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Editor’s note: This article was updated on 05/17/2023

Consumer Reports recently updated its new model year recommendations for cars, trucks, and SUVs. Using many different factors, the publication decides which vehicles it recommends or not. CR’s recommendation is highly-coveted, as it’s a well-regarded source for the average customer. Unfortunately, for the latest model year, one Hyundai SUV lost the esteemed recommendation. How does this compare to what other sources are saying about the subcompact? Did the Hyundai Kona SUV actually get less reliable?

Is the latest Hyundai Kona less reliable?

A black 2023 Hyundai Kona, it's no longer recommended by Consumer Reports.
2023 Hyundai Kona Electric | Hyundai Motor America

Consumer Reports recommended buying the Hyundai Kona during the previous model year. The subcompact SUV gets decent fuel economy, a powerful optional engine, nimble handling, and easy-to-use controls. As a result, it’s one of the top-rated models in its class, with a lot going for it. Furthermore, a low starting price enhances those features even more. Kona buyers only need to pay $21,990 for the most basic version and still just $34,700 for the fully-loaded variant. Front-wheel drive is standard, but all-wheel drive is optional for all trims. CR tested a model equipped with AWD, making its 26 mpg even more impressive.

However, CR no longer recommends the Hyundai SUV. The trusted source announced a small list of models that lost their “recommended” label for the new model year. Unfortunately, unforeseen new issues raised with the Kona recently, making it fall slightly short of high praise. Furthermore, the Kona was never perfect, with poor reviews for its stiff ride and underwhelming standard engine, for example. Other factors determined by the reviewer for the new iteration were the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Alternatively, J.D. Power gave the latest Kona model year a nearly identical review to the year prior. Its quality and reliability rating remains “Great” at 83 out of 100, while other scores are slightly lower. Using JDP’s customer surveys, it seems the Kona’s reliability is one of its best attributes.

Experts disagree about the Kona

A black 2023 Hyundai Kona, no longer recommended by Consumer Reports.
The 2023 Hyundai Kona | Hyundai

A few new things hurt the Hyundai Kona‘s overall rating. For example, CR says, “The base 2.0-liter engine and six-speed automatic are adequate around town but can feel sluggish at times.” Next, the ride is stiff, and the cabin is loud. Road and engine noise elevated from inside the Kona are to blame. According to Edmunds, the interior contains many hard plastic panels. Although sometimes this isn’t a negative for many buyers, hard plastics make a car or SUV feel cheap and are usually detrimental to a high-quality interior.

Despite its negatives, the Hyundai Kona has some seriously excellent attributes too. In particular, the base model SE has a surprising number of standard features for the price, including safety equipment. For example, forward collision mitigation, lane departure mitigation, a lane-keeping system, blind-spot warning with rear cross-traffic warning, and a safe-exit system are standard.

The standard, underwhelming engine is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that produces 147 horsepower and 132 lb-ft of torque. Optionally, and recommended by most experts, buyers can get a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder, good for 195 hp and 195 lb-ft. Finally, the range-topping Kona N uses an improved turbocharged 2.0-liter unit making 276 hp and 289 lb-ft.

The Hyundai Kona is still fairly new

In conclusion, the Hyundai Kona has average reliability overall. Since the model has only existed since 2017, it’s difficult to say whether it’s a very “long-lasting” model or if it will perform well for many miles. Based on recent mixed ratings from various sources, we’d say the Kona is a trustworthy subcompact SUV overall. Still, it’s worth noting that more owners reported issues with the 2022 model year than the one before, for those interested in buying a used Kona.


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