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Hyundai Kona Se vs. Sel vs. Limited

1. Overview

This brings us to the popular choice for young couples and small families, the SEL. The starting price for this vehicle is $21,600 which is still very cost effective. Consider the small price increase of about $1,600 for this vehicle is a very reasonable upgrade from the standard features of the SE. The added equipment for the SEL is something that many drivers cannot say no to. It comes with leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, heated front seats, and proximity key with push-button start. From personal experience heated seats are arguably the best feature in the winter time, and is extremely nice added comfort for the accessible price. The proximity key with push-button start is another convenient feature that many drivers enjoy due to easier access into your vehicle. Now if this isn't enough, the SEL also has an optional equipment package that includes a power tilt-and-slide sunroof, and the biggest game changer an intelligent variable transmission. Now purchasing the equipment package will bring the MSRP to $26,000, so now this is getting fairly expensive for a compact-sized SUV, but the added features are still well worth the price. With the exception of the $26,000 price with the equipment package; the standard features of the SEL are the best balance of added value and cost. Although the SEL is the best choice for this era of drivers and is a tremendous upgrade from the SE, this is still not the best choice of trim for young drivers compared to the added features in the Limited.

The SE, which is the base model, starts at $20,450. This is already a pretty reasonable price for a reliable vehicle, but it will definitely lack many features compared to the others. Backup camera, traction control, and standard Bluetooth connectivity are pretty much the only features that aren't seen on many base models of cars today. The lack of Bluetooth connectivity can have a big impact on the younger population of drivers considering they are the biggest users of smartphones. Bluetooth connectivity is obviously the safer choice when trying to make phone calls or searching through music while driving. Although the Kona delivers 33 miles to the gallon, younger drivers might be using the car throughout college or maybe even high school so this could be a potential hidden cost through the fuel saved. With the lack of traction control a small set of all-season tires can also be another small hidden cost in the long run. With the MSRP of the Kona still in the low $20,000 range, the majority of young newly licensed driving could still start with this vehicle, but the lack of these features is something that would discourage them from buying this vehicle.

Each of the Hyundai Kona vehicles have many very similar things. The biggest similarity have among the cars is the engine. All of them are powered by a 2.0L 4-Cylinder engine with a 6-speed automatic transmission. What this pretty much means is that all trims have the same acceleration power and fuel efficiency with the exception of the SEL and Limited which have an optional engine. Now from here is where they start to differ.

This comparison between Hyundai Kona SE, SEL, and Limited is meant to paint a clearer picture on which trim level is the best for different types of drivers. Each of the trims have their advantages and disadvantages. We will go through all the standard features in each of the vehicles and the MSRP for each. Then we will summarize what driver would benefit most from purchasing.

1.1. Hyundai Kona SE

The Kona is the compact SUV from Hyundai that has impressively styled the exterior and interior of the vehicle. Offering three different trims of the Kona, starting with the SE, to SEL, and then there's the Limited edition. Prices ranging from $19,500 for the SE, to $24,000 for the SEL, and to $27,400 for the Limited edition. All the trims come with similar characteristics such as 147 horsepower, 2.0L MPI 4-cylinder engine, with a 6-speed automatic transmission. Gas mileage is identical as well, all trims will give a range of 25-27 MPG for city and 29-33 MPG on the highway. However, there are many different features in the vehicle for the different trims which make them unique from one another. The Kona SE is the base model of the 3 trims. It comes with 16-inch alloy wheels, with all-season tires. Projector headlights with LED daytime running lights, and for the front seats, it has a 6-way adjustable driver seat, and a 6-way adjustable passenger seat. For the technology, it comes standard with a 7-inch display for the radio with 6 speakers, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto application, and a rearview monitor with parking guidance for better sight when backing up. The SE also has safety features like the Lane Keeping Assist and Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (pedestrian det.), that will help the driver stay in the lane, and warn the driver of a potential collision in front of the vehicle. This model has lots of cargo room with the back seats up, but there is slightly less room compared to the SEL and Limited editions due to it not having the option of the sunroof. With the back seats down, it has the most space compared to the other trims. This is a great vehicle for the consumer who wants a decent car without having to break their wallet. A great vehicle for the college student or a small family as it's the most affordable small SUV on the market.

1.2. Hyundai Kona SEL

Hyundai charges a thousand more for the SEL trim, but it's worth the upgrade. The SEL comes with all the features of the SE, but adds its own features on top. This includes remote keyless entry, a push-button start, heated front seats, and a 7-inch touchscreen display. It also has a few more safety features such as blind spot collision warning and lane change assist. The SEL is available with the same engine options and drivetrains as the SE. The MSRP is $19,300 for the manual FWD. The automatic FWD is $20,400, and adding AWD will bring the price to $21,800. At the automatic FWD level, the price is increased by $1600, but this includes many more features than the SE. The heated seats, larger touchscreen, and blind spot collision warning are all features worth the premium in price. With more overall features than the SE, the SEL is the mid-level trim that gives the customer the most for their money.

1.3. Hyundai Kona Limited

The most expensive version is the 2018 Hyundai Kona Limited. It is priced at $24,700 and is the only Kona model that comes with both engine types. The Kona Limited is equipped with the higher engine, a 1.6L Inline-4, capable of generating 175 horsepower. It is also the only Kona model that offers all-wheel drive, which comes at an additional cost of $1,300. The Limited model also boasts the best fuel efficiency among all Kona models, with a rating of 28 city and 32 highway. This is due to the 7-speed EcoShift Dual Clutch Transmission with SHIFTRONIC (DCT), which is only available with the 1.6L Inline-4 engine. The DCT ensures smoother gear changes and is considered one of the best automatic transmissions in the hybrid and small car segments. The Limited model also features 18-inch alloy wheels, which greatly enhance its off-road capabilities compared to the SE and SEL models. It comes with High Intensity Discharge Premium headlights and LED taillights, which are crucial safety features for driving in rainy or poor weather conditions at night. The headlights have high luminance, low power consumption, and are more durable than halogen and incandescent headlights, reducing the risk of headlamp failure. The Limited model also includes a front grille, a power tilt-and-slide sunroof, and chrome daylight opening (DLO) side molding, all of which greatly enhance the cockpit for both the driver and passengers. The chrome DLO side molding provides increased body safety in the event of a side impact, as it is made of stronger material compared to plastic and acts as a form of body armor. Speaking of the cockpit, both the driver and passenger seats are trimmed with leather, which is more durable and easier to clean compared to other fabric or leather/fabric combinations. This is a premium feature typically found in luxury and premium cars. The Kona Limited also comes with an Auto-dimming rearview mirror with HomeLink and compass. The Auto-dimming rearview mirror reduces glare from headlights coming from the rear, reducing the risk of temporary blindness for the driver, which can lead to accidents. HomeLink is a feature that allows the driver to remotely control a garage door and home lighting with the press of a button, increasing driver safety and reducing the risk of potential criminal acts targeting the driver when opening the garage or home door.

2. Features

2.3 Technology Features All 2020 Kona trims come with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, USB ports for driver and passenger, and Blue Link connected services (standard with the SE for 3 years on a trial basis). The SE has a touchscreen, and you can add dual automatic temperature control, an 8-way power driver seat, blind spot collision warning, and lane change assist for another $2500. The SEL has HD Radio, SiriusXM Radio, and includes what was in the last sentence; and you can upgrade to a sole Ultimate for $4500 more. The Ultimate has a heads-up display, rain-sensing wipers, a step up from the 8.0 to 8.0 with navigation touchscreen, and Smart Cruise Control with Stop and Go and a three-year trial for Blue Link Guidance Package included. The Unlimited, becoming more niche, comes with a 5-year subscription for the same Guidance Package and a three-year trial for the Blue Link Remote Package. With only 500 units available, the only color is Chalk White; and it has an 8-inch with navigation touchscreen.

2.2 Interior Features The SE comes with a 3.5-inch LCD multi-information display (MID) and a 6-speaker audio system. Again, you can add AWD for another $1400. The SEL has a 7-inch display audio and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. The Ultimate has an 8-speaker Infinity sound system including a subwoofer, wireless device charging, a 4.5-inch color MID; and you can add pedestrian detection and a driver memory seat for an extra $500. The Unlimited has an 8-way power driver seat and an auto-dimming rearview mirror with a compass.

2.1 Exterior Features All 2020 Kona trims come with a rear camera, driver's blind spot mirror, LED daytime running lights, privacy rear glass, and a rear wiper. The SE comes with standard mirrors, door handles, and projector headlights; and you can step into an AWD SE for another $1400. The SEL has roof side rails, and you can step into an AWD SEL for another $1400 or a sole Ultimate for $2000 more than an AWD SEL. The Limited has mirror turn signal indicators.

2.1. Exterior Features

The SEL model adds roof rails, heated side mirrors, and front fog lights, along with, most notably, a proximity key that allows keyless entry and push-button start. Also, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob and an upgraded driver's cluster with a bigger information screen. At the top Limited level, Hyundai Kona comes as well-equipped as many compact SUVs. The contrast-colored roof is one Limited feature, but otherwise there are few appearance differences between the SEL and Limited. Limited models step up to 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights and taillights, and automatic temperature control. All versions have a 60/40 split reclining/folding rear seatback and a security cover for the cargo area. The Limited's seats are trimmed in leather, while the SEL has premium cloth seat upholstery with a leather shift knob. A power sunroof and an auto-dimming rearview mirror with a compass also come on the Limited.

2.2. Interior Features

As far as inclusion, all the additional interior features go, all three trims have about the same interior variations with very slight margin that separates them. The SE comes stock with premium cloth seating, of course, since further options are not available for an SE Kona all other additional features will be excluded as they each require the premium package. The SEL is available with both a black or grey interior and the option for a lime accent. The lime accent is interesting in the fact that it offers something a bit different to separate the SEL from the SE in a sort of quirky way. All SEL Kona's and higher even have the option of heated front seats which can be very beneficial in colder climates. The one feature that marginally separates the SEL from the SE and Limited comes in the form of an optional power sunroof. Although a sunroof in general isn't a crazy outstanding feature, it is an interior feature that is in this case exclusively available for SEL Kona's so in essence it does set it apart in a way. All interior packages are rounded out with automatic temperature control and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Each trim level is also available with an optional contrasting roof or two-toned color option. While not necessarily an interior feature, it does slightly pertain in that it's something to consider to incorporate your preferred look in purchasing a Kona. All three trims also have a tilt and telescopic steering wheel with Bluetooth hands-free phone system and audio and cruise controls. This is a feature usually taken for granted but not standard in all cars.

2.3. Technology Features

Now taking into contrast with Kona SE, Kona SEL model irons out certain aspects of the Kona SE by providing certain additional features that are not present. It too incorporates a 7-inch touch screen display, but this system includes a connected car package involving Hyundai Blue Link connected car system, and in addition, graced by the presence of dual automatic temperature control and a push-button start. Now the display screen doubles as a display audio system with HD radio featuring SiriusXM, and next to the wheel where buttons were placed before, there now exists an automatic shift gear system. Also, an additional feature in the SEL model involves the Roof side rails. A contrast here in the touch screen display of the SE and SEL models is that in the infotainment system feature, SEL model though being similar to SE model, also includes an option package of $300 including the same 6 audio speaker system and adding a power tilt-and-slide sunroof to become a contrast to its similar model. A tech package in SEL Ultimate model grade includes the option for a wireless charging pad accompanying multiple phone support with the charging pad. Next to the wireless charging, there are two additional USB power outlets for charging, in the rear of the center console for the passengers sitting in that region. Also, a 4.2-inch color multi-information display (MID) is incorporated behind the steering wheel for viewing vehicle driving information. Both the SEL and SEL Tech model rank average in only possessing similar features to the SE model by neglecting the other additional features available in the Kona Limited model.

Hyundai Kona SE is equipped with a 7-inch touch screen display infotainment system that incorporates a 6-speaker audio system, iPod and MP3 auxiliary connectivity, and smartphone integration feature involving Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The screen doubles as the display for the rearview camera. Bluetooth connectivity, steering-wheel mounted audio controls, radio, HD radio, and USB ports for additional audio connectivity are all standard as well. Wireless charging is also available, along with two USB charge ports at the back of the center console. In addition, this model also features a 3.5-inch LCD cluster with a tire pressure monitoring system. Paying $1500 can upgrade select to Audio Edition with an eight-speaker system, the same head unit, and a speaker in the middle of the dash. A Sunroof package is tagged at $1,900.

Technology features play a vital role in helping us in our day to day activities and their eminence in life. New cars are equipped with a variety of technologies that assist in improving driver and passenger convenience, entertainment, and environmental suitability of the car. Hyundai Kona is equipped with a large number of technologies involving connectivity features, driver assists, and displays. The base model Kona SE incorporates a good number of technologies falling in its range and considering the price of the model, but the other higher models incorporate many more features in addition to the base model, highlighting the costs incurred in increasing the number of technologies in the models.

2.4. Safety Features

Standard safety features for the 3 Kona's are AEB with pedestrian detection, lane keep assist, and driver attention warning. I can't find info for any more SE features, but the SEL with the SEL tech package and the Limited also have pedestrian detection for the smart cruise control and lane follow assist. The ultimate package for the Limited has parking sensors. This was fairly simple so no big surprises here up to this point. What threw me off is that the SEL and ultimate package have options for features that the Limited lacks (pedestrian detection for the smart cruise control). Not really a bad thing since the Limited comes with a lot of those features standard on the ultimate package and more, just strange that Hyundai states it as a 'step up' from the comp package when it lacks features of the packages that come with the SEL.

3. Performance

The Kona SE and SEL are both powered by a 2.0-liter MPI Atkinson engine that sends power to the front wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission complete with SHIFTRONIC manual mode. The SEL is also available with a 1.6L Turbo GDI engine mated to a 7-speed EcoShift Dual Clutch Transmission and paddle shifters. The Limited is only available with the 1.6L turbo. The Kona's 2.0L Atkinson cycle four is a long-stroke unit with high thermal efficiency. It produces 147 horsepower at 6,200 RPM. The engine has a deep-skirt aluminum block with cast iron liners and aluminum head with dual overhead camshafts and continuously variable valve timing. A crank offset of 4.5mm and a 10.3:1 compression ratio deliver high-efficiency and low-end torque. The multipoint injection engine employs a two-step variable induction system and just two ignition coils. The 2.0L engine produces 132 lb. ft. of torque at 4,500 RPM and offers an estimated fuel economy figure of 28 combined. The SE and SEL utilize a torsion beam rear suspension as opposed to the multilink rear setup found on the limited. While comparable in ride and handling, the torsion beam design is lighter and less expensive to produce, making it perfect for vehicles with a small footprint in the segment. A specially designed rear subframe helps mitigate the typical ride and quietness issues found in vehicles with torsion beam rear suspension.

3.1. Engine Options

The Hyundai Kona SE and SEL come with a 2.0 liter 4-cylinder 6-speed automatic engine. The difference between these two trims comes when you start considering the Drive Mode Select options. Each has a 3-mode choice, but the SEL with DMS includes the DMS is essential to tie back into fuel efficiency, and it makes the SEL Kona a bit more flexible of an option compared to the SE. The Limited comes with a 1.6L Turbo GDI 4-cylinder 7-speed automatic engine, giving it the best performance stats/acceleration of the three. The SE and SEL Kona options aren't a cash grab, as the jump from the SE to SEL only includes the same 6-speed automatic, and only slapping on an additional grand for a 6-speed manual as an option. With a similar or identical engine and possibility for a manual, the option between the SE and SEL strictly depends on what features you are looking for in your vehicle. The SEL offers the variety of SEL with DMS features at a standard value, while the SE is a bit more of a limited package. The SEL is a better choice than the SE for cost efficiency, and is a bit more worthwhile compared to the jump from the SEL to the Limited.

3.2. Fuel Efficiency

The fuel efficiency is very comparable between all 3 models. The SE and SEL will get an estimated 27 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway. The Limited will get a little less at 25 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. This difference is due to the Limited being heavier and having all-wheel drive as standard equipment. This puts the SE and SEL very close to the mpg figures for the Honda HRV but a decent amount more than the base engine model in the Subaru Crosstrek. When comparing to the Mazda CX-3, the Kona is a spitting image as the Mazda offers 27 mpg city and 32 mpg highway for its AWD models. This can be a big deciding factor for people who commute more than the average person or if someone will be putting a lot of miles on their car. This higher efficiency is also due to the Kona only having 1 engine choice compared to the competitors with the HRV having a 1.8 and a 2.4-liter option, the Crosstrek and Impreza sharing a 2.0 and a 2.4-liter engine, and the aforementioned CX-3 offering a 2.0 and a 2.5-liter.

3.3. Handling and Suspension

At the core of the Hyundai Kona, there is a multi-link rear suspension system of higher-line versions, and one could feel the difference on a short drive in a base front-driver followed by the same in an all-wheel-drive Limited. The base suspension does a fine job in compression of bumps big and small and never gets bouncy, the multi-link is even firmer. Even Limited's 18-inch tires didn't make it too stiff. This might just be the best-riding Hyundai in its size class, and these days that really counts for something. Tried and true Hyundai technologies present in base Konas and value-leading SELs include Torque Vectoring Control, which further enhances cornering by braking the inside rear wheel, and Hillstart Assist Control, which minimizes rolling backward from a stop facing uphill. The top-line Ultimate gets all this plus an exclusive AWD lock mode for off-road conditions and driver-selectable steering modes.

4. Pricing and Availability

Priced at $19,500, the Kona SE is the most affordable of the Kona umbrella. You will be able to purchase it for $19,600 including the delivery fees. The SEL is available for $21,150 or $21,400 with the addition of the AWD system. The SEL also has a second option available to buyers, with the SEL with the Tech Package at $23,000 or $23,400 with AWD. The most expensive is the Limited that is for sale at $24,700 and $25,200 with AWD. The price gives a good range for buyers, making them able to purchase a Kona that is catered more to their needs and desires. The Kona is available across the country and sampling is in more abundance in areas that have them in stock. With the Kona being available nationally, it is easier for buyers to purchase a Kona with no availability issues. Each dealership may not have the car in stock, but test drives can be made at any dealership for all available trim levels.

4.1. Price Comparison

From a general standpoint, every additional model makes about a $3,800 dollar increase compared to the former model. For each model, it is a tough call to justify the price for a direct upgrade compared to the model just below it. With a $3,800 price increase between models, that totals to an $11,400 dollar jump from the base to a Limited model. That is quite a significant difference for a Limited model that does not contribute as much significant value compared to one of the cheaper models. With the money saved, the additional option packages would be more suitable for the base to SEL models.

Price is a major factor of consideration in terms of purchasing an automobile. Prices for the Hyundai Kona start at $20,480 for the base SE model. Prices then make a $4,000 dollar jump to the SEL model. This model begins at $23,750. From this standpoint, it is already difficult to justify the jump when the SEL model only offers a few more additional options compared to the base model. Again, prices make another near $4,000 dollar increase to the Limited model with LED headlights. This trim level begins at $27,500. Finally, the top tier model, an Ultimate, adds an array of additional features and begins at $29,900.

Price Comparison Analysis

4.2. Availability and Trim Levels

Limited: FWD and AWD DCT trims will be accessible shortly at Hyundai dealerships.

SEL: FWD and AWD DCT trims will be accessible shortly at Hyundai dealerships.

SE: FWD 6-speed programmed is accessible at Hyundai dealerships, with AWD 7-speed double grip transmission accessible shortly.

Only the Kona SE is effectively available for order as of this composition, though all trims will launch pretty much in the meantime shortly hereafter. Oddly, the 175-hp turbocharged motor and AWD is elective for the people who perceive the Kona trims with another transmission. Indeed, the FWD SE has a 6-speed programmed, while the AWD SE, AWD SEL, and any Limiteds set the driver back to a setup of sizes for the extra torque and off-road ability boost. These trims depended with the additional items to offer would to my checking comprise of 90%+ of the sales. Conceivably it would bode well for Hyundai to simply make the AWD and turbo motor standard in the US given this, and this is what they do in Canada. All things considered, there is nothing else prefer it in the US market.

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