Home » The 2024 Hyundai Kona Grows Up And Gets Ready For The Suburbs

The 2024 Hyundai Kona Grows Up And Gets Ready For The Suburbs

2024 Hyundai Kona First Drive Topshot
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A stereotypical road map of American adulthood starts off something like this: Move to a hip urban area, establish a career, fall in love, get married, then move out of a one-bedroom apartment and into a suburban starter home. The 2024 Hyundai Kona is just about to enter its white picket fence era, having grown bigger and more mature than before, with a slightly larger $25,435 base price than last year’s $23,925 entry point. But is bigger always better?

Some of the reasons for the outgoing Kona’s (that’s the one directly below) success were value, the benefits of a compact footprint, and a decent all-wheel-drive system. Looking at the spec sheet for the new one, it certainly seems larger and techier than ever before, but does it give up too much of the original’s spirit in pursuit of growth?

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[Full disclosure: Hyundai flew me to Baltimore, put me up in a hotel, and fed me some regional and not-so-regional meals during the Kona drive event. I passed on the offer of a Yeti soft cooler, but the siren call of Old Bay-seasoned popcorn fell within ethical limits.]

How Does It Look?

2024 Hyundai Kona N-Line

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The first thing you’ll notice about the new Kona’s appearance is its size—this thing is huge compared to last year’s model. Not huge in a mammoth sense, mind you, but more in the jumbo shrimp genre of size. The wheelbase is 2.36 inches longer than on the old Kona, and the overall length is up by a whopping 5.7 inches. Despite this impressive growth, the new Kona is still one of the smaller vehicles in its segment, mostly because everything else is enormous now. The Subaru Crosstrek is 5.1 inches longer, and the Honda HR-V is a substantial 8.5 inches longer.

Once you get used to the new Kona’s growth spurt, you get a chance to take in all the lines, creases, and trim elements that make the new car an interesting object to gaze at. Giant Z-shaped forms on the doors, pantomime Gandini arches, wedgy lamps, and Geordi La Forge’s visor all mash together, creating a design that takes some time to process. Despite evoking some of the previous-generation car’s styling cues, it’s a fresh and daring look that’s as current as it is polarizing.

What’s The Interior Like?

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On models with the curved, driver-centric single-frame screen setup, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto will be rolled out through an OTA update, likely before the end of the year. Can I get a hell yeah? For the record, here’s what last year’s interior looked like:

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Integrating the digital cluster and the infotainment system under a single pane of glass on more expensive models certainly feels modern, but don’t think that buyers of entry-level models get shafted. Even the base trim gets a 12.3-inch infotainment screen and free lifetime telematics for first owners.

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Beyond tech, there are some neat design and material choices inside the 2024 Hyundai Kona. Shiny black plastic is beautifully absent, the soft-touch textiles on the doors jazz up an interior largely made of hardwearing plastic, the brushed trim on Limited models feels wonderfully expensive, and the shelf on the dashboard is fabulously quirky. Sometimes, it’s all about the little things.

2024 Hyundai Kona N-Line

Weirdly, substantial chunks of the new interior are optional, and I’m not necessarily talking about tech. The clever, space-saving shift-by-wire system and the particularly capacious center console are only available on SEL Convenience and higher trims, meaning that a significant chunk of affordable trims’ interiors are different from what you see here. On the one hand, this isn’t necessarily a downgrade over competitors. On the other, wouldn’t it be nice?

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Nonetheless, the Kona basically leads the subcompact crossover pack for passenger space with a respectable 101.5 cu.-ft. of occupant room—compare that to 98.7 cubic feet for the HR-V, for example. At that point, the Kina isn’t giving up much passenger volume over the larger compact crossover set. Hell, 38.2 inches of rear legroom is more than competitive in an entire class up. Don’t let the subcompact label fool you, this could easily be a usable family car.

What Makes It Tick?

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The old Hyundai Kona offered multiple powertrain choices, so it shouldn’t be surprising that the new one follows the same playbook. Buyers can choose from a 147-horsepower two-liter naturally-aspirated four-cylinder engine hitched to a CVT, a 201-horsepower 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine hitched to an eight-speed automatic gearbox, and two front-wheel-drive electric powertrains—more on those later.

Sadly, the hybrid powertrain available in other markets didn’t make the boat to America, and the raucous high-performance Kona N isn’t coming back in a new shell for 2024, but six powertrain choices in a subcompact crossover would be a bit nuts, yeah?

The all-wheel-drive system available on the Kona is surprisingly versatile. Different drive modes correspond to different torque split ranges, including a designated 50:50 lock below 50 mph. Normal mode sends between 20 percent and 35 percent of torque to the rear tires, Eco mode maxes out at an 80:20 split and can freewheel the rear axle for efficiency, Snow mode sends between 20 percent and 50 percent of torque to the back, and Sport mode includes a minimum 35 percent of torque directed to the rear axle and a maximum of 50 percent. You don’t typically see this sort of adjustability in the subcompact crossover segment, and snowbelt-dwellers are sure to appreciate being able to dial up extra capability.

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Of course, stick any car in deep enough snow, and torque split won’t matter. Ask anyone who’s beached a car. To mitigate the risk of getting high-centered, all-wheel-drive Kona models offer between 8.1 and 8.3 inches of ground clearance, up 1.4 inches over front-wheel-drive models. Unless you live in Buffalo, that should be plenty.

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A bigger body than before generally means more weight, and the 2024 Hyundai Kona certainly hasn’t gone easy on the pies. The most feathery front-wheel-drive base model gains 105 pounds, while the porkiest all-wheel-drive model sports a massive 302-pound weight gain over the plushest all-wheel-drive 2023 Kona. Interestingly, there’s an exact 500-pound weight swing between the 3,005-pound base front-wheel-drive model and the 3,505-pound Limited AWD model.

All 2024 Hyundai Kona models run on Kumho tires, although the type depends on trim. Naturally aspirated 2.0-liter models get fairly pedestrian rollers, but 1.6-liter turbocharged models step things up to fancy foam-lined acoustic-damping gumballs. Formerly the domain of luxury cars, it’s cool to see these noise-suppressing tires trickle down into the subcompact crossover segment.

2024 Hyundai Kona N-Line

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With touches like that, you can’t help but wonder how the Kona is so reasonably priced. Look closely and you’ll notice where Hyundai has strategically cut costs from areas the average consumer couldn’t care less about. The rear wheel arch liners are plastic and partial rather than felt and full. The plastic atop the door cards is hard but richly textured. The fuel door release is still a lever on the floor. The front indicators are standard bulbs. The cost engineering on this crossover is fascinating and sensible, something that grows easier and easier to appreciate the closer you look.

How Does It Drive?

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Part of the old Kona’s appeal was that it didn’t drive like a crossover as such. Tuned far more like a hatchback, it was a reasonably nimble machine—capable transportation through weather fair and foul. Those who bought the original based on the way it drives may be disappointed by the 2024 model’s on-road behavior. With physical growth typically comes softening, and Hyundai seems to have pulled some fun out of the new Kona in search of broader appeal.

Granted, the engine options still have plenty of hustle for their size. The optional 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine is swell, a willing instrument of power and torque with a raspy note at full whack. It makes merging enjoyable, flings this crossover down the road at an entirely respectable pace, and even got 28 mpg on my drive loop. 

The new eight-speed conventional automatic gearbox is far more livable than the old DCT, but it has tradeoffs. Lean on the skinny pedal, and the new slushbox takes a hot minute to figure out what gear it wants. Creep through bumper-to-bumper traffic, and you won’t arrive at your destination smelling of clutch material. Swings and roundabouts, but the conventional automatic clinches victory through familiarity.

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Another solid improvement is very low levels of noise, vibration and harshness for the segment. Save for some pattern noise from the foam-lined Kumhos over coarse aggregate and the occasional freeway chop, the new Kona kept things reasonably hushed on first impression. Stepping up to a bigger Tucson will give you substantially more refinement, but the Kona still feels quieter and more isolated than most of its competitors.

So far, the changes seem minor, but there are some tuning choices that stand out beyond the Kona’s core competencies. Steering weight builds rapidly as cornering forces rise, but due to being overly light on-center, things don’t quite feel natural. There’s a similar strangeness to the underdamped rear suspension that lets the back end wallow around over large or sharp road imperfections such as freeway expansion joints, frequently resulting in a pronounced secondary bounce after the initial impact of hitting a bump. Popping for the sporty N-Line trim won’t fix this, since all-wheel-drive Limited and N-Line models share identical suspension calibrations and tires.

The pros and cons all add up to a car that’s peppy and quite competent, but won’t excite you. For most buyers, that’s okay. After all, a subcompact crossover is first and foremost a way of getting people and their things from one place to another, and the new Hyundai Kona is a comfortable way of doing just that.

What About The Electric One?

2024 Hyundai Kona Electric

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Well, the Kona Electric I briefly drove was a pre-production unit, but it’s developed enough to get the gist of things. The new Kona Electric gains a tiny frunk and loses a rear seat footwell hump over its gasoline-powered counterpart, but otherwise, it looks and feels much like any other 2024 Kona until you turn it on.

The new electric powertrain with a mere 188 lb.-ft. of torque responds exceptionally smoothly, but with a certain gradualism owners of most combustion-powered cars will be used to. There’s no immediate snap of torque, no traction control light auditioning for Ibiza, blinking its heart out as little granite eco tires try to turn rotation into forward motion. The previous Kona Electric did magnificent rolling burnouts, but the new one is firmly a non-smoker.

Reduction in juvenile silliness aside, the EV-centric updates Hyundai has made are seriously impressive. One-pedal driving is now a thing, the blend between regenerative and friction brakes is absolutely seamless, and even noise from the electric motor is quieter than before.

Level 2 AC charging gets a useful bump to 11 kW, handy when extended-range models sport a 64.8 kWh battery pack and an EPA range of 261 miles. The base standard range SE model gets a city-sized 48.6 kWh battery pack and a range of 200 miles, although I wouldn’t be surprised if that trim sees low take rates. If you aren’t a speed demon, an early taste suggests that there’s a whole lot to like about the new Kona Electric.

What’s The Early Verdict On The 2024 Hyundai Kona?

2024 Hyundai Kona

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So, does growing bigger make the 2024 Hyundai Kona better? Well, it depends on what you’re looking for. When viewed as a transportation device, it’s better than ever before. With more space, tech, style, and comfort than the outgoing model had to offer, it’s now perfect for young families. I just wish it had any sense of fun that wasn’t formed in a design studio.

If you want your subcompact crossover to be unexpectedly good to drive, this isn’t it. The Mazda CX-30 and Chevrolet Trax both have better suspension tuning in my view, as well as more natural on-center steering weighting, more responsive gearboxes, and more confident brake pedals. However, the subcompact crossover segment isn’t a general high watermark for driving experiences, so we need to give some leeway here.

2024 Hyundai Kona N-Line

Pricing starts at $25,435 including a $1,335 freight charge for the base SE model, rising to $32,985 for the top-tier Limited trim. As you might expect, all-wheel-drive commands a premium—$1,500 to be exact. For that sort of money, you’re stepping into mid-range Hyundai Tucson territory on the high end, and loaded Chevrolet Trax money on the low end. While a decked-out Kona has more gadgets than a modestly equipped Tucson, the larger Hyundai crossover offers a substantially more refined driving experience and loads of extra space. Meanwhile, the Trax continues to be sensational value for the money and surprisingly good to drive, so long as you don’t require all-wheel-drive.

For some, though, the 2024 Hyundai Kona will hit a Goldilocks spot of size and price, especially when compared to more direct competitors like the Toyota Corolla Cross and Honda HR-V. Expect turbocharged 2024 Hyundai Kona models to be rolling into dealerships shortly, with lower trims coming by the end of the year. For the typical subcompact crossover buyer, this new Hyundai could very well be the one to aim for.

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Paul Kett
Paul Kett
8 months ago

Interesting looks. Nice rear light bar but those rear fender lights look weird.

67 Oldsmobile
67 Oldsmobile
9 months ago

Looks like it’s headlights fell out, especially in black..

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
9 months ago

Congrats Hyundai, you took your best crossover, removed everything that made it special, and made it uglier than the Pontiac Aztek – and that’s coming from someone who actually liked the styling of the Ioniq 6 and 5. This thing is just hideous, and despite all the praise I heard for the driving dynamics of the old one, it seems Hyundai is too chicken to have an actually interesting product. Can’t wait to see how they ruin the next generation Ioniq 5 and 6.

Frackle
Frackle
9 months ago

Probably a better car for 80% of drivers and 98% of subcompact crossover buyers, but sad to see another tiny car get chunked out. Plus it looks hideous.

B3n
B3n
9 months ago

Sorry for being harsh but this is the ugliest thing since the 1st gen Fiat Multipla.
The pre-facelift KL Cherokee is a close second.

Automotiveflux
Automotiveflux
9 months ago

The rear bubble shape reminds me of the Focus RS

Hoonicus
Hoonicus
9 months ago

Let this tragic result be a lesson to aspiring transporter engineers. Never let the matter streams cross between a 2012 Dodge Caliber and a 2025 Hyundai Kona.

Ben
Ben
9 months ago

Call me old fashioned, but the old interior looks way nicer than this new vast wasteland of screen real estate that is replacing any modicum of interior design in every car these days.

Now will somebody get those damn clouds off my lawn?!

Professor Chorls
Professor Chorls
9 months ago

Okay, Hyundai’s design division needs to back off the crack pipe. This recent trend of putting the headlight modules at bumper height is completely unappealing to me both appearance-wise and practicality/repairability-wise. They also love putting taillights in rear bumpers. I’m aware the more “vertically oriented” designs of current generation cars kind of necessitates keeping the headlights down at a manageable height, but I also feel like it can be much more cleanly executed.

Mike B
Mike B
9 months ago

I think I like the old one better. The interior looks more normal, and I’m getting strong Aztec vibes in the rear 3/4 view. The character lines around the wheel arches look just like the Aztec’s plastic cladding.

Taargus Taargus
Taargus Taargus
9 months ago

I prefer the look, size, and price of the last one. Most people would be better served with a Trax. Which in a rare victory for Chevy, looks better (in my eyes) and seems like a better value.

I do hate that spoiler, if only because it looks like it’s designed to make snow removal even more annoying than it already is.

Otherwise, this seems… fine. I guess.

Jason Roth
Jason Roth
9 months ago

I wasn’t impressed by the lighting pod in the front—very reminiscent of some circa 2010 designs—but the matching ones in the rear are awful. The way they sit on the fender makes me think of some sort of retro ’30s design, kind of a quasi-PT/SSR thing. Yuck.

Also the spoiler/wing doesn’t make any sense if it’s not going to be a performance variant. I’m not even saying a hot hatch, just, like, a warm one.

At least the nose on the electric model is an upgrade.

PL71 Enthusiast
PL71 Enthusiast
9 months ago
Reply to  Jason Roth

No kidding. I had a really hard time reading the rest of the article after looking at the top picture, and then about threw up when I saw the rear end.

I still remember the crossover Cherokee coming out and thinking it was incredibly ugly. That thing is a perfect work of art compared to almost anything I’ve seen released in the last few years.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
9 months ago

No hybrid? No high five.

Citrus
Citrus
9 months ago

Here’s the conundrum:

-None of the cars in this category have enough room.
-All of them are now bigger than they need to be.

Instead of more girth, try to package the interior with any efficiency at all.

And before people come in with “but safety equipment,” I have a hatchback with a newer design than most of the Chrysler lineup and it is incredibly space efficient.

The CUV era is the worst.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
9 months ago
Reply to  Citrus

If CUVs were literally an inch or two lower and marketed as hatchbacks enthusiasts would be tripping over each other to buy them….but neither here nor the old site is ready to have that conversation yet

Last edited 9 months ago by Nsane In The MembraNe
Citrus
Citrus
9 months ago

Yes, if they were hatchbacks fans of hatchbacks would buy them, but this is ignoring the issues of CUVs.

I have these primary problems with CUVs:

-They are all $5,000 or so more expensive than they would be if they were marketed as a car.

-They are incredibly space inefficient.

-They added height compromises ride and handling.

When I bought my car, I test drove a first-gen Kona. It cost a bit more but had significantly less room, less power, handled worse and had a worse ride – and I was comparing it against a car on the same lot. It was a worse vehicle by every single metric.

Through the years I’ve found that CUVs typically have poor knee room, the “strong shoulder lines” that stylists give them give them poor shoulder room. They have substantially less usable space than car models. I have never been less comfortable in a vehicle than I have in CUVs.

This is not coming at the problem from a place of inherent bias – car shopping for myself and an ex were what lead me to these conclusions, not internet clout.

Glutton for Piëch
Glutton for Piëch
9 months ago
Reply to  Citrus

that just means your car is ~20 years old give or take. I agree with your point, but even in the last 10 years, interiors have gotten so much tighter in a given class, and it gets worse with every new generation. of course it’s compounded by the design of cuvs. Hell, I’ve got a Passat wagon and a Touareg of similar vintage, and the Touareg is incomprehensibly smaller inside and harder to see out of. Can’t imagine those packaging constraints in an even smaller car (though, the treg is actually almost identical in size to a current Rav4, just has usable windows).

Citrus
Citrus
9 months ago

My car is an Elantra GT, purchased new in 2018, which was the year it was introduced. I was directly comparing it to a Kona from the same year – also in its first year of production.

I am making direct comparisons between two cars on the same lot by the same manufacturer, introduced in the same year at the same price point.

However, the CUV problem is consistent across brands.

Citrus
Citrus
9 months ago
Reply to  Citrus

I’ll compare cars from the same manufacturer available today.

The Corolla has more shoulder and hip room than the Corolla Cross, as well as more rear leg room and significantly more rear hip room. A full 7.5 inches, in fact.

The Honda Civic has more passenger room in every dimension apart from rear headroom, when compared to the Honda HR-V.

The Mazda CX-30 might be the only model where the dimensions are comparable to a car equivalent from the same manufacturer – that and the Mazda 3 are pretty much the same across the board, though the CX-30 has more rear hip room.

I’m comparing within the same manufacturer largely because it shows a lack of effort on their part – except at Mazda – and demonstrates that they all can do better, but choose not to.

All numbers taken from Car and Driver.

Glutton for Piëch
Glutton for Piëch
9 months ago
Reply to  Citrus

Elantra GTs are cool, I wish they brought the N here. My brothers Veloster N is dope, but tiny.

Second, I totally agree (also wasn’t shitting on your car, just Chrysler as a brand lol). I’ve experienced it firsthand. I’ve worked for several OEMs and have experience in a lot of modern CUVs. They’re the bane of good cars and most of them are made exponentially worse for the sake of “style”, which they usually lack. The automakers don’t care to make them better because they fly off the shelves regardless. I feel cars got packaged so well because the market was so competitive, but now any cuv will flee dealer lots, almost in spite of their shortcomings. and they’re making, as you say, 5-10k more than they would in the equivalent hatch, so those aren’t coming back anytime soon. That’s where all the cheap, good cars went, they got eaten up by bigger, usually worse ones that cost more so everyone could sit a few inches higher and pretend their Buick Encore is a monster truck from the passing lane.

As Nsane puts it, they are basically hatches, and the minivans (larger cuvs) of today are essentially wagons, but they’re deeply flawed executions of those cars, and just lowering them doesn’t fix the changes in hard points and design forced on them to make them “cool”. They’ll just look like slammed eggs with the seats in the wrong place and windows that start at neck level.

Glutton for Piëch
Glutton for Piëch
9 months ago

as an anecdote, probably the closest thing I’ve driven to the Kona N (a performance CUV worth a shit) was the GLA45, a disrespectfully fun car, that is basically a modern hot hatchback (hard argument to make when the A45 exists) but I absolutely hated it. it was so cramped I wanted to die, and my head was stuck, basically sideways against the roof. Never had that problem in an A class. Tiguans feel like you’re driving them the same way it feels to helm a sailboat- standing on it- A Golf is an extension of your hands and you sit IN it. Even my own cars, the Touareg is the only SUV I’ve ever owned and I feel like a school bus driver when I’m in it. That’s how I feel most SUVs and CUVs are. Not to mention the subpar room and cramped feeling compared to the car versions of the same platforms. it’s all *fashun*

Last edited 9 months ago by Glutton for Piëch
GreatFallsGreen
GreatFallsGreen
9 months ago
Reply to  Citrus

It’s worth noting that while most of those vehicles add a bit of width, but also lose several inches in wheelbase and/or length. So, not like they just put a second story addition on them but then walled it in. The total passenger volume is about the same (Honda, 98-99 cubic feet) or greater (Toyota, 89 Corolla/94 Cross). That certain individual dimensions may be less isn’t going to be perceptible to most – to you yes, but the biggest thing the average buyer is going to sense is how the higher seating position feels, which is of course a key factor driving people to the segment. So an HR-V isn’t as wide inside as a Civic? Well, people typically aren’t buying Civics for their interior space either.

Also, as far as whatever effort an OEM puts in, it’s not like that doesn’t apply to cars either. The Corolla is a great example, because the interior shrunk considerably over the last gen despite shrinking only an inch in length. The old one had more total legroom than an Avalon even, while the current one lost over 6″ in back, and almost 10 cubic feet of interior volume.

Last edited 9 months ago by GreatFallsGreen
Citrus
Citrus
9 months ago

Here’s the thing though, while overall volume might be more, it’s how it’s distributed. You get more headroom, but your body is more than the head. So the usable space is less.

And I notice it, and I’m hardly a massive guy. I notice the lack of knee room, I notice that I don’t have enough shoulder room. I feel uncomfortable even several categories larger.

Know where I don’t notice that? A damn Civic.

People buy the category because they’re told they’re getting a practical car, and they don’t get that.

GreatFallsGreen
GreatFallsGreen
9 months ago
Reply to  Citrus

You’re also sitting more upright – so it may not be stretch your legs space (and some people do need that, I’m 5’10” but more in legs than torso) but it’s not like it’s hidden. The little bit of additional rear headroom you said in the HR-V and in all headroom in the Cross isn’t going to attribute for the total volume, especially on the order of how much more is there between the Corolla variants.

But that last line is more the thing – I don’t think consumers are as dumb or easily had as everyone makes them out to be. Starting not long after the Buick Encore really kicked the segment off as we know it (and a car I thought was going to flop), every two years someone I know has traded their sedan or compact hatch in for a sub/compact crossover. It’s not like they were car-averse as a current owner, it’s not like they haven’t researched or test drove multiple brands and classes of cars, it’s not like the manufacturer said they’d kick a puppy if they chose the standard car. If you tell them it has x less space in such and such dimension it will probably be met with a blank stare. It’s easier to get in/out of, the driving position feels better, etc. Even if the car itself feels boring or compromised to us who visit car enthusiast sites every day, it’s not like we choose cars based solely on spec sheets either. And even if everyone shopped only that way, the average buyer would have a hard time seeing what the value is in say, a GTI for $30k compared to something like an Accord.

Citrus
Citrus
9 months ago

It’s not even that the car is “boring” or “compromised,” it’s that they’re being sold something they’re not getting.

When someone I know says they bought a new SUV – which is a crossover but semantics – they often say they wanted to get something more practical. And then they’re being sold something less practical than it should be, for more money than they should have spent. It’s the reason why the majority of Consumer Reports’ “least satisfying vehicle to own” list is compact CUVs – they are useless vehicles.

And plenty of people don’t research every brand. They buy because their family mostly deals with one dealership, they buy because they need something quickly and that’s okay and on the lot, they buy because, yes, they have been lead to believe that the CUV is a more practical car. And then catch a ride with them and there’s nowhere for my knees to go.

I’m not saying consumers are stupid, I’m saying they’re being sold a lie, or potentially sold the only thing in their price range that is at the dealer and they just need something reliable.

GreatFallsGreen
GreatFallsGreen
9 months ago
Reply to  Citrus

But it is really a compromise as you describe it. “Practical” can vary by use case – I know that say, an Encore doesn’t haul anything more or better than my GTI does, but frankly (despite a higher sill), it’s not worse at doing it either, with the bonus of not hunching down under the lower roofline. Now most of them do seem to have more rated cargo volume than a Golf does and even the prices have narrowed as well.

The other element I mentioned before that is key is that if someone wants something that sits higher, is easier to get in and out of – where is the lie in that? That’s a tangible difference they can see and feel much like the interior packaging has been for you. Throw in AWD where applicable, which at least popped up in some cars too for those that want it. For people that got accustomed to driving higher vehicles, going back down to a car is a no-go. Not even SUVs, but minivans, which I grew up in. After you no longer need as large a vehicle any more (because the smaller vans sold worse, so those faded out), where else is there to go? (and that’s after we had a stint with a Rondo too.)

Remember, I’m a compact hatch owner too, and I’m not saying I like it, just that I get it. I’m not discounting any of the image or status side or whatever that can and does happen too, I just don’t think it’s a big conspiracy.

And as far as the least-satisfying vehicle list – I think the common factor in a lot of thosefrom the non-lux brands aren’t ones people do choose but say, get approved on or can afford – like how you see Altima or Forte on the list. Meanwhile HR-V and Corolla Cross show up on the fastest-selling new and used vehicle lists too so there’s demand there.

Citrus
Citrus
9 months ago

Here’s the thing though, they don’t HAVE to be bad. They don’t HAVE to be incredibly space inefficient. They ARE, but they don’t have to be. All of the manufacturers are capable of designing a car that uses space well, isn’t cramped, has logically laid out cargo areas, and so on.

Let’s use that Encore as an example – in the first gen, the cargo area is incredibly narrow. Is there a reason for this? No. Could they build a better car if they widened the cargo area and gave customers more space? Yes. Did they? No.

The frustrating thing about CUVs is not merely that they’re cramped, have no space efficiency, very little knee room, ride and handle poorly, and so on – I have found a lot of them use the upright seating position to fudge numbers – but that every one could be much better if any effort was put in.

People are being sold lies, and frequently they have no other options. And it sucks because I have knees and sometimes I need a ride with someone else.

GreatFallsGreen
GreatFallsGreen
9 months ago
Reply to  Citrus

Perhaps we’ll just agree that neither you nor I are going to buy one. I just don’t think buyers are being hoodwinked or that the OEMs are phoning in a crossover any more or less than they are the car counterpart. Like the Corolla example – they shrunk that significantly from the last gen, and for what? It’s not like they laughed in the boardroom and said they’d sucker them into buying the Cross instead, which came out 3 years later and is still unobtainium.

If they were really being sold lies, people would be wising up. Inventory availability for car counterparts vs. the comparable crossover within a brand is at least 2:1 in my area at Toyota or Honda, so it’s not like people are getting trapped into buying one.

Pupmeow
Pupmeow
9 months ago
Reply to  Citrus

Would you mind sharing what hatchback you drive? I currently drive a Soul (which I would consider a CUV) and it’s a marvel of big space in a small package. But … it’s slow as fuck. My heart lives in small, practical-yet-fun hatchbacks.
ETA: NEVERMIND, I saw your post below. Funny enough, I saw an Elantra GT from 2018ish parked on my street about 20 minutes ago and I thought, “What a cute, practical-yet-probably-fun car.”

Last edited 9 months ago by Pupmeow
John Lyon
John Lyon
9 months ago

Dear Hyundai,

Can you put the new interior in the old Kona? The new body style appears to be designed by two different people starting a different ends joined by makeshift origami.

Thanks,
Potential Customer when you get your sheet metal designs sorted out

Turbeaux
Turbeaux
9 months ago
Reply to  John Lyon

My thought as well. The front end looks pretty sporty below that body line. Then someone came along and slapped a toupee on it. It’s almost an optical illusion that looks like two different cars depending on which eye you close.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
9 months ago

“The front indicators are standard bulbs”

At this point are standard bulbs REALLY that much cheaper than LEDs for manufacturers? Especially if using them eliminates the need for a DRL warning.

Nlpnt
Nlpnt
9 months ago

I’m sure the new Kona will make a very pleasant vacation rental, hopefully at the “compact car” basic rate.

Dogisbadob
Dogisbadob
9 months ago

I fucking HATE when they do this shit!

Also, Honda sells a different HR-V in other markets that’s basically the same size as the old one. They get our bigger fatter HR-V under a different name.

GreatFallsGreen
GreatFallsGreen
9 months ago

While the segment is getting a bit rich, the new Kona is a good value feature-wise against an HR-V, Corolla Cross, etc. Crest the 30k mark and you’ll get some features the Toyota/Honda don’t offer even on the next size up or if they do for much much more. Versus a Tucson, it’s a pretty typical tradeoff – the Tucson has more space etc., but if you’re more feature driven, you’re looking at a good 5k more for a Tucson with some of the same content. Based on most 2.5L Tucson reviews (aka a midrange one for loaded Kona money), the 1.6T Kona is likely going to feel much livelier to drive.

It’s too bad the hybrid isn’t coming, but I suspect the Tucson is the hangup there too. A hybrid Kona would be somewhat close to the entry price of the Tucson hybrid, but perhaps not with the jump in estimated MPG needed to make it worthwhile. But speaking of hybrids, for similar pricing, the new Kia Niro has similarly matured in design and content, and is comparable in interior space with of course better mileage.

I’ve seen an increase in the number of the outgoing EV Konas lately, which have to be used as I don’t think they ever sold them in this state – Carvana or similar transfers, perhaps.

Pupmeow
Pupmeow
9 months ago

My complaint with the Kona is that it doesn’t offer a hybrid. My complaint with the Niro is that it doesn’t offer AWD. The Tucson seems like a nice vehicle, but like you said, a price premium even at the base (non-hybrid, non-AWD) level. Also, I’m always looking for the smallest car I can get away with.

GreatFallsGreen
GreatFallsGreen
9 months ago
Reply to  Pupmeow

The hybrid Tucson is AWD-only (for better or worse) and its Sportage* twin offers a lesser-equipped base hybrid trim with FWD or AWD, so there’s a bit more flexibillity there. But like you say, a jump in size. Toyota now does offer the Cross hybrid with AWD, so a bit of a gap in the H/K lineup.

*Surprisingly the hybrid Sportage and Niro are priced within $1000 of each other to start. But, once you step up to higher trims that gap widens.

Chronometric
Chronometric
9 months ago

Wow, we’ve got a hit. People love our little cheap friendly car but focus groups wish it had more space, more power, more aggression, and more features. Let’s put all that stuff in.

Well it turned out bigger, heavier, and more expensive but we gave the people what they wanted. Why are sales down?

Bloatification captures another victim.

GreatFallsGreen
GreatFallsGreen
9 months ago
Reply to  Chronometric

The outgoing one was smaller than most of its competitors, which doesn’t turn into a recipe for success either. I don’t think a sales decline is likely, given H/K’s own sales growth for the 2022 Tucson/2023 Sportage, which had even greater transformations in their redesigns than the Kona did to better match the segment:

Tucson:
2020: 123,657
2021: 150,949
2022: 175,307

Jan-Aug 2023: 134,367
Jan-Aug 2022: 112,654

Sportage:
2020: 84,343
2021: 94,601
2022: 125,245

Jan-Aug 2023: 96,022
Jan-Aug 2022: 77,327

Chronometric
Chronometric
9 months ago

Unfortunately, in this segment, I think you are probably right. They’ll make it bigger with each refresh until someone creates a small one again and we’ll repeat the cycle.

GreatFallsGreen
GreatFallsGreen
9 months ago
Reply to  Chronometric

Maybe I’m just numb to it, but the size creep is nothing new across the car industry…a new Civic is as big as the Accord in the mid-90s, and the Accord is bigger than a Taurus was back then.

Some of it definitely is a loyal buyer/focus group effect of wanting more of x and y like you said. But IMO we’re also seeing a pattern of it being at least as easy to sell a larger car more cheaply than it is the smaller car for the same price.

To Hyundai’s credit, they have the Venue too, which shouldn’t need to grow, it and the Kona were sized pretty close before.

Citrus
Citrus
9 months ago

The Venue might need to grow because, uh, I don’t fit in it. And while I am an above average man I’m hardly the world’s largest. But yeah, doesn’t have enough leg or shoulder room. Less than the Kia Rio, actually.

Now that could be fixed with literally any space efficiency at all – that’s not allowed in a CUV apparently – and even just flattening out the sides a bit could probably help with the shoulder room problem, but it is going to need some changes for a lot of people to drive it.

GreatFallsGreen
GreatFallsGreen
9 months ago
Reply to  Citrus

I was speaking more with respect to length, but the Rio does have more hip and shoulder room. But, I don’t think the Venue is necessarily designed with our market in mind anyway – or most of that end of the market, save for perhaps the Soul.

Citrus
Citrus
9 months ago

Actually, by the numbers, the Tuscon and Sportage stayed roughly the same size – both got an inch longer.

By contrast, the Kona is a full 5 inches longer – Longer, in fact, than the first-gen Tuscon.

Though, hell, the Honda HR-V is a bigger vehicle than the Tuscon. These classes are meaningless.

GreatFallsGreen
GreatFallsGreen
9 months ago
Reply to  Citrus

You may be looking at the SWB models (such as for Europe), not the LWB versions for North America, China, etc. They followed the VW Tiguan for example with the different lengths and gained nearly half a foot in length:

Tucson prior gen / SWB / LWB:
Wheelbase: 105.1″ old, 105.5″ SWB, 108.5″ LWB
Length: 176.4″ old, 177.2″ SWB, 182.3″ LWB

Sportage prior gen / SWB / LWB:
Wheelbase: 105.1″ old, 105.5″ SWB, 108.5″ LWB
Length: 176.4″ old, 177.8″ SWB, 183.5″ LWB

HR-V is smaller than those, but it too has grown too beyond CR-Vs of yore and is several inches longer than the new Kona. Which as far as sizing goes, it and especially the new Trax prove that quite well, the Trax being larger and cheaper than most others).
They’re less grouped by exterior dimensions and more by pricing, or maybe rated interior volume, or simply mission in the lineup/target buyer. Which I suppose, isn’t that new either. In the mid 90s, Accord, Camry, and Taurus were each 3 different sizes inside and out but always compared, not so much by the hard and fast rule of the midsize sedan but as the “family sedan.” Minivans too, before everyone just made the same size.

Pupmeow
Pupmeow
9 months ago

Okay but in the annual numbers you ordered from oldest to newest, and in the Jan-Aug YOY numbers you ordered from newest to oldest and I CAAAAAN’T DEAL!

GreatFallsGreen
GreatFallsGreen
9 months ago
Reply to  Pupmeow

Sorry! lol – if it’s any consolation it felt off as I typed it but I couldn’t place my finger on why.

Thevenin
Thevenin
9 months ago
Reply to  Chronometric

Bloatification

Ayup, I’mma steal that term.

Pupmeow
Pupmeow
9 months ago
Reply to  Thevenin

Next time you’re on your period?

Icouldntfindaclevername
Icouldntfindaclevername
9 months ago

Of course it’s more expensive too
Hyundai/Kia should stay in their lane and make good cars for cheap bastards and stop going upmarket on the lower end cars. Give us cheap bastards a new car choice please

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
9 months ago

I drive a Mazda…

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
9 months ago

I’m a little sad at the direction they’ve gone in but it’s absolutely the right move business wise. I loved the original Kona (even pre N, I almost bought a 1.6T AWD over my GTI in 2020, and in retrospect I probably should have) specifically for the reasons this article mentions-the last generation is essentially a hot hatch dynamically. Even the turbo is entertaining to drive. It’s a nimble, responsive, peppy car that punches way above its weight class.

Marketing it as an SUV was always a stretch, but that’s what it took to sell them. They’re also cheap and cheerful. Back before things went insane market wise you could get well equipped 1.6T AWD ones for $25,000 or less, AND they came in fun colors. Really the only minuses of the last generation are how small they are and the cheap interior. It’s a tight squeeze for adults in the back, the interiors are monochromatic, cheap plastics abound, and as far as hatchbacks go the trunk space is mid.

It seems like the new one addresses all of that, but at the cost of driving dynamics. For 99% of buyers it’ll be perfect. It was a really good car to begin with and now it’s much nicer to live with during the daily grind. Of course I personally am sad that the N is gone and that it’s now a bigger, heavier, less snappy car. But at the end of the day they’ve gotta make money and I still have my Kona N in the driveway, so it’s all good.

Last edited 9 months ago by Nsane In The MembraNe
Angrycat Meowmeow
Angrycat Meowmeow
9 months ago

The way everything is so dramatically overstyled these days just makes me want to grab the artist and shout “THAT’S ENOUGH LINES AND CREASES”. And where’s that commenter that was complaining about the wing on the ID.X? I’m sure they’d love the wing on this 160HP beast.

Squirrelmaster
Squirrelmaster
9 months ago

I was looking at this thing being overstyled, but somehow it also seems understyled. It’s like they got all the rough ideas into the clay, then decided to skip refining anything and called it good to go. It was not good to go.

Mrbrown89
Mrbrown89
9 months ago

I thought I would never said this in my life but I would rather have a Chevy Trax for that price and design wise. In this economy and inflation, saving money is everything

ZeGerman
ZeGerman
9 months ago
Reply to  Mrbrown89

But with the Trax, you are stuck with a 137hp 1.2L 3-cylinder engine and FWD only, regardless of trim level. It has a 10sec+ 0-60mph time. And according to Car and Driver, the Trax’s transmission is notably sluggish. The Trax certainly does look better, though.

GreatFallsGreen
GreatFallsGreen
9 months ago
Reply to  ZeGerman

I think if you’re looking at the base powertrains – be it 2.0L like many of them or the small-displacement turbos – the Trax is the right value buy for the smaller crossovers. It tops out about where most of these start and while some creature comforts you’ll have to look elsewhere, the options lists hits a lot of the hot-button features a lot of people want – leather(ette), moonroof, power seat. Though no AWD on the Trax of course which will keep it from consideration for some shoppers.

Once you move past a loaded Trax’s price/approach 30k, some boost to mileage or power should probably come with – be it the 1.6T here (or in the Seltos*), 2.5T CX-30, hybrid Corolla Cross, etc.

*Actually, that’s something of a value buy too – seems like at least a grand less than this with the same powertrain and AWD, at least that price gap for the 1.6T Seltos vs. an N-Line here.

Mr. Fusion
Mr. Fusion
9 months ago
Reply to  ZeGerman

Dollar for dollar, I doubt you would get meaningfully better performance for the same price/features. The HR-V is more expensive and is notoriously slow, yet that never stopped people from buying them. The Trax engine makes about the same or better torque as the NA engines a full size class up, so I’d bet it doesn’t “feel” sluggish around town. And I sure as hell would prefer the 6-spd auto over any CVT in that class.

Last edited 9 months ago by Mr. Fusion
DubblewhopperInDubblejeopardy
DubblewhopperInDubblejeopardy
9 months ago

The verdict can read:

“The Kona runs on Unicorn farts and magic and drives like a Rolls..”

But those fucking headlights and taillights are giving me nightmares.

Pupmeow
Pupmeow
9 months ago

It’s like the front and back end each consist of two entirely different cars smushed together. The sleek upper lights on both ends aren’t even the same species as the lower sets. It’s so confusing.

Brandon Forbes
Brandon Forbes
9 months ago
Reply to  Pupmeow

See I typically hate the split runners/headlights, but feel like the front end pulls it off well enough, but having the rear assemblies shoved into the flares like that is awful. I am sort of on board for 3/4 of the styling, then yeah that rear end is the stuff of nightmares. It looks like the light assemblies there are seriously a sticker, not an actual thing. I would be interested to see the rear on a different color, as I think red lights on red cars often look weird, but I am far too lazy to look it up because I just don’t care, but yeah it’s awful.

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