2021 Honda HR-V vs. 2021 Hyundai Kona

2021 Honda HR-V vs Hyundai Kona

There’s perhaps no more diverse vehicle segment in America than that of the compact crossover. Small SUVs appeal to parents and bachelors alike, yet with dozens of unique models on the market, finding the best one can feel like pulling teeth.

Two of the newer entries in the segment are the 2021 Hyundai Kona and 2021 Honda HR-V. Each displays the quintessential character traits of a small SUV -- they’re capable yet cozy, ferocious yet fuel efficient -- but once you spend some time in both, it’s easy to see why the new HR-V is a wiser buy.

An Interior for the Ages

2021 HR-V - An Interior For The Ages

Passenger Space Galore

With compact SUVs, maximizing space is crucial. You need room for everyone, including the unlucky soul who’s temporarily taken up residence in the middle back-row seat. With the HR-V, however, that soul is a tad luckier, as Honda’s crossover offers more rear headroom and legroom than the Kona. Riders in the back get 38.3 inches for their noggins and 39.3 inches for their feetsies -- or a half-inch and nearly 5 inches over Kona’s respective headroom and legroom specs.

2021 HR-V LX 2021 Kona SE
Rear Headroom 38.3 inches 37.8 inches
Rear Legroom 39.3 inches 34.6 inches
Passenger Volume 100.1 cubic feet 94.1 cubic feet

Cargo Volume

Items are people, too! Don’t they deserve room to roam freely when road-tripping? Yet again, it’s the 2021 HR-V that takes the comparison-flavored cake, delivering far more total cargo volume than the 2021 Kona.

In the back, Hyundai Kona offers 19.2 cubic feet of cargo room. Flex out its back row into the floor, and cargo volume maxes out at 45.8 cubic feet. Konda’s cargo volume is middling, at best, in the segment.

Open the HR-V’s liftgate and you’ll be rewarded with up to 24.3 cubic feet of rear cargo space (2WD models). When you need to haul around more, push the seat down to get up to 58.8 cubic feet of room (2WD models). No need to break out the calculator -- HR-V wins handily.

2021 HR-V LX 2WD 2021 Kona SE 2WD
Rear Cargo Volume 24.3 cu ft* 19.2 cu ft
Max Cargo Volume 58.8 cu ft* 45.8 cu ft

2nd-Row Magic Seat

Functionality is the name of the game when it comes to small crossovers like the Kona and HR-V. Unfortunately for Hyundai’s little doer, the Honda HR-V offers more versatility thanks to its exclusive 2nd-Row Magic Seat.

2021 Honda HR-V - 2nd-Row Magic Seat

With Honda’s Magic Seat, HR-V owners gain access to three unique “load and go” modes: Utility, Long and Tall. In Utility Mode, HR-V pushes the envelope of what’s possible, extending its cargo area to its max with the whole back row folded flat. In Tall Mode, one or both seat cushions fold up to offer storage space for taller, upright objects, like plants, bikes or 4-foot-tall lava lamps. When put into Long Mode, HR-V can hold items up to 8 feet long, like kayaks or surfboards.

Hyundai Kona keeps it simple with a yawn-inducing 60/40 split fold-flat rear seat.

Ground Clearance for Days

You may not be keen on taking your small SUV out for dusty, desert-y, muddy trips through parts unknown. But if you happen to be out in the wilderness, it’s the Honda HR-V you want in your corner. The 2021 HR-V is more apt to handle the rough-and-tumble of the outdoors with its unladen 7.3 inches of ground clearance, 0.8 inches more than Kona.

Let’s Talk Fuel Efficiency

An HR-V a day keeps the gas station away. That’s because, compared to the 2021 Kona, the new HR-V sips fuel at a slower clip. Both 2WD and AWD HR-V LX return better EPA-estimated city/highway fuel efficiency than comparable Kona SE trims. Every mile per gallon counts, especially when you despise the thought of touching a gas pump handle.

2021 HR-V LX 2021 Kona SE
MPG (FWD) 28 city/34 hwy/30 comb* 27 city/33 hwy/30 comb
MPG (AWD) 27 city/31 hwy/29 comb* 26 city/30 hwy/28 comb
2021 HR-V - Safety First

Safety First (Always)

Adaptive Cruise Control vs. Smart Cruise Control

Adaptive Cruise Control, Honda’s semi-autonomous cruise control feature, is standard on the 2021 HR-V EX trim. It includes Low-Speed Follow technology, allowing the HR-V to accelerate, slow down, and even stop depending on traffic conditions.

Hyundai Kona has a similar feature in Smart Cruise Control, though it is only standard on the top Kona Ultimate trim, which is priced nearly $4,000 more than the HR-V EX.

Auto High-Beam Headlights vs. High Beam Assist

Similarly, you’ll find the HR-V EX comes standard with Honda’s Auto High-Beam Headlights. These perform as their name would suggest: In certain traffic and road conditions, the HR-V automatically enables or disables the high beams, so you can see deer before it’s too late.

The Kona also comes with automatic-toggling high beams (High Beam Assist), though you’d once again be forced to pay $4,000 more for the Kona Ultimate model. The value just isn’t there when comparing Kona and HR-V safety.


Cargo volume based on SAE J1100 cargo volume measurement standard plus, where applicable, floor space between seating rows and seats in their forward-most and upright position.

28 city/34 highway/30 combined mpg rating for 2WD trims. 27 city/31 highway/29 combined mpg rating for AWD LX trims. 26 city/31 highway/28 combined mpg rating for AWD Sport, EX, & EX-L trims. Based on 2021 EPA mileage ratings. Use for comparison purposes only. Your mileage will vary depending on how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions and other factors.