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How Well Does A Hyundai Kona Drive In The Snow? (Answered)

If you are looking to buy one of these and want to know how it will drive in snow, you are at the right place. We have extensively discussed its drivability in the snow with all the factors that play a vital role in making that happen.

The Hyundai Kona has integrated safety systems and a high ground clearance of 6.7 inches, making it suitable for driving in snowy conditions. Furthermore, the AWD variant offers an excellent grip. Also, owners of the Kona are very positive about their experience in winter driving.

However, that doesn’t tell the whole story; it’s just the tip of the iceberg. We have all the aspects discussed in detail, and below we’ll start with a selection of curated comments from owners about the performance of Hyundai Kona in snowy conditions. After that, we’ll take a deep dive into this SUV’s specifics, such as tires, drive systems, and electronic support systems.

Finally, we’ll talk about the ground clearance, the weight distribution, and the wheelbase. We’ll finish with a few suggestions for optional traction devices that can provide even more grip. Read on!

Also read: The Expected Mileage Of A Hyundai Kona

Experience Of Hyundai Kona Owners

Like any vehicle, the numbers tell a very vague story about the vehicle’s capability to handle different terrains, and thus numbers alone mean nothing for drivers. The best way to determine whether this sub-compact SUV is a good winter-fit or not is to have an opportunity to drive it in winters and snow before drawing any conclusions.

Since Hyundai Kona is an SUV and, by default, it’s presumed to perform well in winters, there is nothing that can tell the story as transparently as having to experience it hands-on. So far on the internet, there have been quite a few forums where drivers have shared positive feedback about the X1.

Hi all. My 2019 SE AWD has been getting a workout this winter. I live in NJ. 19 into 20 was a Quiet year for Snow. 20 into 21 has been Very Active. So far, the Kona has pulled me through. Most of the time, I leave it in AWD. Today we had 8″. Since I live on a Dead End Street, One of the last to get plowed. My Job is 25 Miles from home. So far, so good. I’m running the Stock Tires and Rims.


I am up in Fort Nelson, BC, and my KONA has been amazing! Snow, Ice, Slush, and Mud all in one day with no problem. I know they tote the Kona as the perfect SUV for the city (which pisses me off). This vehicle is very comfortable outside the city and off the pavement. The biggest downfall is the clearance height.


It’s been fine so far in northern BC, Canada. It’s really grippy


Also read: Types Of Gas A Hyundai Kona Takes (All Generations)

Does Hyundai Kona Have Snow Tires?

When you have the factory 215/55 R17 all-season tires, and if you want the snow tires, you would have to buy them separately. There are some precautions that you would have to take, recommended by Hyundai.

From the owner’s manual

If you equip your car with snow tires, they should be the same size and load capacity as the original tires. Snow tires should be installed on all four wheels; otherwise, poor handling may result. Snow tires should carry 4 psi (28 kPa) more air pressure than the pressure recommended for the standard tires on the tire label on the driver’s side of the center pillar or up to the maximum pressure shown on the tire sidewall, whichever is less. Do not drive faster than 75 mph (120 km/h) when your vehicle is equipped with snow tires.

All-season tires can do pretty good in all types of weather for sure, but they can’t give traction when you are driving in a lot of snow. And no matter what systems you have integrated to prevent your wheels from sliding, you will suffer in winter without snow tires.

If you live in a region that sees a lot of snow, then make sure to put on nice snow tires so the wheels will remain happy with their relationship with the road. Otherwise, they will block their connection with it, and you will lose signal from the road, which will cost you a lot of time.

Why should you go with the snow tires? Well, snow tires have the following characteristics that make them suitable in heavy snow to black ice, and everything in between that winter has to offer.

The Tread Rubber

Extreme cold temperatures cause the tread rubber of an all-season or summer tire to stiffen and become less able to provide sufficient traction. To combat this, the tread rubber compounds of winter tires are composed such that they remain flexible, allowing the tire to grip the road better.

Tread Depth and Patterns

Unique to snow tires are deeper tread depths and unique tread patterns. Deeper tread depths reduce snow buildup and thus provide better traction on the snow. The tread patterns, too, are designed to channel snow and slush and expel water.

Biting Edges

Snow tires have many biting edges and high densities of small slits that increase the tread surface area, thus increasing grip in wet, icy, and snowy conditions.

Have Snow Tires Equipped As Soon As Possible

If you want to buy snow tires, we advise you to use Tirerack. They have a great tool that allows you to find the perfect fit for your exact model, so you won’t have to worry about fitment issues. Furthermore, they also offer free shipping on most of their orders. Check out their store here!

What Drive System Does A Hyundai Kona Have?

All Wheel Drive

If you are looking for maximum traction, you can go with the all-wheel-drive variant that performs way better than FWD.  

In AWD, the power is transferred to all four tires based on the weight distribution of each wheel. This results in greater stability and substantially improves car handling. Note that AWD is not the same as the 4-wheel drive (4WD), in which the engine transfers equal power to all four wheels.

Front-Wheel Drive

As the name suggests, the front-wheel-drive will transfer power to the front wheels. This system is not as great as the AWD regarding its snow drivability, but it does offer very reasonable traction.

IF you are looking to save some money and opt for the FWD instead of an AWD, then it’s actually not a concern; you can easily get around with the FWD as you would in AWD. The integrated systems into the modern-day SUVs are extremely subtle and would do most of the work, keeping itself firmly to the ground.

What Electronics System Helps The Hyundai Kona In The Snow?

Electronic Brake Force Distribution

This is probably one of the most amazing features in modern-day vehicles. It distributes the braking force on all four wheels according to the grip they have. It will maximize the braking efficiency, and the stopping distance will be greatly reduced.

If one wheel has the probability of skidding, the brake will be applied to the wheel with more traction while maintaining the vehicle’s stability.

Anti Lock Braking System

The ABS is nothing new. It has been around for decades now. It is designed to prevent the wheel from locking under heavy braking, thereby keeping the tires gripping the road. All traction is lost if the wheels are locked because the tires are jammed in a certain position and disallow the driver to maneuver the vehicle safely.

With the ABS, the braking pressure is applied and revoked intermittently to keep the wheel in rotation. This allows for re-building the lost traction at the tires, and the driver can steer the vehicle away from a likely collision.

Auto Hold

This feature helps keep your Kona standstill on a slope even when the brakes are not applied. Once the vehicle is at rest, you can push the auto hold button and the Hyundai Kona to keep its tires firm on the road.

Electronic Stability Control

ECS stands for Electronic Stability Control. This is one of the most important features that help you maneuver your vehicle in snow. This is the system that saves lives, especially when you are traveling in extreme weather conditions. Keep in mind that cruise control will be disabled when the ECS is in action.

This system is ever needed because so much stuff is being automated, and you are hardly connected with the road.

One way or another, everything has been integrated with electronics, and you won’t be able to tell if the wheels are losing traction. So when the rear end even thinks of going sideways, the ECS kicks in, and the system will maneuver the vehicle in the direction according to the steering input.

In other words, if your steering is tilted to the right, but you are sliding to the left side (understeer), the ECS will make corrections by reducing the speed and adjusting power so that the vehicle can easily go to the right side, just as you originally intended.

Disabling ECS Will Help You In Snow? It would be best if you never disabled the ESC by any means. There are only two instances where you can turn off the ECS.

  1. If you want to perform the rocking maneuver, where you rock the vehicle back and forth in case you are stuck in snow.
  2. If you want to have an accident.

Other than these two instances, you should never turn it off.

Vehicle Stability Management

Another system that comes integrated into the ECS is Vehicle Stability Management (VCM). It helps ensure the vehicle stays stable during sudden braking or hard acceleration, whether on slippery mud or very slippery snow.

The VSM does not operate when driving on a banked road such as gradient or incline, driving rearward, ESC OFF indicator light is on,  EPS (Electric Power Steering) warning light is on, or blinks

All Wheel Drive Lock Mode

This system will send in more torque towards the rear in case of a wet, slippery road. This system is also the way to go when you are offroading. 

Hill-Start Assist Control

This is one of the best features that help the driver maintain traction even when going up a slippery slope, which otherwise wouldn’t have been possible to climb. The older models have outdated tech, which won’t perform well. However, the latest models have amazing bells and whistles that make the Sonata drive extremely well, even on the snow.

This hill-start assist would automatically apply brakes for approximately 2 seconds and release the brake after 5 seconds or when you give it gas.

Some minor problems are going to be dealt with in this article in detail. Make sure you carry out all the necessary improvements. And after you have made all of those improvements, you will be good to go in the snow.

Warning: Do not use the AWD lock mode on dry paved roads. Doing so can cause abnormal noise or vibration and may damage the AWD system.

Downhill Brake Control

Normally when you are going downhill, you would have to focus on braking and steering simultaneously, but with this amazing system, you would only have to focus on steering, and the system will do the braking for you. This system will not work if the engine is turned off. There will be a button on the center console that will picture your SUV going downhill.

Weight Distribution

The curb weight is important because it impacts the performance and safety of the vehicle.

Lighter cars have better fuel economy, respond quicker to acceleration, and have better performance. Heavier cars are safer, provide better protection to the occupants when involved in a crash, and have better road traction.

The curb weight is 3084 lbs which is not too much but adequate to keep it firm. A more important spec is the weight distribution. It impacts several key performance parameters such as response to acceleration/deceleration, cornering stability. Ideally, while braking, the weight distribution should be equal on all four tires.

Normally, the weight distribution differs in each trim level, and on top of that can differ even among the same trim levels due to different packages and add ons. So we are giving an average of all the readings.

2021 ModelsWeight Distribution F/R
Hyundai Kona FWD57/43
Hyundai Kona AWD56/44

Also, read: How Much Can The Hyundai Kona Tow?

Ground Clearance(in): 6.7

When deciding on buying a vehicle to drive in snow, ground clearance is an important aspect. Ground clearance is the distance between the chassis and the ground and is one of the basic dimensions of any vehicle. Lower ground clearance means more likelihood of the underbelly of the car scratching against the ground.

The low ground clearance can be a major issue if you live in an area with lots of snowfall. The higher the ground clearance, the better. We know it, and there is no way to refute this. Higher ground clearance adds to the vehicle’s winter-aptness.

A vehicle can easily knife through thick layers of snow with higher ground clearance, as that is one major point of concern for any winter driver. The sweet spot of ground clearance comes at 8 inches and above.

Hyundai Kona offers a ground clearance of 6.7 inches, and in the spectrum of ground clearances, this is one of the better than average types. It will be good in areas with moderate snow.

Vehicles do get stuck on those piles left by the plows on the sides, so make sure to steer clear from those. Drive on the tire marks left by other vehicles after the plow, and you will be all good.

Wheelbase (in): 102.4

The wheelbase is the distance between the centers of the front and the rear tires. The wheelbase dimensions affect the vehicle’s weight distribution and are a key spec in determining the balance and steering. Having a longer wheelbase means that the vehicle would be more stable at higher speeds.

On the other hand, vehicles with short wheelbase can usually corner faster but are less aerodynamic. In other words, a longer wheelbase translates into more stability because in cars with a longer wheelbase, the onset of sliding is delayed, thus giving the driver more time to make adjustments.

What Traction Device You Can Use On The Hyundai Kona?

If you live in an area where a lot of snow tends to still be on the road when you’re about to drive, then you can, of course, buy snow chains to provide the car with more grip. In the owner’s manual of the most recent Konas, Hyundai gives a few suggestions for these ‘snow traction devices,’ as they like to call them.

For all trim levels of the Sonata, Hyundai suggests using SAE “S” class wire chains. And note that Hyundai advises against the usage of chains on aluminum wheels and, if unavoidable, use the wire type chain.

From the Owner’s Manual

To prevent body damage, retighten the chains after driving 0.3~0.6 miles (0.5~1.0 km). • Do not use tire chains on vehicles equipped with aluminum wheels. If unavoidable, use a wire-type chain. • Use wire chains less than 0.47 in (12 mm) thick to prevent damage to the chain’s connection.

You can find the one that goes with your tires here on Amazon; we have linked it to the exact one you need.

Furthermore, Hyundai also suggests installing tire chains on both left and right front tires. It should also be kept in mind that installing tire chains will provide a greater driving force, preventing side skids. And last but not least, do not install studded tires without first checking local, state, and municipal regulations for possible restrictions against their use.

From the owner’s manual

Do not install studded tires without first checking local, state, and municipal regulations for possible restrictions against their use. Snow tires should be equivalent in size and type to the vehicle’s standard tires. Otherwise, the safety and handling of your vehicle may be adversely affected.

Keeping in mind all of the suggestions, we would recommend using the Peerlesschain, where you can find which chain would be the one for your tires as fitment is an important aspect when searching for snow chains. Manufacturers mostly recommend s class chains, and on this site, you will be able to choose from many different options.

Happy driving.