Christopher Little

Quick Spin: 2021 Hyundai Venue

If you define insanity as doing the same thing over again and expecting a different result, then I might be going a little insane. Because here I sit on a bitterly cold March day behind the wheel of the 2021 Hyundai Venue. Sound familiar? It does to us, as we reviewed the 2020 Hyundai Venue exactly a year ago. But in a bid to act like 2020 never happened, we’re having our very own version of Ground Day. Hopefully this year winds up in a better sport.

The Venue is Hyundai’s cheap and cheerful “Urban Compact SUV” for those who would rather have a higher H-points, the distance the driver’s hip sits above the ground, in place of driving dynamics. Otherwise, why wouldn’t someone opt for the sublime Hyundai Elantra GT? The FWD Venue sits below the AWD Kona in Hyundai’s lineup of “SUVs”, and there are times where it shows. The interior materials are just ok, with harder and hollower plastics throughout the cabin. What’s worse is the poor ergonomics of the armrests. From my seating position, the unpadded door and center console armrests were slightly different heights. After a few days behind the wheel, this caused significant shoulder discomfort. The audio system also disappoints with its dull and flat sound. But that isn’t to say the Venue is all bad. Affordability has its merits, and the Venue has plenty of redeeming qualities for its price.

Powered by a naturally aspirated 1.6L four cylinder producing 121 horsepower and 113 horsepower, the Venue returns an EPA estimated average 31 MPG. While those figures might seem low, the Venue doesn’t manage to feel off the pace in traffic. We even found the Intelligent Variable Transmission’s manual mode to make quick shifts between simulated gears. Slapping the shift lever forward and backward for upshifts and downshifts adds at least some driver engagement. Hyundai has tuned the Venue’s ride to be comfortable in most scenarios with good control of body movements in everyday driving. The short wheelbase can lead to a few unpleasant bumps when traveling over frost-heaved roads. Interestingly, the Venue’s ride got more comfortable when loaded with three adults. Those adults didn’t complain about their predicament, either. The Venue’s shape and packaging provide a high, squared-off passenger compartment that offers excellent head room and visibility in all directions. The rear seat legroom was acceptable as well without needing the front passenger to ride with his knees on the dashboard. We managed one final snowshoeing adventure for the year, loading the Venue’s cargo space with gear and heading down some soft dirt roads. While Hyundai might portray the Venue as an urban SUV, it handled rural SUV life without concern.

Hyundai has been a leader in providing features and equipment that maximize value for buyers. In the Venue, we appreciated the heated seats, remote start, sunroof, and standard safety features like blind sport monitoring, lane keep assist, and forward collision avoidance assistance. Hyundai’s infotainment software received a big update this year as well, offering a new look that is simple, easy, and responsive as ever. Ther’es even wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as standard on the SEL trim level we tested There isn’t a lot more you could ask for from a set of standard equipment. Our week with the little blue toaster, as my family referred to it, saw the Venue in many scenarios; highway commuting, dirt road adventures, and shopping around town. And across the board, it didn’t let us down. But everyone that spent time in the Venue, when given the as-tested price of $23,480 as a theoretical budget, decided they’d spend it on something else.

-Christopher Little

2021 Hyundai Venue SEL$19,800
Premium Package$2,350
Carpeted Floor Mats$155
Destination Charges$1,175
As-Tested MSRP$23,480

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