Best & Worst Hyundai Kona Years

I've analyzed every Hyundai Kona from 2018 until the latest model and categorized the best & worst years in this guide.

In this guide, I’ll break down all Hyundai Kona generations, revealing the best Hyundai Kona model years to buy and the worst years to avoid.

We leverage data from respected sources such as the NHTSA, Consumer Reports, and Kelley Blue Book to offer insights grounded in reliability, safety, and owner satisfaction ratings.

You’ll find detailed examinations of the Hyundai Kona’s engine options, safety and technological advancements, common problems, and recalls distinguishing the best years from the rest.

Let’s dive right in!

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Table of ContentsShow

Hyundai Kona Generations

The Hyundai Kona debuted in 2017, quickly establishing itself as a strong contender in the compact SUV market.

It was praised for its stylish design, comfortable interior, and impressive standard features, including advanced safety technology and a user-friendly infotainment system.

Below is a table listing the Hyundai Kona generations from its launch.

1st Generation (OS)2018-2023
2nd Generation (SX2)2024-Present

Significant changes between generations, particularly in design updates and technological and performance improvements, might be the deciding factors for potential buyers.

Hyundai Kona Best, Neutral, and Worst Years

When evaluating the best and worst years for the Hyundai Kona, we consider various factors to determine their standing. These include:

  • Owner-reported reliability (surveys)
  • Annual maintenance costs
  • Safety ratings
  • Consumer Reports reliability scores
  • Consumer Reports owner satisfaction scores
  • NHTSA recalls, investigations, and complaints
  • Edmunds owner ratings
  • JD Power owner ratings
  • Kelley Blue Book (KBB) owner ratings
  • VehicleHistory owner ratings
  • owner ratings

The upcoming graph will showcase the combined ratings from the sources above.

Hyundai Kona Car Smite Score Combined Overall Score

Next, we present a table categorizing all Hyundai Kona model years as the best, neutral, and worst years, offering a straightforward guide for potential buyers and enthusiasts.

GenerationBest YearsWorst Years
1st Generation (OS)2018
2nd Generation (SX2)2024N/A

The “Neutral Years” may represent a solid choice for buyers looking for a dependable vehicle without the standout features or issues of the best or worst years.

It’s important to note that factors such as NHTSA recalls can significantly impact a vehicle’s reliability rating. A higher number of complaints and recalls generally indicates lower reliability, influencing our categorization of the best, neutral, and worst years.

Let’s dive into the best, neutral, and worst years.

Best & Worst Years for Hyundai Kona 1st Generation (2018-Present)

Hyundai Kona 1st generation 2018 model
The 2018 Hyundai Kona

The first-generation Hyundai Kona stood out for its modern design, engaging driving dynamics, and various powertrain options, including an eco-friendly electric version.

The best years for the first-generation Hyundai Kona are 2018 and 2021-2023, while the worst model years to avoid are 2019 and 2020.

The Best Years: 2018, 2021, 2022, 2023

The best years for the first-generation Hyundai Kona – 2018, 2021, 2022, and 2023 – are characterized by significant technological, performance, and reliability improvements.

The 2018 Hyundai Kona introduced a robust 147-hp 2.0L MPI engine and an optional 175-hp 1.6L Turbo GDI engine, paired with a 6-speed automatic or a 7-speed Dual Clutch Transmission, respectively.

The 1.6L model offers fuel efficiency of around 28 city/32 highway MPG, while the 2.0L Kona provides 27 city/33 highway MPG, both in the FWD configuration.

These powertrains provided a good balance of efficiency and performance, with the Turbo variant offering spirited driving dynamics.

By 2021, Hyundai had enhanced the Kona’s safety features, including standard forward collision-avoidance assist and lane-keeping assist.

With its 201-hp electric motor and up to 258 miles of range, the electric variant became a strong contender in the EV market.

These years are notable for their well-rounded offering of performance, advanced safety features, and improved reliability.

The Worst Years: 2019, 2020

Conversely, the worst Hyundai Kona years to avoid, 2019 and 2020, faced significant issues and recalls.

What is the most common problem with Hyundai Kona? Owners reported issues with the 2.0L MPI engine, including excessive oil consumption and engine stalling, which led to Hyundai issuing a recall for improperly heat-treated piston oil rings, which may cause engine damage.

Furthermore, the 2019 Hyundai Kona Electric was plagued by recalls for battery short circuits, risking potential fires, and issues with the electronic braking system.

These issues marred the reputation of the 2019 and 2020 Hyundai Kona, with the potential for serious safety implications and the inconvenience of frequent maintenance and recalls, making them less desirable for buyers looking for reliability and peace of mind.

See NHTSA 2019, 2020 Hyundai Kona recalls and complaints.

Best & Worst Years for Hyundai Kona 2nd Generation (2024-Present)

Hyundai Kona 2nd generation 2024 model
The 2024 Hyundai Kona

The second generation of the Hyundai Kona, debuting in 2024, marks a significant leap forward in design, technology, and performance.

This generation introduces a more refined and futuristic design language and enhanced interior quality, making it a standout model in the compact SUV segment. With an emphasis on electrification and advanced technology, the 2024 Kona sets new standards for its class.

The Best Years: 2024

The 2024 Hyundai Kona represents the pinnacle of the model’s evolution, being the inaugural year for its second generation.

It comes equipped with an array of powertrain options, including an updated version of the previous generation’s 1.6L Turbo GDI engine, now offering improved fuel efficiency and performance.

The electric variant sees a significant upgrade in both battery capacity and range, targeting over 300 miles on a single charge, making it one of the most competitive electric vehicles in its segment.

This model year also introduces several cutting-edge technological features, including a fully digital dashboard, a larger infotainment display with enhanced connectivity options, and Hyundai’s latest SmartSense suite of driver assistance technologies.

These include enhanced autonomous driving capabilities, lane-keeping assist, and an advanced pedestrian detection system.

The 2024 Kona is available in SE, SEL, N Line, and Limited trim levels, each offering a comprehensive package of features tailored to various preferences and budgets.

With its combination of style, efficiency, and cutting-edge technology, the 2024 Kona is poised to continue Hyundai’s tradition of providing high-value, innovative vehicles to the global market.

Hyundai Kona Resale Values

Our detailed graph shows the trend of Hyundai Kona’s average resale values across generations.

Hyundai Kona Average List Price


Which Hyundai Kona year is the best?

Through our exploration, 2018, 2021-2023, and 2024 emerge as the best model years for the Hyundai Kona, representing the zenith of innovation and value in the Kona lineup with fewer reported reliability issues and recalls.

The earlier Hyundai Kona models, particularly the 2019 and 2020 model years, faced reliability issues that prospective buyers might want to avoid.

Which year of the Hyundai Kona offers the best balance between technology and value?

Share your insights in the comments!

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Jonathan Eckert

Jonathan is an ASE-certified mechanic with over 22 years of hands-on experience in the automotive industry. His expertise spans a wide range of vehicles, but he specializes in diagnosing and repairing Japanese cars. His previous workplace highly commended his meticulous attention to detail, and that's exaclty what he uses at Car Smite to craft the best guides for each purpose.