Hyundai is catching the wave of subcompact utes with a “far out” look and a name inspired by the big island of Hawaii… the 2018 Kona.

The ruggedly sporty looking package launches Hyundai’s new SUV styling direction…while also borrowing ideas from others. We can see elements of both the ill-fated Pontiac Aztek and current gen Jeep Cherokees here.  

The Kona rides the waves on an all-new platform, specially designed for this cute-ute, and not yet shared with any Kia.

Base models fit a 147-hp 2.0-liter I-4 with a six-speed automatic; output comparable to other entry level small utes. 

But for a big surge, we chose the 175-horsepower Gamma 1.6-liter turbocharged I4 with the quick shifting seven-speed dual-clutch automatic….

GARRICK ZIKAN: So here we are in the driver’s seat of the Hyundai Kona. Up there the turbocharged engine is doing the work…and acceleration is quick. The steering has a good amount of weight and the Kona is very nimble. All of these characteristics come together to create a sporty driving experience when you’re sitting here.

JOHN DAVIS: Front-wheel drive is standard… all-wheel drive is an option with either engine. Where all-four wheels have power, there’s not only better contact with the road, but the rear torsion beam is replaced with a multi-link independent suspension. That kept the ride comfortable, and cornering better under control. 

The Euro inspired floating touch screen is standard… so are Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The field of sub-compact crossovers is already very competitive. The 2018 Hyundai Kona takes a lively look and a spirited approach to paddle past the bro’s and hang ten. Dealers have them now, starting at under $20,000.


  • Engine: 1.6 liter / 2.0 liter
  • Horsepower: 175 / 147
  • Price: starting under $20,000