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Kona Chronicles: The 2024 Hyundai Kona First Drive

Car Reviews

Kona Chronicles: The 2024 Hyundai Kona First Drive

Join us on a wild ride as we rev up the 2024 Hyundai Kona in our first-drive adventure. From turbocharged thrills to a sleek redesign that doesn’t forget its rugged roots, we take a spin through the fun and fantastic features of this subcompact crossover. Buckle up, because this Kona is a blend of Texas charm and modern innovation that’s bound to leave you grinning from ear to ear!

So this is an all new Kona with a new design and interior! There’s a lot to cover so let’s get started.

Trims for the 2024 include an SE, SEL, N Line, and Limited. At our first-drive event, we only have the N Line and Limited on hand. 

The base car starts at $24,100 with the Limited pushing $31,650. There’s a ton of competition on the market today and Hyundai recognized 20 different competitors in the same segment as the Kona. 

Looking into the design Hyundai really wanted to keep the Kona feel overall. They wanted an update but for this subcompact crossover, they wanted it to still keep the essence of the popular Kona.

The vehicle is about 6-inches longer than the previous generation. You now get what Hyundai calls Seamless Horizon headlamps. We get a pixilated full width taillamp. Although the new design is smoother and more aerodynamic, you get some of that original rugged look with exaggerated wheel arches and cladding along the bottom. 

Overall, I still like most of the original design a bit better but these new 2nd gen Kona’s do look good as well. Also, the N Line with its sporty attachments really brings out the potential here.

Under the hood we have 2 engine options although there is also an all-electric version of the Kona but since it wasn’t as the event, we’ll gloss past that for now. 

The base models of the Kona give you the carried over 2.0 liter engine matched up to Hyundai’s CVT. The Limited and N Line trims on the other hand come equipped with the 1.6-liter turbocharged engine matched up to a new 8-speed transmission. This setup pushes 195-hp and 195 lb.ft. of torque. 

As I said earlier, the only trims we had out here in Charleston were the N Line and Limited so I didn’t get to experience the naturally aspirated 2 liter engine but I have driven a Kona with the setup before and wasn’t impressed at all. The 1.6 liter turbo with this new 8-speed auto, though, was really great out on the windy back roads of South Carolina. We spent quite a bit of time driving both the N Line and Limited vehicles and had absolutely no complaints with the power or driving dynamics of the new Kona. If anything the smooth ride and easy handling made it almost a mundane trip. 

Luckily there was plenty to play around with inside this new Kona including the 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment display running Hyundai’s latest UX design. Also updated for the 2024 is the way you select your gears. Since the Kona uses Hyundai’s Shift By Wire transmission, they were able to move the gear selector to a stalk on the side of the wheel. This frees up space in the center console and opens up the cabin quite a bit. 

Overall, this was just a first drive of the new Kona and we only spent a day driving around unfamiliar streets. I’m looking forward to getting one for a full week review to really dive into it but it’s an easy recommend for anyone in the market for a subcompact crossover. While I personally loved the more boxy and rugged design of the original Kona this new sleek and sporty Kona delivers on day to day performance and can be just as rugged as almost anything else in the segment. 

Adam was one of the founding members of txGarage back in 2007 when he worked for a Suzuki dealership in Dallas, TX. He is now our Publisher and Editor-in-Chief. He's always been into cars and trucks and has extensive knowledge on both. Check Adam out on twitter @txgarage.

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