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2020 Honda HR-V vs Hyundai Kona

2020 Honda HR-V vs Hyundai Kona
Reviewed & fact checked by
James Murdoch

2020 HR-V vs Kona - How do they stack up? Which is Better?

Given their versatility and drivability, compact crossovers and SUVs have become very popular. They give people the best of both worlds, having a good amount of cargo space while being easy to maneuver. The 2020 Honda HR-V and the 2020 Hyundai Kona are some of the leaders in this sector. They're youthful and modern because of their high-tech features and fresh design, and they're respectable in terms of their capabilities. There are some differences between the two, and this overview will break down how each model does in several areas.

The Powertrain

Honda offers five trims on the HR-V. All of the trims, which are named the LX, Sport, EX, EX-L, and Touring, have the same type of in-line four-cylinder engine. It has a displacement of 1.8 liters, and it provides the vehicle with 141 horsepower and 127 pound-feet of torque.

On the LX, the engine is pared with a continuously variable transmission. This system is upgraded with paddle shifters on the Sport and the higher trims, giving people some manual control over when the engine switches gears. Sport mode is available on Honda so that people can make the engine more responsive when they want to have some fun.

All-wheel drive is an option on the first four trims of the HR-V and is standard on the Touring. Honda's all-wheel drive system is electronically activated and can engage whenever it seems like the vehicle would benefit from having power sent to all four wheels, such as when driving on slippery roads, when accelerating quickly, or when climbing steep hills.

Like the Honda HR-V, the 2020 Hyundai Kona comes in five trims. The first three, which are the SE, SEL, and SEL Plus, are powered by a 147-horsepower, four-cylinder engine. With a displacement of two liters, this engine comes with 132 pound-feet of torque, and it's matched to a six-speed automatic transmission. The transmission includes a SHIFTRONIC feature, which gives people the opportunity to manually shift gears whenever they feel like being more in control.

The Limited and Ultimate trims of the Kona get an upgrade in the powertrain department. They have 1.6-liter turbocharged engines, which have four cylinders like the standard engines have. With this different design, these engines showcase a lot more power, with 175 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. This improvement in capability is likely to be noticed by even the casual driver, so it would definitely be something to keep in mind.

With these two trims, the Kona uses a seven-speed EcoShift dual clutch transmission. It's generally considered to be a better set-up that can result in quick transitions between different gears as well as greater efficiency.

Making the drive a little more interesting is a Drive Mode system. People can choose from Normal or Sport modes, depending on their mood. Normal mode gives people a smooth ride, and Sport mode makes the engine feel more aggressive and spirited.

All-wheel drive is an option on every trim of the Hyundai Kona, and this makes the SUV more suited for rougher terrain. Ground clearance is only 6.7 inches, though, so it's not as if the Kona is built for extreme off-roading. (This is the same amount of ground clearance as the all-wheel-drive HR-V, with the front-wheel-drive HR-V having a ground clearance of 7.3 inches.) When the Hyundai's all-wheel drive system detects a situation in which extra traction may be needed, all four wheels receive power. Otherwise, the engine just sends power to the front wheels.

With all-wheel drive models of the Hyundai Kona, the rear suspension has an independent multi-link design to better handle uneven trails. On the standard front-wheel drive versions, the rear suspension system consists of a coupled torsion beam axle. Similarly, an all-wheel-drive HR-V will have a DeDion rear suspension, which is a step up from the torsion-beam rear suspension found in a front-wheel-drive version.

Many customers are drawn to these two models because of their efficiency. The two-wheel-drive Honda SUV's earn an estimated 28/34 (city/highway) miles per gallon, and their all-wheel-drive counterparts can achieve up to 27/31 miles per gallon. These numbers are in the same range as what the Hyundai Kona can do. Front-wheel-drive Kona get an estimated 27/33 miles per gallon, with the all-wheel-drive models' fuel economy coming in at 26/30 miles per gallon. These SUVs have fuel tanks that hold the exact same amount, 13.2 gallons, so their total driving ranges will be nearly identical.

Warranties that come with vehicles provide customers with some assurance, knowing that they're making a wise investment and will be covered in case something goes wrong. On the Kona, the limited powertrain is good for 10 years or 100,000 miles, whichever comes first. This can be considered a gold standard for the industry.


If anyone enjoys the peaceful atmosphere that a quiet cabin creates, the Honda HR-V may appeal to them because the Sport and higher trims have active noise cancellation. This system uses microphones to constantly monitor if there are any booming sounds coming from under the hood. If that type of noise is detected, the speakers are programmed to emit anti-noise signals that can work to cancel out those low sounds.

Aside from this anti-noise feature, the Honda and Hyundai feel pretty similar when one is behind the wheel. These SUVs are on the smaller side, so they can take tight turns with ease and don't have any issues with parallel parking. The length of the Hyundai Kona is 164 inches, and the Honda HR-V measures 170.4 inches from end to end.

The interior dimensions of each vehicle will definitely play a role in deciding which one to get. The HR-V feels significantly more spacious, with 39.3 inches of second-row leg room compared to the 34.6 inches of second-row leg room in the Kona. Back-seat passengers will have a bit more headroom in the HR-V as well, since its roof doesn't slope as much as the Kona's does.

Anyone who frequently goes on road trips or has a lot to carry in his her vehicle, whether it's groceries, sports equipment, or other types of gear, will be interested in the cargo room specifications. In the Hyundai Kona, cargo volume is 19.2 cubic feet when the rear seats are up and 45.8 cubic feet when those seats are folded down. The HR-V beats those numbers by a fair amount. Two-wheel drive HR-Vs are slightly more spacious than the all-wheel-drive models, and they have 24.3 cubic feet or 58.8 cubic feet of cargo space, depending on whether the rear seats are up or down.

To enhance versatility, the HR-V has a second-row Magic Seat. This is a well-designed 60/40 split-bench seat that can be folded flat to expand storage opportunities. If a taller item needs to be transported, the bottom seat cushions can be lifted up to create a more vertically-oriented cargo area.

These days, technology is everywhere, and this is the case in the 2020 Honda HR-V and the 2020 Hyundai Kona. The SUV comes standard with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, a seven-inch color touchscreen, and Bluetooth, allowing people to seamlessly connect their smartphones with their infotainment systems and make hands-free phone calls. Starting with the SEL Plus, the Kona has wireless charging and an Infinity premium audio system with eight speakers. An eight-inch touchscreen with navigation is the highlight of the Ultimate's technology package.

In the Honda SUV, things start off at a more basic level. The LX trim only has a five-inch LCD screen, but it does have Bluetooth hands-free calling and streaming audio. A seven-inch color touchscreen is built into the HR-V at the Sport level and all of the higher trims. At this point, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Pandora radio compatibility become standard. It takes an upgrade to the EX trim to get SiriusXM and HD Radio. In a similar move to what Hyundai has made, Honda has integrated navigation into the Touring trim.


As one might imagine, these relatively new additions to the market have been built with many safety components. They both have rearview cameras that can give people a clear picture of what's behind them while they're in reverse, anti-lock brakes to prevent skidding, stability and traction control mechanisms, and tire pressure monitoring systems. They also have a collection of airbags throughout the cabin, ready to deploy in case a collision occurs, as well as three-point seatbelts in every position and child-proof door locks in the back.

Where the Kona and HR-V differ is in their driver-assist technologies. While they both have advanced systems that can keep an eye on how things are going, warn drivers if there are problems, and take corrective action if needed, the two SUVs don't offer the same exact packages.

The 2020 Hyundai Kona has more standard features in this department. The entry-level model has lane-keeping assist and forward collision-avoidance assist to, respectively, prevent the likelihood of drifting out of a lane and rear-ending other vehicles. The Kona also has a Driver Attention Warning system in all of its trims so that people can be alerted if they're driving erratically. Blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and a lane change assist program are found on the SEL and higher trims. These can provide more information about the presence of other vehicles that may otherwise be hard to spot.

On the Ultimate trim, some premium components are included. The forward collision-avoidance assist program doesn't just detect other vehicles that the Kona may be approaching too quickly; it can also detect pedestrians in front of the vehicle. Plus, this trim has a parking distance warning system that can help people avoid scratches, dings, and dents.

In a significant contrast, the first two trims of the Honda HR-V don't have any of these driver-assist systems. They're only found on the EX trim of the HR-V and the higher-priced models. At this level, the safety package is comprehensive. It includes automated emergency braking, a road departure mitigation system, lane-keeping assist, forward collision and lane-departure warnings, and automatic high beams. Honda calls its blind-spot monitoring technology "Honda LaneWatch", and this system can let people know if it's safe to change lanes.

Automatic high beams are built into the highest trim of the Hyundai Kona and the top three trims of the Honda HR-V. Similarly, the Ultimate trim is the only Kona version to have adaptive cruise control. On the Honda, the EX, EX-L, and Touring all have this program, which can adjust the vehicle's speed to maintain a proper distance with other vehicles.

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Which Has the Best Value?

For the majority of prospective customers, price is a major factor in deciding which vehicle to get. Falling within the same general price range, the Kona and HR-V are both appealing to anyone on a limited budget.

The LX trim of the Honda starts at just over $20,000. The Sport is offered for around $22,500, the EX has a price of around $24,000, and the EX-L rises slightly above the $25,000-mark. With all of its advantages, the Touring has a MSRP of $28,890.

Since the Sport is where the advanced infotainment system is incorporated into the Honda, and the EX is the trim at which driver-assist technologies start to be found, most people will be looking at the mid-level trims as serious contenders. In addition, the EX is the level at which a moonroof and heated front seats provide some more comfort and convenience. If people don't mind spending a little more money, the EX-L will provide them with leather seats, and the Touring will give them a power-adjustable driver's seat and LED headlights.

Moving to the Kona, the SE starts things off at around $20,000. The SEL and SEL plus jump up to $22,100 and $23,950, with the Limited and Ultimate being offered for $26,100 and just under $28,000.

Remember that the Limited and Ultimate have the better engine, and this is a primary reason why they're so popular. At the base model, people will have cloth seats and the standard infotainment and safety packages described earlier. A move to the SEL comes with more driver-assist mechanisms and heated side mirrors. Fog lights are included with the SEL Plus, as are a sunroof, shark-fin antenna, and a power-adjustable driver's seat. The Limited is upgraded with LED headlights, LED taillights, and leather seats, and the Ultimate has the most advanced technology and safety components.

Which is Better?

The bottom line is that these models will draw attention from the same types of customers. With versatile cabins, comfortable seating areas, and high-tech safety and entertainment systems, the 2020 HR-V and Kona would both be smart investments.

The HR-V may be better suited for people who prioritize practicality. It has a more traditional design, similar to the many other vehicles that Honda has been churning out over the years. It has a surprising amount of interior space, which will appeal to anyone who plans on carrying a full load of passengers. With a slightly edgier design, the Kona will be a good option for people who want to stand out while still being able to rely on their vehicles.

Used 2020 Honda HR-V: