2022 Hyundai Kona Review Update

Jack R. Nerad, Independent Expert | Feb 09, 2022

Introduction - Find the best Hyundai deals!

The 2022 Hyundai Kona is a small, versatile crossover utility that delivers the driving feel of a hatchback. Essentially Hyundai's answer to the ever-popular Kia Soul, the Kona was the recipient of significant exterior and interior changes for the 2022 model year. Hyundai also fortified the already robust Kona lineup with the sporty N Line version. A precursor to the upcoming higher-performance Kona N, the N Line joins the conventional Kona and the Kona Electric.

For a model that did not undergo a full-on makeover, the 2022 iteration has a raft of significant changes. Outside, its appearance receives nips and tucks almost everywhere. The interior isn't wholly redone as with the exterior, but the changes result in substantially better vehicle content and more convenience for Kona drivers.

The 2022 Kona changes include:

  • Revised front-end styling
  • Enhanced infotainment systems
  • Better driver-information display
  • Additional connectivity features
  • New advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS) features
  • Added interior space and convenience features
  • Refreshed Kona EV exterior styling
  • New N Line sporty variant

The 2022 Hyundai Kona lineup has a small crossover SUV trim level for just about every type of driver in the segment. The SE trim caters to the value-oriented, while the SEL adds upscale creature comforts while keeping the base price under $25K. Next up on the price ladder is the sports-oriented N Line, which is described in detail later, and then there's the plushly equipped Limited trim, whose base price tag is still below the $30,000 mark. On top of that, consumers can opt for the battery-electric Kona EV. A full-performance Kona N is just over the horizon as well.

Previously, J.D. Power reviewed the 2020 Hyundai Kona. This review focuses on the Kona's updates for 2022 and how they potentially impact its overall appeal to consumers.

What Owners Say About the Hyundai Kona - Find the best Hyundai deals!

2022 Hyundai Kona N Line Blue Front Quarter View

The Hyundai Kona competes in the Small SUV market segment. According to data collected from verified new-vehicle buyers for the J.D. Power 2021 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study, 44 percent of new Hyundai Kona buyers are male (vs. 42 percent for the segment), and the median age of a new Kona buyer is 57 years (vs. 56).

As part of the APEAL Study, owners rated the Kona in 10 primary categories. Listed below in descending order, you'll find their preferences from their most favorite thing about the vehicle to their least favorite:

  • Exterior styling
  • Driving feel
  • Feeling of safety
  • Setting up and starting
  • Fuel economy
  • Infotainment system
  • Powertrain
  • Getting in and out
  • Interior design
  • Driving comfort

In the 2021 APEAL Study, the Kona ranks 14th out of 18 Small SUV models.

What Our Independent Expert Says About the Hyundai Kona - Find the best Hyundai deals!

In the sections that follow, our independent expert analyzes a Kona Limited equipped with the following options:

  • 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine plus all-wheel-drive (AWD)
  • Cargo net
  • Carpeted floor mats

The price of the test vehicle came to $31,405, including the $1,245 destination charge.

Revised Exterior Styling

For 2022, the Hyundai Kona has undergone exterior changes that go beyond a typical "mid-cycle refresh." The changes add 1.6 inches to the vehicle's overall length and, at the same time, deliver a more rugged, purposeful look.

Most apparent is the Kona's revised front end. It has a new face with a bolder front grille and revised LED running lights that give the vehicle a new light signature. Hyundai spices up the front and rear fascias with front and rear "skid plates" that are more for looks than underbody protection. The front fascia connects seamlessly to the side cladding and is the same contrasting color. Of course, new wheels are added to the mix as well.

At the rear, the Kona wears new taillights and features horizontal graphics. The overall effect emphasizes that the Hyundai Kona is an SUV and not a small hatchback.

Added Connectivity and ADAS Features

The 2002 Hyundai Kona adds to its Blue Link Connected Car System and ADAS. Again, the changes are more significant than one might expect in a mid-cycle change.

One fundamental improvement to the Blue Link system is cloud storage for some vehicle settings and personal preferences. This enables the settings to be re-sent to the vehicle if an interruption wipes the data. Another handy improvement is the institution of vehicle status notifications. If, for instance, you leave the car with the doors unlocked or the windows open, you will receive a notification on your smartphone.

Another improvement is in the ability to send point-of-interest information and directions to the car's infotainment system. The revised Blue Link system now enables owners to send waypoints in addition to final destinations, and the system will automatically set those waypoints in logical order.

While the 2022 Kona retains the available ADAS from the 2021 model, it adds Highway Driving Assist. This feature helps keep the Kona in the center of the lane at a set distance from the traffic ahead. Though not meant to replace the driver's guidance, this system can steer the Kona through corners keeping it in the center of the lane and at the set speed and following distance.

Enhanced Infotainment and Driver Information Displays

2022 Hyundai Kona Limited Infotainment Touchscreen Display

For 2022, the Hyundai Kona adds new infotainment and driver information displays and systems that quickly deliver more information. The most notable changes are the addition of a 10.25-inch digital instrument and driver information cluster and an accompanying 10.25-inch navigation/information display.

Mounted high in the center of the Kona's dash, the new infotainment display has a split-screen function that can help the driver and front-seat passenger organize information and controls. The system facilitates multiple Bluetooth connections so, for example, you can listen to music from one device while keeping a smartphone connected to make and receive calls and texts.

While industry observers have routinely praised Hyundai infotainment systems for their large on-screen icons that make touchscreen use easy, the new system puts additional emphasis on voice-recognition technology. Using the newly enhanced voice recognition, drivers can control the interior temperature, audio system, and even functions like a heated steering wheel and side-view mirror heating. With Blue Link, drivers and passengers can perform additional tasks like checking the weather or looking for a restaurant or gas station.

One odd anomaly is that the Limited's 10.25-inch infotainment display system does not support wireless Android Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay, although the 8-inch touchscreen system in lower trims does. Hyundai equips the Kona Limited trim with Harman Kardon premium audio, including eight speakers and an external amplifier. It provides excellent sound reproduction and power.

New N Line Performance Trim

2022 Hyundai Kona N Line Interior Dashboard

Buyers looking for more performance and looks to match will find them in the new-for-2022 Kona N Line. Following a trend in the industry to sports-oriented trims, the N Line gives its buyers the on-road-oriented style of the upcoming Kona N high-performance version. Like the Limited trim, a 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that delivers 195 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque powers the N Line. The engine is coupled to a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission (DCT) with rapid shift-it-yourself abilities. The N Line trim is available with either front-wheel drive or optional AWD.

A raft of appearance changes accompanies the stronger-than-base turbocharged drivetrain. While the new exterior of the other Kona trims gives them a more rugged, off-road-oriented persona, the N Line makes obvious its on-road predilections. Rather than a faux front skid plate, the front fascia on the N Line is less aggressive and is body-colored. It features a larger air intake that has an internal mesh design. The wheel arches are also body color, and they house 18-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels specific to the N Line trim.

The N Line's rear end has a substantial central diffuser painted a color that contrasts with the overall body color. The N Line has its own rear fascia and bumper that also have an aerodynamic theme.

Inside the N Line, Hyundai treats the driver to an enthusiast-type interior. The bucket seats are upholstered in black (an obvious go-fast color), and they have distinctive red stitching, which is equally performance-oriented. The seats also carry N logos, as do the gear shift knob and the steering wheel hub. A black headliner and metal brake and accelerator pedals complete the performance look. The Sporty N Line has a manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) starting at just $25,700 plus destination, putting it within reach of many buyers who can't afford pricier performance machines.

Independent Expert Opinion - Find the best Hyundai deals!

2022 Hyundai Kona N Line Blue Rear Quarter View

The substantial changes to the Hyundai Kona lineup for the 2022 model year make a good vehicle even more appealing. The appearance changes and added functionality that the 2022 Kona brings to the marketplace are impressive. Getting wireless Apple CarPlay and wireless Android Auto in the larger-screen infotainment system would certainly be nice. But the twin 10.25-inch screens coupled with the clarity with which Hyundai infotainment systems typically function still present a winning effort.

The improvements in ADAS and connectivity are good value-adds. In the Kona, the enhanced voice activation of various systems moves from an often-frustrating experience akin to ordering at a restaurant in a foreign country to an everyday time-saver. The addition of Highway Driving Assist doesn't give the Kona driver autonomous driving operation by any means, but it does provide a taste of what that future could hold.

Beyond that, what vehicle tester worth their string-back driving gloves wouldn't applaud the addition of a new performance model, in this case, the Kona N Line? Yes, it is true that the N Line doesn't have much more in the way of true performance abilities than the high-luxe Kona Limited. But the N Line certainly looks the part. With its 195-horsepower turbocharged engine, DCT, and attractive racing-inspired styling touches, the N Line has many things that recommend it.

In summation, Hyundai has improved its versatile Kona small SUV in multiple ways for the 2022 model year. The changes are undoubtedly substantive enough for buyers to seek out the 2022 versus the 2021 model, the latter of which might still be on Hyundai lots around the country. The Hyundai Kona has never established the presence that its near-twin-under-the-skin Kia Soul has. Still, it is a solid bargain in a marketplace where solid bargains are increasingly challenging to find. For those seeking a versatile vehicle for well less than $30,000, the Hyundai Kona is an excellent choice.

Jack R. Nerad has been reviewing cars, trucks, vans, and sport utilities for more than three decades. He managed the editorial efforts of Motor Trend magazine and Kelley Blue Book and currently is the host of the SportsMap Radio Network program America on the Road, which is available on Apple Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, Stitcher, and other outlets.

The opinions expressed in this review are the author’s own, not J.D. Power’s.

No portion of these reviews may be reproduced, distributed, publicly displayed, or used for a derivative work without J.D. Power’s written permission. © 2022 J.D. Power

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