“2018 Hyundai Kona Ultimate AWD”
Hyundai’s New Small SUV takes Hawaii’s Big Island by Storm
Kona, Hawaii – Hyundai is positioning their 2018 Hyundai Kona as a crossover for “Urban Adventurers” and laying claim that it breaks the mold, setting a new benchmark for the compact SUV class.
The all-new Hyundai Kona is everything that one could want in a compact SUV or crossover, delivering a flashy, youthful oriented design in a package that is fun to drive with a sporty character loaded with the leading safety technology and advanced Infotainment features in a vehicle that’s affordable and efficient.
The Hyundai folks refer to the exterior styling of the new Kona as “Urban Smart Armor” with an aggressive roomy form that displays a low and wide stance, ready to successfully take on a vast variety of both urban and suburban adventure-oriented motoring scenarios
Up front, the Kona leads off with its familial mesh patterned, cascading grille flanked by pronounced “wing-like” fender flares. The headlight design features a separated treatment with lower LED headlights along with upper LED daytime running lights for a distinctive look.
In profile, the Kona displays a long wheelbase, but with short body overhangs fore and aft to ensure an athletic handling ability, while delivering a confident stability at highway speeds. A strong horizontal side character line and low roof line serve up a bold, athletic and purposeful overall form along with sculpted features and sporty contours. Contrasting Black polymer “armor” panels over the wheel wells, rockers and both front and rear fascias provide protection as well as a unique look that speaks to the vehicles functionality when the going gets rough.
Bringing up the rear, the slim rear brake lights , turn indicators and reverse lamps appear as separate units encased in the protective armor originating at the “C” pillar garnish. An integrated spoiler lip appears above the rear glass.
The cabin provides spacious, comfortable surroundings with a horizontal treatment emphasizing the Kona’s width. The interior layout is both simple and sophisticated in contrast to the adventuresome exterior flavor. The audio/navigation display showcases advanced infotainment features and the standard floating seven-inch touchscreen includes Android Auto™ and Apple CarPlay™ capability. HVAC controls are surrounded by soft, flowing details contributing to an experience that enhances the comfort-focused environment.
The Hyundai Kona is available in four levels of trim including: the base SE model, followed by the SEL trim level and the more upscale Limited and Ultimate trims.
Two gasoline engines are available to power the Hyundai Kona: a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder Atkinson Cycle engine that produces 147 horsepower at 6200 rpm along with 132 lb.-ft. of torque at 4500 rpm is paired with a six-speed automatic SHIFTRONIC™ that provides a manual-shifting mode and includes an overdrive lock-up torque transmission will deliver motive force to SE and SEL model Konas. Limited and Ultimate trims draw their power from a Gamma 1.6-liter 4-cylinder direct-injected, turbocharged engine generating 175 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 195 lb.-ft. of torque in a range from 1500-4500 rpm. Peak torque delivery starts at only 1,500 rpm and holds through 4,500 rpm, for low-rpm responsiveness and performance in everyday driving conditions, with the turbocharger featuring low-inertia turbo-spooling response characteristics for greater efficiency and engine longevity. The turbo engine mates to a seven-speed EcoShift dual clutch automatic transmission.
The Kona is available in either a FWD configuration or with an optional AWD system. The all-new Kona compact platform was developed to provide customers with true CUV capabilities, CUV-level ground clearance and an elevated, command-seating position to ensure better visibility and comfort on long journeys, as well as easy ingress and egress. Kona offers occupants generous interior space by optimizing an underfloor layout, including the AWD drivetrain and exhaust system, thereby reducing central tunnel intrusion on interior space. The optional AWD system and drivetrain is packaged to provide a spacious interior despite its compact exterior dimensions. Kona also benefits from strategic use of structural adhesives at high stress points on the chassis and extensive use of hot-stamping methods for greater rigidity.
The Hyundai Kona was developed focused on enhanced driving dynamics and responsive performance to deal with a variety of urban and multi-surface driving conditions. The front suspension features a McPherson strut system using an innovative sub-frame bushing design for enhanced comfort and reduced NVH. The MacPherson strut design uses gas-filled shock absorbers and a hollow stabilizer bar for lower weight and enhanced responsiveness. Available 18-inch alloy wheels with 235/45R18 tires provide agile handling character on a variety of road surfaces.
Differentiated rear suspension designs were specifically developed for 2WD and AWD models. 2WD models feature a rigid torsion beam design for overall stability and control, while AWD drive models utilize an independent, dual-arm multi-link design, optimizing ride comfort and stability in the wider ranges of off-road suspension articulation. Rear suspension control arm design also minimizes camber and toe changes throughout the wider suspension travel range.
Kona also offers Drive Mode Select, allowing the driver to customize dynamic responses, such as steering feel, transmission and overall powertrain responsiveness to their preferences, and to changing road or traffic conditions. Two differentiated driving modes (Normal and Sport) optimize the torque distribution and shift mapping. In Sport mode, there is a greater emphasis on acceleration with earlier downshifts on braking, while Normal mode slightly prioritizes fuel economy over performance with a more conservative, lower-rpm shift schedule.
My Texas-based drive partner and I drew a Kona in Ultimate trim and an AWD configuration. It sported a Surf Blue metallic exterior finish and a patterned Black cloth interior. The base price was set $28,700., with the as tested price coming to $29,775., after adding the Carpeted Floor mats and Inland Freight and Handling costs. We didn’t drive the 2.0-liter Atkinson Cycle powered Kona as there were only a couple available for short drive loops from the hotel after returning from the second day’s chosen activity and time was limited, so relaxing with a couple of Mai Tais seemed the better option.
Unlike many new vehicle launch programs which generally consist of a quick in and out time frame, the Hyundai Kona program included two days of driving on the big island with the second day allowing time for an “adventure activity” of choice including: an all day drive to the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park; a nine leg Zipline over a 2 and a half mile stretch and Umauma Falls; a Helicopter tour over the Kohala/ Hamakua Coast; or a Volcano Ocean Tour. My drive partner and I chose the Zipline experience, which turned out to be incredible.
SUMMARY: The 2018 Hyundai Kona Ultimate AWD, which is unusually attractive and appealing In terms of its styling, proved to be an ideal small crossover, capable of performing all functions as well or better than expected from a diminutive craft.
Acceleration from the 1.6-liter turbocharged four-banger was satisfyingly adequate, even if a little on the buzzy side when prodded in a more spirited manner. But then most four cylinders tend to make their presence known when pushed hard. On the other hand, when using the paddle shifters, engine braking power seemed to be lacking in the regular drive mode. Entering the sport mode took care of this issue, and engine braking was much more effective.
Controls and switchgear are well placed and intuitive in terms of their operation. The ride quality is firm but comfortable, never entering a level of harshness. Handling characteristics lean to the sporty, fun side of the equation thanks to the motor driven, column mounted, power rack and pinion steering. Almost missing our turn for the zipline operation, my driving partner nearly locked the Kona up, whipped hard to the right, drifting properly into the turn without any upset.
Our test Kona was loaded with safety features, including: Blind Spot Collision Warning, Rear Cross-traffic Collision Warning, Reverse Parking Distance Warning, Lane Change Assist; Rearview Camera with Dynamic Guidance; Vehicle Stability Management system; Electronic Stability Control with Traction Control and Brake Assist; Tire Pressure Monitoring System with Individual Tire Indicator; Hill Start Assist Control; ABS with EBD; and Airbags front – advanced: driver, front passenger, occupant classification system, driver and front passenger side-impact, side air curtains, front and rear passengers and driver’s knee, and driver and front passenger side-impact airbags. Also included is Hyundai’s Smart Sense with Forward Collision Avoidance Assist with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Keeping Assist, Driver Attention Warning and High Beam Assist.
Connectivity and Infotainment issues are well covered as well including a Head Up Display.
Essentially, in the final analysis, the 2018 Hyundai Kona Ultimate AWD seems to have it all – good looks, pleasant surroundings, admirable performance and an attractive price point, especially when considering the impressive feature content level. It is destined to do well in a highly competitive segment, outshining a lot of other players. Watch for a fully electric, quick charging, long range Kona to join the lineup shortly.
SPECIFICATIONS: 2018 Hyundai Kona Ultimate AWD
Base Price: $28,700.
Price as Tested: $29,775.
Engine Type and Size: 1.6-liter , DOHC, 16-valve Dual Continuously Variable Valve Timing (D-CVVT) with Gasoline Direct Injection.
Horsepower (bhp): 175 @ 5,500 rpm
Torque (ft./ lbs.): 195 @ 1,500-4,500 rpm
Transmission: Seven-speed EcoShift DCT (Dry) with manual shift capability.
Drive Train: Transversely mounted front engine / AWD
Suspension: Front – MacPherson Strut with coil springs, Gas-pressurized shock absorbers, advanced valving and stabilizer bar.
Rear – Multilink with gas-pressurized shock absorbers, advanced valving and stabilizer bar.
Brakes: Power-assisted four-wheel discs (vented front) with 4-wheel, 4-channel, 4-sensor ABS, and EBD.
Tires: Goodyear Eagle Touring 235/45 R18 98V mounted on 5 large silver spoke separated by 5-small angled silver spokes with painted inner surfaces.
Wheelbase: 102.4 inches
Length Overall: 164.0 inches
Width: 70.9 inches
Height: 61.0 inches
Curb Weight: 3,344 lbs.
Turning Circle: 34.8 ft.
Fuel Capacity: 13.2 gallons
EPA Mileage Estimates: 27 mpg city / 29 mpg highway
Drag Coefficient: 0.32
0 – 60 mph: Not tested
Arv Voss is a Northern California based freelance motoring Journalist and member and past officer of several noted Automotive Journalist organizations who contributes regularly to a number of national and international media outlets. He reviews not only cars, trucks and SUVs, but motorcycles and unusual wheeled vehicles as well.