The Kona’s backseat space and cargo area used to be on the smaller side of the subcompact SUV class, but not anymore: According to Hyundai’s measurements, rear legroom grows by 3 inches and cargo volume by 6.3 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 17.9 cubic feet with the rear seatbacks folded. The Kona’s occupant and cargo capacity are now fully competitive with larger subcompact SUVs like the Seltos, Honda HR-V, Subaru Crosstrek and Toyota Corolla Cross. What’s especially impressive is that Hyundai has managed to incorporate this expanded capacity while maintaining comparatively tidy exterior dimensions; the Kona is still significantly shorter in overall length than the HR-V, Crosstrek and Corolla Cross.
There’s enough fore-aft travel in the power-adjustable driver’s seat to suit an NBA player; I’m 6 feet, 6 inches tall, and I had to adjust the seat forward an inch or so from the fully aft position to comfortably reach the steering wheel. With the front seats adjusted for a 6-foot-tall occupant, I could squeeze into the backseat and be comfortable enough for a crosstown jaunt, but I wouldn’t want to be back there for an extended road trip. Four average-size adults should fit in the Kona with no worries, however. The rear seating position is slightly knees-up, but the outside edges of the front seatbacks are padded, so they’re a tad more comfortable if your legs rub against them.
The expanded cargo area has a slightly lower load height and a wider opening than before, and it’s inherited one of my favorite features from the Venue: The hard cargo-area cover/shelf can be removed from its normal position and snapped into place behind the rear seatbacks, so you don’t need to remove the cargo cover entirely if you need to haul something tall or bulky.
Small items storage is also improved. The SE and SEL trims get a traditional gearshift lever, but higher trim levels get an unconventional gear-selector stalk on the right side on the steering column with a twist knob at its end (twist forward for Drive, back for Reverse) capped off by a button to engage Park. This shifter is a little awkward to use at first, but it frees up space in the center console. Hyundai has made good use of that extra room by adapting a clever feature from the Kia Niro hatchback: The console’s cupholders can be retracted to create an undivided bin. This storage area can be further expanded by removing the divider panel that separates the open bin under the center armrest from the rest of the console. There’s also a handy storage shelf (complete with ambient lighting in multiple user-selectable colors on the Limited) above the glove box.
More From Cars.com:
New Features Aplenty
The dashboard gets a clean, futuristic look that’s highlighted by dual 12.3-inch screens (one for the digital gauge display, one for the infotainment touchscreen) fused into a slim, seamless panel. SE and SEL trims get the 12.3-inch touchscreen but make do with a gauge cluster that isn’t fully digital. Thankfully, the audio and climate controls below the touchscreen are all physical buttons, knobs and switches, which we find much easier to use than touch-sensitive buttons. Below those controls are a wireless charging pad on SEL Convenience, N Line and Limited trims and dual USB-C ports — one is charging-only, and the other can be switched from a data and charging connection to just a charging connection at the touch of a button. Two USB-C ports for backseat passengers are located at the rear of the center console.
In addition to the Kona’s comprehensive roster of standard safety features, SEL Convenience trims and above get a forward collision mitigation system with a junction assist feature that detects oncoming traffic when turning. The Limited trim adds parking sensors, reverse automatic collision avoidance braking for pedestrians and objects in addition to crossing vehicles, blind spot monitors (which displays a left- or right-side camera view in the gauge cluster when the corresponding turn signal is activated) and a 360-degree camera system.
The Limited also gets a number of upscale comfort and convenience features, including a heated steering wheel, ventilated front seats (in addition to heated), a hands-free power liftgate and Remote Smart Parking Assist. Most of these aren’t available on the Kona’s mainstream-brand rivals.
The Limited wears nice-looking H-Tex simulated leather upholstery in a choice of gray or black (the gray color provides some needed contrast and gives the cabin a lighter, airier feel), along with a couple of additional soft-touch interior surfaces that give its cabin a classier ambiance. The N Line boasts a number of unique touches that give its mostly black cabin a livelier, appropriately sporty vibe, such as Alcantara simulated-suede seat inserts, satin-finish sport pedals, red contrast stitching, and neat red accent stripes on the seatbacks and dashboard.
The 2024 Kona also features Hyundai Pay, a new in-vehicle payment service that stores encrypted tokenized credit card info in the vehicle’s infotainment system. Through a partnership with parking service company Parkopedia, Kona users can find available parking spots and their prices, navigate to the spot and pay for it — all through the vehicle’s touchscreen or the Bluelink connected services app. Moving forward, Hyundai Pay will expand to the rest of Hyundai’s lineup via model-year updates and, where possible, over-the-air software updates.
Speaking of over-the-air updates, the Kona’s new-generation infotainment system is capable of receiving them. One of the first OTA updates Hyundai is planning to roll out this model year will add wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity to the Kona’s uplevel infotainment system. This will almost certainly expand to other Hyundai and Kia vehicles in the near future, thus fixing a long-standing competitive deficit. SEL Convenience variants and above get a Wi-Fi hot spot, and basic Bluelink connected services are standard on all 2024 Hyundais at no additional charge for the life of the vehicle.
Depending on the trim level, the 2024 Kona’s base prices rise by around $1,500 to $2,800 over 2023. Including the $1,335 destination fee, the Kona starts at $25,435 for the entry-level SE and stretches to $32,985 for the Limited. Selecting AWD adds another $1,500 regardless of trim level.
So, Hyundai has also upped the ante with the Kona’s pricing. Even so, this well-rounded runabout is still a decent deal that’s extremely competitive with similarly priced alternatives. The 2024 Kona is hitting Hyundai dealerships now.
Cars.com’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with Cars.com’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of Cars.com’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.