Finally today we had a test drive. Kona SEL with the non turbo 2.0 L and 6-speed automatic, front wheel drive. The Chico dealer didn't have a Limited or Ultimate.
I'm comparing it to our 8 year old, 2010 Kia Soul.
The dimensions are almost the same. The engine, horsepower and torque are nearly identical. Suspension is similar, rear torsion bars. The Kona has a 6-speed against the Soul's 4-speed, both automatics.
Having said that, I was pleasantly surprised. Side by side, the Soul feels like a little old truck, while the Kona is like an overgrown Mini Cooper. Smoother, quicker, more fun.
I am 180 lbs, 5'10, and I had the driver seat all the way back to be comfortable. The manual seat is much better in the Kona. After the test drive when the salesman got out I sat in the back and I was fine.
I missed that there are no AC vents for the rear passengers; the Soul doesn't have any either.
Compared to our 2015 Santa Fe Sport turbo, the Kona felt much more nimble and easier to drive in tight spots and parking lots. The rear camera display is bigger; the Soul doesn't have one, 2010 Kia.
I was concerned with the rear suspension, but it is more pleasant than the 8-year old Kia. The Koreans learned a lot since 2010.
I was in sport mode all the time, and used the snifter occasionally. No complaints.
My plan is to get the turbo if I can live with the DCT transmission; that will take a much longer test drive.
On the other hand, if the turbo wasn't calling my inner hoodlum, I'd take the non-turbo Kona SEL in a minute and be happy with it.
The car looks better than the pictures, with most cars the opposite is true.
On the SEL the AC and radio controls were super easy, I think the Limited might be more complex.
In summary, I think the Kona is a perfect vehicle for two people with a small child or with a dog.