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In the few years that it's been in the market, the Hyundai Kona has become a popular model, and the 2021 version offers a lot of advantages. As a small SUV, this vehicle handles itself well. It has some bold stylistic details that some people might love, and it has a good-sized cabin that can be quite practical.
For 2021, there's no longer the option to choose Lime Twist or Sunset Orange for the exterior paint as there was in years past. Fortunately, though, there's other ways to stand out. There are still several bright colors to choose from, like Pulse Red and Surf Blue. Plus, the way the Kona is designed is unique. It has a big and bold front grille, a combination of curves and angles in the body that works well, and an athletic frame that sits close to the ground.
Though it may not look like it at first glance, the Hyundai Kona has a pretty spacious interior. Behind the rear seats, there is 19.2 cubic feet of storage space. That can be expanded to 45.8 cubic feet by folding the rear seats down. Leg room in the front is 41.5 inches, and in the back, it's 34.6 inches.
There are five trims of the 2021 Hyundai Kona. While they're all very affordable, the SE would be the most attractive to those on a limited budget. The SEL, SEL Plus, and Limited are the mid-level trims, and each is accompanied by a price jump of about $2,000. Sitting at the top of the lineup is the Ultimate, which is still priced below $30,000.
Compare the 2021 Hyundai Kona SE vs SEL - What is the Difference?
Both of these trims run on an inline, four-cylinder engine. With a displacement of two liters, this engine can generate 147 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque. These aren't the most impressive of numbers by any stretch of the imagination, but the engine does just fine in most situations.
Front-wheel drive is standard in the Kona, and all-wheel drive is an option. It's nice that Hyundai has made all-wheel drive available even in the base model of the Kona, as not all competitors do that. The Kona's engine is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. Since it comes with SHIFTRONIC, the SUV has a bit of a sportier vibe. She people may never use this function, while others may enjoy having a little more control through this feature.
The SE rides on 16-inch alloy wheels, and the SEL has 17-inch alloy wheels. Some other differences are that the SEL has rear privacy glass, heated exterior mirrors that can come in handy in colder weather, and turn signal indicators built into the side mirrors. The SEL also has a power tilt-and-slide sunroof that makes the vehicle feel a bit more upscale, and it's a great element to have when the weather is nice. Both trims have automatic projector headlights and LED daytime running lights. The SEL is the only one of these two trims to have side rails on the roof.
Inside the cabin, the two trims feel pretty similar. They have manual air conditioning, cloth seat trim, and manually adjustable driver's seats. However, the SEL has a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a leather-wrapped shift knob, and heated front seats. These little things can make a big difference, even though they don't really affect driving at all. Another small element that people might appreciate is that the SEL has an external temperature display.
The SEL and SE both have a seven-inch color touchscreen. It comes with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and the touchscreen doubles as a rear view monitor when the vehicle is in reverse. Parking guidance is included to help people maneuver around tight spots. Only the SEL has HD Radio and SiriusXM Satellite Radio.
For convenience, the SEL is the only one of these two trims to have a Proximity Key entry with push button start. With a Proximity Key, the driver can unlock the door by simply touching the handle, as long as the key in his/her hand or pocket. The SE is limited to having remote keyless entry, and the key fob has an alarm and panic mode.
The Kona does well in terms of safety. The SE, and all other trims, has traction control, anti-lock brakes, and a vehicle stability management system. It also has technologies that help the vehicle stay in the proper lane, make sure the driver is paying attention to the road, and reduce the likelihood of forward collisions by alerting drivers to potential issues and hitting the brakes if necessary. The SEL differentiates itself from the SE by having blind-spot monitoring, lane change assist, and rear cross-traffic warning.
Compare the 2021 Hyundai Kona SEL vs SEL Plus Trims. What is the Difference?
The SEL and SEL Plus are similar in many ways. In fact, their safety packages are nearly identical to each other. At the SEL Plus level, there are the same type of headlights, roof side rails, and side mirrors as found on the SEL. Interestingly, the power sunroof is only an option on the SEL Plus, while it's standard on the SEL. Inside the cabin, the SEL Plus has the same cloth seats and manual air conditioning that the SEL has.
Upgrades on the SEL Plus aren't drastic, but they could be significant to many customers. The SEL Plus has a power driver's seat that moves in eight different ways and has power lumbar support. Its multi-information display, which shows information like distance to empty, elapsed time, and average and instant fuel consumption, measures 4.2 inches. The SEL's display is only 3.5 inches.
From a technology standpoint, the SEL Plus is a step up from the SEL. It has wireless charging, and this could be very convenient for people who are always on the go. The audio system in the SEL Plus uses premium Infinity components. The package comes with Clari-Fi Music Restoration Technology and includes eight speakers. There are two speakers in the front, two in the rear, two tweeters, a center front speaker, and a subwoofer.
At the SEL Plus level, the Kona starts to have the ability to connect with Blue Link. With Blue Link, the vehicle can be started remotely via a mobile app, and drivers can even remotely set the cabin temperature, lock or unlock their doors, and check how much gas is in the tank. Blue Link comes with some other cool features as well, such as access to emergency roadside assistance and vehicle location pinpointing.
Compare the 2021 Hyundai Kona SEL Plus vs Limited Trim Levels. What is the Difference?
The jump from the SEL Plus to the Limited is significant because it's accompanied by a change in engine. Remember that the lower trims of the Kona are powered by 2.0-liter engines with 147 horsepower. The Limited is the level at which the Kona is upgraded to have a turbocharged, 1.6-liter engine. This engine can output a much more desirable 175 horsepower, and it comes with 195 pound-feet of torque. For some drivers, this is reason enough to get the Limited.
Fuel efficiency isn't really compromised at all when moving to the turbocharged engine. The SEL Plus gets an estimated 27/33 (city/highway) miles per gallon, while the Limited can achieve an estimated 28/32 miles per gallon. For all-wheel-drive models, the mileage for the lower trims is 26/30 miles per gallon, and it's 26/29 miles per gallon on the Limited.
Hyundai has paired the Limited's turbocharged engine with a seven-speed EcoShift dual clutch transmission. This type of transmission is usually associated with higher performing vehicles, as it can allow for smooth shifting and optimal power delivery. When looking at the wheels of the Kona, one may notice that the Limited has 18-inch wheels instead of 17-inch wheels like the SEL Plus has.
Unlike the SEL Plus, the Limited has LED headlights and LED taillights. The power sunroof, which is only an option on the SEL Plus, becomes standard on the Limited.
There are a few more differences inside the cabin. Leather seats are standard not he Limited, as is automatic temperature control. Plus, the rearview mirror on the Limited comes with HomeLink technology. This technology allows the button on the mirror to connect with a garage door or security system in one's home.
Compare the 2021 Hyundai Kona Limited vs Ultimate Trims. What is the Difference?
When examining the components under the hood, the Ultimate offers the same package that the Limited does. They both have turbocharged engines, and many people will be attracted to their more spirited and responsive handling.
The Ultimate has been enhanced with a few extra safety components. It's the only trim out of all five to have a parking distance warning function. This can alert a driver when he/she is getting too close to other objects. Further, the forward collision-avoidance assist system in the Ultimate is equipped with the ability to detect the presence of pedestrians. This can give people a lot of peace of mind as they drive around busy streets where anything could happen at any time.
Another safety feature that the Ultimate has is automatic high beams. Known as High Beam Assist, this feature makes it easier for drivers to see what's ahead of them on dark roads. When the vehicle detects the presence of other cars, the high beams automatically switch to low beams. They can switch back to high beams if there are no lights up ahead.
When looking at the technology features of the Ultimate, a few things are immediately noticeable. While the other trims have seven-inch touchscreens, the Ultimate comes with an eight-inch touchscreen. Its infotainment system includes integrated navigation, and it also has a heads-up display that shows key vehicle information right on the windshield.
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Which Trim to Choose?
From a few different perspectives, the 2021 Hyundai Kona is an attractive vehicle. It has a youthful feel to it with some bold design elements. It's practical and versatile, and it can come with available all-wheel drive. At the same time, it is relatively efficient; many people are looking for vehicles, like the Kona, that have a combined fuel efficiency of at least 30 miles per gallon.
The five trims of the Kona are somewhat similar to each other, as all of them have smartphone connectivity and many driver-assist systems. Where there's a big difference is under the hood. The top two trims have turbocharged engines, and this takes the Kona to a new level. For this reason, the Limited and Ultimate would be the recommended choices.
Since the Ultimate is a bit pricier than the Limited, it may be a stretch for some people. One of its most noticeable upgrades is built-in navigation, but this may not make the price jump worth it.
In the end, the Limited seems to stand out as the wise investment, especially considering its competitive price. In addition to having the more advanced engine, it has LED exterior lighting, a power sunroof, and leather seats, all of which add to the sophistication of the trim. It would be a great purchase for anyone in the market for a small SUV or crossover that's easy to drive and suited for a variety of situations.
• Compare the 2020 Hyundai Kona Trim Levels