while all-wheel driver models use a multi-link setup that promises car-like comfort and ride quality. All-wheel drive versions may be helpful in wet and wintry conditions.

Sam Moses contributed to this preview, with staff reports.