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Hyundai Kona 2021 review: Active

With a tweaked exterior, the Kona is not as edgy but more likeable.

The small SUV category has exploded over the last few years. An SUV ticks a few boxes over a regular small car - extra height, for one. But, is a small SUV big enough for families?

It depends on your expectations of course, but that little bit of extra height does wonders when you’re out there driving on the road. 

This is the latest version of the Hyundai Kona which has had a bit of a rework with a new engine, tech and styling.

I test drove the Kona Active, which is one up from the base model and costs $28,200, before on road costs. It competes with cars like the Toyota C-HR and the Mazda CX-3. Here’s how it did over a week with my family of four. 

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What does it look like?

The design has been slightly toned down since its launch for a more usable look which will fit into any suburb. From its out there beginnings, Hyundai's now nailed the balance between different-exciting and edgy-sporty, which is a great space to sit in. You can still choose a two-tone paint job if that’s your thing. 

The design has been slightly toned down since its launch for a more usable look which will fit into any suburb. The design has been slightly toned down since its launch for a more usable look which will fit into any suburb.

The Kona Active's interior is good for this price bracket. You even get leather-appointed seats and steering wheel which immediately lifts the design to a different level.

Besides that, expect a fairly basic yet functional design, with brushed aluminium accents throughout, along with man-made dash and door trims but it doesn’t feel too plastic-y. 

How easy is it to drive every day?

This Kona Active model has manually operated front seats with a manual key start. For storage there are two cupholders in the front, a small centre storage bin and a small storage spot for keys and phone, with more storage in each door. 

Rear passengers get two cupholders in the centre armrest, and miss out on directional air vents. The car is small though so the air flows through to the back quite quickly. 

The boot is a good height off the ground to lift heavy items into. 

Rear passengers get two cupholders in the centre armrest, and miss out on directional air vents. Rear passengers get two cupholders in the centre armrest, and miss out on directional air vents.

How spacious is it?

It’s a small SUV but it’s not tiny, and my family of four fit nicely in the Kona Active for the week. The front seats have enough head space and leg space for tall people to be seated comfortably. 

The back, too, has enough space for my children aged seven and nine. This car feels like the right size for them.

The front seats have enough head space and leg space for tall people to be seated comfortably.  The front seats have enough head space and leg space for tall people to be seated comfortably. 

I can easily fit at 161cm (5'3") and there’s enough room between my legs and a taller person’s driving position that taller adults and teenagers will just fit. 

You might be able to get a third child seat across the back row, but you’ll probably injure yourself trying. This does depend on your car seats, of course but, the Kona, while slightly longer than the last model, is not super wide.

Still, you can fit three children in this row if they’re out of car seats. 

You might be able to get a third child seat across the back row, but you’ll probably injure yourself trying. You might be able to get a third child seat across the back row, but you’ll probably injure yourself trying.

The boot has been marginally expanded from 361L (VDA) in the last model to 374L in this model, which means you may or may not get a pram in here depending on what kind of pram you have.

Definitely not a double pram, although it’s good for groceries, school bags and sporting equipment. 

  • The boot has been marginally expanded from 361L (VDA) in the last model to 374L in this model. The boot has been marginally expanded from 361L (VDA) in the last model to 374L in this model.
  • You may or may not get a pram in here depending on what kind of pram you have. You may or may not get a pram in here depending on what kind of pram you have.

How does it drive?

The Hyundai Kona Active has a 2.0-litre petrol engine with a lot of zip that makes it easy to get around town. That said, it’s not particularly eventful driving, but it is agile and has enough power for everyday suburbia.

Parking in the Kona is dreamy. Parking in the Kona is dreamy.

There was some 'play' in the steering wheel, a couple of centimetres of movement either way (left to right), even when driving straight ahead. It didn't impact the direction of the car, and is something you’ll likely get used to when driving it for more than seven days. 

Parking in the Kona is dreamy. Thanks to its compact size it fits in small parks which can be very helpful around the inner city and suburbs. 

How safe is it?

The Hyundai Kona Active gets six airbags. For advanced safety there's 'Hyundai Safety Sense' which includes auto emergency braking (with pedestrian and cyclist detection), lane keep assist and smart cruise control.

You’ll have to go up a model to get rear cross-traffic alert and blind spot monitoring.

There are two ISOFIX points and three top tether points for kids car seats. The Hyundai Kona received a maximum five ANCAP stars when it was tested in 2017. 

What’s the tech like?

This Active model has an 8.0-inch touchscreen which houses the multimedia unit and it has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, though I had trouble connecting this week, even though this model is supposed to connect via USB. 

There are six speakers and the sound is decent in the Kona Active, you’ll be able to turn it up when a good song comes on. 

This Active model has an 8.0-inch touchscreen which houses the multimedia unit and it has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. This Active model has an 8.0-inch touchscreen which houses the multimedia unit and it has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

How much does it cost to own?

The Hyundai Kona Active costs $28,200, before on road costs.

Official (claimed) fuel consumption for the combined cycle is 6.2L/100km, and over the week I averaged 7.6L/100km with mostly suburban driving. 

The Hyundai Kona Active costs $28,200, before on road costs. The Hyundai Kona Active costs $28,200, before on road costs.

It's covered by Hyundai's five year/unlimited km warranty (with roadside assist included) and requires servicing every 12 months/15,000 km.

The first service (at one month/1500km) is free, and a transferable 'Lifetime Service Plan' or pre-paid servicing plan are available.


The Wrap

The Hyundai Kona is a good small SUV that had no problem fitting my family of four. If I was still at pram stage with the kids, it would most likely be an issue, but we’re out of that stage so this wasn’t a consideration for me - though it may well be for you. 

It’s got decent interior space and boot space, it drives well enough and it looks good. 

I gave it a family rating of 7.3 out of 10 and my kids gave it the same, they did miss their air conditioning vents in the back this summer. 

Likes

Exterior design
Easy to park
Bigger boot

Dislikes

Needs more advanced safety
Some 'play' in steering
Second row squeezy for three kids' seats

Scores

Nedahl:

3.7

The Kids:

3.7

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