The 2019 Hyundai Kona and the 2019 Subaru Crosstrek are both recent additions to the subcompact crossover SUV market, and they both have a lot to offer.
The Hyundai Kona goes with bold, youthful styling while the 2019 Subaru Crosstrek’s styling is inspired by the rugged, off-road-themed styling of its larger sibling – the Outback.
Let’s explore the other differences between these two small SUVs in greater detail.
The Hyundai Kona is slightly cheaper, but prices are comparable
According to Subaru of America, the 2019 Subaru Crosstrek starts at $21,895 for its base 2.0i models, and the price can go all the way up to $27,195 for its Limited model (excluding destination and delivery charges).
The 2019 Hyundai Kona, on the other hand, starts at $19,900 for its SE model and ranges up to $31,950 for its Iron Man Edition model (also exclusive of destination and delivery charges).
Therefore, if you are looking for the absolute cheapest option, the base model of the 2019 Kona is your winner – though it isn’t all-wheel drive like the base model Subaru Crosstrek.
There isn’t much difference in size, but the Subaru Crosstrek is the larger vehicle.
The Hyundai Kona is 164 inches long, 70.9 inches wide (without accounting for side mirrors), and 61.6 inches high (with roof rails), while the Subaru Crosstrek is 175.8 inches long, 71 inches wide, and 63.6 inches high (with the roof rails).
The Subaru Crosstrek offers significantly more rear row passenger space than the Hyundai Kona.
On the inside, the Crosstrek is expectedly more roomy, offering a total passenger volume of 100.9 cubic feet as opposed to the Kona’s total passenger volume of 94.1 cubic feet.
In the Subaru Crosstrek, that 100.9 cubic feet of passenger volume translates to 39.8 inches of headroom, 43.1 inches of legroom, and 56.7 inches of shoulder room in the front, and 38 inches of headroom, 36.5 inches of legroom, and 55.6 inches of shoulder room in the rear.
The Crosstrek can therefore comfortably accommodate 6-foot-tall passengers in both rows.
In the Hyundai Kona, that 94.1 cubic feet translates to up to 39.6 inches of headroom, 41.5 inches of legroom, and 55.5 inches of shoulder room in the front; in the rear, it translates to 37.8 inches of headroom, 34.6 inches of legroom, and 54.5 inches of shoulder room.
It should be evident that seating space of the Kona is more limited in the second row, so things might be a bit of a squeeze for rear-row passengers.
The Subaru Crosstrek has a more practical trunk that has a ~10 cubic feet size advantage when seats are folded down.
For cargo, the 2019 Crosstrek also again boasts more room with its 20.8 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats that increases to 55.3 cubic feet when the rear seats are folded down.
The 2019 Kona offers 19.2 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats and up to 45.8 cubic feet of cargo space when the rear seats are folded down. Put into perspective, you can potentially fit an additional large suitcase into the trunk of the Crosstrek.
Power and All-road Capability
The Subaru Crosstrek is AWD across all models, whereas AWD is optional on the Hyundai Kona. The Hyundai Kona offers a more powerful turbocharged engine on its high end models.
While neither SUV is designed for off-roading, the Subaru Crosstrek offers all-wheel drive as standard, making it well-suited to slippery and icy conditions. The Hyundai Kona is front-wheel drive, although the option for all-wheel drive exists.
All models of the Subaru Crosstrek come equipped with symmetrical All-Wheel Drive that enhances road grip on different types of road surfaces e.g. dry, wet, muddy, sandy, etc.
An all-wheel-drive system is offered only as an option with the Hyundai Kona.
Under the hood, the Crosstrek offers a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that produces 152 horsepower and 145 lb.-ft. of torque for most of its models. Its Crosstrek Hybrid model, however, gets a hybrid engine that pairs the 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine with an electric motor. While more fuel efficient, this hybrid engine is slightly less powerful with 137 horsepower and 134 lb-ft of torque.
The Hyundai Kona, on the other hand, offers a 147-horsepower 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine for its SE and SEL models and a more powerful 175-horsepower 1.6-liter turbo engine for its Limited, Ultimate, and Iron Man Edition models.
The Subaru Crosstrek has better relative mpg according to EPA mileage estimates.
All Crosstreks share the same 2.0-liter 4-cylinder, so the gas mileage is 33/27 mpg (hwy/city) on all models.
The 2.0-liter 4-cylinder Hyundai Kona also achieves 33/27 mpg, but that is reduced to 25/30 mpg when the all-wheel drive version is picked (which is more comparable to the Subaru Crosstrek). The Limited, Ultimate and Iron Man Edition models have a very similar fuel efficiency.
Because Hyundai offer a more powerful engine setup, the Kona is more fun behind the wheel.
Subaru don’t seem to be shy about the fact the Crosstrek isn’t a very fun vehicle to drive. They only offer it with the adequately powerful 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine and a 6-speed automatic CVT/6-speed manual.
Hyundai, on the other hand, offer buyers to go for a 175-hp 1.6L turbocharged engine with a 7 speed dual automatic clutch transmission. It doesn’t exactly cross over into sports car territory, but it definitely feels a lot snappier in city traffic.
Exterior and Interior Options
Both crossovers offer buyers a generous number of exterior and interior options.
In terms of exterior features, the Hyundai Kona can be optioned with LED headlights featuring automatic high beams, LED daytime running lights, automatic wipers, chrome exterior accents, LED taillights and 18-inch alloy wheels.
On the inside, the Kona offers an Apple CarPlay®/Android Auto®-compatible 7-inch/8-inch touchscreen infotainment system in all of its models.
It can also be had with available leather seating surfaces, an available 8-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with power lumbar support, an available heated steering wheel, available heated front seats, an available automatic temperature control system, and much more.
The 2019 Subaru Crosstrek can also be had with automatic LED headlights featuring integrated daytime running lights, steering responsive fog lights, chrome exterior accents, and 18-inch alloy wheels. It also offers a roof spoiler and roof rails on all its models.
On the inside, the Subaru can be had with available leather seating surfaces, an available automatic climate control system, an available heated steering wheel, available heated front seats, a STARLINK® multimedia system with a 6.5-inch or 8-inch touchscreen display, and much more.
High-end trims on both crossovers offer plenty of driver assists, but Hyundai only introduced adaptive cruise control with the 2020 model.
Both crossovers have their own intelligent driver assist technologies, although these are limited to the top level trims.
The Subaru EyeSight® Driver Assist Technology includes adaptive cruise control, automatic pre-collision braking, lane departure warning and lane-keeping assist. EyeSight® is standard on the Limited trim.
For 2020, the Hyundai Kona finally gets adaptive cruise control (which they call smart cruise control), although this is limited to the Ultimate trim. Older builds of the Kona do not offer adaptive cruise control.
Verdict: Subaru Crosstrek
Buyers looking for reliability will be drawn towards the Subaru Crosstrek, given the automaker’s outstanding engineering record. It is also the more practical choice, with more interior room and better relative mpg.
However, the Kona has the fun factor going for it. Not only does it sport an outrageous design, it is also more fun to drive when you go with the turbocharged engine option. The fun factor carries over into its cheery and vibrant interior – although the Crosstrek employs better quality materials.
We’d have to say that the Subaru Crosstrek is our pick. It’s a subcompact crossover SUV that wouldn’t feel out of place in the compact class and it just offers more utility than the Kona. But those that find its drab appearance unappealing might want to consider the Hyundai Kona as an alternative.