2019 Hyundai Kona vs. 2018 Subaru Forester

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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The Kona (except SE/Limited)’s optional driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The Forester doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Compared to metal, the Kona’s plastic fuel tank can withstand harder, more intrusive impacts without leaking; this decreases the possibility of fire. The Subaru Forester has a metal gas tank.

Both the Kona and the Forester have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available all-wheel drive, crash mitigating brakes, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems, rear parking sensors and rear cross-path warning.


The Kona comes with a full 5-year/60,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire truck and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The Forester’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 2 years and 24,000 miles sooner.

Hyundai’s powertrain warranty covers the Kona 5 years and 40,000 miles longer than Subaru covers the Forester. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 10 years or 100,000 miles. Coverage on the Forester ends after only 5 years or 60,000 miles.

The Kona’s corrosion warranty is 2 years longer than the Forester’s (7 vs. 5 years).

There are over 33 percent more Hyundai dealers than there are Subaru dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the Kona’s warranty.


To reliably start during all conditions and help handle large electrical loads, the Kona has a standard 640-amp battery. The Forester’s 390-amp battery isn’t as powerful.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Hyundai vehicles are better in initial quality than Subaru vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Hyundai third in initial quality, above the industry average. With 41 more problems per 100 vehicles, Subaru is ranked 28th, below the industry average.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Hyundai vehicles are more reliable than Subaru vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Hyundai 6th in reliability, above the industry average. With 43 more problems per 100 vehicles, Subaru is ranked 24th.


The Kona Limited/Ultimate’s standard 1.6 turbo 4 cyl. produces 5 more horsepower (175 vs. 170) and 21 lbs.-ft. more torque (195 vs. 174) than the Forester 2.5i’s standard 2.5 SOHC 4 cyl.

As tested in Car and Driver the Kona Limited/Ultimate 1.6 turbo 4 cyl. is faster than the Forester 2.5i 2.5 SOHC 4 cyl. (automatics tested):




Zero to 30 MPH

2.5 sec

3.3 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

6.6 sec

8.6 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

19 sec

25.1 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

7.2 sec

8.9 sec

Passing 30 to 50 MPH

3.5 sec

4.4 sec

Passing 50 to 70 MPH

4.9 sec

5.8 sec

Quarter Mile

15.2 sec

16.7 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

91 MPH

85 MPH

Top Speed

135 MPH

122 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Kona Limited/Ultimate 4x4 Auto turbo 4 cyl. gets better fuel mileage than the Forester 2.0XT turbo 4 cyl. (26-city/29 hwy vs. 23-city/27 hwy).

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Hyundai Kona uses regular unleaded gasoline. The Forester 2.0XT requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

Environmental Friendliness

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certifies the Hyundai Kona as a “Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle” (PZEV). The Subaru Forester is only certified to “Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle” (SULEV) standards.


The Hyundai Kona comes standard with an automatic transmission, for driver comfort, especially in the city. Automatic costs extra on the Forester.

The Kona offers an available sequential manual gearbox (SMG). With no clutch pedal to worry about and a fully automatic mode, an SMG is more internally efficient than a CVT but just as easy to drive. The Forester doesn’t offer an SMG.

Brakes and Stopping

The Kona stops shorter than the Forester:





70 to 0 MPH

171 feet

180 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

131 feet

140 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Kona Limited/Ultimate’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Forester (235/45R18 vs. 225/60R17).

The Kona Limited/Ultimate’s tires provide better handling because they have a lower 45 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Forester 2.5i Touring/2.0XT’s 55 series tires.

Suspension and Handling

The Kona has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The Forester’s suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.

The Kona SEL 4x4 handles at .88 G’s, while the Forester 2.0XT Touring pulls only .75 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.


The Hyundai Kona may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 350 to 450 pounds less than the Subaru Forester.

The Kona is 1 foot, 4.9 inches shorter than the Forester, making the Kona easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

As tested by Car and Driver, the interior of the Kona Ultimate 4x4 is quieter than the Forester 2.5i Touring:




At idle

34 dB

42 dB

70 MPH Cruising

70 dB

70 dB

Passenger Space

The front step up height for the Kona is 1.3 inches lower than the Forester (16” vs. 17.3”). The Kona’s rear step up height is 1.9 inches lower than the Forester’s (16.1” vs. 18”).

Cargo Capacity

A low lift-over cargo hatch design makes loading and unloading the Kona easier. The Kona’s cargo hatch lift-over height is 27.5 inches, while the Forester’s liftover is 28.6 inches.


The Kona Ultimate has a standard heads-up display that projects speed and other key instrumentation readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The Forester doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The power windows standard on both the Kona and the Forester have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the Kona is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The Forester prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

The Kona’s front power windows open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Forester’s standard passenger windows don’t open or close automatically. The Forester’s optional windows’ rear windows don’t close automatically.

The Kona Ultimate’s standard wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically according to the amount of rainfall on the windshield. The Forester’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

The Kona has a standard automatic headlight on/off feature. When the ignition is on, the headlights automatically turn on at dusk and off after dawn. The Forester has an automatic headlight on/off feature standard only on the Limited/Touring/2.0XT.

Model Availability

The Kona is available in both front-wheel drive and four-wheel drive configurations. The Forester doesn’t offer a two-wheel drive configuration.

Economic Advantages

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Kona is less expensive to operate than the Forester because it costs $225 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the Kona than the Forester, including $28 less for a water pump, $40 less for front brake pads, $203 less for a starter, $380 less for fuel injection, $138 less for a fuel pump, $119 less for front struts and $157 less for a timing belt/chain.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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