2019 Hyundai Kona vs. 2019 Nissan Kicks

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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The Kona offers all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The Kicks doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

The Hyundai Kona has Daytime Running Lights to help keep it more visible under all conditions. Canadian government studies show that driving with lights during the day reduces accidents by 11% by making vehicles more conspicuous. The Kicks doesn’t offer Daytime Running Lights.

The Kona (except SE/Limited)’s optional lane departure warning system alerts a temporarily inattentive driver when the vehicle begins to leave its lane and gently nudges the vehicle back towards its lane. The Kicks doesn’t offer a lane departure warning system.

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 Kicks doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

The Kona Ultimate has standard Blue Link, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to get turn-by-turn driving directions, remotely unlock your doors if you lock your keys in, help track down your vehicle if it’s stolen or send emergency personnel to the scene if any airbags deploy. The Kicks doesn’t offer a GPS response system, so if you’re involved in an accident and you’re incapacitated help may not come as quickly.

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

For its top level performance in IIHS driver and passenger-side small overlap frontal, moderate overlap frontal, side impact, roof strength and head restraint tests, its standard front crash prevention system, and its headlight’s “Good” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Kona its highest rating: “Top Pick Plus” for 2019, a rating granted to only 36 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Kicks is only a standard “Top Pick” for 2019.


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 Kicks’ 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 Nissan covers the Kicks. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 10 years or 100,000 miles. Coverage on the Kicks ends after only 5 years or 60,000 miles.

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


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 Nissan vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Hyundai third in initial quality, above the industry average. With 11 more problems per 100 vehicles, Nissan is ranked 10th.

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 Nissan vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Hyundai 6th in reliability, above the industry average. With 9 more problems per 100 vehicles, Nissan is ranked 10th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Hyundai vehicles are more reliable than Nissan vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Hyundai 4 places higher in reliability than Nissan.


The Kona’s standard 2.0 DOHC 4 cyl. produces 25 more horsepower (147 vs. 122) and 18 lbs.-ft. more torque (132 vs. 114) than the Kicks’ 1.6 DOHC 4 cyl. The Kona Limited/Ultimate’s standard 1.6 turbo 4 cyl. produces 53 more horsepower (175 vs. 122) and 81 lbs.-ft. more torque (195 vs. 114) than the Kicks’ 1.6 DOHC 4 cyl.

As tested in Motor Trend the Hyundai Kona is faster than the Nissan Kicks:


Kona 4 cyl.

Kona 1.6T


Zero to 60 MPH

8.3 sec

7.5 sec

9.9 sec

Quarter Mile

16.3 sec

15.9 sec

17.6 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

84.6 MPH

88.1 MPH

77.9 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

The Kona has 2.4 gallons more fuel capacity than the Kicks (13.2 vs. 10.8 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Environmental Friendliness

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

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the Kona’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Kicks:


Kona SE

Kona SEL/Limited/Ultimate


Front Rotors

11 inches

12 inches

10.16 inches

Rear Rotors

10.3 inches

11.2 inches

8” drums

The Hyundai Kona has standard four-wheel disc brakes for better stopping power and improved directional control in poor weather. Only rear drums come on the Kicks. Drums can heat up and make stops longer, especially with antilock brakes that work much harder than conventional brakes.

The Kona stops much shorter than the Kicks:





70 to 0 MPH

171 feet

190 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

132 feet

133 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Kona Limited/Ultimate’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Kicks (235/45R18 vs. 205/60R16).

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 Kicks SV/SR’s 55 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Kona Limited/Ultimate has standard 18-inch wheels. The Kicks’ largest wheels are only 17-inches.

The Hyundai Kona’s wheels have 5 lugs for longer wheel bearing life, less chance of rotor warping and greater strength. The Nissan Kicks only has 4 wheel lugs per wheel.

Suspension and Handling

For superior ride and handling, the Kona 4x2 has fully independent front and rear suspensions. An independent suspension allows the wheels to follow the road at the best angle for gripping the pavement, without compromising ride comfort. The Nissan Kicks has a solid rear axle, with a non-independent rear suspension.

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

For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the Kona is 1.8 inches wider in the front and 1.6 inches wider in the rear than the track on the Kicks.

The Kona’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (59.4% to 40.6%) than the Kicks’ (60.8% to 39.2%). This gives the Kona more stable handling and braking.

The Kona SEL 4x4 handles at .88 G’s, while the Kicks SR pulls only .83 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The Kona Ultimate 4x4 executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.9 seconds quicker than the Kicks SR (27.3 seconds @ .64 average G’s vs. 29.2 seconds @ .55 average G’s).


The Kona is 5.1 inches shorter than the Kicks, making the Kona easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

The design of the Hyundai Kona amounts to more than styling. The Kona has an aerodynamic coefficient of drag of .32 Cd. That is lower than the Kicks (.334) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the Kona get better fuel mileage.

Passenger Space

The Kona has 2.4 inches more front hip room, 2.5 inches more front shoulder room, 1.4 inches more rear legroom, 3.1 inches more rear hip room and 1.3 inches more rear shoulder room than the Kicks.

Cargo Capacity

The Kona has a larger cargo volume with its rear seat folded than the Kicks with its rear seat folded (45.8 vs. 32.3 cubic feet).


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 Kicks doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The power windows standard on both the Kona and the Kicks 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 Kicks prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

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 Kicks’ manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors standard on the Kona Ultimate detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The Kicks doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

The Kona SEL/Limited/Ultimate has a standard center folding armrest for the rear passengers. A center armrest helps make rear passengers more comfortable. The Kicks doesn’t offer a rear seat center armrest.

To direct the driver from any location to a given street address, a GPS navigation system is available on the Kona. The Kona’s navigation system also has a real-time traffic update feature that offers alternative routes to automatically bypass traffic problems. (Service not available in all areas.) The Kicks doesn’t offer a navigation system.

With standard voice command, the Kona offers the driver hands free control of the radio and the navigation computer by simply speaking. The Kicks doesn’t offer a voice control system.


Consumer Reports® recommends the Hyundai Kona, based on reliability, safety and performance.

Motor Trend performed a comparison test in its January 2019 issue and they ranked the Hyundai Kona SE higher than the Nissan Kicks SR.

The Kona was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Five/10Best Trucks” in 2019. The Kicks has never been a Car and Driver “Top Five/10Best Truck” pick.

The Hyundai Kona outsold the Nissan Kicks by over two to one during 2018.

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

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