In the busy domain of small SUVs, the Hyundai Kona gets attention with its striking design, sporty behavior, broad selection of trim levels, and good value. Kona is updated for 2022 to amplify those qualities.
Changes include exterior and interior styling revisions, new alloy wheel designs, infotainment and connectivity upgrades, and additional safety features. Two new models join the lineup: a sportier N Line and sportiest N.
The 2022 Kona is available in front-wheel-drive SE, SEL, N Line, Limited and N trims. All-wheel drive is an option ($1,500) for every one except the N, which comes only in front-drive format. Hyundai also offers an electric version of the Kona, available in SEL and Limited trims.
Pricing starts at $22,545 (including a $1,245 destination charge) for an SE model with front-wheel drive. An all-wheel-drive Limited comes in at $31,345. The N version, in a league of its own pricewise and powerwise, is $35,445.
The 2022 Kona SE and SEL models are powered by a 147-horsepower four-cylinder engine together with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). N Line and Limited versions come with a more exuberant turbocharged four-cylinder putting out 195 horsepower and joined to a seven-speed dual clutch automatic transmission.
Performance-crazed people among us will be sated by the Kona N: 276 horsepower and 289 pound-feet of torque. Its transmission is an eight-speed dual clutch automatic.
Fuel economy ratings for the SE and SEL with front-wheel drive are 30 mpg city, 35 mpg highway, and 32 mpg combined. With AWD the numbers are 28/33/30. For N Line and Limited: FWD 29/35/32 and AWD 27/32/29. Here again the Kona N stands apart: 20/27/23, and be prepared to feed it premium fuel.
My tester was the Kona Limited model with all-wheel drive. It forgoes the budget pricing of the SE and SEL in favor of more indulgent standard features, but it’s still a bargain. A sampling of the Limited’s great-to-have equipment includes LED headlights and taillights (headlights have automatic high-beam function), power driver’s seat with lumbar, heated front seats, power sunroof, 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment and navigation system, wireless phone charging, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration, Harman Kardon premium audio, SiriusXM satellite radio, and a slew of driver-assist safety tech. Of course this was in addition to, or upgrading from, the many standard features found on the SE and SEL.
I couldn’t help but notice one tiny shortcoming in the otherwise adorable Kona, evinced by the seven-speed dual clutch automatic transmission. It happened during an attempt to squeeze into a cramped parking-lot space. Faced with the super low stop-and-go speed, the transmission couldn’t decide to stay in first gear, or not. So it went back and forth a couple of times. But I didn’t mind, I sympathized. I was struggling too.
The high-spirited little Kona subcompact with a turbocharged engine reinforced its reputation for fun during a week of driving on Snohomish County’s wonderful winding backroads and curvy two-lane mountain highways. Kona is even fun on I-5, showing respect and concern for its passengers by handling the bumps and dips with finesse, yet maintaining a sporty attitude all the while.
2022 HYUNDAI KONA LIMITED AWD
Base price, including destination charge: $31,345
Price as driven: $31,345
Mary Lowry is a member of the Motor Press Guild and a member and past president of the Northwest Automotive Press Association. She lives in Snohomish County. Vehicles are provided by automotive manufacturers as a one-week loan for evaluation purposes only. Manufacturers do not control content of the reviews.