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Hyundai goes to Hawaii for new SUV

Company names new B-segment utility after big island's Kona district

Published: April 3, 2017, 10:30 PM
Updated: April 6, 2017, 5:01 PM

Hyundai Kona headlight teaser

Hyundai likes to name its sport-utilities after well known travel destinations, mostly in the southwest US. First, there was Santa Fe (New Mexico) and then Tucson (Arizona), and after that was the large crossover Veracruz (after the Gulf coast Mexican state). And there was also the concept pickup Santa Cruz (which can apply to some place in just about every country).

Now the South Korean company has decided to name its upcoming B-segment SUV (slotting in below Tucson) after the coastal district on the leeward side of the big island of Hawaii.

The SUV that will compete against the likes of the Honda HR-V and Mazda CX-3 is set to launch in summer 2017.

Hyundai says the name captures the freedom and adventure of the Pacific travel destination known for its surfing, scuba, water skiing and other extreme sports. The location is also known as the origin of the Ironman Triathlon, and annually hosts the Ironman World Championships, now that triathlon competitions have adopted the Ironman designation as the longest such race. It’s also one of the premium coffee bean growing regions in the world.

Hyundai released a teaser image of the sub-compact SUV’s headlight, which shows an excessively slim design not unlike that of the current Jeep Cherokee. An accompanying release says the cue hints at the innovative design features that point to future design directions. However, recent spy shots of the vehicle being tested in the real world indicate a traditional SUV shape, with four doors.

In all fairness, though, that is the best way to maximize the interior space, which Hyundai calls “best in class.” The company has identified that as one of the key selling points for the increasingly popular SUV market, along with high interior refinement and striking design.