Sharp looks, great drivability, sagging technology
The 2022 Hyundai Kona is a sharp looking vehicle. The front end glossy split grill looks appealing and high end. The angular lights provide some edgy character that hits all the right marks. The side moldings and rear bumper use a flat separate coloring that aren't as appealing and boarder on looking cheap. Driving response hit high marks in multiple areas as well. The brakes, steering wheel responsiveness, and turning radius are all tight. This is a good thing. The 1.6L turbo engine gives plenty of acceleration off the line and at higher speeds for passing. The three driving modes, and pseudo manual shifting, provide speedy fun as well as a gas sipping a conservative option. The transmissions shifts are appropriate as they are solid and sure without slippage, and aren't hard like sportier cars would have. The gas mileage exceeded my expectation and hit the high end for me on the highway and city driving. The inside is roomier than expected and provides solid comfort for 4 with effective armrests in the front and back. The front passengers have plenty of head, shoulder, and leg room. A few misfires are the passenger seat (it sits significantly lower than the driver seat that can be adjusted) and the front center counsel does interfere with leg room from a width perspective. If you want to fit a third passenger in the back, they better be on the kid sized spectrum however. The interior build quality is solid, but there is a lot of hard plastic. The driver power seat provides a ton of comfort and utilitarian options, and coupled with the tilt and telescopic steering wheel, can accommodate many different body types. The easy folding back seats also provide additional storage capacity. The trunk space is smaller than others I tested in the compact SUV category, but to be honest, I don't see the Kona as an SUV. It is more reminiscent of a car/hatchback/wagon in my opinion, but I don't make the car definitions used these days, I just drive them. The trunk floor has 2 height levels to provide extra interior cabin space, but I prefer the added space under the floor to store small things with the spare tire like jumper cables, shopping bags, and a spare set of clothes. The technology was the most confounding part of the Kona experience. The safety features for backup camera, blind spot detection, and lane assist are fantastic. The upgraded sound is amazing, as is the 10" infotainment screen. However, that upgraded screen eliminated wireless Android Auto and requires a wired connection to use it. Adding the wired connection eliminated the proper sizing to lay your phone in the provided charging area. Using Android Auto becomes way to fiddly, and using the Hyundai built in map app is inferior to Google maps. Delayed responsiveness from the touch screen is annoying on many levels, and this coupled with the Hyundai map app make for a miserable experience. Being my first "smart car" I didn't think the responsiveness and "fiddliness" would be a big deal. I was wrong. It matters greatly considering everyone has a phone these days, and you need to be able to integrate a phone properly in your car if you want to have the best experience. To worsen that integration, the wireless pad stopped working for me within 3 days. The vehicle had to be taken in for service, and this is a well known issue on the Kona. The connectedness of the Kona is a big issue needing refinement, and resulted in my rating lowering by a star. No car is perfect, but the Kona is close. With some technology tweaks, it will be that much better. Regardless of its flaws, I am pleased to have made this purchase.