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L.A. Auto Show 2017: Hyundai cranks out a CUV

The South Korean carmaker is stepping more aggressively into the competitive small SUV market with the new Kona, an entry-level crossover that based on comparable vehicles will probably retail from about $21,000.

Companies that don’t build a lot of SUVs have been struggling to keep up with changing American car buying trends. Hyundai, eager to stay current, has added a small crossover to its U.S. lineup.

What is it?

The new Kona, making its North American debut at the car show, is a small CUV for the entry-level buyer. Based on a new platform and already being sold in some other parts of the world, this cute utility will be in dealers early next year.

Why it matters

Smaller SUVs are hot, and Hyundai’s current Tucson, Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport may be too big and too expensive to attract young buyers. The South Korean giant needed a smaller SUV for the U.S. market to say competitive with sibling company Kia and with Japanese counterparts that rule the current CUV roost.

“There’s been this shift from cars to SUVs, and now everyone has to sell them,” said Karl Brauer, senior director of automotive industry insights for Kelley Blue Book.

What’s new?

The four-door, five-passenger Kona rests on a brand-new platform and a new exterior design that features what Hyundai calls “masculine protective armor.” Named after the west coast of Hawaii’s Big Island, the Kona will be available in two-wheel-drive and off-road-ready all-wheel-drive versions. Its caretakers say Kona is the first CUV in the segment to offer wireless charging.

The competition

Cupcake-size crossovers are hot, and Kona will have to fight for sales with the very popular Toyota RAV4, Nissan Rogue, Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-3 and more. There’s plenty of sales to go around, though. Americans have bought more than 2.5 million CUVs so far this year, up markedly from 2016.

The details

Hyundai is offering the Kona with a 2-liter Atkinson cycle four-cylinder engine that makes 147 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque or a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder version that cranks out 175 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque, mated to a six-speed gear box with available four-wheel drive. On the inside: a safety suite (including forward collision, blind spot collision and rear cross traffic warnings) meets technology such as Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, rain sensing windshield wipers and head-up display. Price? Gotta wait for that, but in England they’re already for sale, starting from about $21,000.


The L.A. Auto Show runs Dec. 1-10 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Times coverage begins Nov. 25 at latimes.com/autos.


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