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Entry price: $20,100

Price as tested: $28,980

Likes: Design, roomy interior, more safety per dollar spent, warranty.

Dislikes: Turbo models get expensive, some road noise, non-turbo needs more horses.

This week, it’s the 2020 Hyundai Kona we’re testing, a front-drive smaller compact crossover that debuted in 2017 as an all-new Hyundai model.

Kona is a sales success with a 27% increase for October 2019 versus last October, and a near double with 60,652 Konas sold year to date versus 32,795 through the same 10-month period in 2018.

Kona is adept at attracting consumers from all demographic age groups. It’s a fine looking little car that offers consumers lots of reasons to buy in the “small station wagon/crossover” category. With attractive trims in numerous configurations, Kona’s 4x4 model is especially popular and its pricing structure is surprising considering what you receive for dollars spent.

Specifically, Hyundai Kona offers lots for the money, including sporty exterior and interior and high-tech safety features that cost extra on many competitor offerings.  

Our tester is the top line and more luxurious Kona Ultimate, which starts at $27,750. Delivered with front-drive mechanicals, Kona is ready to adapt to the needs of the majority of demographic age groups. Everything from the shape of the driver’s door panel to an expansive foot well is built in to ensure that entering and exiting a Kona is quick, easy and non-cumbersome, especially for senior citizens.

Starting at just $20,100 for the base 2020 Kona SE, pricing moves up the ladder to the SEL at $21,900; SEL Plus at $23,750; Limited at $25,900; and our aforementioned tester Ultimate at $27,750. If you want the 4x4 version, add $1,400 to the above front-drive prices which, in my opinion, is very reasonable and will increase trade-in value when the time arrives.

Built on an all-new manufacturing platform in Ulsan, Korea, a 2.0-liter, 12.5 to 1 compression four-cylinder powers the SE, SEL and SEL Plus while a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder motivates the upper-class Limited and Ultimate models.

The 2.0-liter produces 147 horses and 132 lb. of torque, just enough to allow acceptable passing and merging power. A six-speed automatic is standard on the non-turbo models while the turbo models come with a seven-speed dual clutch transmission.    

The turbo ups the horsepower to 175 with 195 lb. ft. of torque which moves the lightweight Kona pretty well. The only drawback is the Ultimate’s $27,750 entry price, which is a bit high considering the entry SE is some $7,650 less.  

The 2.0 delivers good fuel mileage, with 27 city and 33 highway the EPA estimates. The turbo models are a bit less on the highway at 32, but do better in the city at 28. If you opt for the 4x4 models, they are nearly identical at an EPA 26 city and 30 highway for the non turbo and 26 city and 29 highway for the turbo.

All Kona trims feature a sleek front end with large grille, pronounced fender flares, decent cargo room, raised trunk hatch and a really neat boomerang style taillight motif. These sculptured highpoints help deliver Kona’s “fun to drive” ideology and a strong family resemblance to the other Hyundai siblings.

Suspension highlights include a MacPherson strut setup up front and a coupled rear torsion beam layout out back. The Ultimate trim comes fully-equipped and feature Hankook 18-inch tires on sporty alloy wheels that improve ride, handling and comfort. The ride is on the firmer side but is still comfy while handling is good for a small vehicle. If you need to park in city traffic, it’s a breeze.  

Important safety equipment includes lane keep assist and emergency front collision avoidance even on the entry model, which is outstanding considering SE’s low price. The usual safety features are also included across the board, like rearview camera, all the airbags, four-wheel ABS disc brakes, traction and stability controls and even a driver attention warning.

Considering Hyundai’s 10-year, 100,000 mile warranty, it’s tough to find major faults with the Kona, regardless of dress. It is a well-built, fun, economical car.

Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and Gannett Co. Inc. Contact him at greg@gregzyla.com or at 303 Roosevelt St., Sayre, PA 18840.


Auto Bits

Why the Tesla test failed

The Tesla Cybertruck was unveiled in November at a launch event hosted by CEO Elon Musk. The truck itself was roundly met with hate and disbelief. Yet that was only part of the fuss. There was also the matter of its “armor glass” windows shattering.

While onstage in front of the assembled masses, Tesla chief designer Franz von Holzhuasen was asked to throw a steel ball directly at the driver’s side window. The assumption was that the window would remain intact. 

Instead the glass broke, surprising Musk, who uttered an expletive. Undeterred, he asked Franz to throw it at the rear-side window, which yielded the same result. 

Clearly it worked at some point, but that doesn’t explain what happened to make it all go wrong during the reveal. Turns out the order of operation rules you learned in math class mattered when it came to demonstrating the durability of the Cybertruck.

Before Franz threw steel balls at the windows, he whacked the front door with a sledgehammer. This part of the demonstration went off without a hitch. Franz swung the sledgehammer and it bounced off the door panel without a scratch. It looked like a success, but it caused the glass failure moments later.

— BestRide.com


Did You Know

AAA says that more than 55 million people ventured at least 50 miles for Thanksgiving this year.