No longer the youngest sibling in the Hyundai crossover lineup, the 2020 Kona has certainly started to come into its own as it gains in popularity with consumers in an ever-crowded market.

You are starting to see the compact crossover at every turn on Canadian roads, and, with the added benefits of also being offered as an EV, the Kona is already set up for success in a changing automotive landscape.

2020 Hyundai Kona Ultimate AWD

2020 Hyundai Kona Ultimate AWD

With a starting price of $21,249 for the lowest of the five available trims, the gas-powered Kona is certainly an attractive option for buyers on a budget who still want a vehicle with looks, room for five and a decent amount of cargo. (Hyundai’s newest CUV offering, the Venue, is even more budget conscious.)

Our tester was the top-of-the-line Ultimate AWD trim, which is considerably pricier at $35,073, but does come with a lot of features, as well as some stylish exterior and interior modifications.

There are two engine options on the Kona, starting with a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine (147 horsepower and 132 ft-lb of torque). The Ultimate trim, however, comes with a turbocharged 1.6L four-cylinder powerplant that delivers considerably more power at 175 horses and 195 ft-lb of torque.

For a compact sport utility vehicle like the Kona, those are very good numbers and give it some real jump.

Featuring an all-wheel drive system, it is also fitted with a 7-speed EcoShift Dual Clutch automatic transmission.

Where the Kona was a definite disappointment for me was in the fuel economy department as my results were nowhere near the automaker’s claims of 8.6 litres per 100 kilometres.

My average? 11.4 L/100 km. Clearly I was doing something wrong.

But Hyundai is doing something right with its styling lately, and the Kona is no exception.

Along with that, the Kona has some pretty nice colour options to spice things up, from Blue Lagoon to Tangerine Comet or the Acid Yellow featured here.

The Kona has a large central grille that dominates the front end, and the headlights are very slim slits (tried by a few other automakers with less than ideal results). The Ultimate trim also has several nice chrome accents that highlight the grille.

In profile, the Kona has some shapeliness to it thanks to accent lines and wheel haunches that draw the eye in.

And the rear end makes the Kona appear wider than it really is while also repeating the slim lighting feature on the taillights.

On the inside, the Kona Ultimate is surprisingly nice – or maybe not that surprising given Hyundai’s evolution of late.

2020 Hyundai Kona Ultimate AWD

2020 Hyundai Kona Ultimate AWD (US model shown)

The layout of the dash and controls is logical and easy to follow, materials are very good for the price point and the Ultimate comes with leather seats and other features. There’s still a lot of plastic bits on the inside, but you can almost forgive that given the other features.

If there’s a nit to pick about the interior, it’s the fact that it can get quite loud while driving thanks to wind and road noise intrusion.

Although this is a five-seater, the three rear occupants better get along because it will be tight quarters.

The cargo hold is a good size for this CUV, although I did find the cover to be more trouble than it’s worth if you plan to carry taller items.

The infotainment system on the Kona Ultimate boasts a large 8-inch screen and comes standard with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a navigation system and more.

It’s one of the better systems on the market as it is easy to learn, while inputs generate quick responses.

The Ultimate trim also comes with wireless device charging for your convenience.

Out on the road, the Kona is a nice overall package despite a few hiccups.

The transmission, while mostly smooth, does feel a little clumsy at lower speeds and in traffic – which is where a lot of commuters spend way too much time these days.

However, when the road is clear, the transmission does well.

The Kona’s handling and agility, combined with the turbo engine, result in a mostly fun and smooth ride. The suspension does a good job of handling rougher pavement.

The Kona also comes standard with driver safety aids such as collision warning, lane-keep assist, a driver attention monitor, rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot monitoring and adaptive cruise control.

It’s a fairly complete package, although not all features are offered on lower trims.

There are many options to choose from in the compact crossover market these days, and the Kona is one of the newest entrants into the field. As such, it may have some catching up to do, but by all accounts, it has what it takes to be a worthwhile competitor.

2020 Hyundai Kona Ultimate AWD
Price as tested: $35,073.00
Freight: $1,810.00
Configuration: Front engine/All-wheel drive
Engine/transmission: 1.6-litre turbo 4-cylinder/ 7-speed EcoShift Dual Clutch Transmission
Power/torque: 175 horsepower/ 195 ft-lb of torque
Fuel (capacity): Regular (50 L)
Combined fuel economy ratings (L/100 km): 8.6 L/100 km
Observed fuel economy (L/100 km): 11.4 L/100 km
Warranties: 5-years/100,000 km (basic)
Competitors: Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-3, Toyota C-HR, Subaru Crosstrek, Jeep Renegade

Links:
Hyundai Canada
Edmunds.com

Road Test: 2020 Hyundai Kona Ultimate AWD
Equipment90%
Styling88%
Comfort90%
Handling 90%
Performance88%
Storage85%
Pros
  • Available as an EV
  • Pleasing shape
  • Solid turbocharged engine
Cons
  • Cargo space is good, not great
  • Lots of hard plastics in interior
  • Road noise is intrusive
89%Overall Score
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