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Review QuickTakes:

The 2022 Hyundai Kona is a small crossover SUV that can seat up to five people and carry up to 45.8 cu. ft. of cargo. With an emphasis on personality, the 2022 Kona offers standard, turbocharged, and electric drivetrains with or without all-wheel drive (AWD). However, this small SUV is not suitable for off-roading. Instead, the Kona is best used on the pavement and during winter storms. Depending on the configuration, a Hyundai Kona can serve as a commuter vehicle, a fun alternative to a sport compact car, or an electric daily driver — or all three simultaneously.

What's New for the 2022 Hyundai Kona?

Hyundai gives the restyled 2022 Kona significant updates and expands the lineup with new sport- and performance-tuned models. The menu now includes three carryover standard trim levels with or without a turbocharged engine, and the new Kona N Line sport and Kona N performance variants. The Kona Electric also returns, offering 258 miles of driving range on a full battery.

Among the many changes to the 2022 Hyundai Kona models, claimed improvements in rear-seat legroom and cargo space should make the small SUV more appealing. In addition, according to Hyundai, interiors add an extra layer of refinement, and the crossover now offers digital instrumentation and a larger available infotainment system touchscreen display.

2022 Hyundai KonaChristian Wardlaw

Digital Key technology is also new for 2022, transforming an Android-based smartphone into a digital key that unlocks and starts the engine. Hyundai also fine-tunes the Kona's available Bluelink connected services platform, which includes features such as remote engine starting and home smart speaker integration.

Hyundai also improves the 2022 Kona's safety features. For example, blind-spot monitoring system upgrades can actively try to prevent a collision, while a new rear automatic braking function operates with the same goal in mind. Highway Drive Assist is also new, adding semi-autonomous adaptive cruise control and lane-centering assistance to make long trips easier on the driver.

How Much is a Hyundai Kona?

At the start of the 2022 model year, Hyundai Kona prices ranged from the low $20,000s to the low $40,000s. All models cost less than $30,000 except for the new Kona N and both versions of the Kona Electric. Also, don't forget that the Kona Electric is eligible for up to a $7,500 federal income tax credit and any state and local incentives that may be available in your area.

2022 Hyundai KonaChristian Wardlaw

2022 Hyundai Kona Trim Levels and Configurations

Seven 2022 Kona trim levels are available:

Hyundai Kona SE — Equipped with a 147 hp four-cylinder base engine and front-wheel drive (FWD), the Hyundai Kona SE is the most affordable version of the crossover. Still, it includes 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, remote keyless entry, cloth seats, a manual driver's seat height adjuster, air conditioning, and an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Safety features include a driver attention monitor, forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection, automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist, and lane-centering assist.

Hyundai Kona SEL — The Hyundai Kona SEL adds 17-inch alloy wheels, dark-tinted rear privacy glass, heated exterior mirrors, roof rails, and a passive keyless entry system. Satellite radio and Bluelink connected services, including remote engine starting, are also standard. Safety features include blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.

Hyundai Kona Limited — Hyundai Kona Limited models add a 195 hp turbocharged four-cylinder engine, 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights and taillights, automatic high-beam headlights, and a power sunroof. Inside, the Limited trim features automatic climate control, leather upholstery, heated front seats, and an eight-way power driver's seat.

Digital instrumentation is standard with Limited trim, along with a larger 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system with wired instead of wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The Limited also has a navigation system, a premium sound system, wireless smartphone charging, and Digital Key technology. Highway Drive Assist is also standard, combining adaptive cruise control with lane-centering assistance for semi-autonomous highway driving.

Hyundai Kona N Line — This sporty version of the Kona builds on the Kona SEL trim with a 195 hp turbocharged four-cylinder engine, 18-inch alloy wheels, and revised front and rear styling with body-color exterior trim. Red, gloss black, and aluminum interior trim give the N Line a unique look inside, along with different cloth upholstery. An eight-way power driver's seat is standard, as are heated front seats, automatic climate control, and a premium sound system.

Hyundai Kona N — Hyundai engineers the Kona N to deliver maximum on-pavement performance. It has a 276 hp turbocharged four-cylinder engine, a wet dual-clutch automatic transmission (DCT) with paddle shifters, downshift rev-matching, launch control, and 19-inch alloy wheels with summer performance tires. A slew of hardware and software upgrades accompany the exclusive powertrain, helping to make the N track-worthy right off the assembly line. Everything comes standard. You pick a color, decide on a handful of accessories, and call it a day. But you can't get all-wheel drive. The N is a front driver.

Hyundai Kona Electric SEL — In addition to its electric drive system, the Kona Electric SEL has distinctive design elements to set it apart and includes more standard safety features than the gas-powered SEL model. It also has a 10.25-inch digital instrumentation display, automatic climate control, and Bluelink services specific to electric vehicles and charging.

Hyundai Kona Electric Limited — With Limited trim, the Kona Electric has most of the same equipment that you'll find on the gas-fueled Kona Limited. Additionally, compared to the Electric SEL, the Electric Limited has a battery warmer system, rain-sensing wipers, and ventilated front seats.

2022 Hyundai KonaChristian Wardlaw

2022 Hyundai Kona Review and Test Drive

Hyundai calls the Kona a crossover SUV, but with no more than 6.7 inches of ground clearance, it's unlikely to cross over anything more treacherous than a snowy parking lot. Furthermore, small cargo space measurements of 19.2 cu.ft. behind the back seat and 45.8 cu. ft. with the rear seat folded flat suggest the refreshed 2022 Hyundai Kona flunks the utility part of the sport/utility equation. But, thanks to the changes for this model year, there is a newfound emphasis on the sport portion of the SUV recipe.

Think of the Hyundai Kona as a Korean Volkswagen Golf, and you'll get the gist of this diminutive but delightful little vehicle.

Wait. Say what now? Yep, the Kona is like the Golf but with a distinctive personality. Boil the design down to its fundamentals, and it's a five-door hatchback with front-wheel drive. Turbocharged engine options and a new high-performance Kona N model tuned on the fabled Nürburgring Nordschleife under the direction of Albert Biermann, the former head of BMW's M division, support my assertion that the car is analogous to the Golf. All of the Kona's gray body cladding is just for show because people want SUVs and not hatchbacks. Just ask the dearly departed Hyundai Elantra GT how well being a car turned out for it.

As described above, Hyundai made many changes to the 2022 Kona, prompting this review. I test-drove a Kona Limited with all-wheel drive and a set of carpeted floor mats. The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) came to $31,540, including the $1,245 destination charge to ship the Kona from Ulsan, South Korea, to your local dealership. Hyundai provided the vehicle for this evaluation.

2022 Hyundai KonaChristian Wardlaw

2022 Hyundai Kona Review: The Design

Hyundai design is polarizing on purpose. Whether you love it or hate it, you notice a Hyundai on the road, which is the point. As for the Kona, I liked its looks when Hyundai introduced it for the 2018 model year, but I find the 2022 Kona's updated styling less appealing. A vehicle with an outsized personality like this one shouldn't mature too much, and the updates for 2022 border on too much refinement. The Kona remains distinctive but looks less scrappy and boisterous.

The interior updates, however, are welcome. Digital instrumentation, next-generation infotainment technology, and subtle upgrades to finishes and detailing make the Kona Limited look and feel less like a cheap economy car from the driver's seat. Unfortunately, the Limited comes only with Gray leather seats that match the dashboard, door panels, carpets, and everything else inside the Kona except for the light gray headliner. The lack of visual contrast is boring with a capital B.

Though Limited trim includes new digital gauges and a more robust infotainment system, the Kona remains easy to use right out of the so-called box. Drivers use knobs to control volume, radio tuning, interior temperature, and driving modes. Appropriately marked, matte-surface buttons and switches handle everything else. As is true of most new cars, you can cycle through numerous menus to configure vehicle settings to your preferences, and this process is as simple as using your smartphone.

Thanks to eight-way power adjustment, heated front seat cushions, and a properly shaped and sized steering wheel, the Kona is comfortable for the driver over longer distances. Also, though the front passenger's seat lacks a height adjuster, it's high enough to offer decent leg support, so the omission isn't a big deal.

Rear passengers are likely to complain about their seat assignments. The legroom is cramped, made worse by the rigid plastic panels on the Kona's front seatbacks. Rear air conditioning vents are also missing from the Kona. But there are cupholders on the center armrest and a USB port.

In-cabin storage space is adequate, but cargo space is in short supply. That's especially true if you're using the cargo cover. Remove it from the Kona, and you might be able to carry a couple of full-size suitcases and a roll-aboard or a couple of backpacks and a duffle bag. So pack light, and use soft luggage.

2022 Hyundai KonaChristian Wardlaw

2022 Hyundai Kona Review: The Technology

Hyundai equips the SE, SEL, Electric SEL, and N-Line trims with an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Bluelink connected services with a complimentary three-year trial subscription are standard, starting with SEL trim. The N-Line adds satellite radio, wireless smartphone charging, and a Harman Kardon premium sound system. The sound system is decent for this price point but is bass-heavy with all tone settings centered, so you'll want to adjust them to your preferences.

Limited, Electric Limited, and Kona N models get a 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system with navigation. Here, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto require connecting your smartphone via cable to the USB port. This system also has an upgraded voice recognition system, and it is excellent, quickly and accurately responding to my list of test commands and queries. It even filters its database to separate the hospitals from other health-related facilities. When you push the talk button and say, "I need to go to the hospital," the list of results is nothing but hospitals.

It's worth noting Hyundai's generosity with its Bluelink connected services. You get complimentary access to automatic emergency assistance following a collision, panic notification to trigger a text to friends and family if you're in trouble, and safe teen driving settings related to vehicle speed, curfew time, and geographic boundary limits. In addition, it provides remote engine starting and remote access to the door locks, a remote car finder function, and a stolen vehicle recovery system. Bluelink is also compatible with smartwatches, Amazon Alexa, and Google Home. However, there isn't a Wi-Fi hotspot, so you'll need to use your smartphone data plan to access the internet.

You can also get Hyundai's digital key technology for the Kona. It works only with Android devices and turns a smartphone into the vehicle's key. You use an app to unlock and start the SUV. When you've reached your destination and exit the vehicle, you use it to re-lock the doors.

As for safety, every 2022 Kona includes forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection, automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist, and lane-centering assist. In addition, most have a blind-spot monitoring system and a rear cross-traffic alert system. Limited trim adds Highway Drive Assist (HDA), which pairs an adaptive cruise control system with stop-and-go capability with the lane-centering assist technology. The result is a semi-autonomous highway driving system, but you need to keep your hands on the steering wheel.

The HDA works well and is still relatively uncommon in small SUVs. However, at lower speeds, it can seem more uncertain of itself due to the frequency of steering correction and the amount of steering input it adds. Also, after the Kona brings itself to a stop in traffic, it's not entirely clear how to resume travel. I pushed on the accelerator pedal, which does the job but can result in uneven power delivery.

It didn't take long for the lane-departure warning system to wear out its welcome due to the incessant "beep-beep-beep" warnings. Also, on a stretch of road where the lane crossed from concrete to blacktop, the lane-keeping assist system read the seam between the two surfaces as a lane marker and tried to steer the Kona to the right.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the 2022 Kona an overall five-star rating, but it does not apply to the Electric or the Kona N. Those models are unrated. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gives the 2022 high marks in several individual tests, but, as this review is written, it hasn't re-tested the crossover to assess its new headlights and other changes.

2022 Hyundai Kona Review: The Drive

Going back to the Volkswagen Golf analogy, the Kona SE and SEL are like the now-discontinued standard Golf trims, the Kona N Line and Limited are like the Golf GTI, the Kona N is like the Golf R, and the Kona Electrics are like the dearly departed e-Golf. Konas with all-wheel drive match up with the old Golf Alltrack.

With that in mind, the Kona N Line and Kona Limited are the most like the GTI. They have a turbocharged 1.6L four-cylinder engine making 195 hp at 6,000 rpm and 195 lb.-ft. of torque between 1,500 rpm and 4,500 rpm, and the engine pairs with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission (DCT) and front-wheel drive (FWD). An all-wheel drive (AWD) system with the ability to lock power evenly between the front and rear axles is optional, and with AWD, the Kona benefits from an independent rear suspension design that improves the ride and handling. Drivers can choose between Normal, Sport, and Smart driving modes, and Konas feature a brake-based torque-vectoring control system.

In the past, I've likened the Kona turbo to the GTI, finding the little SUV similarly fun to drive. Of course, I'm not saying it's as thrilling as the legendary VeeDub. But it has that same scrappy, eager, let's-go-out-and-play driving character that puts a smile on your face.

Or it did. Now I'm not so sure.

Hyundai says it has re-tuned the Kona turbo's DCT and suspension. The transmission, according to Hyundai, supplies "outstanding efficiency with quick, seamless shifting and brisk acceleration." That's true. Meanwhile, the automaker claims the suspension changes "enhance both responsiveness and ride comfort." That's half true. The Kona does ride better.

As I usually do when evaluating Hyundai models, I set off on my testing loop in Smart mode. Smart mode is supposed to adjust the powertrain to how the Kona is driven, defaulting to more efficient operation unless it is clear the driver needs more power and sharper reflexes. The engine remains its jovial self, and the DCT behaves as expected. You're still aware of the quirks associated with this transmission type, but nothing about its operation raised a red flag.

As for the ride and handling, the Kona Limited displays subtle changes to its demeanor. Depending on the road surface and situation, it feels softer and less willing to romp than before, making it less enjoyable to drive. Even on near-perfect pavement and properly banked, constant-radius curves, the Kona no longer inspires you to go faster and push harder. The Kona N has assumed this performance-oriented role in the SUV's lineup, but the Kona Limited's loss of that scrappy driving character and level of engagement is a genuine bummer.

Still, the Kona Limited delivers good grip and rotates nicely around decreasing radius curves. On narrow, kinky country roads, its small size, tossable nature, and turbocharged drivetrain make it feel taut, agile, and pleasurable to drive, especially when you've switched into the Sport driving mode. And among its classmates, the Kona remains one of the more entertaining small SUVs you can buy.

But that doesn't mean I won't miss the old Kona.

As for fuel economy, I averaged 29.3 mpg on the evaluation route. That result perfectly aligns with the EPA fuel economy estimate of 29 mpg in combined driving for a Kona Limited AWD.

2022 Hyundai KonaChristian Wardlaw

Is the 2022 Hyundai Kona a Good SUV?

Yes, the Kona is a good SUV. Every new Hyundai includes a long warranty, a generous roadside assistance plan, complimentary scheduled maintenance for the first three years of ownership, and a free three-year subscription to Bluelink connected services (in models that have this feature). Furthermore, the Kona has favorable safety ratings and is expected to get up to 32 mpg in combined driving. Lastly, it is available in an electric version supplying more than 250 miles of driving range. However, the Kona, like other subcompact SUVs, is small inside. So, closely examine the rear seat and cargo area before buying one.

Hyundai Kona Competitors for 2022

If the Kona is not your cup of tea, plenty of other small SUVs are available. They include the Chevrolet Trailblazer, Ford Bronco Sport, Honda HR-V, Jeep Compass and Renegade, Kia Seltos, Mazda CX-30, Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross and Outlander Sport, Subaru Crosstrek, Toyota Corolla Cross, and Volkswagen Taos.

2022 Hyundai KonaChristian Wardlaw

Hyundai Kona Features


With the 2022 Kona, Hyundai offers a little something for everybody unless you're looking for off-roading capability. Though it comes with optional AWD, this SUV provides no more than 6.7 inches of ground clearance. Still, the Kona delivers plenty of variety, from a basic commuter vehicle to a racetrack-tuned performance model to a pure electric vehicle offering more than 250 miles of range.

2022 Hyundai Kona Safety Features

  • Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist — Available* forward-collision warning with pedestrian and cyclist detection, plus automatic emergency braking
  • Blind Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist — Available* blind-spot monitoring system with active collision avoidance technology
  • Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist — Available* rear cross-traffic alert and automatic braking system
  • Safe Exit Warning — Available feature* warns occupants when it is unsafe to exit the Kona
  • Highway Drive Assist — Available feature* pairs adaptive cruise control with lane-centering assistance for semi-autonomous, hands-on highway driving

2022 Hyundai KonaChristian Wardlaw

2022 Hyundai Kona Technology

  • Infotainment system — Standard 8-inch and available 10.25-inch touchscreen displays
  • Smartphone connectivity — Standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Bluelink — Available feature* with complimentary connected services for three years. After that, a paid subscription is necessary
  • Digital instrumentation — Available* 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster
  • Digital Key — Available feature* turns an Android-based smartphone into a digital key, allowing the device to unlock the doors and start the engine or drive system

2022 Hyundai Kona Specs

  • SE, SEL — 2.0L four-cylinder gas engine, continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), 147 hp
  • Limited, N Line — 1.6L turbo four-cylinder gas engine, dual-clutch transmission (DCT), 195 hp
  • N — 2.0L four-cylinder turbo four-cylinder gas engine, DCT, 276 hp
  • Electric — 150 kW electric motor, 64 kWh battery, 201 hp
  • Front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive
  • EPA Fuel Economy — 29 mpg to 32 mpg combined (SE, SEL, N Line, Limited); 23 mpg (N); 120 combined MPGe (Electric)

2022 Hyundai KonaChristian Wardlaw

2022 Hyundai Kona Interior

  • Automatic climate control — Available feature*
  • Leather seats — Available feature*
  • Heated front seats — Available feature*
  • Power-adjustable driver's seat — Available feature*
  • Premium sound system — Available feature* with eight speakers

*Availability is subject to specific trim level selections

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Christian Wardlaw
My first word was “car.” That’s what I’m told, anyway. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been obsessed with them. The design. The engineering. The performance. And the purpose. I’m a car enthusiast who loves to drive, but I’m also most interested in the cars, trucks, and SUVs that people actually buy. Anybody can tell you that a sports car is fast. What you need to know is whether or not you should buy that new SUV, and why. My life purpose is to help you make that decision.

Kona Features

  • Seats
    • Pass-Through Rear Seat
    • Bucket Seats
    • Rear Bench Seat