Hyundai has completely redesigned the Kona for the 2024 model year. The popular entry-level subcompact crossover was known for its bold styling in its first generation. While a few sporty features remain, the redesign has seen the Kona adopt several modern elements seen on Hyundai’s more upmarket vehicles while remaining at the affordable end of the Korean automaker’s lineup. But, the two are not without their shortcomings.
Full Disclosure: Hyundai flew me out to Baltimore, Maryland to drive the Kona. The automaker paid for my airfare, accommodations and food.
The 2024 Hyundai Kona’s sleek aerodynamic front end will likely be the first part of the crossover to catch the attention of onlookers. The Kona is fitted with full-width LED light bars at the front and rear, similar to other Hyundai vehicles like the revamped Sonata. The crossover still retains its rugged wheel arches, which will be available in black plastic for standard and Limited trims or body color on N-Line and Electric models.
The similarities with recent Hyundai models are even more apparent on the new Kona Electric. The electric crossover features pixel-shaped accent lighting beneath the front and rear bumpers, similar to Hyundai’s Ioniq models. It’s not surprising, considering the popularity of the retrofuturistic styling elements.
Hyundai aimed to keep the design for the combustion and electric Kona as close as possible. The shared body shape has allowed both models to reap the benefits of refined aerodynamics. However, the pair has some differences beyond the pixel accent lighting. The combustion model is fitted with active grille shutters to feed cool air to the engine as needed. Like most EVs, the Kona Electric has no engine under the hood to cool and its front end is closed off.
The 2024 Hyundai Kona is fitted with a two-liter inline-four engine as standard. The powerplant makes 147 horsepower. The higher-end N-Line and Limited trim levels utilize a turbocharged 1.6-liter inline-four, producing 190 horsepower. All-wheel drive is an available option at all trim levels.
After driving both the N-Line and Limited Kona crossover, the Hyundai engine is very capable for its segment, with one significant caveat. Throttle response has a noticeable delay of at least a second, which worsens depending on how much throttle is applied. It makes quickly accelerating up to highway speeds frustrating. Putting the crossover into “Sport Mode” mitigates the issues but doesn’t eliminate it.
The Kona Electric doesn’t feature the same problem but is held back in other ways. The entry-level EV is only available with front-wheel drive. Hyundai claims the standard range model produces 99 kilowatts (133 hp) and has 200 miles of range, performance at the lower end for EVs. For comparison, the EPA rated the standard Volkswagen ID.4 for 150 kW (201 hp) and a 209-mile range. The extended range Kona Electric improves to 150kW (201 hp) and a 261-mile range.
Hyundai focused on function over form when designing the new Kona’s interior. The dashboard features two 12.3 integrated displays, mimicking the minimalist look of the automaker’s other models. The Kona also features physical buttons for nearly every often-used control, including whether its USB-C port is used for solely charging or also as a data connection.
Apple Car Play and Android Auto are available on the Kona but will require a wired connection at launch. Wireless connectivity will be available after a future over-the-air (OTA) update. Hyundai will be able to update various electronic systems via OTA update, including ADAS, control and navigation systems. Bluelink+, Hyundai’s connected car service plan, is complimentary on the Kona and all of the manufacturer’s 2024 models.
The Kona features several other tweaks to maximize passenger and storage space. The thinner front seats and a sofa-style rear seat create good legroom, and the EV crossover has an entirely flat floor for passengers in the back row. The crossover is fitted with a removable rear cargo shelf with mounting pegs to store the panel. The Kona also has hideable cup holders to include space for small items. However, the plastic material used in the interior feels thin and flimsy.
The 2024 Hyundai Kona offers a utilitarian driving experience in a stylish, modern package. Owners will easily get from A to B while keeping their phones charged and without getting lost in a bottomless pit of touchscreen submenus. The Kona has the potential to be sporty on the road, but it feels tamped down. It’s disappointing that the N Line Kona is solely an appearance package because the more aggressive bodywork and Alcantara upholstery scream performance.
The 2024 Hyundai Kona is on sale now, starting at $24,100. The 2024 Hyundai Kona Electric will be available later this fall. Pricing has yet to be announced for the electric crossover.