May 21, 2022

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New Kona offers restyled look and power upgrade |

I love the Hyundai Kona and considered buying it myself a few years ago. I am partial to hatchback styles and find it a smart, modern-looking vehicle — that comes with all the things Hyundai offers to make their value priced vehicles great.

For 2022, Hyundai has made improvements and refreshed already good features of the small five-seater hatchback car. There is a new standard larger 8-inch touchscreen; wireless connectivity for Apple Car Play and Android Auto integration; an available digital instrument panel; and updated safety and driver features. The new adaptive cruise features can bring the Kona to a complete stop and lane keeping and rear automatic braking are standard. These features are not always standard on competing vehicles.

For 2022, the Kona also offers buyers models with more emphasis on performance. The Kona N and N Line cars offer pumped up power plants, sport-tuned suspension and brakes to give drivers a really fun car to drive. I’ve always thought Mazda 3s and 5s were the best vehicles at this price point, if your main goal was to enjoy the driving personality of an inexpensive car. The Kona is now a direct contender for most athletic and performance enhanced vehicle with an under $30,000 price tag.

There are two Konas that offer upgraded engine choices. The N Line has a turbocharged 1.6-liter engine that pumps out 195 horsepower and 195 lb-ft torque. The top-of-the-line N model is the true performance model, with a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine pushing 276 hp and capability for a boost to 286 hp. With a seven-speed dual clutch automatic transmission, the N Line is agile, peppy. It offers great handling, but without a stiff suspension and keep the bumps and effort needed for driving quiet.

Other Konas to choose from include the SE (the “basic model”), SEL, Limited, (slotted above my N Line trim and comes with the same engine as the N Line), and the N version.

The SE model is nicely appointed with a continuously variable transmission, 8-inch touchscreen, and a suite of driver assist aids including forward collision mitigation, lane departure alert and lane-keeping assist. You can own a Kona SE for about $23,500.

The most popular Kona trim is the SEL model and its got remote engine start, heated mirrors, roof rails, tinted rear mirrors, keyless entry and ignition start, satellite radio, blind spot monitor and rear camera with rear cross traffic alert. This trim starts at about $25,000.

In addition to the upgraded engine and transmission, the N Line trim comes with automatic climate control, heated front seats, wireless charging pad, 18-inch wheels, the new digital instrument panel, navigation system and adaptive cruise control. My test model had the tech package added on that provided a power sunroof, premium audio system, high beam assist and LED headlights and tail lights, the new cruise control with total stop capabilities and the 10.25-inch touchscreen. My model didn’t come with a price sheet, but according to Hyundai the N Line models start out at about $28,500.

For a small family like mine, the Kona was big enough for us and our stuff. When you add in the good looks, Hyundai’s industry-best warranty program and the value for all the creature comforts and under-the-hood power, the Kona is one of my top choices in the subcompact segment.