Friday, June 21, 2024




Introduced as a 2018 model, the Hyundai Kona has grown a bit as it enters its second generation.

At 171.3 inches long, the redesigned 2024 Hyundai Kona gains about 6 inches over the 2023 model and no longer is the smallest in the South Korean automaker’s SUV fleet.

The Kona — the name is taken from a district in the Big Island of Hawaii — now slots between the larger Tucson (182.7 inches) and the Venue (159.1), which assumed the title as Hyundai’s smallest subcompact SUV when introduced in 2020.

The benefits are clear. That extra length and a slightly longer wheelbase (104.7 inches to 102.4) give the 2024 Hyundai Kona more passenger and storage space than its predecessor while still retaining the ability to squeeze into tight parking spaces.

That’s what you call win-win.

The 2024 Hyundai Kona is available in four trim levels. The base SE and upgraded SEL have a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that is underpowered (147 horsepower, 132 pound-feet of torque) while the Limited, which this review is based on, and N Line models get a turbocharged 1.6L 4-cylinder engine with more respectable numbers (190/195, respectively.

Front-wheel drive is standard on all trims with all-wheel available as an option.

The 2.0L normally aspirated 4-banger is mated to a CVT (continuously variable transmission) and the turbo-4 thankfully is hooked up to an 8-speed automatic transmission.

The government says the turbo-4 with AWD drinks fuel at the rate of 24 miles-per-gallon in the city, 29 highway, and 26 combined. The SE and SEL are rated only about 1-3 mpg more efficient.

Hyundai dressed up the exterior and in addition to more space added more tech features to the interior. Passenger volume went up to 101.2 cubic feet from the 2023’s 94.1 with an increase in rear legroom to 38.5 inches from 35.2. Front legroom is virtually the same, but cargo space went up to 25.5 cubic feet behind the backseat from 19.2.

Standard features in the 2024 Hyundai Kona Limited include 19-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, taillights, and daytime running lights, a power sunroof, and a proximity key with push-button start.

Standard comfort and convenience features include automatic dual-zone climate control, power driver’s seat with lumbar support, heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, hands-free rear liftgate, and H-Tex seating surfaces.

Bose Premium Audio is standard, and a new 12.3-inch touchscreen includes navigation, but getting wireless Apple CarPlay or Android Auto requires you to update the system. (Lower trims without navigation include wireless operation as standard for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.)

Standard safety systems include Smart (adaptable) Cruise Control, a surround-view camera, driver-attention warning, blind-spot warning, parking distance warning, a blind-spot view monitor (which projects an image in the instrument panel when the turn signal is activated), lane-keeping and lane-following assist, and forward collision avoidance warning.

Pricing for the 2024 Hyundai Kona starts at $23,475 for the base FWD SE trim  (including the $1,335 destination and delivery fee). FWD SEL models start at $23,285. N Line and Limited trims with FWD hover around the $30,000 mark.

All-wheel drive adds $1,500 to each trim.

My test 2024 Hyundai Kona Limited with AWD carried an MSRP of $34,485. With carpeted floor mats the only extra, the final bottom line was $34, 695. That’s a bit of a jump over the 2023 Kona Limited that started at $31,785 including freight charges, but the 2024 model takes a significant step up.
What I liked about the 2024 Hyundai Kona Limited:
Though still classified as a small SUV, it has grown a bit with this latest makeover and has the feel of a midsize both in handling and cabin space. Storage capacity with all seats in place is a generous 25.5 cubic feet and second-row passengers get 38.5 inches of legroom. Fuel economy won’t wow you but it is decent. I’m not a big fan of the Neotreric Yellow exterior (think yellow with a hint of green) on my test 2024 Hyundai Kona but it sure was easy to pick out in a large parking lot.

What I didn’t like about the 2024 Hyundai Kona Limited: This is not a deal breaker for me since I rarely take advantage of Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, but some owners have reported difficulty hooking up their devices to those systems wirelessly. You may have to download a special update to do so if your Kona has navigation. Getting picky here, but some touchscreen displays (like the various radio settings) lose the clock. Otherwise, the infotainment features are user-friendly enough. Towing is not recommended. 

Would I buy the 2024 Hyundai Kona Limited? Yes. It definitely should be on your “look list” if you want a small crossover SUV that doesn’t skimp on passenger or cargo space plus looks great sitting in your driveway. An all-electric version also is available if you are so inclined, but the Kona Hybrid (HEV) is sold only overseas.

Monday, June 17, 2024

2024 FIAT 500e



Ending a 5-year absence, Fiat is reintroducing the electrified version of its iconic 500 mini-wagon to the U.S. market with the 2024 Fiat 500e.

With its alluring Italian styling and ability to adapt to tight spaces both on the go and when parking, the 2024 Fiat 500e would seem to be an appealing option for those in the market for a small electric runabout and don’t do a lot of hauling.

But there is one issue at least I believe that may impinge on sales.

When it was last available in the U.S., the 2019 Fiat 500e’s battery provided only about 84 miles of driving range, which at the time matched up well with its competitors.

Fiat has improved that with the 2024 500e, but only to the extent that the distance between charges is just 149 miles, which is sadly lacking at a time when competitors are putting out models with ranges well over 200 and even over 300 miles and with a considerable boost in horsepower.

The 2024 Fiat 500e is rated at only 117 horsepower 162 pound-feet of torque. Fortunately, there isn’t a ton of mass to get it moving (less than 3,000 pounds) but the zero-to-60 time of 8.5 seconds still lags behind typical electric vehicles. Will, except maybe for golf carts.

The restricted range also kind of limits the role of the 2024 Fiat 500e to that of a second car in the family for daily commutes to your job or running errands (though rear storage is only 7.0 cubic feet). Forget long vacation trips.

Springing for your own private 240-volt charging source ($750 to $1,750) is a must because wait times at public outlets can be excruciatingly long, though charging times aren’t overly long once a spot becomes available.

I hooked up to a 150kW outlet when my test 2024 Fiat 500e was at 36 percent (49 miles) and it took only about 20 minutes for it to reach 70 percent (109 miles) before it shut off for some reason. Fiat claims an 85kW system can add 31 miles in just 5 minutes.

Hooking up to a 110-volt outlet at your home via the provided charging cord remains an option if you want to charge your vehicle overnight.

The 2024 Fiat 500e is available in three forms with the Red edition serving as the base. Currently, the other two versions are theme-based, Inspired by Music and Inspired by Beauty.

Beauty served as the trim for my test 2024 Fiat 500e and what it lacks in power (all models have the same powertrain) it makes up for in standard features.

They include wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a wireless charging pad, keyless entry and push-button start, a rear parking assist system, Stellantis’ UConnect5 infotainment system with navigation and a 10.25-inch touchscreen, rain-sensitive windshield wipers, and a 6-speaker audio system.

Safety features include lane-departure and blind-spot warning with cross-traffic detection, 7 airbags, traffic sign information, driver drowsiness detection, and electronic stability control.

The 2024 Fiat 500e is front-wheel drive, rides on 17-inch wheels, and can be driven in one-pedal mode, though that takes some getting used to.  (The slowing can be abrupt.) LED headlights and taillights also are standard.

Three drive modes are available. Normal is, well, normal. Range sets up one-pedal operation and Sherpa limits top
speed to 50 mph (goose it and power resets from 57 kW to 87 kW for Normal operation and a top speed of 94 mph).

The base or Red version carries a starting MSRP of $34,095. Music and Beauty both start at $37,595 including the $1,595 destination and delivery fee.

What I liked about the 2024 Fiat 500e: It was a relief to know that when I entered a parking lot I wasn’t going to have trouble finding a space big enough to fit in. Despite the mini power numbers, the 500e is kind of fun to drive. Tech features are numerous. The Italian styling does make it stand out.

What I didn’t like about the 2024 Fiat 500e:
Touchscreen commands sometimes are slow to respond to touches. The rear seat is about the smallest I have ever encountered. Rear storage space also is limited (7.0 cubic feet). Driving range is poor considering what other EVs are offering these days.

Would I buy the 2024 Fiat 500e? No. It’s too small to begin with and I want more driving range from a EV.

Monday, June 10, 2024




When it comes to automotive awards, there is no shortage of organizations, websites, magazines, and other publications singling out vehicles for special recognition.

The Detroit auto show hands out awards for International Car, Truck, and Utility Vehicle of the Year. Texas auto writers recognize the Texas Truck and SUV of the Year. And, of course, with the latest big thing in the automotive world, Green Car Journal selects a Green Car, Green SUV, and a Green Family Car of the Year.

That’s a rather small sampling of all that is out there, and manufacturers no doubt love them all.

I would like to submit a somewhat offbeat offering of my own: “Underrated Car of the Year.” My nomination is the hybrid version of the current generation Hyundai Elantra. With all the attention garnered by Toyota and Honda, it can kind of get lost in its segment.

A gas-electric hybrid drivetrain was included when the South Korean automaker redesigned the Elantra for 2021, and it remains among the six trims to choose from.

The hybrid is one of four drivetrains offered. A pokey 2.0-liter 4-cylinder serves as the standard engine (147 horsepower, 132 pound-feet of torque) for SE, SEL, and Limited models and with a couple of turbocharged  4-cylinder engines boosting power in the N Line (201 hp, 195 lb.-ft.) and N (276 hp, 289 lb.-ft.) performance models.

We are dealing today with the 2024 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid that pairs a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder gas engine with an electric motor to deliver the most fuel-efficient Elantra. The 2024 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid comes in two trims itself, a base Blue model that the government says sips fuel at the rate of 51 miles-per-gallon city, 58 highway, and 54 combined and a tricked-out Limited model that produces fuel numbers of 49/52/50 mpg.

The 2024 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid is rated at only 139 horsepower, which is less than gas-engine only SE, SEL, and Limited trims. But torque — the power that gets you moving — matches the performance-oriented N Line at 195 lb.-ft.

Thankfully, Hyundai has ignored the trend of manufacturers who linkup their hybrid drive trains with a CVT (continuously variable transmission). With the 2024 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid power is transmitted to the front wheels via a 6-speed dual clutch automatic transmission with paddle shifters.

As an HEV, the 2024 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid does not provide much in the way of all-electric drive like a plug-in (PHEV), but is designed to give more of a power boost to the gas engine, which by itself provides only 109 pound-feet of torque. The smaller battery in the HEV does not require connecting to an outlet via a cord but is charged by he gas engine and regenerative braking.

The 2024 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid Limited is packed with a full array of tech features. There are buttons to select functions like the radio and other systems, and adjustments work off a 10.25-inch touchscreen that includes navigation. Android Auto and Apple Bluetooth, a wireless charging pad, Hyundai’s Blue Link connective services (subscription required), a premium sound system, and Bluetooth hands-free communication system.

Dual automatic climate control, an electronic parking brake, Highway Driving Assist (which includes adaptive cruise control), power driver’s seat with lumbar support, a proximity key with push-button start, also are included.

The 2024 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid Limited rides on 17-inch wheels, has automatic LED headlights, and comes with a power sunroof. Safety systems include blind spot warning, lane-keeping and following assist, and rear cross-traffic collision avoidance.

The 2024 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid Limited carries a starting MSRP of $30,600, including the $1,150 destination and delivery fee. That makes it the second-most expensive Elantra behind the N trim, hut with all that standard equipment, you’ll not have to add much in the way of optional equipment.

As an option, my test 2024 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid Limited added only carpeted floor mats, making the final total $30,810.

What I liked about the 2023 Hyundai Elantra  Hybrid Limited:
The interior is roomy and the long list of standard tech features are very user-friendly with handy buttons providing easy access to get to desired modes (map, navigation, radio, media, etc.) It’s a relief that the hybrid drivetrain comes with a 6-speed dual clutch automatic transmission instead of a CVT. The auto hold function eliminates “creeping” at intersections. In addition to room for passengers, the trunk size (14.2 cubic feet) is generous for a compact.

What I didn’t like about the 2023 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid Limited: I like its exterior, but the styling may not be for everyone.

Would I buy the 2023 Hyundai Elantra Hybrid Limited? Yes!. It definitely should be on your list if you are looking for a smart, economical compact sedan and want to get away from the usual suspects.