Hyundai’s Subcompact 2022 Kona SUV gets Upgrade; Adds New Model

by Tom Crosby

It’s been three years since Hyundai’s Kona entered the hotly-contested subcompact SUV market, winning awards and best buy recommendations from popular automotive websites, helping Kona to now with nip at the sales’ heels of Honda HR-V and Subaru Crosstrek, its top two competitors.

For 2022, Kona’s exterior has been redesigned to improve its attractive profile, the powertrain tweaked for better performance, technology and dashboard screens upgraded to delight techies, safety features added and the suspension updated to improve handling responsiveness and ride comfort.

Also, an all-new N-Line trim offers a sportier exterior and performance tweaks for less sedate buyers.

Kona is now 1.6-inches longer, with new aggressive front fascia, larger sculpted hood, improved LED running lights, new wheel designs and front bumper cladding linking front wheels arch-cladding for a more integrated, muscular look.

Kona easily provides a stylish contrast to more bland competitors. However, the rising beltline and sloped rear roof continue to impinge on rear seating space.

Our test drive was the 2022 Kona Limited AWD riding on 18-inch alloy wheels with the more powerful 1.6-liter turbocharged engine, increased miles per gallon, and top trim above SE, SEL and N-Line.

SE and SEL use a less powerful 2.0-liter gas engine. (SEL, N-Line and Limited also offer an all-electric Kona with 258 miles range.)

Kona is fun to drive, surprisingly agile and spritely underway with the dual-clutch, 7-speed automatic transmission mating well with the turbo engine, increased length, and front strut and rear multi-link suspension – all helping to produce a smoother ride and stability.

There are three drive modes – normal, sport and smart.

Driver safety aids are plentiful and cutting-edge, like speed limits on the map display, helping earn top safety ratings.

The cabin’s two-tone minimalist look – certain to appeal to millennials – showcases a pair of 10.25-inch displays,: one digital gauges with split screen capability, the other a navigation/infotainment/feature touchscreen, laden with voice activation functions intuitively easy to use and Bluelink connection to apps.

Switches activate some features but response is slow.

Dynamic voice recognition is excellent but local routing is occasionally misleading due to outdated GPS mapping.

The cabin is sound-proofed, a sunroof complements ambient lighting, black-and-cream leather front seats are comfortable and easily-folded 60/40 rear seats create adequate cargo space with shallow storage above a spare tire.  Interior storage space is average.

Kona’s warranty is among industry’s best, including three years/36,000 miles complimentary scheduled maintenance.

At a Glance

LIKES: Spritely, looks, handling, rare standard features, quiet, mileage, warranty
DISLIKES: Tight rear seating, outdated GPS mapping
BOTTOM LINE: Ample standard features, fun to drive, wallet friendly

Fact File: 2022 Hyundai Kona Ultimate AWD

Base price w/destination fee
Curb weight
EPA Rating
$28,425 (as tested $28,580)
3,287 lbs.
102.4 inches
166 inches
70.9 inches
1.6-liter inline 4, turbo, DOHC w/D-CVVT
195-hp @ 5,500 rpm
195 lbs.-ft. @ 1,500 rpm
7-speed Eco-shift automatic, dual clutch
27 mpg city/32 mpg hwy
13.2-gallon tank
0-60 in just over 7 seconds










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Tom Crosby has written more than 1,000 automotive reviews and is a retired Vice President of Communications for AAA Carolinas. He has seen dramatic changes in the automotive industry over the past 25 years and ponders the advent of self-driving vehicles, electric-only vehicles, sophisticated in-car telematics, and the financial challenges facing automotive manufacturers in an increasingly congested worldwide market.

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