The compact crossover market is booming. People want to sit higher and have more space without need a larger or more inefficient vehicle. To our enthusiast eyes, however, these small SUVs are often less practical and less enjoyable to drive than a traditional wagon or hatchback. A slight change to the typical CUV formula to bring us the all-new 2020 Hyundai Venue. Will that have the space and usability that people are looking for?
If value is the driver for your new vehicle purchase, Hyundai is a great place to start. Hyundai only offers three trims on the Venue, all of which come standard with a suite of safety equipment; SE, SEL, and Denim. Our tester for the week was the mid-level SEL trim with the Premium and Convenience packages, which totaled it out to $23,270. Interestingly, the fully-loaded SEL is $100 more expensive than the top-level Denim trim. If you want a color that isn’t Denim blue, but you want all the options, that’s what you’ll have to do. We’d spec the Denim though for the interior alone, though it does also feature a trendy white roof and mirror caps as well.
While still on the topic of value, our Venue came with LED headlights and taillights, heated seats, blind spot monitoring, navigation, and satellite radio. As mentioned before, for the price you pay, there’s a lot to like here. From a cost of ownership standpoint, there’s also Hyundai’s new warranty, which we detailed in our recent drive of the 2020 Elantra. But there are a few drawbacks to the Venue, first of which is the lack of adjustability in the driver’s seat. The manual rails do not extend that far backwards. I am 6’1″ on a good day, but I was struggling to get comfortable and instead found myself piloting the Venue as if I were riding a child’s big wheel tricycle. One other detractor from daily life in the Venue was the cabin materials. Hyundai has been known for sprucing up its cabin for the price that you pay, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here. You will find no soft materials other than the steering wheel rim and seats. Opting for the Denim trim does spruce the cabin up substantially, however. Cargo room is on the smaller side, and we struggled getting a weeks worth of groceries for two in the rear without putting the seats down.
Based on Hyundai’s own Accent, the platform is small, tried. and tested. As such driving the Venue a decent experience. The chassis absorbs small bumps nicely, but larger potholes that seem to appear this time of year in the Northeast unsettle the little Hyundai and jar occupants. The Venue’s steering is fairly numb and doesn’t seem to change weight in sport mode. The naturally aspirated 1.6L four cylinder does well to disguise its struggle, but the continuously variable transmission, which Hyundai brands IVT, really is the letdown here. Around town it is brilliant, but once you get on the highway the IVT is constantly changing ratios. I had one experience where the cruise was set at 74mph and the little Venue was turning 3800RPM to get up a hill. Needless to say, that compromises fuel economy, and we only netted 28mpg after a week of mixed driving.
So does the Hyundai Venue stand out from other compact crossovers? Well, the Venue’s mini-SUV appearance won’t have it confused with a hatchback. In person, it feels more like a city car discussed as an SUV. With its small proportions, upright seating position, and large greenhouse offset by plastic body cladding, a reverse C-pillar, and roof rails. Personally, we would rather opt for the Elantra GT, which tested recently, even without the N Line trim. We missed a personality from the Venue’s driving experience, though finding a brand new car for less than $20,000 with an equally-low cost of ownership does have massive appeal. The 2020 Hyundai Venue is a bargain that brings standard safety features and real-world practicality to the masses.
|2020 Hyundai Venue SEL
|As Tested MSRP||$23,270|