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2021 Hyundai Kona: Just A Subcompact, Or Best In Show?

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2021 Hyundai Kona

2021 Hyundai Kona

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What can we expect from the 2021 Hyundai Kona? Recent Hyundai USA advertisements have included a TV spot which likens the company’s SUV lineup to that most popular of pets, “man’s best friend”, namely dogs.

The largest of their SUV offerings (the Palisade) is represented by a Great Dane, the next largest by an equally appealing but noticeably somewhat smaller canine, and so on until the smallest of the lot, the featured Kona, has its four-legged doppelganger revealed as an all-too-cute Pomeranian.

US sales of the front-wheel drive (standard), 5 seater have been impressive, increasing from 47,090 (2018) to approximately 73,326 (2019), with the recently introduced EV iteration enjoying steadily increasing sales as well. That said, the 2021 Hyundai Kona has substantial existing momentum, inertia which it will be aiming to capitalize on once it hits the market in about a year’s time.

The Kona is a Top Dog

Common vernacular typically indicates that a product deemed to be a ‘total dog’ is one you would want to run not walk away from, and yet Hyundai’s newest SUV offering has evidently bucked that trend (given the robust sales figures mentioned just prior), in addition to being named the 2019 North American Utility Vehicle of The Year, among its accolades to date.

The 2021 version, based on information available at this time, will look to essentially continue the ‘cute but capable’ storyline, while also simultaneously upping the ‘bite versus bark’ ratio a bit with an ultra sporty ‘N’ permutation. Generally speaking, evolution rather than revolution seems to best characterize the intended approach.

Reviews of the current vehicle indicate that the 2021 Kona would be well served to stick with the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ philosophy, as feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. The Kona matches up quite well against its peers, and in fact typically ranks no worse than second when measured against offerings such as the CX-3 or HR-V.

The impressive 10 year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty and variety of engine options are often mentioned as pros, while styling and a copious list of standard features are also frequently cited. The electric Kona EV provides a requisite environmentally friendly option, and has a very impressive 258 mile range (on a full charge).

All in all, the Kona has been a hit, and Hyundai will not attempt to be the tail that wags the dog of consumer preference and enthusiasm by offering up anything other than what has so far been so resoundingly well received.

2021 Hyundai Kona & It’s competition

As previously noted, the 2021 Hyundai Kona faces a a gamut of worthy, existing competitors, among them the 2021 Honda HR-V, 2021 Subaru CrossTrek, 2021 Mazda CX-3, 2021Nissan Kicks, and the 2021 Toyota C-HR, to name just a few. The Kicks and HR-V both best the Kona in regards to fuel efficiency, but only marginally, and neither offers a fully electric version.

Additionally, the Nissan does not provide leather seats as an option, but does have the lowest base price of the three. In regards to the Subaru, AWD is available as a standard feature on all versions of the CrossTrek model, and it has a higher fuel capacity; additionally, it even has somewhat of an automotive unicorn, a manual transmission, as an option. (Heel-and-toeing is, mercifully, not dead. Yet). On the downside, the Subaru starts with a higher base price, and comes with only a 5 year/60,000 mile warranty (as compared to the Hyundai’s 10 year/100,000 mile). Overall, the 2021 Kona should be very capable of holding its own once it jumps into the fray.

2021 Hyundai Kona Safety Features

Lane-keep assist, a multitude of airbags, backup camera, and emergency braking are all becoming more prevalent in vehicles across all price ranges and models, and the 2021 Kona is slated to continue offering these amenities as standard features, something which should satisfy potential car buyers who have come to expect such niceties, even from what is essentially an entry-level SUV. The Kona has a fuel efficiency rating of 26, 33 (city and highway, respectively), and is also available in the afore-mentioned full electric version. (The latter is currently only available in ten states, but should see wider distribution in the very near future.)

2021 Hyundai Kona Interior

The interior is simple and straightforward, and includes a 7-inch touchscreen, bucket seats, and Bluetooth connectivity, all as standard fare. As for the styling of the vehicle, most reviews seem to indicate that the market finds it largely appealing. Truthfully, the look is fairly prosaic, meant more so to be patently inoffensive it seems, rather than in any way inspiring. On a scale of Toyota to Lamborghini, it falls firmly on the Toyota side of the spectrum. (All due apologies to Toyota.)

For what it is, it is fairly roomy, besting most other small SUV’s in terms of head and legroom. (The backseats, admittedly, and euphemistically, can prove a challenging fit for those who are more vertically blessed. Expectations that are otherwise inclined, are simply not realistic for these type of vehicles.) Available engine options include: gas, hybrid, turbo, and diesel, providing a nice variety of possible choices for those who may have a particular preference and/or vehicle price point in mind.

2021 Hyundai Kona Reliability

Reliability is good, with the extensive warranty a nice safety net just in case it is needed. (Cars, over time, break, they just do, so the warranty is a great selling point, certainly one of the Kona’s best.) The Kona falls squarely within the small subcompact SUV category, one which continues to grow exponentially, much as the overall SUV market as in recent years. The passenger car, like the manual transmission, may not be dead, but it is in marked decline, a trend which seems likely to continue for the foreseeable future.

2021 Hyundai Kona Price & Release Date

The 2021 Kona’s base price should be just about $20,000, and has an expected release date of approximately March 2020. Should that timeline not hold up, it should be available in Summer 2020, at the very latest.

Should the Kona continue to perform as well as it has so far, topping many lists as the best subcompact available while also accumulating significant sales, the Kona will prove to be anything but a dog.

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