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Hyundai Kona 2022 Overview: A Fantastic Vehicle With an Elegant Design

Image Source: Gabriel Nica / Shutterstock

The incorporation of the dynamic N-Line and N versions enhances the Kona’s enjoyment level. The Hyundai Kona is a compact crossover offering a wide array of options, ranging from the high-energy Kona N to the budget-conscious Kona. It competes in the small crossover segment against vehicles like the Kia Seltos, Honda HR-V, and Subaru Crosstrek. The Kona excels due to its excellent standard features, advanced technology, value proposition, and top-notch safety ratings.

The 2022 Kona underwent significant modifications, including a redesign to the existing models and the introduction of two performance-oriented variants, the Kona N-Line and Kona N. Additionally, there is an electric edition of the Kona reviewed separately HERE.

While the Kona retains its upright appearance in the redesign, the finer elements have been altered. The black cladding encompassing the lower section of the SUV has been enhanced, and the grille now tapers just above the front bumper. At the front, the grille has been widened, and both front and rear bumpers sport faux skid-plate designs. The sportier N-Line replaces the cladding with body-colored panels, and the Kona N incorporates a double-wing roof spoiler, 19-inch alloy wheels, and larger intakes to cater to its eager turbocharger.

The turbocharged engines of the Kona offer a significant portion of the excitement. In the redesign, the powertrain configuration has been shuffled, with a new transmission linked to the base engine. Furthermore, two turbocharged engines are available, both delivering a substantial and necessary surge in power. The Kona’s strong suit in terms of performance remains its handling, with front-wheel drive as standard across all models, while all trims except the Kona N come with the option for all-wheel drive.

The SE and SEL models retain the same base engine as the previous year, a 147-hp 2.0-liter inline-4 now paired with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) instead of a 6-speed automatic. This powertrain is lackluster, and the limited power output it does generate feels restricted by the CVT.

The N-Line and Limited showcase a 1.6-liter turbo-4 engine that receives a power boost from 175-hp to 195-hp for 2022. It is still coupled with a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission that can feel somewhat busy at lower speeds and may cause a…

For a compact crossover with a shorter wheelbase, the Kona provides a comfortable ride and surprisingly agile handling, especially with the additional steering weight in Sport mode. Models equipped with all-wheel drive feature a multi-link rear suspension that enhances the Kona’s stability.

The other models pale in comparison to the Kona N, which is Hyundai’s third N model alongside the Veloster N and Elantra N. Its 2.0-liter turbo-4 engine produces 276-hp and 289 lb-ft of torque, mated to an 8-speed wet dual-clutch automatic gearbox that executes swift gear changes. The Kona N also boasts an electronic limited-slip differential and adjustable dampers with three stiffness settings. While these settings may be too firm for daily driving, they certainly enhance the enjoyment of the Kona N on twisty roads or an autocross track.

The front-wheel-drive Kona models deliver the best fuel efficiency. The SE and SEL equipped with the base engine achieve the highest fuel economy figures according to EPA standards, although only marginally. The ratings stand at 30 mpg city, 35 highway, 32 combined, which reduce to 28/33/30 mpg with all-wheel drive. With the turbo-4 engine, these figures only drop slightly to 29/35/32 mpg (FWD) and 27/32/29 mpg (AWD). Unsurprisingly, the Kona N lags significantly behind with fuel economy figures of 20/27/23 mpg.

The Kona garners impressive crash test scores, receiving a full five-star rating from the NHTSA and a “Good” rating on all crash tests from the IIHS. However, while the previous year’s model was designated as a Top Safety Pick, the 2022 model is still pending further tests of its headlights to receive the same distinction. All Kona models come equipped with automatic emergency braking and active lane control, with blind-spot monitors added to SEL trim levels and above. Adaptive cruise control, operational down to a full stop, is an optional feature on the N-Line and standard on the Limited, which also includes rear parking sensors.

Internally, the appearance of the cabin remains largely unchanged. The most significant alteration is evident at the top where a new housing for the larger infotainment screens (8.0 or 10.3 inches) and more stylish air vents have been implemented. The Kona’s vertical body design provides commendable headroom for both front and rear passengers.

The front seats offer good support and a wide range of height adjustments, creating a comfortable driving position. Accommodating three adults in the back seat can be challenging due to the Kona’s narrowness, although the vehicle’s shape ensures good headroom and visibility for all passengers except the occupant in the middle seat. With the back seat folded down, cargo space expands to 45.8 cubic feet. The tall body structure also boasts a remarkably low load floor, facilitating easy loading of cargo through the broad hatch.

Value is a key asset of the Kona, particularly in SEL guise. Like most Hyundai models, the Kona packs in a host of features at a competitive price point, along with complimentary maintenance for 3 years or 36,000 miles and a robust 5-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty. The inclusion of a base 8.0-inch touchscreen elevates the Kona’s appeal in this category.

The entry-level SE trim, priced from $22,545, comes with an 8.0-inch touchscreen featuring wireless connectivity for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, two front USB ports, cloth upholstery, 16-inch wheels, and cruise control. Most customers would find the SEL with the convenience package more appealing. Starting at $24,345 (just under a $2,000 premium over the SE), the SEL adds some features, though not enough to fully justify the price hike. The convenience package is priced $1,700 higher but encompasses heated front seats, automatic climate control, a wireless charging pad, and a concealed storage compartment in the cargo area.

One drawback of the SEL model is the inclusion of the somewhat frustrating 4-cylinder and CVT combo, prompting those seeking enhanced performance to gravitate towards the Kona N-Line ($27,095) and its more potent turbo-4 powerplant. The N-Line boasts sportier aesthetics, a 10.3-inch gauge cluster display, and a power-adjustable driver’s seat. It is also the most affordable Kona variant offering the larger 10.3-inch infotainment touchscreen. Buyers should be aware that upgrading to the larger infotainment screen sacrifices wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality.

The Limited trim level ($29,845) boasts a more upscale interior with leather upholstery, a power sunroof, and adaptive cruise control as standard. Meanwhile, the priciest model, the $35,445 high-performance Kona N, shares most of its features with the Limited variant (excluding leather upholstery) and delivers the most exciting driving experience by a significant margin.

The 2022 Hyundai Kona, with its charming crossover aesthetics, presents a fresh approach to the compact crossover genre. Its petite dimensions, lively performance, and agile handling characteristics make the Kona an enjoyable urban companion. With cutting-edge technology, top-tier safety features, and the value proposition typical of Hyundai vehicles, the Kona stands out as an exceptional contender among small crossovers. The enhancements introduced for 2022, including the larger screen and standard safety features, only further enhance its appeal.

Image Source: Gabriel Nica / Shutterstock

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