Monday, March 23, 2020

IN THE DRIVEWAY: The 2020 Hyundai Venue


Small is big - at least in the SUV world. For a long time, Hyundai's Tucson was the brand's smallest SUV, but a couple of years ago, they came out with an even smaller SUV - the Kona. Now for 2020, Hyundai has out did themselves again. Meet the newest, smallest SUV in the brand's lineup - the Hyundai Venue.

The Hyundai Venue has a lot going for it. First and foremost, it carries a very cheap price tag with the base SE model starting at $18,550 - making it one of the least expensive new cars on sale today. Read on, as that price can get even lower. My mid-grade SEL trim, and with both the convenience and premium packages has an MSRP of $23,405.

The Venue's small size gives it a cute appearance. It's five inches shorter than the already small Kona sibling, yet it still is capable of seating five passengers.

Of those five passengers, the driver and front passenger have it best with plenty of leg and head room. Backseat passengers may wish for more legroom, as it's in short supply due to the Venue's short wheelbase. But really, when you have a vehicle the size of the Venue, how many times are you going to have full grown adults in the back?

The rest of the interior is nicely done with a great infotainment system atop the dash, and controls and buttons that Hyundai is famous for. Look closely and you can see where corners were cut - lack of padded areas (like on the center console and door arm rests) and the use of cheap plastics. These things don't stand out, but they do exist.

Hyundai offers the Venue in three trim levels: SE, SEL, and Denim. The Denim model is interesting in that it a features a two-tone roof option paired to a sleek-looking denim-colored cloth and faux leather interior.

When it comes to the powertrain, all Venue's are fitted with a 1.6 liter four-cylinder that makes a measly 121 hp. It's teamed up with a CVT automatic transmission that sends the power to the front wheels. All-wheel drive is not an option. But what is an option, at least on the base SE model, is a six-speed manual transmission. Going that route saves $1200 on the MSRP, bringing it down to just $17,350. This is when it pays to know how to drive a stick.

On the road, the Venue doesn't stir up much in the way of driving excitement. The deficiency in power is felt, even when in Sport mode, and worse, the engine sounds coarse and strained when it's pressed upon. But being slow pays off by bringing in 30 mpg in town (and 34 mpg on the highway).

One thing Hyundai is consistent with is packing low-price vehicles with features, and the Venue is no exception. Every Venue comes with an 8-inch color touchscreen — the largest in the segment — both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and advanced safety aids such as frontal collision avoidance with pedestrian detection, lane keeping assist and driver attention monitoring. Blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert systems are optional.

It seems as if the small crossover market is growing by the day, giving buyers many vehicles to choose from. The Venue is yet another one of those choices. It may not be best crossover, but it sure is priced right. And to many, that's all that matters.