The name Hyundai Kona seems to me like an odd combination of words, until I think of it as South Korean Aloha, and then it’s irresistible.
Kona is a subcompact crossover SUV with seating for five, but rear-seat passengers had best be small. Two midsize people could sit there with quite a bit of comfort, though.
Kona has bold but reasonable exterior styling, fun and sporty driving character, good fuel economy, and attractive pricing.
The 2020 Hyundai Kona is offered in SE, SEL, SEL Plus, Limited, and Ultimate trims. Each one comes standard with front-wheel drive and is available with all-wheel drive for an extra $1,400.
The SEL Plus is a new trim this year, formed from the previous SEL with Tech Package. It has a 4.2-inch color multi-information display formerly found only on the Ultimate model. Wireless phone charging is another nice feature it inherits from the Ultimate.
For its part, the Ultimate gets adaptive cruise control this year, and Limited models with the Sunset Orange paint color offer the option of adding orange interior accents.
The Iron Man Edition model from last year has been discontinued.
Kona’s 2020 pricing starts at $21,395 for a front-drive SE model, including a destination charge of $1,095. For a full-boat Ultimate with all-wheel drive, you’re looking at $30,445.
SE, SEL, and SEL Plus variants have a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 147 horsepower, coupled with a six-speed automatic transmission.
Limited and Ultimate models come with a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder producing 175 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque. Its partner is a seven-speed dual clutch automatic transmission.
Fuel economy ratings for the 2.0-liter engine with front-wheel drive are 27 mpg city, 33 mpg highway, and 30 mpg combined. With all-wheel drive the numbers are 26/30/28 mpg.
The turbo engine is rated 28/32/30 mpg with front drive, and 26/29/27 mpg with AWD.
I drove the 2020 Hyundai Kona Ultimate AWD model for this review. Its feisty turbo engine and seven-speed automatic made a beautiful couple on the wonderful winding wooded roads of Snohomish County. Meanwhile, the driver’s seat within the high-quality Kona interior remained perfectly comfortable on the highway at all speeds and throughout varying degrees of pavement quality.
An 8-inch touchscreen with navigation is standard on the Kona Ultimate. It includes Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration, SiriusXM radio, and a 315-watt Infinity audio system with eight speakers.
Carpeted floor mats were the only optional item on my tester. The Ultimate model comes standard with a hefty array of comfort and convenience features as well as safety equipment. There are a few automotive features I especially appreciate in general, which are not always included on cars costing more than the Kona, but they were all there: LED headlights, a sunroof, rain-sensing windshield wipers, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert.
Kona’s black fender cladding gets mixed reactions. The dark Thunder Gray paint of my tester made the cladding nearly unnoticeable, and the muted contrast between paint and cladding makes the Kona look more dignified. If you’re not into dignity and prefer a lot of flamboyance in your ride, definitely go for the Lime Twist paint. Spoiler alert: It isn’t available on every model.
2020 HYUNDAI KONA ULTIMATE AWD
Base price, including destination charge: $30,445
Price as driven: $30,580
Mary Lowry is an independent automotive writer who lives in Snohomish County. She is a member of the Motor Press Guild, and a member and past president of the Northwest Automotive Press Association. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturers as a one-week loan for review purposes only. In no way do the manufacturers control the content of the reviews.