The Car Connection Best Suv – Hyundai Kona vs Tucson: The matchup looks amazing on paper, as both cars come from the same South Korean automaker. But with plenty of standard equipment, a good warranty, and fuel-efficient and high-performance editions, it’s easy to see the appeal of the Tucson and Kona.
While the compact Kona is city-friendly in size and comes in an electric edition and spicy N model, the Tucson offers hybrid and plug-in hybrid models with a spacious interior and abundant safety features.
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Competition is tough for both. The latest Hyundai Tucson competes with the Honda CR-V and Nissan Rogue, Kona directly with the Kia Sportage and Honda HR-V. Even side by side, it’s a close race—but if you’ve settled on a Hyundai crossover and need to keep it affordable and compact, we recommend it here.
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You could buy a Honda HR-V or Mazda CX-30, but if you’re looking for a smaller crossover with a lower price, the 2023 may mark the corner. It costs less than $23,475, and doesn’t leave much empty space on its dash. It has automatic emergency braking, cruise control, alloy wheels, power features, and an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Android Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay. Every Hyundai comes with a 5 year/60,000 mile warranty and 3 years or 36,000 miles of free scheduled service. We recommend the midrange Kona SEL, which adds keyless start and a blind spot monitor. We’ll add a $1,700 Convenience Package for heated front seats, a sunroof, and wireless phone charging. The $29,185 Kona N-Line turbo and $30,285 Kona Limited have more power, get leather and adaptive cruise control. For ultimate power, the Kona N gets all the performance upgrades for about $36,000.
The Tucson costs more, but has more standard equipment and a long list of options. The warranty is the same as the Kona, making the Tucson another great value. The base Tucson SE crossover starts at $28,035 and offers cloth seats, power features and the same 8.0-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto. The $29,365 Tucson SEL with Convenience Package adds wireless smartphone charging, a 10.3-inch digital gauge cluster, power sunroof, power tailgate, and synthetic leather upholstery. When you add a hybrid powertrain and standard all-wheel drive, this Tucson remains a great value at around $35,000. The Tucson comes in XRT, N-Line, and Limited grades as well as Plug-in. A hybrid model tops the lineup at just over $45,000.
Konas are built in South Korea, and some Tucsons are too, but most gas-powered Tucsons now come from Montgomery, Alabama.
Tucson, by a good margin. The Kona is a small SUV, with a comfortable interior for four adults – but there’s no denying its small footprint. The Kona has front and rear seats that provide more comfort in the N-Line and N editions as well. But with 35.2 inches of rear legroom and a slim body, it’s perfect for two medium-sized rear passengers. The Kona has 46 cubic feet of cargo space behind the front seats, when the seats are folded down. It is 19.2 cubic feet with the rear seats up.
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It’s a compact crossover but the rear seats open up into a medium-sized space. The Tucson added 3.4 inches to the wheelbase when it was redesigned in 2022, and now has a 108.5-inch wheelbase — length that defines interior room. It’s also 182.3 inches long overall, which means it’s the same size as the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V.
All that space is on display inside, where the Tucson gets supportive front seats that get synthetic leather upholstery and power adjustments on the SEL trim level. In the back, the Tucson’s 41.3 inches of legroom beats some Hyundai sedans and has more room than the Kona, though three people fit comfortably in the back seat.
The Tucson sports 38.7 cubic feet of storage behind the rear seats and 74.8 cubic feet when the rear seatbacks are folded down.
The NHTSA gave it five stars overall, but the IIHS hasn’t updated its score since the Kona was recently redesigned. (A new Kona is due in 2024.) All Konas get automatic emergency braking and active lane control, and more expensive models add a blind spot monitor and adaptive cruise control.
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It’s a Top Safety Pick+ award winner from the IIHS, but the NHTSA gives it an overall four-star rating. However, the Tucson comes standard with automatic emergency braking, active lane control, and rear warning. In the SEL trim level, the Tucson gets blind spot monitors and adaptive cruise control, while Limited Tucsons get a blind spot camera, rear automatic emergency braking, front and rear parking sensors, and a surround-view camera system.
The Hyundai Kona doesn’t get best-in-class for fuel economy, but it does come with a Kona Electric Edition that’s good for more than 250 miles of plug-in range. Except for this version, the best economy in the lineup comes in front-wheel-drive base spec, with EPA ratings of 30 mpg city, 35 highway, 32 combined. The Turbo versions are nearly identical, with ratings of 29/35/32-mpg with front-wheel drive and 27/32/29 mpg with all-wheel drive. The Kona N is the worst in the lineup at 20/27/23 mpg.
The Tucson gets good fuel economy when it’s not a hybrid. The EPA pegs the base versions at 26 mpg city, 33 mpg highway, 29 mpg with FWD, and 24/29/26 mpg with AWD. Hybrid achieves best-in-class ratings of 38/38/38 mpg in Blue trim and 37/36/37 mpg in SEL Convenience and Limited spec. With the plug-in hybrid powertrain, the Tucson delivers 33 miles in electric driving and 35 mpg combined after using up the battery.
Performance is on the menu here, especially in the Kona. A Kona N burns on a lineup that starts with plenty of power and a midrange turbo model that’s more than enough for most drivers.
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Kona SE and SEL have 147 hp from a 2.0-liter inline-4 mated to a CVT. It’s light on emotions, but the cure is the 195-hp turbo 4 in N-Line and limited version. They’re good at acceleration, though the quick 7-speed dual-clutch automatic gets confused on low-speed demands for power. Best of all is the Kona N of 275-hp, with its turbo-4 and 8-speed double-clutch; While other models avoid slipping in tight corners, the Kona N likes it, even if it feels too firm for some daily drives.
As for the Tucson, the base 187-hp 2.5-liter inline-4 comes with an 8-speed automatic transmission and either front or all-wheel drive. It’s slow to engage and doesn’t have much grunt on the highway. The 226-hp hybrid version has a turbo-4 1.6-liter associated with a battery pack and an engine that can throw a needle in low-speed traffic thanks to high torque and a list of 6 – automatic speeds. The plug-in Tucson gets a bigger battery pack and handles differently as a result: all versions run smoothly and have steering lights that don’t feel too heavy, but the plug-in battery packs a lot of weight and can make some speed which is low ball The Tucson’s ride quality. Put one of these in Sport powertrain mode and the driving mood brightens considerably.
Pros: The Kona N is stable and ready for the track; The Tucson Hybrid series is for interstate cruising. 2023 Hyundai Kona Hyundai Tucson vs Kona Exterior and Interior Styling
Hyundai has received praise for pushing the styling envelope with two of its crossovers, but sometimes the Manila folder as well.
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The Kona has an old look here – it has been on the road since 2018 and has been redesigned for 2024. It can be messy at times, with all the clashes, lines, cuts, folds, and especially high-rise LED lights. . The Kona N-Line and Kona N versions get a red trim that gives it more attention, which might be exactly what you’re looking for. The interior is less intimidating, with lots of gray and black plastic, but Hyundai fits a large infotainment screen in every version.
The sharper Tucson looks better. With deep origami folds on its sides, with pointed diamond-shaped details in the front on its edges along with the fade-in led running light. Inside there is one drawback: a large infotainment screen sits on a shiny black obelisk between the front seats, ready to receive all fingerprints. With its rather dull metal pieces and air vents, the Tucson’s cabin seems to lose all focus on its body.
Overall, the 2023 Kona earned a TCC rating of 6.2 out of 10, though we’d give more points to the turbo-engined version if we were to separate them. These cars are a lot of fun – but any day, we’d trade the Kona N’s manic energy for the loose, stylish Tucson Hybrid and its 6.7 out of 10 TCC rating.