Review: 2020 Hyundai Venue is new, small, and full of tech
The small, subcompact crossover segment is one that is seeing a lot of action this year. The Hyundai Venue is the latest entrant into this category, bringing with it the upscale feel that Hyundai is known for and a lot of technology for the price paid. It’s marketed as a crossover, but is really a hatchback car.
At a Glance
- The Venue has interesting placement in the fast-growing subcompact crossover segment.
- It has good engine power and transmission mix for the vehicle’s size and capability.
- There is no all-wheel drive option for the Venue.
- This Hyundai has limited passenger space, but great cargo versatility for the class.
The 2020 Venue is a subcompact that is designed to fit in the marketing space just below the Kona, the EV version of which we drove earlier. The Venue hatchback is slightly smaller than the Kona, but actually sports similar passenger and cargo space thanks to its more squared-off shape. This new model is marketed as a crossover-SUV, but lacks an all-wheel drive option and while shaped like one, doesn’t handle or move like an SUV and is probably more accurately called a hatchback car. That, of course, would be a marketing death knell as cars are no longer hip, so Hyundai avoids that term.
Whatever you call it, though, the 2020 Hyundai Venue does have a lot of interesting facets that are worth noting.
The Venue is competing in a new and strong category which features vehicles like the Mazda CX-30, Hyundai’s own Kona, the Kia Seltos and Niro, among others. There’s no lack of options in this diminutive segment of vehicles and in the newest crop of entries, we’ve found a lot to love. The Venue fits in with the others uniquely, offering a price point advantage over the more sophisticated Kona (the Kona has electrified options, the Venue does not) and a feeling of more interior roominess than the CX-30 and Niro. Yet it’s not as small as is the Kia Soul, nor as visually unique as the Seltos. Where the 2020 Venue shines is in its contemporary, but more appealing MINI Cooper-like looks and high technology offerings.
Under its hood, the Venue has a four-cylinder engine that outputs 121 horsepower (90 kW) to a continuously variable transmission (CVT). That might sound relatively weak, but the Venue is a very small vehicle, so those 121 horses go a long way with it. Even under a fairly heavy load (all five seating positions filled), the 2020 Venue had no issues getting up to speed on the freeway, and felt just as nimble and capable as it did with just a driver. The CVT is particularly good at knowing when to allow RPM to push upwards and when to do its efficiency thing. Front-wheel drive is the only option for the Venue’s drivetrain, though, which may take it out of the running for many buyers.
The 2020 Hyundai Venue has three trim levels, a multitude of color options (including four that have two tone options). The base model SE comes standard with an 8-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, automatic emergency braking, and lane keeping assist. That’s not bad for a US$17,350 car. That price also includes a six-speed manual transmission. It’s another $1,200 to get the CVT. From there, upgrades in the SEL and Denim packages can include more than the single USB port found in the base model, drive mode selection, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, LED lighting, keyless entry, push-button start, the Hyundai Blue Link connected car system, and so forth. The infotainment screen, while it doesn’t get any larger, does gain more options as the stereo, navigation, and other things improve. Even fully loaded, though, the 2020 Venue still prices at under $23,000. That’s impressive.
With a subcompact like the Venue, of course, it’s not all grapes and shade fans. While a tall driver or front passenger will find comfort enough up front, the back seats are really only good for average-sized adults and the middle spot isn’t comfortable for anyone. Three kids across is tight, so it only gets worse with adults. Headroom is good all the way around, but legroom is cramped in the rear seats if the front seat occupants are taller than average. Cargo space is good in the Venue, with 18.7 cubic feet (529.5 liters) available behind the seat and 31.9 cubic feet (903 liters) when the rear seats are folded flat. It’s more space than expected and easy to use.
As an everyday drive for those who want some sophisticated technology and safety equipment, but aren’t able or interested in large car payments, the 2020 Venue hits a sweet spot. Its unique but not polarizing look, good combination of size and fuel efficiency, and its versatility are all proud points. The lack of AWD might be a no-go for some buyers, but many may find the combination of front-wheel drive and Snow mode enough to get them through. For the price, it’s hard to name a competitor for the Venue that hits all those same marks.
Product Page: 2020 Hyundai Venue