You might think that Hyundai had plugged every possible niche in its utility-vehicle lineup. The new 2020 Venue clearly shows that wasn’t the case.
After introducing the range-topping eight-passenger Palisade for the 2019 model year, Hyundai is addressing the small end of the lineup with the sub-compact Venue. It slots below the Kona — another relative newbie — and joins what becomes an eight-model lineup of wagons and hatchbacks that also includes the Tucson, Santa Fe, Veloster, Elantra GT and Nexo Fuel Cell.
The made-in-Korea Venue is currently sold in other countries, which likely explains why it has a distinctively international appearance. Many other Hyundai models are styled in the United States. Still, the tall roofline and generously sized windshield and side and rear glass play to the Venue’s practical nature.
The body lines are crisp and the front and rear overhangs are minimal, which suggests that the Venue is ready to play beyond where the pavement ends. That territory remains outside the little Hyundai’s comfort zone since all-wheel-drive is not available. Not that it should be of great concern for buyers of more basic transportation since other competing models, most notably the similarly sized and shaped Nissan Kicks, are also strictly front-wheel-drive.
The Venue provides a decent amount of space despite being 13 centimetres shorter than the Kona. The Venue is only about 2.5 centimetres narrower, but it’s slightly taller and has nearly the same amount of stowage room behind the rear seat (with the height-adjustable cargo floor in the lowered position).
Where the Venue ultimately falls short is in maximum roominess with the back seat folded forward. The Kona has an advantage of nearly 45 per cent. The Venue is, however, spacious enough to comfortably seat four adults, and five in a pinch.
The dashboard is a paragon of simplicity with easy-to-use knobs and switches for the audio and climate controls. The standard 20-centimetre touch-screen is propped up between twin air vents. The speedometer and tachometer, separated by a small info screen, are clearly marked and easy to read. Instead of an electronic parking brake, note the old-school manual handle.
The Venue has just one engine choice: The 1.6-litre four-cylinder is rated at 121 horsepower and 113 pound-feet of torque. Although not particularly potent, the output is typical of other category members. It also only has about 1,180-kilograms of curb weight to move around.
A six-speed manual transmission comes with the base trim, while a continuously variable transmission (CVT) is optional.
Fuel consumption with the CVT is rated at 8.0 l/100 km in the city, 7.0 on the highway and 7.5 combined.
Along with saving money at the pumps, the Venue has an economical base price of $19,200, (including destination fees) for the base Essential trim with a manual transmission. The CVT adds $1,300. Content includes air conditioning, heated front seats and a four-speaker audio system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.
The Preferred trim level adds a number of active safety-technologies (including forward collision warning and lane-keeping assist), plus climate control, roof rails and 15-inch alloy wheels instead of steel. The Trend gets you a power sunroof, heated steering wheel and 17-inch wheels.
The Ultimate comes with rear disc brakes (instead of drums), climate control, navigation system and front and rear LED lighting.
In addition, Preferred, Trend and Ultimate models have a Snow Mode Select setting that provides added front-wheel traction that’s specifically modulated for winter driving conditions.
Although the Venue doesn’t qualify for family duty, as a short-haul commuter/grocery getter, it checks off most boxes and might be your kind of niche.
What you should know: 2020 Hyundai Venue
Type: Front-wheel-drive subcompact utility vehicle
Engine (h.p.): 1.6-litre DOHC four-cylinder (121)
Transmission: Six-speed manual; continuously variable (opt.)
Market position: Like many of its competitors, the Venue has the appeal of an off-roader, but it doesn’t have the all-terrain capability to back up the image. For most buyers, style comes first, along with price and economy of operation.
Points: The Venue will appeal to the hearts and wallets of buyers. • Modest interior appointments are far from luxurious, but the controls are simple. • The four-cylinder engine is more about operating economy than performance; a small-displacement turbo-engine option would likely do well. • The base Venue is decently equipped and attractively priced.
Active safety: Blind-spot warning with cross-traffic backup alert (opt.); active cruise control (opt.); forward-collision alert; pedestrian detection (opt.);
distracted driver alert (opt.)
L/100 km (city/hwy) 8.0/7.0 (CVT); Base price (incl. destination) $19,200
Base price: $20,100
Budget-based FWD wagon is similar to the Venue in style and price.
Base price: $27,100
Tiny utility vehicle comes with a turbo I-3 or a non-turbo I-4. AWD is optional.
Base price: $23,000 (est.)
New-for-2021, it has three- and four-cylinder engine choices. AWD is optional.
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-written by Malcom Gunn, Managing Partner at Wheelbase Media