Hyundai Kona Ultimate is versatile and fun to drive

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The 2020 Hyundai Kona is a five-passenger subcompact crossover SUV that is available in five trim levels: SE, SEL, SEL Plus, Limited and Ultimate.
The 2020 Hyundai Kona is a five-passenger subcompact crossover SUV that is available in five trim levels: SE, SEL, SEL Plus, Limited and Ultimate.

Part of the first Kona generation introduced for 2018, this year’s Hyundai Kona is still impressive, and it continues to be one of my top-ranked extra-small SUVs.

Of all the compact SUVs I’ve tested thus far for 2020, the Hyundai Kona is one of my favorites – particularly the Ultimate trim. Its small size makes the Kona easy to park, yet it has enough trunk space for all sorts of gear.

There’s a lot of appealing value here, too. Even the lower trim levels provide desirable features such as smartphone compatibility, forward collision warning, and heated front seats.

But before I get all revved up, let’s start at the beginning, with what’s new for 2020. Quick answer is, not much! Just some small changes to standard and optional equipment, and optional adaptive cruise control (ACC) on the top-trim Kona Ultimate, plus a new interior color option and small price bump across the range.

The only criticism I’ve heard, is that some say the base engine is weak. But the all-wheel-drive test vehicle I had for a week, came with a robust 1.6l Turbocharged GDI four cylinder – which provided quick acceleration.

The 2020 Hyundai Kona is available in five trim levels: SE, SEL, SEL Plus, Limited, and Ultimate. Hyundai doesn’t offer any optional packages, but there are added features available on each trim.

The SE, SEL and SEL Plus models are powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (147 horsepower, 132 lb-ft of torque) that is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. The Limited and Ultimate trims get a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder (175 hp, 195 lb-ft) that’s mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

Front-wheel drive is standard. All-wheel drive is available as an option for all Konas and comes bundled with a more sophisticated rear suspension design and a lockable center differential.

Standard features for the SE trim include alloy wheels, remote keyless entry, air conditioning, a rearview camera, Bluetooth, a 7-inch infotainment touchscreen, two USB ports, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane keeping assist, and a six-speaker audio system.

The SEL trim adds extras such as roof rails, keyless entry and ignition, heated front seats, blind-spot monitoring and satellite radio. The SEL Plus throws in many convenience and tech features such as a sunroof, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, an eight-speaker Infinity audio system, a wireless smartphone charging pad, and Hyundai’s Blue Link communications system.

Stepping up to the Limited trim gets you all of the above plus the turbocharged engine, LED headlights and taillights, upgraded exterior trim, automatic climate control, leather upholstery, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.

The range-topping Ultimate trim comes loaded up with rear parking sensors, pedestrian detection for the forward collision mitigation system, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, automatic wipers, a head-up display, an 8-inch touchscreen and a navigation system.

The electric version of the Kona, meanwhile, also receives few updates for the new model year. A battery-warming system is now available as an option, while multimedia displays are tweaked slightly: A new 8-inch display replaces the 7-inch screen on Limited trims, and the Ultimate’s navigation touchscreen now features a 10.25-inch display instead of the previous 8-incher. An Infinity audio system formerly available on Ultimate trims is also now available on the Limited.

Whichever version you pick, I definitely recommend taking the 2020 Kona for a test drive, especially if you’re looking for a small vehicle that’s versatile and fun to drive.

Grant Miller is the publisher of Miami’s Community Newspapers. He may be contacted by calling 305-662-2277 or via email at Grant@CommunityNewspapers.com.


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