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16th of November 2018


Hyundai Kona: 2019 Motor Trend SUV of the Year Finalist - Motor Trend

WE LIKE Agile handling, great powertrains, great EV range

WE DON'T LIKE Tight back seat and modest cargo room

There's no tougher ballgame in town than that of the subcompact crossover. Margins are thin, but you can't make it feel cheap.

But with its all-new Kona, Hyundai's first swing appears to be a hit. Available with either front- or all-wheel drive, two distinct gas engine choices, and even an all-electric option, there are variants aplenty.

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Likes? "This is probably the most compelling vehicle in its class," Christian Seabaugh said. About the 175-hp 1.6-liter mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch, he added, "Not only does it look cool, but it's also relatively sporty and fun to drive. For once, we have a subcompact crossover with a proper powertrain." But move down to the base 147-hp 2.0-liter model, and do you miss much for nearly 10 grand less? "It has just as much fun factor," Mark Rechtin said. "The knobs and buttons are a bit cruder, but it rides and handles pretty much the same."

Negatives? "It's long on sport but might be short on utility," Scott Evans said. "The rear seat is cramped, and the cargo space is fairly small, even for its class. Its lack of ground clearance makes it more of a foul-weather vehicle than an SUV." Its loud interior—meaning noise levels, not its cool lime-colored accents—is class-typical, too.

Angus MacKenzie was attracted to its design: "The Kona's chunky, tough, broad-shouldered design looks interesting without being overwrought." And all of us were wowed by the 201-hp electric version's eye-opening yet affordable 258 miles of battery range and silky driving quality.

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