2024 Hyundai Kona Limited
A Feature-Packed Car Within My Price Range (which means it’s probably within yours too)
The Kona Limited is decked out with a long list of features more often enjoyed by those dropping a significantly larger sum on their modes of transport. It also drives and rides comfortably.
By J-F Wright
Tue, Dec 26, 2023 06:25 PM PST
Images by the author, edited by Erica Wright
On the Hyundai website, the Kona is listed together with its larger SUV siblings. The fact that the Kona qualifies as an SUV is beyond me (even more weird is that the smaller Venue is also found there), it’s way more a hatchback than an SUV. In my mind an SUV is bigger, taller, and most likely also a bit more beastly. The Kona is not that large, nor is it very tall, and it is way more elegant than beastly.
As usual, I have to back down from my “this is a hatchback”-stance. We are, after all, in a country where “hatchback” and “station wagon” are only to be used when reminiscing about Chevy Chase in certain Christmas movies.
The Hyundai Kona looks like an electric car - with its horizontal line of LED lights stretching across the entire front - but it is in fact not electric at all, not even a hybrid. The futuristic looks might indicate otherwise, but under the hood lies a 1.6-liter turbocharged inline 4-cylinder engine.
The very futuristic face of the Kona does well on the EV version of the car - yeah there is one, and it looks very similar. Up front there is one difference though, the electric version doesn’t really have an air inlet (because it doesn’t need one). And while the combustion version does need air to flow in from the front, it seems to lack it as well. It’s not until you turn the engine on that the slats up front open up and allow air to be scooped in.
Other than the thin, yet long, horizontal LED-strip across its hood, the Hyundai Kona does look like a fairly regular car. Even so, that LED-strip will make you stick out a bit - at least while the general population gets used to that specific futuristic look.
Whatever you want to call it, I love this type of vehicle - the layout lends itself to so many variations. You can seat a family of five and still have enough space in the trunk for plenty of stuff. But, if there’s only two of you, you can flip the rear seats down and suddenly have an abundance of space for whatever toys and gear you’re bringing along.
Speaking of space, the rear seat is decently large - definitely big enough for two adults. I can easily fit three children back there, even though one of them is in a full-body child seat and one is on a booster. As an indicator, I’m 6 feet tall and I definitely have enough space in the back seat of the Kona.
In the back - in no particular order - you’ve got two USB-C outlets, two LATCH tether points, and an adequate number of cupholders. With three seats in use the cupholders are in the doors, but if there’s just two of you back there you can fold the center armrest down and viola! you’ll find two more cupholders there.
As for the front seat, they are comfortable, heated, and cooled - the steering wheel is heated too, which is a nice touch. Up front we’ve got two USB-C outlets along with a wireless charging station for your phone. That wireless charging station is exceptionally large, so it kind of takes up more space than is needed for a phone.
Although the seats really look and feel like leather, they are not - Hyundai calls them H-Tex Seating Surfaces. The black H-Tex (leatherette) found in our review vehicle includes details and in-lays on the backrest of the two front seats, adding a tab of flair.
Convenience (And Fun) Technology
The infotainment system is easy to use and has everything you need within easy access - the classic Hyundai infotainment system in other words. The built-in navigation system works well and is itself easily navigated.
The interior of the Hyundai Kona is also somewhat futuristic-looking. Mainly because of the way the entertainment screen attaches to the dashboard screen. Visually they are one on the same, making for this ginormous screen stretching across a majority of the interior. However, this “screen” makes a turn halfway through and if you look closely, you’ll see that it’s not really a screen that goes all the way across - there’s two.
The Kona Limited includes a Bose Premium Audio system - for the money it’s actually pretty good. Overall, for $33,645, our test-Kona has a bunch of bells and whistles.
The rearview camera is coupled with a top-down camera. Extra love to Hyundai for including a button where one can manually turn on the camera systems. I love being able to hit a button rather than having to stick the car into reverse to get the top-down view going - I often want to turn it on when pulling nose-first into a parking spot, never actually reversing.
The lift-gate can be activated hands-free, meaning that you can open the trunk by standing by it for three seconds with the key fob in your pocket. Some manufacturers have opted to have folks wave their feet around under the rear bumper, but Hyundai is going for patently waiting - you’ll look less goofy than doing a one-footed dance.
Speaking of opening the car, the Hyundai Kona can be accessed by a digital key as well as by using the regular key fob. This digital key is stored on your phone (and your watch, it seems) so you can unlock, start, and lock your Kona using your phone. Furthermore, you can share your “key” with other smartphone users (compatible smartphones, that is) which means that you can easily loan your car out or make last minute changes to who’s grabbing your car from that spot where you left it yesterday.
The Hyundai Kona Limited - again, for under $34,000 - comes loaded with a bunch of safety features. You’ve got the Blind Spot View Monitor which shows you a live feed of your blind spot as soon as you activate your turn signal. So you’re actually watching a live movie of your blind spot where you would normally be seeing your speed or your RPMs.
Hyundai’s Smart Cruise Control does a good job at separating you from the car ahead. On the highway the system morphs into what Hyundai calls the Highway Driving Assist - a system that doesn’t explicably tell you to let go of the steering wheel, but it sorta feels like you can. Actually, it took a long time until the Kona yelled at me when cruising down the freeway hand-off - sometimes miles. I’m thinking that it’ll allow hand-off driving until it feels that you should be paying more attention…
Power & Driving
The 2024 Hyundai Kona Limited has a 1.6 liter turbo-charged in-line four cylinder engine. Coupled with an eight speed automatic transmission, it’s actually plenty quick. There’s enough power for this vehicle, and one might even say it’s fun to drive.
The one negative comment I would make is that the turbo does take a while to kick in. I guess we’re getting used to the hybrids - especially the sporty hybrids - where you feel the electric power immediately, while you wait for the engine to shift down and kick in. Since our Kona is not a hybrid, you will have to wait for the turbo to spool up before anything really happens.
So, when it comes to “zipping through traffic” you’ll have to get used to flooring it a second or two before you actually plan on getting going. The automatic transmission - especially when in normal driving mode - takes some time before it has downshifted, and then you’ll need to wait for the turbo to spool up.
Thankfully it does get better if you pop over to the “Sport” driving mode - that keeps you in lower gears a bit longer and tightens the automatic transmission to shift gears quicker. Another way would be to become an avid user of the paddle shifters, always making sure you’ve got the revs up enough to get going.
For a car in the mid-thirties ($34,000, that is) you get a lot of bang for your buck in the Hyundai Kona Limited. Of course, that’s kinda how it goes with most Hyundais. We’re excited that the list of comfort and convenience features is so long - maybe only surpassed by the list of safety features - as that means that more and more of the general population can afford to get into vehicles equipped with options making our drive more comfortable and a whole lot safer.
About The Author
John-Fredrik Wright was born in Sweden, but raised on both sides of the Atlantic. His experience in the automotive industry starts with a summer-job as a host at Volkswagen’s premier showroom in Stockholm. Later, he worked as an instructor at Swedish Active Driving, teaching safe driving (among other things the renowned "elk-avoidance maneuver") and advanced driving techniques.