By WTOP special contributor Brian Armstead
While the first-generation Hyundai Kona, introduced in 2018, was a solid offering, the second generation 2024 Hyundai Kona is even better. It’s longer, wider and more refined. It continues to be a great buy in the small SUV segment.
Historic Fells Point in Baltimore, Maryland, served as the backdrop for this Kona media drive. Fells Point is a must-see gem, filled with colonial and cultural history, and a host of great shops, restaurants, bars and eateries.
The new Kona is available in four distinct trims: SE, SEL, N Line and Limited. While our drive focused on the internal combustion variants, a five-mile stint in the soon-to-be-released Kona full-electric also showed the second generation is better than the first.
“The all-new Kona and Kona Electric continue to build upon our extremely successful first-generation model, with outstanding efficiency, innovative technologies, distinctive styling and comprehensive safety features,” José Muñoz, president and CEO, Hyundai Motor North America said in a news release.
Kona Exterior: No one would fault you if you thought the Kona gasoline model was a full-electric as the styling is “futuristic,” like most EVs. That’s not to say it’s ugly though, as the Kona is quite handsome.
Kona styling cues feature an aerodynamic nose and rear liftgate, sculpted wheel arches and chrome lines connecting the belt line to the rear spoiler. In addition, available vivid exterior colors like “Neoteric Yellow, Ultimate Red and Soultronic Orange” add pizazz to Kona’s great design.
Kona Interior: According to Hyundai, the new Kona was designed with a larger interior “living space” to embrace a wider range of customer lifestyles. The driver-centric front row is accentuated by a floating horizontal C-Pad with integrated, dual 12.3-inch panoramic display screens.
A shift-by-wire gear selector has been relocated from the center console to a stalk behind the steering wheel, allowing more storage in the open console area. The layout emphasizes Kona’s larger, wider interior, providing a versatile and comfortable space for driver and passengers. The front seats are 30% slimmer to maximize rear passenger legroom and the second row “Curveless Bench Seat” also enhances available space.
New for Kona is Software Over The Air (SOTA) updates. Major computerized vehicle electronics such as navigation, driver cluster, control units and driver assist systems can be “flashed” to correct or update Kona software.
Drive Experience: There are two powertrain offerings in the new Kona: SE and SEL trims are equipped with a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine producing 147 horsepower paired to a “Smartstream” Intelligent Variable Transmission.
“N Line” and “Limited” trims offer a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder turbocharged engine generating 190 horsepower paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Our media drive model was the Limited trim with the turbocharged engine.
Acceleration is good, especially from standstills like traffic-lights, and on highway entry-ramp acceleration. The eight-speed tranny is super smooth between almost imperceptible shifts.
Depending on trim, Kona comes with front-wheel drive (FWD) or HTRAC all-wheel drive (AWD) for better foul weather capability.
Ride quality is very good, as is handling on curvy roads. Kona is pretty quiet at all speeds and across a variety of road surfaces.
- SE FWD- $24,100
- SEL FWD — $25,450
- N Line FWD — $30,650
- Limited FWD — $31,650
- SE AWD — $25,600
- SEL AWD — $26,950
- N Line AWD — $32,150
- Limited AWD — $33,150
All trim pricing is exclusive of a $1,115 Inland Freight and Handling Charge.
Fuel Economy: Combined EPA ratings range from 26-31 mpg depending on engine and FWD/AWD platform.
Safety: Kona is equipped with Hyundai’s standard “SmartSense” advanced safety and convenience technology, including Forward Collision-avoidance Assist with Pedestrian/Cyclist Detection, Lane Following Assist/Lane Keeping Assist, Blind-spot Collision Warning, Rear Cross-traffic Collision Avoidance-Assist, Rearview monitor with parking guidance, Safe Exit Warning, High Beam Assist, Intelligent Speed Limit Assist, Driver Attention Warning and Rear Seat Occupant Alert.
Things to Know: Hyundai developed the new Kona platform with an electrified powertrain first, in line with the company’s accelerated electrification strategy that will bring 11 new Hyundai EVs to market globally by 2030.
- Unbeatable value
- Runs on regular gas
- Great warranty
- Tweety bird single note horn in a big SUV/truck world
- A plug-in hybrid version would be a great bridge between gas and electric models