Sensing a shift from mid-size crossovers to smaller models, carmakers are in a rush to get more of these new small CUVs into showrooms. Hyundai is getting in on the ground floor with the 2018 Kona. Starting at just $19,500, the 2018 Hyundai Kona is a small crossover with big value.

Hyundai officials believe that while buyers seem to want to downsize their cars, they don’t want to give up features they’ve gotten used to in their larger crossovers. And that’s where the new Kona excels.

Many of those features are standard in the 2018 Kona, including a 7-inch display audio system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a rearview monitor with parking guidance, LED daytime running lights, automatic headlights, Bluetooth, cruise control and tire pressure monitoring.

Some of the major available features include 18-inch alloy wheels, an 8-way power driver’s seat, leather seating surfaces, rain-sensing wipers, LED headlights and taillights, automatic climate control and a proximity key with pushbutton start.

The Kona, which is arriving in dealerships, is available in four trim levels: SE, SEL, Limited and Ultimate. I’ve been able to spend time in two of those trims, the Ultimate and the SEL.

The Ultimate has all the above features plus navigation, heated seats and mirrors, an 8-inch touchscreen, wireless phone charging and the best heads-up system on the market. That makes it a loaded little crossover that comes in at below $29,000. My test car this week was the SEL, which had an MSRP of $21,300 plus freight.

The class-leading HUD on the Ultimate is eight inches of full color information projected brightly on the windshield in right front of the driver. Projected information includes speed, navigation instructions, lane departure warning and audio system details.

The Kona is available with two engine choices. The standard engine in the SE and SEL trims is a 2.0-liter Atkinson Cycle 4-cylinder that develops 147 horsepower and 132 lb.-ft. of torque. Limited and Ultimate trims get a 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder that kicks out 175 horses and 195 lb.-ft. of torque. The transmission that comes with the 2.0-liter engine is a 6-speed automatic, while the turbo-four gets a 7-speed dual clutch automatic. In a great move, Hyundai makes AWD an option on all trim levels.

The Kona has a stylish and surprisingly roomy cabin with durable materials and good visibility all around. The “floating” touchscreen that sits atop the center stack governs most vehicle functions, while the rest of the center stack is simple and intuitive.

Front seat headroom is 39.6 inches, and in the back seat its 37.8 inches. Rear seat legroom is 34.6 inches. The Kona seats five adults comfortably, although you wouldn’t want to be the middle seat passenger in back on a cross-country trip. My 6-foot-1 frame fit comfortably in the back seat.

On the road, the Kona offers a solid ride with responsive performance. I found the Kona surefooted and confident on the road, with virtually no body roll in hard cornering. Normal and Sport driving modes are driver selectable.

The Kona gets the top score of “good” in all crash tests thus far by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The IIHS dings the Kona for its headlights and the ease of installing and removing child seats. The government has not yet completed its safety tests.

Advanced safety features in the 2018 Kona include a Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist system that uses a front-facing camera and radar to detect an imminent collision and avoid impact or minimize damage by braking autonomously. The Kona’s lane keeping assist, high beam assist and driver attention warning systems also use the front-view camera.

Lane keeping assist uses road markings to keep the car in its lane, automatically bumping the steering wheel back when the car wanders over the line. High beam assist, traditionally seen in more expensive models, automatically turns the high beam headlights on when no cars are ahead and off when cars are approaching. The driver attention warning system monitors a spectrum of driver-related characteristics to detect driver fatigue or careless driving. The Kona also has a blind-spot monitor and rear cross traffic alert.

If you’re in the market for a small crossover, the 2018 Hyundai Kona presents and excellent value with good safety equipment and a reasonable price.

2018 Hyundai Kona SEL FWD


2.0-liter Atkinson Cycle 4-cylinder


147/132 lb.-ft.


6-speed automatic



EPA mileage estimates:

27 mpg city/33 mpg highway/30 mpg combined

Estimated highway range:

436 miles