2020 Hyundai Venue Review
2020 Hyundai Venue Review By Auto Critic Steve Hammes
Just when the Kona thought it had the small end of Hyundai’s SUV lineup all to itself in comes its newborn little sibling; this is the all-new 2020 Venue.
Hyundai refers to it as an urban compact SUV. The EPA calls it a midsize car. Either way it’s small – the most diminutive and least expensive Hyundai utility vehicle and the only one that’s strictly front-wheel drive.
Sized similarly to the Honda Fit, the Venue is ostensibly Hyundai’s crossover alternative to the Accent sedan.
I must admit, upon first glance I wasn’t expecting much. The Venue’s styling is a mashup between a first gen Mitsu Outlander and Subaru Forester so I can’t say I’m enamored with the design, but once past its looks the Venue impresses.
What it does particularly well is provide a quality feel and a feature-laden, versatile cabin at a very modest price.
The Venue starts at around $18,500 and comes in at $23,425 for this mid-trim SEL model with all of the options.
And in typical Hyundai fashion, this gives the Venue auto climate control, heated front seats, a sunroof, industry-leading infotainment with navigation,
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, proximity key with push button start, a drive mode selector with Sport and Snow settings, LED lighting front and rear, and tons of advanced safety features including blind spot, rear cross traffic and lane keep assist.
From the comfortable cloth driver’s seat there’s a lot of windshield and tons of headroom so forward visibility is great and you sit a little higher than the cars around you.
The rear seats are elevated so you can see over the front headrests which is nice and there’s a bump in the headliner to accommodate the added height. And I like this fabric both in its appearance and for its ability to hold you in place. There’s also enough cushioning. But that’s it. Don’t go looking for USB ports, adjustable air vents, heated seats or even a center armrest because you won’t find them. But I suppose I’d rather see Hyundai cut corners back here than in other areas.
You see the stat sheet and prepare for the worst: a 121 horsepower 4-cylinder producing 113 pound-feet of torque working through a continuously variable transmission; so you think slow, noisy, and annoying to drive. But that’s not the case. Hyundai’s ability to make this powertrain adequate, smooth and quiet at this price point is darn impressive.
It fits the Venue’s urban driving landscape quite well but it’s also a decent highway cruiser; stable with an uncharacteristically hushed cabin. The ride is also more forgiving than you’d imagine thanks in part to the cushion provided by these 17” Nexen tires. Plus, I averaged a very agreeable 35mpg and the Venue can cover over 380 miles on a full tank.
What really surprises me about the Venue is how non-cheaply it drives. As a matter of fact it’s just the opposite. The 1.6 liter engine and CVT pairing is mature far beyond its modest output and the Venue’s price tag while the steering and handling leave you shaking your head that an entry level model can be this good. It’s also quiet and stocked with features you might not expect.
A 6-speed manual is available on the base SE trim but loses out to the CVT in mileage.
Now, you’ve got to realize that the Venue’s cargo room behind the rear seats isn’t going to hold too much though it is greater than that of the Fit’s. So just make sure the size is going to meet your needs.
So as long as you’re cool with the looks, the Venue would make for a great first new car, a city runabout or an everyday quasi-SUV for those on a budget.