The 2021 Hyundai Kona Isn’t as Nice as the 2020 Sonata but it’s Fun to Drive

I recently tested the 2021 Hyundai Kona Limited AWD with a 1.6-liter turbocharged engine. Just before the winter holidays, I also reviewed the Hyundai Sonata Limited. The Kona isn’t as nice as the Sonata but it’s fun to drive.

a blue 2021 Hyundai Kona in a press photo
2021 Hyundai Kona | Hyundai

Obviously, there are similarities between these two Hyundai models. However, there are also stark differences. One of the differing factors between the 2021 Hyundai Kona and the 2020 Sonata is the interior quality.

The 2021 Hyundai Kona Limited doesn’t trick you into thinking it’s a luxury car

While I enjoyed driving the Kona, the interior isn’t nearly as plush as the Hyundai Sonata Limited. There are more hard surfaces and the feeling of the design is a bit of a departure from the luxurious Sonata. While the interior of the 2021 Hyundai Kona Limited is high quality, it’s just not as plush.

Hyundai shows off their 2020 Sonata Hybrid at the Chicago Auto Show on February 06, 2020
The Hyundai Sonata Hybrid | Scott Olson/Getty Images

There were times in the Sonata that I was almost convinced it could classify as a luxury vehicle. I didn’t experience those same luxury vibes in the Kona. That said, I did find the seats to be supportive and comfortable even for long drives. Plus, the infotainment system was a piece of cake to learn. General connectivity is easy in both the 2021 Hyundai Kona Limited AWD and the Sonata.

Each of these Hyundai models has various powertrain options. The 2020 Hyundai Sonata I drove was a hybrid. The Kona I tested employed a turbocharged engine.

Different appeals for different audiences

For those that want an upscale sedan at an affordable price, the Hyundai Sonata Limited is a near-perfect option. While it would make a great first car for your teen driver, it also appeals as a plush commuter for someone more established. The Kona definitely has a more utilitarian feel to it.

The 2021 Hyundai Kona Limited is easy on the eyes, shares the same leather upholstery as the Sonata, and has plenty of USB docks. There’s also a wireless charging station. It’s the first one in any car I’ve borrowed from a press fleet that actually charged my iPhone in the heavy duty case I keep it in.

Overall, I imagine the Kona aimed toward a different audience than the Sonata. They are just so different. I enjoyed driving the Kona quite a bit. However, it’s definitely not as nice as the 2020 Sonata. According to Hyundai’s website, it’s a “small SUV that’s big on adventure.” That’s definitely honest marketing––in my opinion.

The 2021 Hyundai Kona Limited AWD is fun to drive

One of my primary takeaways from this vehicle is that it’s fun to drive the 2021 Hyundai Kona with a turbocharged engine. Especially because I tested the AWD model, it felt extremely confident both in an urban setting and on winding rural roads deep in the country. It’s simple to accelerate, simple to stop, and easy to turn.

a picture of a woman driving the 2021 hyundai kona from the view of a rear seat passenger
2021 Hyundai Kona interior | Hyundai USA

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Overall, the Kona makes a great package. The model I tested had a sticker price of $27,600. For that price point, I think this subcompact SUV is a great deal. It’s an ideal size and shape for someone who needs a little more space than a car. The 2021 Hyundai Kona Limited AWD may not be quite as nice as the 2020 Hyundai Sonata Limited. However, with the turbocharged engine, it’s very fun to drive.