Kona’s Modern Style, Tech and Features Belie Price Point

Hyundai’s small CUV wins a 2024 Wards 10 Best Interiors & UX award on the strength of its avant-garde aesthetic and high level of technology and features, all at an affordable price.

Christie Schweinsberg, Senior Editor

May 22, 2024

3 Min Read
Hyundai Kona front zoomed out
2024 Hyundai Kona clean, serene inside.

Creating a great interior and user experience in a lower-priced model is not easy. But Hyundai has become a master at it, evidenced by its Kona small CUV.

Clocking in at $34,695, our Limited AWD 4-cyl. 2024 Kona test vehicle is roughly two-thirds the price of the average new vehicle in the U.S., but it has the style and features of a car costing much more.

Hyundai Kona fabric speaker.jpeg

The second-generation Kona adopts a progressive, tech-y aesthetic that mirrors Hyundai’s electric Ioniq models. The CUV’s tastefully modern interior, decorated with linear and cubic graphics, earns top scores from our judges. Cube-shaped dots embossed on the seats echo the Ioniq 5 CUV and 6 sedan and represent the letter H in Morse code. The pale gray color on most surfaces in the cabin lends a clean and serene vibe, and again, is very battery-electric-vehicle-inspired in its lack of bold color.

Hyundai has a knack for dressing up hard-plastic trim by utilizing out-of-the-ordinary choices in color, finish and grain. These are selections that lend an upscale vibe to more affordable models and that are different from what other OEMs typically use. The center console’s metallic finish is brushed and has a cool — and less common — gunmetal-gray versus silver-gray color. Judge Dave Zoia likes the rubbery, dotted-grain skin on the dash, and there was a strong appreciation among our judges for the cabin’s matte finishes, which tend to look higher end vs. trim with glossy surfaces.

On the user-experience side, the Kona also punches above its weight. Two high-resolution, 12.3-in. (31-cm) displays unite under one piece of glass spanning the instrument panel, similar to the giant displays in this year’s more expensive 10 Best Interiors & UX-winning vehicles, including Hyundai’s own Santa Fe midsize CUV.

Hyundai Kona screens night.jpeg

On the Kona’s big display, colors and graphics render beautifully, especially visible during the vehicle’s welcome animation that plays upon entering.

Hyundai handily puts physical buttons for the most frequently accessed functions on the center stack and console. Large virtual buttons are present for both the HVAC system and the main infotainment categories, the latter making it easier – and safer – to find infotainment-system features without having to dive into layers of screen menus while driving.

“Despite the Kona’s low sticker price, you’re not giving up comfort or convenience,” says judge Jim Irwin, who loved the easy Apple CarPlay connectivity and two-level steering-wheel heat.

From first to second generations, Hyundai upped the CUV’s length by 6 ins. (152 mm) and its wheelbase grew 2.3-ins. (58-mm) longer. It’s still about 10 ins. (254 mm) shorter than competitors, but despite relatively diminutive proportions it features a very roomy second row. That’s also aided by Hyundai making seat backs approximately 30% thinner than those in the first-gen Kona, a Wards 10 Best Interiors winner in 2018.

The new Kona also enters our winner’s circle by having a large cargo area, fast voice recognition system and a well-designed wireless phone charging pad that accounts for protruding camera lenses. Additionally, it boasts generous storage space, including in the center console bin, which has cupholders that can be hidden away.

Sums up judge Zoia: “This is no penalty box. The cabin’s clean, modern design is one that will continue to look fresh for years to come. And the car offers all the key features buyers demand today.”

Hyundai Kona ext three quarter.jpeg

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