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Each Sunday, Pitchfork takes an in-depth look at a significant album from the past, and any record not in our archives is eligible. Today, we revisit a tense, beautiful, lo-fi landmark from the second wave of black metal.
In the fall of 1971, a child is born in a remote village in Norway. He will one day rechristen himself Fenriz, after the Earth-swallowing wolf, Fenrir, who appears in Norse mythology and the Satanic Bible. But for now, he is Gylve Nagell, being raised by his grandmother, spending inordinate amounts of time alone. The pivotal moments of his childhood occur while listening to records, music introduced to him by an eccentric uncle named Stein. Pink Floyd catches his ear; a few songs by the Doors hold his attention; but it’s the English progressive rock band Uriah Heep that blows his mind. He’s entranced by the heavy organ sound, the cryptic lyrics, and the mysterious men with long hair who appear on the album’s cover. He cherishes the triple-fold LP like an heirloom from…

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2020 Hyundai Kona Review

  • Smart and stylish cabin
  • Standard active safety tech
  • Great infotainment system
  • Decent fuel economy
  • EV version available
  • Overwhelming styling
  • Lackluster acceleration
  • Unrefined dual-clutch transmission
  • Small-ish back seat and cargo hold
  • Price on top-end models
  • Skip upper and lower-tier Kona models in favor of the well-equipped SEL trim with all-wheel drive.

The 2020 Hyundai Kona is an eyeful, but has nearly everything crossover buyers want in a city-friendly package.

The 2020 Hyundai Kona blends great standard features with all-wheel-drive crossover versatility and capability in a package smaller than the Tucson. Hyundai carries the 2020 Kona over from last year with minimal changes, mostly a few tweaks to the available features and packages.

We give it 6.3 overall for its excellent safety and value. 

In terms of styling, the Kona is… well, a lot. Hyundai threw nearly every crossover trick in the book at this little hatchback-shaped utility vehicle, and the result is distinctive, but not always coherent. Two-tiered headlights, more fake vents than any car needs, and a heavy helping of plastic body cladding make for a busy design that screams #adventure but belies the Kona’s humble underpinnings. The interior, by contrast, is nicely restrained and features neat color accents like green and orange on some trims.

A base 2.0-liter inline-4 is adequate for a small crossover, and with a smooth 6-speed automatic and available all-wheel drive for $1,400, it should suit most buyers. The optional 1.6-liter turbo-4 doesn’t provide much of a boost in power or fuel economy, and its 7-speed dual-clutch automatic is often confused at city speeds. A short wheelbase and tight dimensions, plus an independent rear suspension, make the Kona relatively fun to drive on twisty roads and easy to maneuver in urban environments.

The Kona fits five people (barely), though its ride height and decent rear head room are better for four average-size adults. With nearly 20 cubic feet of cargo room behind the fold-down rear seats, there’s plenty of space for luggage too.

While the base Kona SE includes desirable features like automatic emergency braking and touchscreen infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto at just over $20,000, stepping up $1,800 to the SEL trim adds 17-inch wheels, blind spot monitors, a sunroof, heated front seats, and keyless ignition. It’s possible to spend nearly $30,000 on a Kona with the Ultimate trim, and while a wireless smartphone charging pad, head-up display, and adaptive cruise control are tempting, there are much better (and bigger) deals to be found at that price.

With a Top Safety Pick+ award from the IIHS last year, five stars from the federal government, and standard automatic braking as well as optional active safety features, the Kona is one of the safest small crossovers on the market. Fuel economy ranges from 27 combined mpg with all-wheel-drive and the turbo engine to 30 mpg combined for front-wheel-drive models. An all-electric Kona is also available (and great) and is covered in a separate review.

The 2020 Hyundai Kona is busy to look at on the outside, but pleasantly practical on the inside.

The 2020 Hyundai Kona uses every crossover design cue in the book, then goes looking for others. Things get complicated. Thankfully, the cabin doesn’t follow suit. We give it a 4 for styling.

The longer you look at the Kona, the more mismatched details you notice, from the two-tier headlights to the fake vents and enormous swaths of plastic body cladding. It’s a complicated array of lines and surfaces to tack onto what is essentially a tall hatchback. While it is distinctive, it’s not cohesive enough to be considered “handsome.”

The interior, thankfully, tells a different story, with a logical cabin layout and just a few flourishes like orange or green accents on top trims. A centered infotainment and control cluster places everything within reach and leaves it clearly marked, and the conventional round air vent design makes it feel like this interior comes from a different car. That’s fine with us, as we’d much rather spend time inside the Kona than looking at it.

The 2020 Hyundai Kona has two average powertrains, but ride and handling are better than average for a small crossover.

The 2020 Hyundai Kona makes use of gas powertrains, neither of which is in a particular hurry. We give it 4 out of 10 for performance.

The base 2.0-liter inline-4 makes 147 horsepower and is mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive. Those are economy car numbers, and the entry-level Kona feels somewhat sluggish. All-wheel drive is available and does help in inclement weather, and at just $1,400, it’s probably worth the cost of entry for people in many states.

A 1.6-liter turbo-4 comes standard on the Limited trim and above, and while power is pushed to 175 hp, its 7-speed dual-clutch automatic gets confused and feels hesitant at city speeds. In this case, the base transmission is vastly better.
With an independent rear suspension regardless of how many wheels are driven, the Kona is a deft handler and relatively comfortable for a car with a short wheelbase, though 18-inch wheels on the top trims do firm up the ride experience. Ground clearance is only 6.7 inches, so don’t expect to take the Kona on a trail in Moab, but all-wheel-drive models handle snow and rain just fine.

Comfort & Quality
The 2020 Hyundai Kona is best experienced from the inside, though don’t expect more space than a small hatchback.

The 2020 Hyundai Kona looks small and acts the part, but it’s plenty practical for two city dwellers and the occasional passenger or two. We give it 6 out of 10 for comfort and quality.

Front seat occupants will find buckets with good adjustment and supportive cushions, and the high placement of the seats makes exit and entry easier for less mobile drivers. Cloth upholstery is standard and does the trick, while leather comes on higher-price Konas, but we say stick to the fabric.

The interior has a higher-quality fit and finish than many competitors, and with available wireless charging, multiple USB ports, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, it’s a modern driver’s tech cocoon. Rear seat space is limited and best suited for shorter trips, though head room is better than average thanks to a bubble roof design.

With foldable rear seats, the Kona manages up to 45.8 cubic feet of cargo room, and 19.2 cubic feet behind the rear seats. That’s about on par with a compact hatchback, but a low load floor and wide rear opening make for a convenient cargo experience.

Lime green or orange highlights on some trims brighten up the affair, but the gray or black interior can get a bit dreary otherwise.

The 2020 Hyundai Kona is plenty safe and includes automatic emergency braking as standard.

The 2020 Hyundai Kona gets great crash test scores and includes automatic emergency braking as standard. We give it 9 out of 10 for safety.

Though 2020 scores aren’t out yet, the Kona hasn’t changed this year so we don’t expect its crash test results to either. The NHTSA gave the Kona 5 stars overall in every category except rollover rating last year, and the IIHS saw fit to award the tiny Hyundai a Top Safety Pick+ award, getting “Good” scores in every area. However, lower-trim Kona models don’t receive the award for their sub-par halogen headlights, while higher-trim models get an additional “Good” rating for the standard LED units.

What’s more, the Kona includes automatic emergency braking as standard, and blind-spot monitors are available on the mid-tier SEL trim. Ultimate trim models add adaptive cruise control for this year, as well as a head-up display, active lane control, and more.

The 2020 Hyundai Kona is good value for feature content, but only up to a point.

The 2020 Hyundai Kona is, like any Hyundai, well-equipped out of the box, but higher-trim models quickly lose their value proposition. We give it 9 out of 10 here.

The 2020 Kona comes in SE, SEL, Limited, and Ultimate trims which range from just over $20,000 to nearly $30,000 fully loaded. The base Kona SE gets cloth upholstery, power features, Bluetooth, a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 16-inch alloy wheels, twin USB ports up front, and forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking. An excellent 5-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty is also included and improves to 10 years/100,000 miles for the powertrain.

The SEL trim adds heated seats, 17-inch wheels, keyless ignition, satellite radio, and blind-spot monitors, making it our pick of the litter. A sunroof is optional, as is improved Infinity audio.
Limited models strangely don’t offer a sunroof even as an option, but do include 18-inch wheels, leather upholstery, a power driver’s seat, LED taillights, and the more powerful turbocharged engine. Ultimate models top the lineup, and include an improved 8.0-inch touchscreen, head-up display, wireless smartphone charging, and satellite navigation. At nearly $30,000 though, the Kona’s small size comes into play, and many larger crossovers represent a much better deal.

Fuel Economy
The 2020 Hyundai Kona is plenty efficient for a city-friendly crossover, but those looking for even more should consider the Kona Electric.

The 2020 Hyundai Kona is reasonably efficient for a small crossover, but its new all-electric model is a unique proposition. We give it 6 out of 10 for fuel economy.

Kona SE and SEL models with the 2.0-liter inline-4 manage 27 mpg city, 33 highway, and 30 combined for front-wheel-drive models, and 26/30/28 mpg for all-wheel drive. That’s not much of a penalty for two additional driven wheels, so consider adding all-wheel drive to your list if you need it.

Turbocharged models represent a decent power jump but hardly a fuel economy penalty, as front-whee- drive models manage 28/32/30 mpg and all-wheel-drive models manage 26/29/27 mpg. Regular gasoline can be used on any Kona, turbo or not, and the average annual fuel cost runs from $1,400 to $1,550 according to the EPA.

An all-electric model is available in some states, and with a 258-mile driving range, it gets near-Tesla stats for a fraction of the price.

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