The 2018 Hyundai Kona won’t ever be mistaken for a wallflower in the rapidly expanding field of subcompact SUVs. Based solely on its youthful styling, it promises to be an attention-grabber no matter where it treads.

The Kona will join one of the hottest segments in the U.S., and Hyundai is eager to claim its piece of the pie. It’s expected to be joined by a similar model from Kia named Stonic.

The Korean automaker earlier this week announced details of the Kona, which will launch in the U.S. in early 2018. After its arrival Consumer Reports will put the Kona through its usual test paces.

The exaggerated exterior, from its alienlike LED headlamp design to the heavy use of plastic body-cladding around the wheels, might not be to everyone’s tastes. But it’s worth remembering that several of the Kona’s direct competitors, most notably the Nissan Juke and Toyota C-HR, have taken similarly bold approaches when it comes to standing out in an increasingly crowded market. Hyundai is definitely late in joining this booming segment.

Stretching 164.4 inches in total length, the Kona is more than 11 inches shorter than Hyundai’s Tucson compact SUV, which is currently the South Korean automaker’s smallest SUV. The Kona is even smaller than the Honda HR-V and Mazda CX-3.

Technical Details

The Kona’s specifications are far more pedestrian than its huge visual impact. The base engine is a 147-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder that comes coupled to a six-speed automatic transmission. This engine feels underpowered in the heavier Tucson, but perhaps it will be more vigorous in the tiny model. Hyundai estimates that 0-to-60-mph sprints will take about 10 seconds.

A 175-hp, 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder is optional. Hyundai says this version shaves at least a couple seconds off the Kona’s 0-to-60-mph time, at an estimated 7.7 seconds. The sole transmission is a seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic. It’s a gearbox that we found delivered an uneven “wait and snap” feel in our road test of the Tucson.

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No mileage figures have been released for either approach, though we have a hunch it will be a toss-up, considering how much harder the naturally aspirated 2.0-liter has to work when compared with the more powerful turbo 1.6-liter. Buyers will have a choice of front- and all-wheel drive, which gives the Kona an advantage over certain rivals, such as the Kia Soul and Toyota C-HR, which are currently offered only in front-wheel-drive versions.

Step inside the Kona and you’ll find that Hyundai maintains its reputation for loading up higher-end features. One example is an optional head-up display mounted behind the driver’s instrument panel. This pop-up-style unit can show data, from vehicle speed and audio settings to navigation commands and alerts from the available lane-departure warning system.

Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility is supported, as is wireless phone charging.

Available safety features include rear cross-traffic warning, high-beam assist, driver-attention warning, and forward-collision warning with automatic braking.