The Turbo Engine Is a Worthy 2021 Hyundai Kona Upgrade

In my recent test of a 2021 Hyundai Kona, one of the first things I noticed was that this Hyundai is a compact SUV that’s fun to drive. Of course, the tester I drove came equipped with the Kona’s 1.6-liter turbo four. It quickly became clear that the turbo engine is a worthwhile 2021 Hyundai Kona upgrade.

the 2021 Hyundai Kona | Hyundai USA

I haven’t had a chance to test the standard 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. But I am pretty sure that the lack of a turbocharged powertrain would take this model from lively and upbeat to feeling far more like a budget crossover SUV. If you are thinking about buying a Hyundai Kona, be sure and test both engines so that you really know the choice you are making between the two.

The 2021 Hyundai Kona turbo engine

In the 2021 Hyundai Kona, I was surprised and impressed with the agility with which this spritely little compact crossover handled sharp turns. Passing at highway speeds was a non-issue. Plus, the test fleet option that spent time with was an all-wheel-drive version of this compact crossover SUV––which added to the fun.

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It’s not so expensive to opt for this 2021 Hyundai Kona upgrade, either. The base SEL model and the SEL Plus trim both come standard with the less inspiring 147 horsepower 2.0 four. These trim levels start at $22,000 and $24,050––according to U.S. News and World Report.

But choosing a higher trim adds excitement for only a few thousand more. According to Hyundai USA, the 2.0-liter inline-four generates 147 horsepower and 132 lb-ft of torque at 4,500 RPMs. On the other hand, upgrading to the 1.6-liter turbocharged option gives you 175 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque between 1,500 and 4,500 RPMs.

How much does it cost to upgrade to the turbocharged powertrain?

The top three 2021 Hyundai Kona trims all employ the turbo engine as standard equipment. The Hyundai Kona Night Edition starts at $25,600. That’s just $3,600 more than the entry-level Kona trim. When we choose a car, it’s typically a purchase that we expect to live with for a few year at the very least.

Red Hyundai Kona compact crossover SUV on display at Brussels Expo
The Hyundai Kona | Sjoerd van der Wal/Getty Images

So spending that extra money will add a lot to the overall ownership experience. While we certainly understand that a zippy drive system isn’t everyone’s top priority, it’s still something to consider for anyone thinking about buying a 2021 Hyundai Kona. After driving the turbo Kona, I really think it’s worth the additional spend.

The top two trims bring loads of bells and whistles to the table. The 2021 Hyundai Kona Limited (the model I test was an AWD Limited trim Kona) is a great overall package. It adds an upgraded interior, an improved audio system, and a very long list of standard safety and tech features––all for a great price of $26,200.

It’s totally worth it

Given the fact that you’ll likely be driving your new compact crossover SUV purchase for an extended period of time, it’s not a bad idea to add a little to the price. Especially when a few thousand dollars gives you so much more. I’d say that the 2021 Hyundai Kona with a turbo engine is totally worth the money.

the 2021 hyundai kona in thundra gray driving down an open road showing of its zippy turbo engine
2021 Hyundai Kona | Hyundai USA

You’ll get that long list of features as well as Hyundai’s famous warranty. Plus, you’ll have a way more exciting powertrain. The daily commute could use a little spunk to make things more interesting, right?

For buyers who like the Kona and don’t have the need for anything larger are probably going to end up pretty happy with their choice––even with the standard powertrain. However, the 2021 Hyundai Kona with turbo engine brings so much more to the entire package. It’s hard to find reasons not to upgrade to a turbocharged powertrain.