September 30, 2020
The battle for best crossover SUV has never been higher with the arrival of the sporty and eye-catching Hyundai Kona to challenge the reliable and utilitarian Honda HR-V for supremacy three model years ago. Here we take an in-depth look at the 2021 Hyundai Kona and the 2020 Honda HR-V to see how each measures up against each other. Read on for more details.
Subcompact and spacious don’t usually go hand-in-hand but the 2020 Honda HR-V has changed the crossover SUV game by combining the two regardless of the physics. Honda’s smallest crossover still provides plenty of passenger space and trick folding seats that can maximize cargo space. Delivering excellent fuel economy, the 2020 HR-V does have a little bit of a rough ride on uneven roads but is still easy to maneuver in the midst of traffic. The HR-V may not have the pizzazz or fun to drive of the Hyundai Kona it is still unrivaled in practicality and versatility. At the end of the day, it’s a Honda, which most people know is one of the most reliable brands on the road today and is a great choice for anyone looking for a crossover SUV.
Honda made a few mechanical and style changes for the 2019 model year but for 2020 there haven’t been many changes worth noting on any trim level.
A quick look at the starting price of the 2020 Hyundai Kona by trim level:
Overall, the Honda HR-V may not be the cheapest but it is only a little under the Hyundai Kona price-wise. The mid-level EX model is probably the trim to go with, and while it does have a higher price than the LX and Sport it has much better standard features compared to those base models. The most noticeable upgrades include heated front seats, passive entry, a sunroof, and several driver assists. Also, we’d recommend adding the all-wheel-drive option for about $1400 rather than sticking with the FWD option.
The interior may not get your heart racing but the 2020 Honda HR-V’s cabin is classy, well-made, and durable enough to withstand nearly everything you can throw at it. Visibility from the driver’s seat is good and passenger space is acceptable, however, the most luxurious features are reserved for the top-trim Touring model. The front seats are spacious enough for most passengers, but if you are NBA pro height you could feel a little cramped headroom wise. Back seats are a little less spacious so tall passengers should probably stick to the front seats if they are able. One of the highlights of the 2020 HR-V is the variety of different positions that the second-row seats are able to fold down into to leave plenty of room for a range of items, big and small.
Tech-wise you get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system on all trims except the base LX model. The LX has a simpler set up which is basically just a color screen/radio that allows you to pair your media device and phone for Bluetooth connectivity.
If you’re looking for a high-performance/high-speed crossover then the HR-V may not be the ride for you. Noisy, slow, and unrefined the HR-V with FWD clock in a 8.6-second 0-to-60 time, and adding AWD slowed it down further with a time of 9.5-seconds. The handling is relatively fun but don’t push it too hard, if Honda added a better suspension it would handle the rougher roads and body roll a lot better. Although when cruising on the highway the HR-V has a much easier ride for everyone.
The MPG is not much to look at either only slightly above the Hyundai Kona with 28 mpg city and 34 mpg highway.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) awarded the 2020 HR-V with a 5-star rating, and it was also named a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). In addition to those safety awards Honda’s crossover SUV offers a variety of driver-assistance tech, a couple of which you can see below:
The Honda Sensing is a major safety feature that the HR-V comes with. Watch the video below for more info.
The Honda Limited Warranty for the HR-V is pretty average compared to the rest of the models in its class. Hyundai and Kia are the only two brands that offer more coverage.
Only three model years old, the 2021 Hyundai Kona continues to impress with its bold styling. However, the goal of this SUV isn’t just to turn heads, it offers crisp handling and a bold optional turbo 4-cylinder engine. The 2021 Kona is just as much fun to drive as it is to look at. On the inside, the Kona has a nice elegant look and boasts plenty of room for four adults to sit comfortably. Rear cargo space may not be as plentiful as slightly larger SUVs but the Konda remains one of the best looking and best driving small SUVs available today.
The major changes for 2021 are the loss of the Hyundai Kona’s brightest paint colors – Lime Twist and Sunset Orange. But fear not, Hyundai released a Kona Night model which pairs the very desirable turbocharged engine with gloss-black 18-inch aluminum wheels and matching gloss black exterior paint. The Night model also comes with black cloth upholstery, a black headliner, and aluminum gas and brake pedals. Couple all of those features with LED exterior lighting and you’ll be driving a more menacing looking Kona.
A quick look at the starting price of the 2020 Hyundai Kona by trim level:
The 2021 Hyundai Kona’s designers were able to match the interior style with the fun exterior design while still maintaining comfort and convenience for the driver and passengers. Highlights of the Kona include quality materials, good ergonomics, and comfortable seats that feel grown-up and refined. On the dash, the driver has an easy view of two simple analog gauges that frame a slim digital readout. The steering wheel sports a nice leather with contrast stitching and has available controls for cruise control and audio. Upgrading from a hatchback the cargo space will suit you perfectly but if you are downsizing from a larger SUV than you might feel the constraints.
The Kona’s dashboard has the almost standard in any vehicle nowadays touchscreen infotainment system with a few shortcut buttons to let you quickly switch between menus. The lower trim levels possess a 7-inch touchscreen but if you are an Ultimate model buyer you’ll have the slightly larger 8-inch screen in the dash. The Kona Ultimate also features navigation and real-time traffic updates on the infotainment system and driving directions can be projected onto the Ultimate’s heads-up display. Standard across all trims are Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, so whether you go the Ultimate route or stick with the lower trims you still have access to navigation through your smartphone.
Under the hood of the 2021 Hyundai Kona, you have two available powertrains. The SE and SEL trims sport a 147-horsepower four-cylinder engine and a six-speed automatic transmission. The 147-horsepower engine clocked in a time of 9.2 seconds from 0 to 60 mph so if you are looking for something with a little more pep in its step we’d suggest going with the turbo. The Limited and Ultimate models rock a 175-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The 7-speed dual-clutch may be a little jerky to start but shifts rather quickly and smoothly once you are at highway speeds, it tends to stumble a bit in low-speed scenarios like parking lots or heavy traffic. It’s almost like the dual-clutch is hesitant to go until the driver really puts down the throttle. Aside from that, Kona’s drive is agile and a good amount of fun. It handles choppy roads well with a suspension that really downplays bumps or pavement flaws. One issue to note is the Kona’s steering, which requires frequent corrections when cruising the highway.
The 2021 Kona doesn’t have class-leading fuel economy but it does maintain the average for the small SUV class. Fuel economy comes in at 28mpg city and 33mpg highway, not bad but not great either. If you go with the turbocharged four-cylinder you drop fuel efficiency by only one mile per gallon.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2021 Hyundai Kona a 5-star safety rating and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has named it a Top Safety Pick+. Popular driver-assistance features like automated emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, and a driver-attention monitor all come standard on the Hyundai Kona no matter the trim. More advanced features are optional but key safety features include:
All 2021 Kona’s come with Hyundai’s signature 10-year powertrain warranty and now offers complimentary scheduled maintenance that bests even rivals like Toyota.
|2021 Hyundai Kona SEL Plus AWD||VS||2020 Honda HR-V EX AWD|
|147-hp, 2.0-liter I-4 (regular gas)||Engine||141-hp, 1.8-liter I-4 (regular gas)|
|6-speed automatic w/OD and auto-manual||Transmission||2-speed CVT w/OD and auto-manual|
|147 @ 6,200 rpm||Engine Horspower (@ RPM)||141 @ 6,500 rpm|
|132lb-ft @ 4,500 rpm||Engine Torque (lb-ft @ rpm)||127lb-ft @ 4,300 rpm|
|25 City / 30 Highway / 27 Combined||EPA MPG Rating||26 City / 31 Highway / 28 Combined|
|All-Wheel Drive||Drivetrain||All-Wheel Drive|
|13.2 gallons||Fuel Tank Capacity||13.2 gallons|
|Power with 2 stage unlock||Power Door Locks||Power with 2 stage unlock|
|Standard||Remote Keyless Entry||Standard|
|1||12-Volt DC Power Outlet||2|
|AM/FM/Satellite, seek-scan||Radio||AM/FM/Satellite, seek-scan|
|Standard||Apple CarPlay / Android Auto Integration||Standard|
|8 Speaker Infinity® Premium Audio||Audio Speakers||6 Speaker 180-watt Audio System|
|Standard||Remote Starting System||Available|
|Safety & Driver Assist|
|Driver and front passenger||Front Airbags||Driver and front passenger|
|Seat-mounted, driver and passenger||Side Airbags||Seat-mounted, driver and passenger|
|Curtain 1st & 2nd row||Side-Curtain Airbags||Curtain 1st & 2nd row|
|Standard||In-Vehicle Assistance Service||Not Available|
The question of “Which is better Honda HRV or Hyundai Kona” isn’t an easy one to answer. Both crossover SUVs have their strong points and their weak points, each one has strength in a category that the other excels in. What it boils down to are your priorities. Where the 2021 Kona lacks in cargo space it makes up for in drivability and its exterior and interior styling is top of its class, easily beating the Honda HR-V. On the other side is the reliability inherent in the Honda brand that the 2020 HR-V sports and the spaciousness and cargo capacity make it miles ahead of the very compact Hyundai Kona. So again, the choice between the two is your priorities. Looking for styling and fun to drive crossover SUV; the 2021 Hyundai Kona is the ride for you. If you need to be able to haul people and cargo, then the 2020 Honda HR-V is right up your alley.