in the 2019 Hyundai Kona is responsive, although it takes a
heavy throttle foot to overcome some initial turbo lag.
Maybe itís me, but
things are no longer what they seem. Itís as if everything is, in
reality, something else.
Many brands that were
once hallmarks of American innovation are now merely labels for the
manufacturing prowess of foreign companies, including RCA,
Westinghouse, Motorola, GE and Frigidaire. Even Apple and Dell are
guilty; Chinaís Foxconn builds their products.
Yet it also works in
reverse, something I discovered when my beloved Braun Aromaster
finally broke, leaving me to find a new coffeemaker.
It turns out that
Proctor & Gamble, the company that produces Puffs, Pampers and
Pepto Bismol, owns Braun. And although coffeemakers wear the name of
the famed German manufacturer, they are actually made by Italyís
Aromaster is no longer available in the U.S., although itís still
sold in Europe. Which leaves me with the question of what to replace
it with. A Keurig? Never! Iíll stick with Braun, but will have to
settle for one of the charmlessly large model available.
Itís ironic that my
coffeemaker would give up the ghost the same week Iím driving the
all-new 2019 Hyundai Kona, a vehicle as satisfying as the cup of
coffee it brings to mind. The question is, is it a Braun or a Keurig?
From a looks
standpoint, itís a Braun, albeit a new one. Thereís little sense
of classicism here, merely an over-caffeinated design that wears its
cheap gray plastic cladding reminiscent of a Pontiac Aztek. Couple
that with an over-caffeinated headlight design, a large aggressive
grille, swoopy side sculpting, bulging wheel arches and the cliched
blacked-out rear roof pillars, and youíll wonder if Homer Simpson
ó or someone at DeíLonghi ó designed it.
It cloaks a perfectly
ingratiating subcompact crossover, one that starts at a reasonable
$21,035. Offered in SE and SEL trim with a 147-horsepower 2.0-liter
engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, itís also
available in plusher Limited, Ultimate and Iron Man trim (the latter
being finished in gray and red) starting at $26,595, and fitted with
a 174-horsepower 1.6-liter four mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch
transmission. All models come with front-wheel drive or all-wheel
drive. Opting for all-wheel drive brings an added benefit beyond
added traction; it also replaces the primitive rear beam axle
suspension with a more sophisticated multi-link rear suspension.
Consider the base
vehicle a Keurig. Itís adequate, but youíre missing the extra
flavor and zip that comes from the turbocharged four, which is truly
a Braun ó albeit a new one. But when it comes to handling, itís
more the Braun of old. Itís truly frisky nature and responsive
reflexes outguns most of its competitors, although it comes with
abundant amounts of road noise. Engine is responsive, although it
takes a heavy throttle foot to overcome some initial turbo lag.
Nonetheless, the transmission makes the most of the available power.
Steering is rather numb, with a scintilla of road feel filtering
through, and body lean is evident but not excessive. It adds up to a
playful driving experience, especially when hitting the driving mode
button changes, which changes the Konaís mode from normal (decaf)
to sport (caffeinated).
The Kona can be
fitted with forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking,
and blind-spot warning. After far too many false alarms, I turned
the systems off.
Interior quality was
about what youíd expect given its price. As youíd expect, the
instrument panel is anchored by a 7- or 8-inch touchscreen depending
on model and is framed by shortcut buttons, making the system a snap
Head and legroom are
very good in the front seat, but more limited in the second row.
Cargo space is adequate.
In a class known for
its tight accommodations and unremarkable handling, the Kona stands
out for both, not unlike its corporate sibling the Kia Soul, which
is far more convincing as a modern funk wagon. Nevertheless, if you
like the Konaís potent look, its handling and features wonít
Despite the quibbles,
the 2019 Hyundai Kona delivers a delicious driving experience, much
like a Braun coffeemaker ó albeit a new one.
EPA fuel economy
(city/highway): 25/30 mpg
Length: 164 inches
19.2-45.8 cubic feet
Ground clearance: 7
Curb weight: 3,259