2018 Hyundai Kona U.S.-Spec First Look: Gunning for HR-V

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Last June we trekked to Seoul, South Korea, for a brief first look at the forthcoming 2018 Hyundai Kona.</span></a> Now that the brand’s sub-Tucson-sized CUV has made its formal debut in Los Angeles, we have many more details to share.

The Hyundai Kona’s new platform is derived from the Elantra sedan’s, borrowing a similar suspension setup of struts in front and offering a choice of trailing torsion beam (front drive) or multilink (all-wheel drive) rear suspension setups that mimic those on the Elantra GT and GT Sport, respectively. Aggressive 18-inch wheels wrapped in 235/45R18 tires promise segment-leading dynamic handling. Three quarters of the steel comprising the unibody structure is hot-stamped, high-strength, or ultra-high-strength steel custom formulated by Hyundai’s steel-works subsidiary. And it goes together with more than 375 feet of structural adhesive (that’s 45 feet more of the stuff than the larger Tucson uses).

Power comes from a choice of 2.0-liter naturally aspirated or 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engines mated respectively to a six-speed automatic or seven-speed EcoShift dry dual-clutch transmission. The 2.0-liter will be rated at 147 hp and 132 lb-ft of torque, with a target EPA combined fuel economy of 30 mpg for front-drive models. The 1.6T produces 175 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque while earning a 29-mpg EPA combined rating with front drive.

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A new all-wheel-drive power takeoff lowers the output shaft for a more parallel path to the rear axle. This reduces friction, noise, and vibration and allows it to tuck up inside a compact floor tunnel alongside the exhaust system to maximize both ground clearance and vertical passenger space. Hyundai expects a roughly 50/50 front-drive/AWD sales split, largely along regional lines.

Among top sellers in the subcompact CUV segment, the Kona comes closest in dimensions to the Kia Soul—it’s an inch longer, has identical width, and is 2.5 inches lower on a wheelbase 1.2 inches longer. (Kia’s forthcoming Stonic will share the Kona’s underpinnings, trumping the hamster-hauling Soul with optional AWD.) The Kona measures 5.1 inches shorter in length than the top-selling Honda HR-V, with much of that coming out of the Hyundai’s 5.1-cubic-foot-smaller cargo area. But at least the rear seats fold flat and the cargo floor can be lowered 3 inches for taller loads.

Hyundai will offer a full roster of safety gear on the new Kona, including forward collision alert, lane keep assist, high-beam assist, blind-spot collision warning with a lane change assist feature, rear cross-traffic collision warning, parking distance warning in reverse, and a rearview monitor with dynamic parking guidance lines. A new feature to the segment is a driver-drowsiness warning that monitors lateral movement in the lane, sudden steering inputs, or lane drift.

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Premium features, including leather upholstery, wireless phone charging, and an eight-speaker Harman Infinity audio system with a subwoofer and an external amp, will also be available. Naturally there’s also Apple CarPlay, and BlueLink telematics will connect with your smart watch or Amazon Alexa systems. An 8.0-inch color pop-up head-up display is also offered, and Hyundai claims it is two to three times brighter than similar systems in the Mini Hardtop and Mazda CX-3.

Finally, to attract the youthful pre-family types this segment is aimed at, there will be seven paint colors offered, including Pulse Red, Surf Blue, and Lime Twist. Interior options include black, black and gray two-tone, and black with Lime Twist accents. Look for the Kona to arrive in dealerships in the first quarter of 2018, with an even smaller A-segment CUV arriving before 2020.

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