The death of the compact car seems to be getting closer and closer. Although Hyundai is still making a few cars, this all-new Venue is sure to appeal to more buyers than the Accent or Elantra. So is it a good replacement to the traditional compact car?
Engine – The 2020 Hyundai Venue is only available with a 1.6L 4-cylinder engine. It’s not turbocharged or supercharged nor hybridized, it’s just a simple naturally aspirated 1.6L engine. It produces 121 hp and 113 lb-ft of torque at 4,500 rpm. The power figures suggest that this is a slow subcompact crossover and you’d be right in thinking that. Car and Driver tested the 0-60 mph (0-96 km/h) sprint to be 8.5 seconds, an eternity by modern standards. What’s worse is when trying to merge on a highway or overtaking. The maneuvers require a lot of planning and patience by the driver otherwise you’ll have a much faster vehicle right on your back bumper.
The upside (in theory) to having such a small engine is for improved fuel economy. The 2020 Venue is rated for 7.0 L/100km (33.6 mpg) on a highway and 8.0 L/100km (29.4 mpg) in a city. However, the reason why I say “in theory” is because a small engine like this has to work harder to get the vehicle moving. Although the Venue weighs at most 1,251 kg (varies by trim), the engine requires to use more fuel to get up to speed or if the driver accelerates at the same rate of surrounding traffic. As a result, my combined fuel economy figure for the week with the Venue was around 8.5 L/100km (27.7 mpg).
Transmission – The base Essential trim of the Venue is equipped with a 6-speed manual transmission as standard. An Intelligent Continuously Variable transmission (IVT) is optional on the base trim and standard across all other trims. The IVT is pretty much just like any other CVT transmission but it is a bit better to respond to driver inputs. It doesn’t feel like there’s a delay from the time the driver puts their foot down on the throttle to the time the car actually gets moving.
Braking – With a weight of 1,251 kg, the Hyundai Venue doesn’t require large brakes to bring it to a stop. Under hard braking or emergency situations, the Venue feels stable and stops in a straight line. Automatic emergency braking is available but only on the Preferred and Ultimate trims which is a bit odd. I can understand not having it on the base Essential trim but the mid Urban trim is one step below the top Ultimate trim and yet it is not available with any advanced safety features.
Handling – For a high riding hatchback, the 2020 Hyundai Venue is actually a pretty good car to drive around corners. It’s by no means a sporty hatch like a Golf GTi but it doesn’t feel like a boring point A to B type of transportation. Steering effort is on the lighter side however it doesn’t feel unconnected to the front wheels and it is precise. All-wheel-drive though is not available on the Venue. You’ll have to opt for the slightly larger Hyundai Kona if AWD is a necessity.
Ride Comfort – Usually small vehicles with short wheelbases tend to have a bouncier ride due to the inherent nature of a short wheelbase. But this 2020 Hyundai Venue is actually pretty comfortable on most road surfaces. Big bumps or deep potholes will send a jolt throughout the cabin but over moderate or smaller potholes, the ride is quite comfortable.
Interior Space – With the tall roofline, all occupants have a lot of headroom. Legroom is a different story if you’re an adult stuck in the back seats. Sitting behind my 6’4” driving position, it feels like my knees are around my ears. But on the positive, the higher driving position makes it easy to get in and out of the crossover. The trunk is relatively spacious at 355 L (12.5 cu-ft) of cargo with the rear seats up and up to 1,148 L (40.5 cu-ft) with the rear seats folded flat.
Noise, Vibration, & Harshness – This is not the quietest crossover when on the move. The engine can get buzzy when it needs to rev past 2,000 rpms to get the car moving. There’s also quite a bit of road noise intruding into the cabin at higher speeds such as when on a highway.
Odds and Ends
Gadgets – The Venue starts at $17,099 CAD ($17,350 USD) which is significantly less expensive than the starting price of its closest competitor; the Nissan Kicks. It also comes equipped with most features that one would want and need in a relatively inexpensive subcompact crossover. Heated seats, an 8” touchscreen infotainment system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, and bluetooth are all standard. The Nissan Kicks doesn’t get these features as standard but it does come with advanced safety features as standard and a CVT whereas the IVT on the Venue is a $1,300 CAD option on the base trim.
But standard features aside, this Ultimate trim adds on a sunroof, navigation, heated steering wheel, automatic climate control, and advanced safety features such as lane keep assist and blind spot sensors. The price for the Ultimate trim is $24,998 CAD ($22,050 USD, Denim trim).
Interior Design – Like many other Hyundai vehicles, the interior buttons and switches are arranged in such a way that it feels natural to anyone who climbs into the vehicle. The HVAC controls are simple to use and are positioned where you expect them to be. The radio controls are simple to use with both a volume and tuning knob. There are also funky design cues such as the colour accents around the HVAC knobs and air vents. Those accents also extend to the leather steering wheel stitching and seat stitching. However, the only color accent you can have is either White or Acid Yellow.
The materials are ok for the price of the crossover. This upper trim has the aforementioned leather wrapped steering wheel and leather wrapped shifter but the rest of the interior materials are plastics. Leather seats are not available but the cloth upholstery doesn’t feel cheap and is definitely not super cold or super hot like leather when the car has been sitting outside in the winter or summer.
Exterior Design – Technically this is considered a subcompact crossover SUV and as such its exterior styling reflects the SUV nature. It has black plastic cladding along the wheel arches and lower parts of the body. The front grille is reminiscent of its Santa Fe bigger brother and the overall shape is more chunky, much like an SUV. Overall the exterior design is unique in its own right but it’s not as offensive as the 2020 Hyundai Sonata. At least to my eyes.
In all the 2020 Hyundai Venue is essentially a compact hatchback car that just happens to have a bit more interior space and a higher driving position. It is primarily aimed at millennials who instead of looking for a used vehicle, can get into a new crossover with full warranty for a relatively similar price. But at $24,899 CAD, it’s $1,000 more expensive than the top trim Nissan Kicks. If you are in the market for a new subcompact crossover, take a look at the Preferred trim (SE trim in USA) of the Hyundai Venue. It comes with a lot of standard features along with advanced safety features and is $500 less expensive than the equivalent Nissan Kicks.
Thank you to Hyundai Canada for providing the vehicle. www.HyundaiCanada.com