Hyundai Venue — Useable and affordable

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

(July 12, 2020) Hyundai's all-new subcompact crossover is small, but passenger friendly. It's very affordable and with the best warranty in the business, loaded with safety technology, attractive inside and out, and relatively fuel efficient. Say hello to the 2020 Venue starting at $18,445.

Of the over 41 million used car buyers in the U.S. last year, Hyundai says about a third of them shopped for a new car but couldn’t find something affordable. The Venue was specifically designed to meet that need and fill the gap as the number of less-expensive sedan and hatchback models dwindle to just a few.

With the Venue the South Korean company is chasing after younger buyers, enticing them to buy a new car with a roomy interior, advanced safety features and a great warranty all for about what you’d spend for a three- or four-year-old Toyota or Honda.

It's the smallest crossover in Hyundai's SUV lineup. It's even dwarfed by the smallish Kona, measuring five inches shorter, but it still seats up to five passengers. Even so, calling the Venue a true SUV is a stretch. Instead, the Venue represents an increasing number of vehicles that combine crossover styling with the stance and handling abilities of a traditional hatchback sharing the same platform that also underpins the Accent sedan and hatch.

At just 159 inches long, it is one of the shortest vehicles on sale today, but we found interior space surprisingly ample with easily enough leg, hip, head and shoulder room even for taller passengers. Rear seat passengers won’t be able to stretch their legs out, but they won’t feel cramped either.

At first glance the Venue's design stands out within its segment as you would expect from Hyundai where anonymous styling just doesn't work anymore. The Venue gets a fresh appearance that feels modern from all angles with two-tiered headlights up front bookending the familiar hexagonal grille, while flared wheel arches and lower bumper trim give the Venue a pronounced skirt line meant to create an off-road-friendly look. In back, two small rectangular taillights give the little crossover a sharp and pricey look, and the concave tailgate gives the surface of the rear fascia a sculpted appearance.

Hyundai is keeping the Venue pricing strategy simple — one engine, one body style, three trim levels — SE, SEL and Denim — and only front-wheel drive (belying its SUV crossover stance.)

The one engine is an all-new 1.6-liter four-cylinder with 121 horsepower and 113 lb-ft of torque. While 121 horses doesn’t sound like much, it did not disappoint over our week and 200 miles driving the car.  We were impressed with its maneuverability, ample visibility, and ease of driving. We had to carefully plan a couple of two-lane passing situations, but slam the pedal to the metal and no problem.  Road noise is minimal, braking competent. There are three drive modes including one called Snow that allows increased wheel spin for maximum traction.

Safety features are important for all vehicles, and especially smaller ones. Hyundai has built over 70 percent of the structure with advanced high-strength steel and other high-strength materials. All trim levels come standard with forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, and lane keeping assist.

To get such features as blindspot monitoring with cross traffic alert you will have to opt for the SEL trim and add the $1,150 Convenience Package or move up to the Denim trim level where it is standard equipment.

Inside, the Venue's layout is attractive, the switchgear is easy to use, and the material quality is excellent considering its modest starting price. All models feature an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Audio capability. Fit and finish are a step above the Venue's price point. Opt for a Denim model, and you get interior upgrades such as padded door armrests and leatherette upholstery with contrasting white piping. One head-scratcher is a circular temperature readout on the climate-control panel that appears to be an adjustable knob, but it isn't.

The Venue's affordability is pointed out by its pricing structure — $18,445 for the manual SE and $19,645 for the automatic transmission, $20,345 for the SEL, and $23,145 for the Denim. All prices include a $1,095 destination charge. Our SEL test car with the aforementioned $1,150 Convenience Package, which includes a power sunroof; and the Premium Package at $1,750 that features heated front seats, 17-inch alloy wheels, SiriusXM radio, and an eight-inch navigation touchscreen carried a bottom of $23,280.

Like all Hyundai vehicles, the Venue comes with a 5-year/60,000-mile basic warranty and a 10-year/100,000-mile drivetrain warranty.

If you are considering buying a used car for whatever reason including a second car, take some time to rest drive the Venue with its excellent pricing. And according to car-buying website there is currently a $1,500 rebate on the Venue.

2020 Hyundai Venue

Base price: $18,445; as driven, $23,280
Engine: 1.6-liter 4-cylinder
Horsepower: 121 @ 6,300 rpm
Torque: 113 foot-pounds @ 4,500 rpm
Transmission: continuously variable
Drive: front wheel
Seating: 2/3
Wheelbase: 99.2 inches
Length: 159.1 inches
Curb weight: 2,612 pounds
Turning circle: 33.3 feet
Luggage capacity: 18.7 cubic feet
Cargo capacity: 31.9 cubic feet
Fuel capacity: 11.9 gallons (regular)
EPA rating: 30 city, 34 highway, 32 combined
0-60: 8.5 seconds (Car and Driver)
Also consider: Nissan Kicks, Ford EcoSport, Honda Fit

The Good
• Nice array of features
• Great starting price
• Light and nimble handling

The Bad
• No all-wheel drive option

The Ugly
• Small cargo space