TodayApril 15, 2022

2018 Hyundai Kona drinking Kona on Kona

Kona, Hawaii – After two hundred miles of driving from the Kona Coast of the big island sea-level to 6,600 feet in altitude, through rain, clouds, and humidity my colleagues and I met up, and they all asked the same question, What did you think of the car?

2018 Hyundai Kona car, crossover, the SUV or the vehicle

2018 Hyundai Kona car, crossover, the SUV or the vehicle

Not what did you think of the crossover, the SUV or the vehicle, but what did you think of the car. It’s subtle, but it says a lot; the small crossover that Hyundai calls Kona has the feel of a car, and the functionality of a crossover. The proportions of the vehicle are that of a small crossover while the feel of the vehicle when driving it is more like a car.

It’s not that people dislike cars, it’s that they like specific properties of a crossover, such as the height of your seat and functionality of rear space room. Hyundai has proportioned its crossovers to fit in the fastest-growing segments of the industry; small XSUV (Kona), subcompact SUV (Tucson), compact SUV (Santa Fe), and the SUV (Santa Fe SL).

When I get into an SUV/crossover as a driver, the first thing I do is position my seat higher because I have convinced myself that it is a safety issue, that I can see better over the other vehicles.

cargo room for the 2018 Hyundai Kona is 19.2 cubic feet

cargo room for the 2018 Hyundai Kona is 19.2 cubic feet

One of the other reasons there is such tremendous growth in all SUV categories is the functionality of the cargo space. There are many 5-passenger sedans that have large trunks, but the ability to put the 2nd-row seats down and use all the space in the cabin makes the SUV/CUV much more desirable. The Hyundai Sonata has about the same front headroom as the Kona, but the cargo room for the Sonata is 9.9 cubic feet while the cargo room for the Kona is 45.8 cubic feet of storage space with the rear seats folded down.

If sales of cars are losing out to SUVs, it might be because of the functionality of the crossover and the miles per gallon of the XSUV.


The 2018 Hyundai Kona SE and SEL use the 2.0-liter 4-cylinder Atkinson engine produces 147 horsepower at 6200 rpm and 132 lb.-ft. of torque at 4500 rpm, paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. According to the Hyundai website, the 2.0L MPI Atkinson engine gets 27/33/30 MPG City/Hwy/Combined.

2018 Hyundai Kona turbo engine

2018 Hyundai Kona turbo engine

The 2018 Hyundai Kona Limited and Ultimate use the 1.6-liter 4-cylinder direct-injected, turbocharged engine generating 175 horsepower at 5500 rpm and 195 lb.-ft. of torque from 1500-4500 rpm coupled to a seven-speed EcoShift® dual-clutch transmission (DCT). According to the Hyundai website, the 1.6L Turbo GDI engine gets 28/32/30 MPG City/Hwy/Combined.

We drove the Ultimate the entire 200 miles, through traffic, altitude, and every weather condition the Big Island had to offer. We enjoyed the car so much that the next day we were out and about at 8:30 am to drive it again and not back till we had to come back to the Mauna Kea Hotel.

You hear of couples doing it all the time, making a list of names for the baby that will be arriving in just a few months. Hyundai did the same thing, creating a name for a vehicle before they designed the small compact SUV.

2018 Hyundai Kona HUD with polarized sunglasses

2018 Hyundai Kona HUD can be seen with polarized sunglasses

The big things in the little car that set this small compact apart from the rest of the vehicles in the segment isn’t one thing, it’s the sum of all things. The power-tilt sunroof, the wireless device charging that warns you if you leave your iPhone in the car, the Heads-up-display (HUD) that you can see with your polarized sunglasses on, and pops-up vertically. Three years of complimentary service of Hyundai’s connected car care service is another plus, as well as CarPlay and Android Auto which is standard on all trim levels. Infinity premium audio, a Harman product, with eight speakers, subwoofer and Clari-Fi music-restoration technology are standard on the Kona. The ability to remote start a Hyundai is powerful and was done over 12 million times in 2017.

The technology my colleague and I liked the most were how well the lane-keep assist worked on the Ultimate trim level we were driving. We would turn it off and on in disbelief that it worked so well. It didn’t bounce from one side to the other, keeping us in the middle of our lane. The one technology I would like to see on the next Kona is adaptive cruise control. The Kona has the ability to have ACC, but it’s not in the car. I expect that to be remedied quickly. There was nothing else lacking on the 2018 Hyundai Kona Ultimate.

Hyundai Group owns its own steel company and has spent years creating high strength steel. The Kona is produced with 52 percent advanced high strength steel from along with structural adhesives used in aerospace. The Kona will be built in Korea. Till then, I will be sipping Kona coffee at Hula Daddy’s, on Kona, Hawaii, in my Hyundai Kona.

Special financing and leasing are available through Hyundai:

1.9% APR financing for up to 60 months or $199 per month for 36 months with $2,399 due at lease signing. The Kona comes with a five-year/60,000 mile warranty. There are seven different exterior colors, but my favorite, and Kenny Lee’s, president and CEO of Hyundai Motor America, is Lime Twist. Add in the black interior with a lime twist trim.

Kenny Lee's, president and CEO of Hyundai Motor America, is Lime Twist

Kenny Lee, president and CEO of Hyundai Motor America, favorite color is Lime Twist

Competitors versus the 2018 Hyundai Kona

Chevy Trax
Honda HR-V
Jeep Renegade
Toyota CHR
Subaru Crosstrek
Mazda CX3
Ford Ecosport
Nissan Kicks

2018 Hyundai Kona Models and Pricing

2018 Hyundai Kona SE – $19,500

2018 Hyundai Kona SEL – $21,150

2018 Hyundai Kona Limited – $24,700

2018 Hyundai Kona Ultimate $27,400

2018 Hyundai Kona Models and Pricing

2018 Hyundai Kona Models and Pricing

Lou Ann Hammond

Lou Ann Hammond is the CEO of Carlist and Driving the Nation. She is the co-host of Real Wheels Washington Post carchat every Friday morning and is the Automotive, energy correspondent for The John Batchelor Show and a Contributor to Automotive Electronics magazine headquartered in Korea. Hammond is a founding member of the Women's World Car of the Year #WWCOTY, and board member of the Women in Automotive.

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