Hyundai Takes The Kona To A New Level

Hyundai Takes The Kona To A New Level

Hyundai Takes The Kona To A New Level
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Released in 2018, this eye-catching crossover SUV is one of the newest cars from South Korean automaker Hyundai, and it has been getting more popular every year.

The Hyundai Kona has a lot to offer: unique styling, affordable price, sporty performance, good fuel economy, and a bunch of tech and safety features. Sales have also been steadily increasing here in Canada, and in 2021 they’re off to the strongest start yet.

We wanted to see what all the hype is about, so we took the new model for a spin. Here’s our quick-look review.

What Is the 2021 Hyundai Kona?

The 2021 Hyundai Kona is very similar to the 2020 model. One of the biggest changes is its appearance. Hyundai has dropped the orange and green color options from the lineup and is offering an entirely new trim: the Night edition.

The new model incorporates the popular 175-horsepower, turbocharged engine and comes with a whole new appearance package that includes exterior lighting, glossy black wheels and interior pieces, black upholstery, and a black headliner. Here at CarDigest, the Night model was an instant hit. 

Otherwise, Hyundai has made few changes to the Kona for 2021. And why would it? After all, it’s a top safety pick that also comes with an industry-leading powertrain warranty.

What Is Under the Hood of the 2021 Hyundai Kona?

Since its debut in 2018, Hyundai has been upping  the ante on the Kona, and they now offer it in six different trims. Although there are six models of the 2021 Kona, only two engine options are powering them.

Drivers can test the limits of a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine with almost 150 horsepower and a six-speed automatic. Or they can tackle the road a bit more aggressively with an upgraded 1.6-liter, turbocharged, four-cylinder engine with 175 horsepower and a seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission. Here’s a chart of which engine goes with which trim:

Trim Level



2.0 L 4-cylinder, 147 hp, and  132 lb-ft torque


2.0 L 4-cylinder, 147 hp, and  132 lb-ft torque

SEL Plus

2.0 L 4-cylinder, 147 hp, and  132 lb-ft torque


1.6 L turbo 4-cylinder, 175 hp, and 195 lb-ft torque


1.6 L turbo 4-cylinder, 175 hp, and 195 lb-ft torque


1.6 L turbo 4-cylinder, 175 hp, and 195 lb-ft torque

Regardless of engine, each model starts with front-wheel drive. But Hyundai also offers all-wheel drive as an option for each model.

What Is the Interior of the 2021 Hyundai Kona Like?

The interior of the new Hyundai Kona is a great combination of design, ergonomics, and function; it’s on the high end of what you would expect from a crossover SUV in this price range. The simple yet elegant design merges curves and edges in a way that echoes the exterior design, but with a bit more refinement.

Behind the leather-wrapped steering wheel is an easy-to-read dashboard and an instrument cluster composed of digital and analog readouts. Atop the center of the dashboard, the touch screen controls the infotainment system, and everything is ergonomically designed to be within easy reach of the driver’s seat. 

The Kona comfortably seats five people in its cloth seats and provides plenty of legroom in both front and rear. The cargo space is nothing to rave about—the Honda HR-V, for example, has much more space—but it’s not worst-in-class either, just beating the Mazda CX-3. It has 19 square feet of cargo space, 46 square feet if you flatten the second-row seat.

What Is the Technology of the 2021 Hyundai Kona Like?

The Kona comes with an easy-to-use touch screen infotainment system that is mounted on the dashboard and is accentuated with shortcut buttons.

Lower-tier models of the Kona come with a seven-inch touch screen for this system. The Ultimate has a slightly upgraded eight-inch screen with additional features. All of the touch screens come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto standard. So it’s easy to stay connected.

The additional navigation system included with the Ultimate model and its integration with the heads-up display does give the Ultimate a technological edge on the lower-tier models.

The new Kona also comes with many other tech and safety features, including:

  • Automated emergency braking
  • Lane-keeping assist
  • Automatic high-beams headlights
  • Forward-collision warning
  • Blind-spot monitoring
  • Pedestrian detection
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Driver drowsiness warning

Our Take on the 2021 Hyundai Kona

We are fans. This sporty crossover looks great, has plenty of cargo space for what it is, and is bursting with technology and safety features that make it an all-around great car. The brand-new Night model takes the looks of the new Kona to a whole new level.

The 1.6-liter, turbocharged engines in the upper-tier trims have plenty of power and tons of torque. But the naturally aspirated engines in the lower-tier models leave a bit to be desired when it comes to highway driving. The front-wheel-drive performs great, but we wish—now, this isn’t a dealbreaker by any means—but we wish that the all-wheel-drive came standard on at least one model.

Since its release just a few years ago, the Kona has become one of the models that Hyundai  especially focuses on. It’s not going anywhere soon, and we’re excited to see what comes next. Until then, we’ll enjoy the 2021 model year.


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