2020 Hyundai Kona Ultimate FWD in Lemon Twist

In 2018, the all-new Hyundai Kona compact crossover joined a growing number of offerings in the segment.  The very nimble, well powered and nicely featured sporty SUV offered a range of affordable trim levels just perfect for younger and/or entry level drivers, new families and even empty nesters.

We tested a new Kona Ultimate AWD that year and found to be an engaging drive with lots of appeal across a broad spectrum of buyers.  Good price – good value and lots of fun to drive.

For 2020, the Hyundai Kona starts at $20,400 for an FWD base model and just $21,800 in AWD. Essentially (except for the AWD) the same Kona we tested in 2018. 

As we noted in 2018, a pretty darn good small SUV with a nice starting price that gets ever better as you move up the trim line to the well featured top model in AWD all for under $30,000.

As Tested – Hyundai Kona Ultimate AWD

Last week, Hyundai sent us a 2020 Kona for another evaluation.  Still good price and good value.  Kona is just perfect for the up and coming young or the empty nesting mature folks.  This time the test Kona was the top-of-the-line Ultimate in FWD instead of AWD.  It was in their brash and bold – not found in nature – Lime Twist exterior. The interior was Black on Black with Lime Twist color accent trims.

OF NOTE: Spoiler alert – the Lime Twist is not available for 2021.  So, if it fits your style, get one now.

The MSRP was $27,750.  Priced complete without packages to select from, the delivered price was $28,980.

 

Powertrain

The Ultimate is powered by their Gamma 1.6L turbocharged engine delivering 175 horsepower and 195 lb.-ft. of torque. Notably the peak torque on this powerplant starts at just 1,500 rpm and runs to 4,500 rpm giving it nice pop off the line.  In our 2018 test of the same powertrain, we noted turbo spool-up at early acceleration.  In 2020, that seems to have been tuned out of the acceleration profile.

The turbo is mated to a 7-speed EcoShift dual clutch transmission which delivers the power to the road quickly and efficiently. 

With Drive Mode Select, the driver can opt to use the SPORT Mode which enhances acceleration and gives quicker downshifts when braking.  Nicely done – giving a sportier feel to the drive experience.  Though we typically love SPORT modes, the Kona NORMAL Mode was  still quite satisfactory.

The powertrain is well suited for this vehicle in all types of driving and across all manner of drivers.

For the record, fuel economy ratings for the turbo for the this FWD are 28/32/30 mpg city/highway combined. 

Mechanical

Underneath the Kona Ultimate is nicely balanced for around town and highway driving.  We noted that we found the AWD version tested in 2018 gave us stronger sense of ‘planted’ on the road while driving through the hills and country roads of Central Texas.

Riding 6.7-inches off the ground, our FWD Kona was equipped with 18-inch alloy wheels and 235/45 R18 tires.  The suspension features MacPherson Strut with coil springs and gas filled shocks up front and a Coupled Torsion Beam Axle suspension in the rear.  To our point about the road handling, the AWD version features a Multi-Link w/stabilize bar rear suspension.

Steering is motor-driven rack and pinion.  Braking is 4-wheel/channel/sensor ABS with Electronic Brake Force Distribution. Front brakes are 305mm ventilated disc front and 284mm solid disk rear.

Exterior

Exterior elements of note included the cascading grille with sporty mesh pattern, boldly styled fenders and body cladding side and rear, Power Tilt/Slde Sunroof, LED Headlamps, LED Daytime Running Lights and LED Rear Taillights, Fog Lights and Dual Power Heated Side Mirrors with turn indicators.

Other features include two-speed variable intermittent – rain sensing – windshield wipers, rear spoiler and roof rails.

Interior

On the inside, Kona is roomy in the front with sport type leather trimmed seating, good sight lines and all controls well placed for ease of use.  The second row is not quite so roomy with a slightly low roof entry and short legroom for taller persons.  As we have noted with many smaller SUVs, we would suggest two adults (not 3) in the second row as the ‘comfortable’ capacity.

Seating is comfortable front and rear and the 19.2 cubic feet of storage behind the second row is very reasonable.  Fold the rear seats down and you have 45.8 cubic feet of cargo space.

Convenience Features

Kona Ultimate features a full array of convenience features including  the likes of Remote Keyless Entry, Proximity Key Push Button Start, Automatic Headlamp Control, heated front seats with leather seating surfaces, 8-way Power Driver Seat, Front Passenger seat slide and recline feature, 60/40 split fold down rear seats, Dual Level Cargo Floor – with storage tray – behind the second row.

Technology and Infotainment

Our 2020 Kona Ultimate featured plenty of technology and infotainment.

Technology on our Ultimate included a Color Active Heads-Up Display, 4.2-inch Color Multi-Information Display, wireless charging and remote keyless remote/proximity entry with push button start and Blue Link Connected Car System.

The infotainment on Kona Ultimate is anchored by an 8-inch color touchscreen with Navigation and Traffic Flow embedded. The 315-watt Infinity Audio 8-speaker w/Clari-Fi system features AM/FM/MP3 and Bluetooth connectivity, SiriusXM/HD Radio, USB and MP3 auxiliary jacks, 12volt power outlet and Android Auto plus Apple CarPlay capability.

Safety

Hyundai is known for their safety and their IIHS Top Safety Pick rating reflects that. 

Included on the Kona Ultimate are Forward Collision-Avoidance with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Change and Keeping Assist, High Beam Assist and Drive Attention Warning (aka driver ‘nod-off’ warning).

Also included were Blind Spot and Rear Cross Traffic Warning, Rearview Camera w/Dynamic Guideline Assist and Parking Distance Alert.

Other features included individual Tire Pressure Monitoring, High Beam Assist, Vehicle Stability Management, Electronic Stability Control with Traction Control and Brake Assist along with Hill Start Assist.

Warranty

Hyundai continues to stand out among manufacturers through the most comprehensive warranties in the U.S. with its Hyundai Assurance program. It provides a 5-year/60,000-mile, fully transferable, new vehicle limited warranty plus their 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain limited warranty and five years of complimentary Roadside Assistance.  Learn more HERE

Kona Lineup

For 2021, the Hyundai Kona comes in five trim levels starting at MSRP $20,400 for the base SE.  Other trims are the SEL, SEL Plus, Limited and Ultimate.  All come standard as FWD with AWD available. Two powertrains are offered – 2.0L inline 4-cylinder mated to a 6-speed automatic (SE/SEL/SEL Plus) and the 1.6L Turbo GDI 4-cylinder mated to the 7-speed EcoShift DCT transmission (Limited and Ultimate).  Learn more HERE.

Kona is also available as a fully electric vehicle (EV). The 2020 Kona EV comes in two trim levels – SEL (MSRP $37,190) and Limited (MSRP $41,800).  Note the Federal Tax credit of up to $7,500 still applies.

The Kona EV was the 2019 North American Utility Vehicle of the Year (NACTOY) and has been named the 2020 Best Electric Vehicle by U.S. News and World Report.

We have driven the Kona EV and find it – with its 258-mile range – to be an excellent choice for those wanting a ‘green’ vehicle.

KEY DATA:   2020 Hyundai Kona Ultimate  

  • Model:                              Kona
  • Trim                                  Ultimate
  • Class:                                 Small SUV
  • Seating:                             Five
  • MSRP:                               $27,750          
  • As Tested:                         $28,980
  • Engine:                              1.6L Turbo GDI
  • Horsepower:                     175
  • Torque:                             195 lb.-ft.
  • Transmission:                   7-Speed EcoSHIFT w/Shiftronic Manual Mode
  • Drive System:                    FWD
  • Wheel size                        18–inch
  • Fuel Economy                   28/32/30 mpg    city/highway/combined
  • Fuel Tank                           13.2 gallons
  • Range                                420 miles