Bold and fresh best describe Hyundai’s cool Kona, the smaller crossover that is aimed at youthful buyers with active lifestyles of all kinds. Kona’s “urban smart armor” exterior styling features aggressive body styling complemented by a low and wide stance for great looks and confident handling in a variety of urban and adventure-oriented driving environments.

We drove the Kona in the Ultimate AWD livery, and found it to be fun, responsive and adaptable to our everyday driving. Kona is named after the west-coast region of the Big Island of Hawaii. The Kona region is famous among endurance triathletes and thrill-seeking travelers, and this energetic image is reflected in this lifestyle-focused CUV.

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Pricing starts at $19,100 MSRP and up depending on trim and options. Fuel economy estimates average up to 33-mpg. We tested the Ultimate AWD with nearly every available option, with and MSRP of $30,005.00

Kona offers a pair of fuel-efficient drivetrains and a stylish, roomy interior. A whole host of advanced safety features are also available including a Lane-Keeping Assist system, Blind-Spot Collision Warning, Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Warning, Lane Change Assist, Parking Distance Warning and Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist with Pedestrian Detection.

Inside, the Kona is a surprisingly roomy, especially in front headroom. The unique features of the exterior continue inside creating a wide and spacious feel.

The interior is a pleasant surprise, much nicer than we expected. The sleek and simple layout interior contrasts with the bold exterior design. The audio/navigation display incorporates advanced infotainment features and the standard floating seven-inch touchscreen includes Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capability. The floating display design adds further to the occupants’ sense of interior openness. Climate controls are surrounded by soft, fluid details that enhance the comfort-focused environment.

There are two engine choices – however we did want for a little more power from our 1.6-liter engine. There are two gasoline powertrains. A 2.0-liter 4-cylinder Atkinson engine produces 147 horsepower and 132 lb.-ft. of torque, paired with a six-speed automatic transmission.

Limited and Ultimate (tested) trims offer the Gamma 1.6-liter 4-cylinder direct-injected, turbocharged engine generating 175 horsepower at 5500 rpm and 195 lb.-ft. of torque. The turbo engine is coupled to a seven-speed EcoShift dual-clutch transmission.

The driving is spirited and fun. The long wheelbase, short overhangs and wide track create a planted stance that results in exceptional agility with enhanced linear stability and ride comfort. Front wheel drive models have a rigid torsion beam design for overall stability and control. The AWD drive model uses an independent, dual-arm multi-link design, optimizing ride comfort and stability in the wider ranges of off-road suspension articulation.

The new standard Hyundai SmartSense safety technologies (listed below) on the Kona add additional protection for drivers and passengers. For example, Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist can detect and help warn the driver of a potential collision. If the driver does not react to avoid the impact, the system may apply emergency braking.

Kona offers a full suite of sophisticated technologies paired with user-friendly functionality to keep passengers informed and entertained. The premium infotainment system offers various advanced connectivity features, including standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, SiriusXM Radio, HD Radio and next-generation Blue Link LTE-powered connectivity. The standard seven-inch color LCD display includes AM/FM/MP3 touchscreen audio, auxiliary input jacks, voice-command recognition and Rear-View Monitor.

Overall, the Kona is very versatile and nicely styled vehicle. It’s easy to drive and offers great visibility, and is a very good value for the money.

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