The 2020 Hyundai Venue proves how much the automotive industry has changed. When consumers now shop for a new car, the list of criteria has become rather long. People now want a vehicle that’s hip, cool, fun, practical, and overall, cheap. And that’s precisely what the Venue tries to deliver, and rather succeeds. More importantly, it proves once more that consumers no longer want the classic body shape of a car, but rather the one of an SUV.
Charmingly Well Packaged
Say what you will about what the 2020 Hyundai Venue is trying to be – let alone its dorky looks -, but you have to admire what Hyundai is offering here for the price. Remember, this sits at the very bottom of its lineup, replacing the Hyundai Accent subcompact due to slow sales. For consumers on a budget, or simply those looking for a simple, light-footprint compact city car, the Venue is actually rather brilliant.When I say it’s replacing the Hyundai Accent, I actually mean that this is a Hyundai Accent. After all, that car had just been heavily overhauled in 2017, just three years before being removed from our market. The Venue therefore rides on the Accent’s platform, utilizes the Accent’s drivetrain, but offers the “rugged” look North-American consumers so desperately think they need.Yet somehow, the Venue makes less power than the Accent, possibly related the fact that Hyundai engineers tried to keep a low fuel consumption rating while dealing with the vehicle’s higher stance. It’s rated here at 121 horsepower (down nine), with torque dropping from 119 to 113 lb-ft. The only transmission available is a continuously variable automatic (CVT). Like its main rival, the Nissan Kicks, the Venue is only available with front-wheel-drive. Yes, you read that right. There’s no all-wheel-drive option.Pricing is really where the 2020 Hyundai Venue becomes interesting, and rather charming. While yes, at $17,099, it’s $2,000 more expensive than the Accent was, but you’re also getting that much more car for your dollar. Cargo space, for instance, grows almost 300 liters when the rear seats are up (902 versus 616 liters).The Venue also offers more overall headroom front and back, and comes standard with some neat features like heated seats and Android Auto/Apple CarPlay connectivity. The best value in my book is the well-equipped Preferred model at $21, 499. However, you can’t have a power sunroof unless you opt for the Venue Trend at $22,599.The model you see here is obviously the top-spec trim level. Called the Venue Ultimate, it stickers for $22,899 and adds a list of superficial items like a set of funky looking 17-inch wheels and a slew of safety technology.
Yeah, Sure, Why Not?
The Venue is a vehicle I had a lot of prejudice for because it’s not all-wheel-drive. After all, why get a crossover if it only sends power to the front wheels. It’s also easy to make fun of it for looking so weird. But after spending some seat time in one, I quickly warmed up to it.Because like all Hyundai/Kia products of late, the Venue doesn’t feel nor drive like a cheap product, even if it’s Hyundai’s least expensive vehicle. Build quality is impeccable, the materials used inside are actually above average here, and passenger space is rather great considering how small the vehicle is. The car also has a darty, nimble feel to it that makes you want to come back for more.Unsurprisingly, fuel economy is this thing’s tour de force. While I had Venue, during a warm summer week with AC on most of the time, I easily averaged fuel consumption ratings under the 7.5L/100 km mark, which puts it in a similar ballpark as other subcompact cars and crossovers.That said, don’t expect the 2020 Hyundai Venue to be quick off the line or particularly refined. Acceleration is lethargic, which means this little rascal needs to work hard to keep up with highway traffic. The engine is also buzzy and loud, especially when it’s solicited.Wind noise was also on the high side and, for some reason, the darn thing was constantly moving about at highway speeds, requiring me to stay focused on the road. My hypothesis for this is that the high roof and low weight make it the Venue vulnerable to crosswinds.However, what I did love about this car is how it responds to aggressive driving. It just loves to be thrashed. Smash the throttle pedal, which you’ll do often due to the lack of power, and the CVT gearbox responds like a standard automatic unit, slamming the revs up high in the rev counter in order to provide all the power you need. I also found the Venue’s controls to be simple, well-laid out and ergonomically superb. However I still can’t get my around the offset infotainment screen in the middle of the dash. Check it out!As you all know, I’m a big fan of cheap, simple cars that just work, and the 2020 Hyundai Venue totally nails that promise. Sure, it’s trying to be something it’s not, but if that body shape allows Hyundai to sell more of them, then so be it.The simplicity of execution here, associated with the impeccable build quality and straight-forwardness of its drivetrain mean it shouldn’t be plagued with too many reliability issues down the road. After all, the Accent was a great little car, one that helped forge Hyundai a reputation for reliable cheap cars, and the Venue simply carries over that torch.For a student, a first driver or simply a budget-conscious consumer looking for a cheap and reliable way to get around town, then yes, the Venue is totally worth a shot. Just don’t expect it to be anything like an actual sport utility vehicle.
Review of the 2020 Hyundai Venue by William Clavey
- Tremendous value
- Spacious and practical
- Nimble and fun to drive
- Lacks power
- Buzzy engine
- Clumsy high-speed road manners
7 / 10
Clavey’s Corner is located in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Prices and trim levels discussed in this article reflect the Canadian car market.
Special thanks: Hyundai Canada
Photography: Guillaume Fournier
Contact the author: [email protected]