The Hyundai Kona proves a car doesn't have to be pretty to be popular. This crossover was a hit straight off its introduction as a 2018 model, and in that first year sold in Canada about as quickly as Hyundai can crank 'em out. We assume that most of those buyers either like the Kona's quirky looks, or can at least look past that appearance to the car's handy size and decent value.
For 2019, the Kona is carried over with no major changes.
Hyundai offers the Kona in five distinct trims: Essential, Preferred, Luxury, Trend and Ultimate. The first two can be had with either front- or all-wheel drive, while the last three are standard all-wheelers.
There are two engines to choose from, too. Essential, Preferred and Luxury use a 2.0L four-cylinder making 147 hp and 132 lb-ft of torque, with a six-speed automatic transmission; the Trend and Ultimate packages trade that pairing for a 1.6L turbo four-cylinder that works with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission to make 175 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque.
The Kona demonstrates how popular subcompact crossovers have become in a short period of time. There's a lot of competition here: Hyundai pits this little utility against cars like the Nissan Kicks and Qashqai, the Honda HR-V, Toyota CH-R, the Ford Ecosport and the Mazda CX-3. All are well-done vehicles, but none of those can compete with the Kona's available turbo motor performance, and only the CH-R and CX-3 and the Kicks, with its optional two-tone roof treatment) look anywhere near as distinctive.
Essential trim comes standard with 16-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, automatic on/off headlights, heated side mirrors, intermittent front wipers, heated front seats, cloth upholstery, a six-way manual driver's seat, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, a six-speaker sound system, air conditioning, cruise control, power windows and door locks and keyless entry.
Preferred trim adds 17-inch wheels, fog lights, blind spot collision warning with lane change assist and rear cross traffic alert, leather-trimmed steering wheel and shifter, a heated steering wheel and passive keyless entry.
Luxury trim brings leather upholstery, an eight-way power driver's seat with lumbar, rear park distance warning, automatic climate control and a sunroof. This package also gets the basic Hyundai Smartsense advance safety suite, which includes lane keeping assist, driver attention warning and forward collision avoidance assist with pedestrian detection.
Trend trim adds 18-inch wheels, LED taillights, chrome-ringed grille, dark gray body cladding and a silver rear skid plate, rain-sensing wipers and a head-up display. This package also reverts to cloth upholstery and a manual driver's seat, and drops the Smartsense features.
Leather, the power seat and Smartsense come back in the Ultimate trim, which further gets LED headlights with active cornering lights, navigation in an 8.0-inch touchscreen display, wireless smartphone charging, a colour digital gauge cluster display and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Ultimate also augments the Smartsense group with automatic high beams.
Hyundai's fuel consumption estimates are 8.6/7.0 L/100 km (city/highway) with the 2.0L engine and FWD; 9.2/7.8 with the 2.0L and AWD; and 9.0/8.0 for Konas with the 1.6L turbo engine and AWD.