2020 Hyundai Venue Expert Review
Given the Hyundai Venue low price of entry ($17,350), Hyundai sees it competing not just with vehicles like the Nissan Kicks and Ford EcoSport but also against used-crossover SUVs that don’t have modern safety and convenience technology like automatic emergency braking, Apple CarPlay or the company’s fantastic 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.
Makes sense to us. We see the 2020 Hyundai Venue as a subcompact-crossover SUV that’s small in size but big in personality, with excellent interior room and a stout structure incorporating lots of high-strength steel. Available exclusively with front-wheel drive, the Venue is more of an urban utility than an off-roader, and the targeted young urban buyers will appreciate its easy maneuverability about town, not to mention the practicality and convenience provided by the hatchback design. The Venue, for the record, is 5.1 inches shorter and 1.2 inches narrower than its Hyundai Kona sibling, with a wheelbase shorter by 3.2 inches.
While the base model, the SE, gets by with 15-inch steel wheels, a 6-speed manual transmission and drum rear brakes, the far more enticing models are the SEL and Denim, which have 17-inch alloy wheels, 4-wheel disc brakes, better safety suites and more available options. Besides the Kicks and the EcoSport, the new Venue competes with the Chevrolet Trax, the Mazda CX-3, the Toyota CH-R and even the Kia Soul.
Driving the 2020 Venue
KBB recently drove a Stellar Silver 2020 Hyundai Venue SEL in the Miami area. Our first impression: Even though the 1.6-liter engine puts out only 121 horsepower, the 2020 Venue felt reasonably peppy, with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that’s tuned to “shift” like a traditional automatic transmission. Although CVTs are commonly criticized, the one in the Venue felt good, with impressive off-the-line response and relaxed low-rpm highway cruising.
On the highway at 60 mph, the Venue tachometer indicated a relaxed 2,000 rpm, accompanied by minimal road and wind noise. What’s more, head room in the Venue, even with its optional sunroof, was excellent, and the view out the rather upright windshield was great. In fact, the view out of the Venue was excellent in all directions, and it’s easy to sense where the four corners of the vehicle are, which is a big help in tight parking lots or cities.
The ride quality of the new Venue felt comfortable but slightly firm, and the electrically assisted steering required a natural effort. Unlike the Kona, which has independent rear suspension, the Venue is equipped with a torsion-beam rear axle, a simpler and less costly arrangement that works with long and upright shock absorbers that do not intrude too much on the generous cargo area. For the record, the Venue has 18.7 cubic feet of cargo room behind its rear seat, which is nearly as much as the Kona’s 19.2.
In the Normal Drive mode, the Venue powertrain responds in typical fashion to throttle inputs; in Sport mode, Hyundai, by keeping the CVT in lower ratios and the engine at higher rpm, makes the Venue respond much more crisply, aided further by sharper throttle tuning. Also on a positive note, Hyundai’s lane-keep assist program — which along with automatic emergency braking is standard on the Venue — proved effective but pleasantly restrained, quite unlike the abrupt steering corrections you get from some German manufacturers.
In our day-long drive, the Hyundai Venue returned 34.9 mpg, which jibes quite nicely with its EPA highway rating of 34 mpg (or 35 mpg with the 6-speed manual transmission).