By Lethbridge Herald on March 9, 2018.
New Kona the right fit for the urban environment
What does the Hyundai Kona have in common with the coffee of the same name?
They’re both invigorating, smooth, captivating and irresistible. Of course, their names both have connections to Hawaii.
And both will be appealing in any kind of weather.
Hyundai’s Kona is the Korean automaker’s newest product to hit showrooms. The Kona is so new that Transport Canada doesn’t even have its fuel economy ratings online and dealer are taking names of interested buyers.
Integrity Hyundai, which provided this week’s tester, just got in its first two Kona models and graciously provided The Herald with one for a ride.
The Kona, in Hyundai’s words, is “a new breed of SUV to take on the city.” The company says the Kona offers the best of both the SUV and car worlds. The best way to describe the Kona is a four-door, slightly raised small crossover.
Available in both front-wheel and all-wheel-drive models with a choice of two engines, the Kona is a technologically-sophisticated car/SUV that is going to appeal to a younger driver or anyone who wants compact dimensions and a reasonable amount of performance.
The base engine in the Kona is a 2.0-litre inline four-cylinder engine producing 147 horsepower. It’s mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.
The engine in this week’s Ultimate AWD model is a turbocharged, 175-hp 1.6-litre inline four with a seven-speed dual clutch transmission. Combined fuel economy, according to the spec sheet on the tester, is 8.6 litres/100 km or 33 miles per gallon.
The Ultimate lives up to its name with a luxurious interior featuring leather seats (heated up front), a heated steering wheel, eight-inch high-resolution touch screen with navigation and rear view mirror, a power sunroof and eight-speaker Infinity sound system with amplifier.
Seats are well-bolstered for enthusiastic driving and the tablet-sized touchscreen looks like it was actually designed for a car, unlike so many others. The split-folding rear bench seat has 34.6 inches of legroom and should fit two average-sized adults comfortably.
The Ultimate also includes a wireless charging pad, push-button start with a proximity key, LED headlights, rain-sensing wipers, automatic climate control, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and roof side rails among its goodies.
The head-up display can be raised or lowered, depending upon driver preference, and offers a range of information at a glance. I’m a long-time believer in head-up displays and Hyundai deserves credit for making one available on the Kona. It’s an easy way to keep a driver focused on the road and the Kona’s is subtle, rather than distracting.
Priced at $33,754, the Ultimate gives buyers a huge amount for its price but even lower-priced models come well equipped with such stuff as heated seats and a seven-inch touchscreen with rearview camera.
Cargo space with the rear seats folded is 45.8 cubic feet, which decreases to 19.2 when the rear bench is occupied. Obviously, the Kona is not a big family hauler but Hyundai’s own description suggests that’s not the intended mission of this vehicle.
It’s mainly focused on the urbanite, presumably one with few or no kids and a carefree lifestyle that perhaps is focused on the city lifestyle.
But a highway test in the Kona proved to me that for a couple of people or a solo driver, the Kona is crossover that is capable of eating up a lot of miles in comfort.
The Kona has a decent seat height and great front headroom, even with the sunroof. What’s especially impressive about this vehicle is its fit and finish and superb quietness at highway speed. And the performance is absolutely rousing.
Floor the accelerator even on a steep incline and the Kona rockets forward with nary a sound. It’s performance is enhanced by aggressive exterior styling that truly makes the Kona distinctive from anything else on the road.
An information display in the gauge cluster can give a range of details including instant and average fuel economy and distance to empty.
Controls for the sound/navigation system are right at hand with a pair of big knobs for adjusting volume and changing radio channels if a person doesn’t want to use the switches on the steering wheel.
The Kona has a comprehensive safety suite including driver attention warning, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot detection with rear cross traffic alert and lane change assist. The Kona also has high-beam assist, lane keep assist and rear parking assist sensors.
Its dimensions make the Kona an ideal size for city driving and parking.
In an era when automakers are becoming more focused on smaller SUVS, the Kona really stands out in the crowd.
It has great styling, good performance and a quality interior that has to be ridden in to be appreciated.
Hyundai clearly understood a changing marketplace and crafted an outstanding vehicle that is truly made for the times.
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