2020 Hyundai Kona Ultimate FWD Test Drive

“2020 Hyundai Kona Ultimate FWD”
Hyundai’s Small SUV is Big on Fun


At its 2018 Hawaiian launch, Hyundai positioned their Hyundai Kona as a crossover for “Urban Adventurers” laying claim that it broke the mold, setting a new benchmark for the compact SUV class,

The 2020 Hyundai Kona is still everything that one could want in a compact SUV or crossover, displaying its flashy, youthful oriented design in a package that is fun to drive with a sporty character loaded with leading safety technology and advanced Infotainment features in a vehicle that’s both affordable and efficient.

The folks at Hyundai refer to the exterior styling of this latest Kona as “Urban Smart Armor” providing an aggressive roomy form that serves up a low and wide stance, ready to successfully take on a wide variety of both urban and suburban adventure-oriented motoring scenarios.


The Kona leads off with a familial mesh patterned, cascading grille flanked by pronounced “wing-like” fender flares. The headlight design features a separated treatment with lower LED headlights along with upper LED daytime running lights for a distinctive look.

In profile, the Kona displays a long wheelbase, but with short body overhangs fore and aft to ensure an athletic handling ability, while delivering a confident stability at highway speeds. A strong horizontal side character line and low roofline deliver a bold, athletic and purposeful overall form along with sculpted features and sporty contours. Contrasting Black polymer “armor” panels over the wheel wells, rockers and both front and rear fascias provide protection along with a unique look that addresses the vehicles functionality when the going gets rough.

Aft, the slim rear brake lights, turn indicators and reverse lamps appear as separate units encased in the protective armor originating at the “C” pillar garnish. An integrated spoiler lip appears above the rear glass.


The Kona’s cabin provides spacious, comfortable surroundings with a horizontal treatment that emphasizes its width. The interior layout is both simple and sophisticated in contrast to the adventuresome exterior flavor. The audio/navigation display showcases advanced infotainment features and the standard floating seven-inch touchscreen includes Android Auto™ and Apple CarPlay™ capability. HVAC controls are surrounded by soft, flowing details contributing to an experience that enhances the comfort-focused environment.


My test Kona was loaded with safety features, including: Blind Spot Collision Warning, Rear Cross-traffic Collision Warning, Reverse Parking Distance Warning, Lane Change Assist; Rearview Camera with Dynamic Guidance; Vehicle Stability Management system; Electronic Stability Control with Traction Control and Brake Assist; Tire Pressure Monitoring System with Individual Tire Indicator; Hill Start Assist Control; ABS with EBD; and Airbags front – advanced: driver, front passenger, occupant classification system, driver and front passenger side-impact, side air curtains, front and rear passengers and driver’s knee, and driver and front passenger side-impact airbags. Also included is Hyundai’s Smart Sense with Forward Collision Avoidance Assist with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Keeping Assist, Driver Attention Warning and High Beam Assist.

Connectivity and Infotainment issues are well covered too, including a Head Up Display.


The Hyundai Kona is available in four levels of trim including: the base SE model, followed by the SEL trim level and the more upscale Limited and Ultimate trims.


Available to power the Hyundai Kona are two gasoline engines: a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder Atkinson Cycle engine that delivers 147 horsepower at 6200 rpm along with 132 lb.-ft. of torque at 4500 rpm is paired with a six-speed automatic SHIFTRONIC™ that provides a manual-shifting mode and includes an overdrive lock-up torque transmission that delivers motive force to SE and SEL models, while Limited and Ultimate Kona trims draw their energy from a Gamma 1.6-liter 4-cylinder direct-injected, turbocharged engine that pumps out 175 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 195 lb.-ft. of torque in a range from 1500-4500 rpm. Peak torque delivery starts at only 1,500 rpm and holds through 4,500 rpm, for low-rpm responsiveness and performance in everyday driving conditions, with the turbocharger featuring low-inertia turbo-spooling response characteristics for greater efficiency and engine longevity. The turbo engine mates to a seven-speed EcoShift dual clutch automatic transmission.


The Kona comes in either a FWD configuration or with an optional AWD system. The compact Kona platform was developed to provide genuine CUV capabilities, CUV-level ground clearance and an elevated, command-seating position ensures better visibility and comfort on long journeys, as well as easy ingress and egress. Kona delivers occupants generous interior space by optimizing an underfloor layout, including the AWD drivetrain and exhaust system, thereby reducing central tunnel intrusion on interior space. The optional AWD system and drivetrain is packaged to provide a spacious interior despite its compact exterior dimensions. Kona also benefits from strategic use of structural adhesives at high stress points on the chassis and extensive use of hot-stamping methods for greater rigidity.


The Hyundai Kona was developed focused on enhanced driving dynamics and responsive performance to deal with a variety of urban and multi-surface driving conditions. The front suspension features a McPherson strut system using an innovative sub-frame bushing design for enhanced comfort and reduced NVH. The MacPherson strut design uses gas-filled shock absorbers and a hollow stabilizer bar for lower weight and enhanced responsiveness. Available 18-inch alloy wheels with 235/45R18 tires provide agile handling character on a variety of road surfaces.

Differentiated rear suspension designs were specifically developed for 2WD and AWD models. 2WD models feature a rigid torsion beam design for overall stability and control, while AWD drive models utilize an independent, dual-arm multi-link design, optimizing ride comfort and stability in the wider ranges of off-road suspension articulation. Rear suspension control arm design also minimizes camber and toe changes throughout the wider suspension travel range.

Kona also offers Drive Mode Select, allowing the driver to customize dynamic responses, such as steering feel, transmission and overall powertrain responsiveness to their preferences, and to changing road or traffic conditions. Two differentiated driving modes (Normal and Sport) optimize the torque distribution and shift mapping. In Sport mode, there is a greater emphasis on acceleration with earlier downshifts on braking, while Normal mode slightly prioritizes fuel economy over performance with a more conservative, lower-rpm shift schedule.

Controls and switchgear are well placed and intuitive in terms of their operation. The ride quality is firm but comfortable, never entering a level of harshness. Handling characteristics lean to the sporty, fun side of the equation thanks to the motor driven, column mounted, power rack and pinion steering.


My test 2020 Hyundai Kona came in Ultimate trim and in a FWD configuration, powered by the 1.6-liter turbo charged four banger. It sported a Lime Twist metallic exterior finish with Black leather seating surfaces and Lime Twist accented trim elements. The base sticker read $27,750., while the as tested price came to $28,980., after adding the Carpeted Floor mats and Inland Freight and Handling costs.


The 2020 Hyundai Kona Ultimate is unusually attractive and appealing In terms of its styling, and it proves to be an ideal small crossover, capable of performing all functions as well or better than expected from a diminutive craft.

Acceleration from the 1.6-liter turbocharged four-banger was satisfyingly adequate, even if a little on the buzzy side when prodded in a more spirited fashion. But then most four cylinders tend to make their presence known when pushed hard. Utilizing the paddle shifters, the engine’s braking power seemed to be lacking in the regular drive mode. Entering the sport mode eliminated this issue, and engine braking became much more effective.

Bottom line, the 2020 Hyundai Kona Ultimate FWD seems to have it all (except AWD) – good looks, pleasant, comfortable surroundings, admirable performance and an attractive price point, especially when considering the impressive feature content level. It outshines a lot of other players in the segment. An electric version is also available.

SPECIFICATIONS: 2020 Hyundai Kona Ultimate FWD

Base Price: $27,750.
Price as Tested: $28,980.

Engine Type and Size: 1.6-liter, DOHC, 16-valve Dual Continuously Variable Valve Timing (D-CVVT) with Gasoline Direct Injection.

Horsepower (bhp): 175 @ 5,500 rpm
Torque (ft./ lbs.): 195 @ 1,500-4,500 rpm

Transmission: Seven-speed EcoShift DCT (Dry) with Drive Mode Select manual shift capability.

Drive Train: Transversely mounted front engine / FWD

Suspension: Front – MacPherson Strut with coil springs, Gas-pressurized shock absorbers, advanced valving and stabilizer bar.
Rear – Multilink with gas-pressurized shock absorbers, advanced valving and stabilizer bar.

Brakes: Power-assisted four-wheel discs (vented front) with 4-wheel, 4-channel, 4-sensor ABS, BS, DBC, HAC and EBD.

Tires: Goodyear Eagle Touring 235/45 R18 98Y mounted on 5 large machine face spokes separated by 5-small angled spokes with graphite painted inner surfaces.

Wheelbase: 102.4 inches
Length Overall: 164.0 inches
Width: 70.9 inches
Height: 61.0 inches – 61/.6” w/ roof raIls
Curb Weight: 3,256 lbs.
Turning Circle: 34.8 ft.
Fuel Capacity: 13.2 gallons
EPA Mileage Estimates: 28 mpg city / 32-mpg highway
Drag Coefficient: 0.32
0 – 60 mph: Not tested

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