2021 Hyundai Kona

#4
in Suvs
2021 MODEL
$20,300 - $29,350
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8.2

Overall Rating

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2021 Hyundai Kona Complete In-depth Review & Buying Guide

Updated on: July 21, 2020
Aaron Smith's image

Aaron Smith

Automotive Journalist

It is no secret that every automaker in the US car market is eyeing or going after the sub-compact SUV segment. This is due to the fact that this segment has the most demand and also the car makers get to make the most profit from it. Hence, Hyundai has not one but two cars in the same segment. Now for one of them, Hyundai is all-set to release an update. Yes, there will be a 2021 Hyundai Kona out very soon.

See detailed review »

Pros

Feature-rich cabin

Provides top-notch fit and finish

Fuel efficient engine options

Comes with modern safety features

Cons

Scores low in terms of road presence

Cabin not very spacious

What's New?

Bigger Infotainment display

A new transmission setup

Redesigned interior


Pictures & Videos

Exterior
Interior
Videos
2021 Hyundai Kona Review video
2021 Hyundai Kona Exterior video
2021 Hyundai Kona Interior video

Styles

2021 Hyundai Kona in Chalk color 2021 Hyundai Kona in pulse red color 2021 Hyundai Kona in Sonic Silver color
Chalk

Vehicle images are guides only and may not reflect the model's exact specifications/features– exact specifications/features should be confirmed with the seller.

Ratings

Fuel Economy

8.0

Interior

8.0

Exterior

8.0

Safety

9.0

Competition

8.0

8.2

OVERALL RATING

Trims and Configurations

MSRP


2021 Hyundai Kona SE

SE

power
147 hp @ 6200 rpm
fuel
Regular unleaded
mpg
27 combined

$20,300 - $21,700


Style Prices MPG Engine Transmission Drivetrain Seats Colors
SE 4dr SUV (2.0L 4cyl 6A) Starting at $20,300 MSRP (26/27/29) 147 hp @ 6200 rpm, 2 L, Inline 4, regular unleaded
6-speed shiftable automatic front wheel drive 5
SE 4dr SUV AWD (2.0L 4cyl 6A) Starting at $21,700 MSRP (26/27/29) 147 hp @ 6200 rpm, 2 L, Inline 4, regular unleaded
6-speed shiftable automatic all wheel drive 5

2021 Hyundai Kona SEL

SEL

power
147 hp @ 6200 rpm
fuel
Regular unleaded
mpg
27 combined

$22,100 - $23,500


Style Prices MPG Engine Transmission Drivetrain Seats Colors
SEL 4dr SUV (2.0L 4cyl 6A) Starting at $22,100 MSRP (26/27/29) 147 hp @ 6200 rpm, 2 L, Inline 4, regular unleaded
6-speed shiftable automatic front wheel drive 5
SEL 4dr SUV AWD (2.0L 4cyl 6A) Starting at $23,500 MSRP (26/27/29) 147 hp @ 6200 rpm, 2 L, Inline 4, regular unleaded
6-speed shiftable automatic all wheel drive 5

2021 Hyundai Kona SEL Plus

SEL Plus

power
147 hp @ 6200 rpm
fuel
Regular unleaded
mpg
27 combined

$23,950 - $25,350


Style Prices MPG Engine Transmission Drivetrain Seats Colors
SEL Plus 4dr SUV (2.0L 4cyl 6A) Starting at $23,950 MSRP (26/27/29) 147 hp @ 6200 rpm, 2 L, Inline 4, regular unleaded
6-speed shiftable automatic front wheel drive 5
SEL Plus 4dr SUV AWD (2.0L 4cyl 6A) Starting at $25,350 MSRP (26/27/29) 147 hp @ 6200 rpm, 2 L, Inline 4, regular unleaded
6-speed shiftable automatic all wheel drive 5

2021 Hyundai Kona Limited

Limited

power
175 hp @ 5500 rpm
fuel
Regular unleaded
mpg
27 combined

$26,100 - $27,500


Style Prices MPG Engine Transmission Drivetrain Seats Colors
Limited 4dr SUV (1.6L 4cyl 7AM) Starting at $26,100 MSRP (26/27/29) 175 hp @ 5500 rpm, 1.6 L, Inline 4, regular unleaded
7-speed automated manual front wheel drive 5
Limited 4dr SUV AWD (1.6L 4cyl 7AM) Starting at $27,500 MSRP (26/27/29) 175 hp @ 5500 rpm, 1.6 L, Inline 4, regular unleaded
7-speed automated manual all wheel drive 5

2021 Hyundai Kona Ultimate

Ultimate

power
175 hp @ 5500 rpm
fuel
Regular unleaded
mpg
27 combined

$27,950 - $29,350


Style Prices MPG Engine Transmission Drivetrain Seats Colors
Ultimate 4dr SUV (1.6L 4cyl 7AM) Starting at $27,950 MSRP (26/27/29) 175 hp @ 5500 rpm, 1.6 L, Inline 4, regular unleaded
7-speed automated manual front wheel drive 5
Ultimate 4dr SUV AWD (1.6L 4cyl 7AM) Starting at $29,350 MSRP (26/27/29) 175 hp @ 5500 rpm, 1.6 L, Inline 4, regular unleaded
7-speed automated manual all wheel drive 5

Expert Review

8.2

Overall Rating


The Kona debuted in June 2017 and due to its popularity, the Korean carmaker launched an all-Electric Version in 2018. Later in 2019, the Kona even became the winner of the 2019 North American Utility Vehicle of the Year, the first for a subcompact crossover SUV in its award history. 

It is also Hyundai’s smallest SUV and goes up against cars such as the Buick Encore, Mazda CX-3, and Subaru Crosstrek. The latest iteration to be launched has been spied on in S. Korea and it is supposed to receive some changes and additions. Hence its time to have a look at what the 2021 Kona might have in store for you.

2021 Hyundai Kona SUV Front View
2021 Hyundai Kona SUV Rear View

 
 

8.0/10
Fuel Economy

 

8.0/10
Interior

 

8.0/10
Exterior

 

9.0/10
Safety

 

8.0/10
Competition

 
 

2021 Hyundai Kona Features

As the 2021 Hyundai will be a carryover model, the trim line-up is expected to remain the same. Hyundai is expected to increase the pricing slightly due to the changes it will bring over. The current Kona is offered in five trims namely– SE, SEL, Limited, and Ultimate. The SE and the SEL trims are powered by a 2.0L, inline-4 cylinder engine mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox while the Limited and the Ultimate trims get a more powerful 1.6L, Turbocharged 4-cylinder motor mated to a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. Living up to its SUV characteristics, the Kona can opt with an AWD as well. The 2021 is rumored to offer an improved transmission which might be the exact reason for its price bump.

Trim SE SEL SEL-Plus Limited Ultimate
MSRP (FWD) $21,500* $23,000* $24,000* $27,000* $29,000*
MSRP (AWD) $22,900* $24,400* $25,400* $28,400* $30,400*
Key Features 16-inch alloy wheels  In addition or replaces the features in SE trim: In addition or replaces, the features in SE and SEL trims: In addition or replaces the features in SE, SEL, and SEL Plus trims: In addition or replaces the features in SE, SEL, SEL Plus, and Limited trims:
  LED Automatic headlights with LED DRLs 17-inch alloy wheels Front foglights and power tilt-and-slide sunroof 18-inch alloy wheels and LED taillights Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist with Pedestrian Detection and Parking Distance Warning
  Lane Keeping Assist and Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist Heated mirrors with turn signal indicators and roof rails 8-way powered driver seat with power lumbar support Leather seating with 8-way powered driver seat and lumbar support High-Beam Assist
  Driver Attention Warning Blind-spot Collision Warning with Lane Keeping Assist Wireless Device Charging Automatic temperature control 8-inch color touchscreen with navigation
  6-way powered driver seat with cloth upholstery Leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear knob with a 3.5-inch multi-information display screen 3-step heated front seats with a 4.2-inch multi-information display screen Auto-dimming rearview mirror Heads-up Display
  7-inch touchscreen display with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay Sirius XM Radio and Rearview monitor with parking guidance Remote keyless entry with theft and panic alarm Proximity key entry with push-button start Smart cruise control

*Prices are estimated and not officially announced.

2021 Hyundai Kona Expected Price and Release Date

The 2021 Hyundai Kona is expected to start around $18,000 which is the same as the current model. The all-electric Kona shall be priced at about $37, 000 and the fresh new N version should set you back $32,000 (expected).

We expect the 2021 Hyundai Kona to launch around late 2020. However, the performance-oriented N version could launch in the first half of the year 2021.

2021 Hyundai Kona Engine and Performance

As the 2021 Kona will be no major overhaul or a reinvention, expect it to receive the same powertrain options as the current model. One update however in the works is a better transmission for the 2021 Hyundai Kona. Hyundai is rumored to bring in a better transmission to aide the fuel efficiency even further. Apart from this change, the 2021 Kona shall return with the same powertrain options. Just like the 2020 Hyundai Kona, it will be available with two transmission and engine options. The 2021 Hyundai Kona is also expected to get a more performance-focused “N” trim just like some of the other models in Hyundai’s kitty. 

2021 Hyundai Kona Engine Bay

The 2021 model of the Kona will get the same 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, mated to a 6-speed automatic gearbox which generates 147 hp of power and 132 lb-ft of torque. The next engine option is the much more powerful turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder pot, paired to a 7-speed DCT or Dual-Clutch Transmission. This unit produces 175 hp of power and 195 lb-ft of peak torque which is at par with its main rivals. While the front-wheel-drive is available as standard, an all-wheel-drive setup is optional. Both the current engine options offer delightful performance and feel refined. While the 2.0 Liter engine is good for city use, over on the highway it requires a bit of effort to keep it on the boil. The turbocharged unit on the other hand can handle the city as well as highway use with ease. 

The most exciting trim of the Kona yet, or shall we say the performance-focused N trim, is expected to offer a 2.0-liter turbocharged unit that will be capable of producing a meaty 275 hp of power and 260 lb-ft of peak torque. It is the same engine that Hyundai currently uses in the Veloster N. It will also be the most expensive Kona yet and is expected to cost more than the EV version as well.

Talking about the EV Kona, there will not be many changes done to the EV as well. The 2021 Hyundai Kona EV is expected to get the same battery pack, and the power output shall remain the same. The EV generates 201 hp with a 64-kWh battery pack with 258 miles of range. Hence, overall there will not be many changes, but you will get sorted engine options as well as performance. 

Models

Hyundai Kona

Buick Encore*

Mazda CX-3*

Subaru Crosstrek*

MSRP

$20,000 (Expected)

$23,200

$20,390

$21,859

Engine

2.0 Liter Inline-4

1.4 Turbocharged Inline-4

2.0 Liter Inline-4

2.0 Liter Boxer-4

Transmission

6-speed automatic with manual shifting mode

6-speed automatic with Overdrive and auto-manual

2-speed CVT with Overdrive and Manual mode

Continuously variable-speed automatic

Horsepower

147 hp @ 6200 rpm

138 hp @ 4900 rpm

148 hp @ 6000 rpm

152 hp @ 6000 rpm

Torque

132 lb. ft. @ 4500 rpm

148 lb. ft. @ 1850 rpm

146 lb. ft. @ 2800 rpm

145 lb. ft. @ 4000 rpm

*2020 Model Year specs used for comparison purposes only

Hyundai Kona is the cheapest offering in its segment by any manufacturers and with the 2021 model, Hyundai is expected to keep its price advantage due to the sheer competition. The weakest car in terms of the power output is the Buick Encore but it makes up for the lack of power with its strongest torque figure. The Subaru Crosstrek on the other hand is the most powerful and the most fun to drive cars as well in this comparison. However, it is the most expensive option to go for as well.

How fast is the 2021 Hyundai Kona?

As the powertrain options with the 2021 Hyundai Kona are expected to remain the same, hence there will not be much of a difference in terms of its performance. The Kona completes its 0-60 mph sprint in 10 seconds which is neither great nor disappointing. Moreover, the Kona is capable of doing a top speed of 127 mph. All these figures are on par with the segment and the Kona gets a weight advantage compared to its rivals.

2021 Hyundai Kona 0-60 MPH in just 10.0 sec

What is there to be noted is the fact is that if the rumored transmission comes into place, then it might affect the acceleration negatively as it will be focused more on the fuel economy rather than performance.

Models

Hyundai Kona

Buick Encore

Mazda CX-3

Subaru Crosstrek

0-60 MPH (sec)

10.0

8.4

8.6

9.0

Quarter mile (sec)

17.3

16.2

16.3

16.9

Engine

2.0-L I-4

1.4-L I-4

2.0-L I-4

2.0-L H-4

Emission (Tons/yr. of CO2 Emissions @ 15K mi/year)

5.9

6.3

5.7

7.0

In comparison to its rivals, the Kona is the best in terms of refinement level. However, if you want the best performance in the segment, then the Subaru Crosstrek is the car for you. With the N version of the Kona being launched for the 2021 line-up, it will be interesting to see how it will play out. What we can certainly predict is that it is sure to steal some of the sales of more expensive cars in its segment. In comparison to the current model, the Mazda CX-3 is the most engaging to drive and is the most driver-oriented car. The Buick Encore, on the other hand, offers the most comfortable ride and cabin to be in.

Ride and Handling

The 2021 Hyundai Kona will get the same suspension setup as available with the 2020 model. It offers a compliant ride for a small car and can take a lot of beating on the road. Suspension, although quite capable, does let in sharp bumps and potholes into the cabin. This is due to the fact that the Kona has been set up a bit on the stiffer side to improve its handling. The setup helps in taking over sharp corners confidently, but the trade-off is a bit of comfort. 

In terms of handling, the steering is quite feedback-rich and the Kona is quite easy to park into tight spaces. While light in the city, the steering weighs well on the highway which helps you feel confident over on the highway. Hence Kona offers excellent highspeed stability as well as urban maneuverability.

Braking Performance

The 2021 Hyundai Kona is expected to get the same braking setup as well. However, that is not a bad thing at all as in terms of braking that the Kona never disappointed. The current model gets a 12-inch rotor at the front and 11.2-inch rotor at the rear. Also, it offers all the other braking and stability tech like ABS, EBD, and Vehicle Stability Management that ensure safe and efficient braking. The brake pedal provides a progressive feel and the bite from the brakes is also quite predictable.

2021 Hyundai Kona Wheel

The ABS on the 2020 Kona were pretty well-calibrated and helped the car to halt in a composed manner. However, during multiple emergency braking tests, there was a little brake fade but that didn't hamper the braking of Hyundai Kona.

Model

Hyundai Kona

Buick Encore

Mazda CX-3

Subaru Crosstrek

Brake Front (in.)

11.8

11.8

11

11.6

Brake Rear (in.)

9.0 (Drum)

10.6

11.1

10.8

Curb Weight (lbs.)

2890

3237

2809

3113

60-0 MPH (ft)

129

121

N/A

N/A

The Kona is one of the lightest car in this comparison but we are happy to report that Hyundai has not skimmed anything in terms of the braking performance of the car. Though not much information is available to decide the best braking performance, the Buick Encore, being on the heavier side, stops way behind the Hyundai. The lightest car is this comparison is the Mazda CX-3 for which the 60-0 mph figure is yet not available.

2021 Hyundai Kona Fuel Economy

8.0/10

This is a department where Hyundai seems to have always paid a lot of attention always. As the 2021 Kona is rumored to get a better transmission, you can expect an even better fuel efficiency out of the engine. Currency the CVT equipped Kona returns around 29 mpg in the city, 35 mpg on the highway, and 32 mpg combined of fuel efficiency with the front-wheel-drive setup. On the other hand, the all-wheel-drive version shall fetch you 27/32/29mpg (city/highway/combined) of fuel economy. These numbers are sure to keep most customers happy in its price segment.

Model

Hyundai Kona

Buick Encore

Mazda CX-3

Subaru Crosstrek

MPG (city)

27

26

29

27

MPG (highway)

33

31

34

33

MPG (combined)

30

28

31

25

*2020 Model Year specs used for comparison purposes only

The queen of fuel efficiency still remains the Mazda CX-3. Due to its lighter weight and fuel economy-focused tuning, it provides the best in class fuel efficiency. However, it remains to be seen if the 2021 Hyundai Kona will be able to overtake it with its latest transmission. According to some sources it is tuned to provide a combined fuel efficiency of 32 mpg which is better than the Mazda. 

2021 Hyundai Kona Interior

8.0/10

Being a carryover model, we do not expect major changes on the inside of the 2021 Hyundai Kona. However, we do expect Hyundai to update the infotainment system with some software tweaks and features. Currently, all the trims of the Kona get a touchscreen infotainment screen which is unusual for the segment. While the SE and SEL get a 7-inch infotainment screen the other two trims get an 8-inch unit. The top trims of the 2021 Kona is expected to receive a larger touchscreen, and Kona EV will be available with a 10.3-inch touchscreen. The ergonomics are well-sorted and all buttons have a tactile feel to them.

2021 Hyundai Kona Front seats

The seats feel quite supportive and the cushioning of the seats is neither too soft nor too hard. Hyundai has provided top-notch fit and finish and plastic quality but there are not many soft-touch materials to up the premium quotient. At the rear the seats are supportive but it is not easy to fit 3 occupants at the back. Overall visibility is not the best as well due to the high window lines of the car. The N trim of the Kona will get a more sporty looking cabin which will offer Alcantara leather inserts and red stitching on the seats. The model might also get a redesigned steering wheel and gear lever. Overall, the Kona feels premium on the inside but is not the most spacious on the inside.

Model

Hyundai Kona

Buick Encore

Mazda CX-3

Subaru Crosstrek

Passenger Capacity

5

5

5

5

Headroom

39.6

39.6

38.4

39.8

Shoulder room

55.5

54.2

53.5

56.7

Legroom (Front)

41.5

40.8

41.7

43.1

Headroom

37.8

38.8

37.2

38

Shoulder room

54.5

52.5

50.4

55.6

Legroom

(Rear)

34.6

35.8

35

36.5

*2020 Model Year specs used for comparison purposes only

In comparison to its rivals, the Kona offers the least space on the inside. With no changes in the wheelbase and interiors of the 2021 model, things are expected to remain the same. The standard equipment level will remain the same with the base trim also getting a touchscreen infotainment like in the 2020 model.

Infotainment System

The 2021 Kona is expected to receive a bigger 10-inch infotainment screen for its top trims. The current model offers a 7-inch unit that supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well. It is fluid to use and offers navigation as well as emergency or SOS services. 

2021 Hyundai Kona Infotainment Display

How good is the Cargo Area?

As there will be no major changes done to the exterior and the interior of the 2021 Hyundai Kona, we expect it to offer identical cargo capacity as the 2020 model. Scoring high on practicality, means that the Kona offers one of the best cargo space in its segment. While not the best, hauling in a weekend worth of your luggage will not be a big deal for the car. The Mazda CX-3 on the other hand offers the least practical boot space with only 12.3 cu.ft which is comparable to some hatchbacks.

Models

Hyundai Kona SE

Buick Encore

Mazda CX-3

Subaru Crosstrek

Cargo Capacity 

19.2 cu.ft.

18.8 cu.ft

12.3 cu.ft.

20.8 cu.ft.

Some features of the Infotainment system include:

  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Hyundai’s BlueLink Feature
  • Infinity Premium Audio with Clari-Fi
  • External amp and 8 speakers audio
  • 1 amp USB data/charge jack 
  • HD Radio/SiriusXM Satellite Radio
  • Rear View Monitor (RVM) with parking guidance

2021 Hyundai Kona Exterior

8.0/10

Hyundai’s Kona was its first car to feature Hyundai’s new design language of split headlamps and a new grille. The 2021 model is expected to offer the same design language with certain tweaks. However, they will be minor as it will be a facelift rather than a through update. The changes will include redesigned wheels which are sure to offer more style than before. 

2021 Hyundai Kona Exterior Design

Major changes will be absorbed by the all-new N version which will come with sporty red inserts and twin-muffler exhaust. Hyundai might offer a much aggressive bumper with additional air openings. On the other hand, the rear styling will also come with a sleeker bumper design and dual exhausts. Overall the 2021 Hyundai Kona will be a bit different than the current model and will offer a much more sporty look and features on the outside.

Model

Hyundai Kona

Buick Encore

Mazda CX-3

Subaru Crosstrek

Curb weight (lbs.)

2890

3237

2809

3157

Length(in)

164.0

168.4

168.3

175.8

Width(in)

70.9

70.1

69.6

71

Height(in)

61

65.2

60.7

63.6

Ground clearance (in)

6.7

6.2

6.1

8.7

Wheelbase (in)

102.4

100.6

101.2

104.9

Track width (in) F/R

-

60.62/60.62

60/59.5

61/61.2 

*2020 Model Year specs used for comparison purposes only

Like the 2020 model, the 2021 Hyundai Kona will be one of the smallest cars in the segment. However, its the Mazda that looks apart and will grab the most eyeballs. Also, If you are looking for a road presence, then the Subaru Crosstrek is the car for you. The Mazda CX-3 looks quite sporty and does offer the look-apart feel while the Buick Encore takes up a more traditional approach.

2021 hyundai kona front view
2021 hyundai kona rear view
hyundai kona front
hyundai kona side view
2021 Hyundai kona headlight

2021 Hyundai Kona Safety

9.0/10

here is not much change expected in terms of the safety features on offer of the 2021 Hyundai Kona. The current model offers a healthy list of safety features and offers one of the best-advanced tech on offer in terms of safety. Features such as Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist and Lane Keeping Assist is offered as standard in the current model. The 2021 model is expected to bring more of its safety features in lower trims like Automatic Emergency Braking, Automatic High-Beams and Automatic Steering Correction.

Safety features on offer are:

  • Adjustable front-seat shoulder belt anchors
  • Front seatbelt pretensioners and load limiters
  • Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with 4-wheel disc brakes
  • Electronic Stability Control (ESC) with Traction Control (TCS) and Brake Assist (BA)
  • Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) with individual tire indicator
  • Vehicle Stability Management (VSM)
  • Lane Change Assist
  • Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA)
  • Driver Attention Warning (DAW)

2021 Hyundai Kona Competition

8.0/10

Hyundai Kona vs Buick Encore

The Buick Encore is also one of the most value for money car in its segment. It offers a well-appointed list of standard features and a spacious cabin too. Being compact and good looking, the Encore is a proper urban SUV meant for city driving. However, the ride is a little bouncy and the refinement levels are not the best. Hence, once you factor in the pricing, the Kona is a better choice out of the two.

2021 Buick Encore

Hyundai Kona vs Mazda CX-3

The Mazda CX-3 is one of the most sporty compact SUVs in the segment. It is a fun car to drive and offers sporty looks as well. Along with good interiors, it offers a premium look and feel on the inside. However, its infotainment system does not offer Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as standard. Also, the rear seats are quite cramped in the CX-3. Still, along with sporty looks and good driving dynamics, the CX-3 is the better car overall than the Kona.

2021 Mazda CX-3

Hyundai Kona vs Subaru Crosstrek

The Subaru Crosstrek is arguably the best overall compact SUV you can get in the market. Along with the premium cabin, it also offers the best performance. It is a much larger SUV than any of its rivals and offers good off-road capabilities for a sub-compact SUV. However, it is around $2,000 more expensive than the Kona and is not as much of a value for money car. However, still, the Crosstrek is worth it due to the space, features, and performance it offers.

2021 Subaru Crosstrek

2021 Hyundai Kona Final Verdict

With the hype around the 2021 Hyundai Kona, it is expected to be unveiled in late 2020 in the US market. However, it will not offer major changes but even smaller changes like the bigger infotainment and the addition of the N trim can be significant additions for some. We would recommend you to wait for the 2021 Hyundai Kona if you plan to buy one as it will offer an improved experience as well as styling.

2021 Hyundai Kona FAQs

Will there be any price bump with the 2021 Hyundai Kona Cost?

As the changes will be minor we expect the price to be more or less unchanged. The Kona will continue to be a value proposition in its segment.

What is the warranty offered with the Hyundai Kona?

Hyundai offers 5 years or 60,000 miles warranty as standard for now.

Is the Hyundai Kona Safe?

While the Kona is not yet tested in the US, it received a five-star rating in Euro NCAP's crash-test. Hence, it is quite a safe car

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