The 2020 Hyundai Venue is a delightful, affordable, entry-level crossover. This review is for the most basic SE model which is priced $17,250 with basic floor and cargo mats, and wheel locks adding $305, and a $1,095 delivery, for a total of $18,650 before trades, discounts and negotiations. As of this writing, there is a $500 offer; and you might qualify for others. All in for under $20,000 is almost hard to accomplish today, especially in the popular crossover segment. The 2020 Venue drives better than the price would imply.
The base transmission is a 6-speed manual, and that is the one tested here. Coupled to the 1.6L 121 horsepower inline 4-cylinder, it delivered a reasonable response, with smooth shifting. The power delivery was sufficient, but would not be mistaken for any hint of sportiness. It delivered the best take-off in the higher rev band and was a bit slow to come off of rev at shifts and deceleration. On this very wet, winter day, it still was sufficient to feel like it could break some traction up until the traction control would kick in. The shifter has good placement, solid feel, easy fit in the hand and was instantly comfortable.
First impressions out on the road were the immediate presence of the standard lane keep assist. It’s worth noting the defeat button is very handily to the immediate left of the steering wheel. For testing, this was left on. It did above average on delivering just the right amount of nudging and cajoling you to maintain what it deemed was perfectly centered. When the lane got wider than average, it preferred to hug the inside curves. The system demonstrated admirable capability to follow all the roads tested, and immediately gained our trust.
A second standard feature that should be standard in this time of increased distractions, is forward collisions assistive technology. No attempt was made to deliver any panic stops, but when one car ahead slowed for a left turn, the system demanded and got our attention to be alert at that time. This was during very light traffic in rural areas, and no observations in heavier city traffic noted similar intrusions in our drives.
The interior strikes a great balance between simple, straightforward design, with the nod towards today’s minimum entry-level tech. The design is clean, with good fitting pieces, and the appropriate level of physical buttons and knobs. The 8″ touchscreen is below the horizon line and feels well placed. Standard are Apple’s CarPlay (wired) and Android Auto. Storage space was a bit below expectations on this base model, mainly due to the unavailable center console on the SE. This was felt to be the most missed ‘basic’ convenience during our time with the Venue.
Seating surfaces include cloth and synthetic leather. They provided good, basic support and comfort. Certainly, there exist many examples of far worse seats. Visibility from the driver’s seat is superb. The main attraction of crossovers is the upright, more commanding view, and while this one is not the tallest of cars, the awareness of all four corners brings confidence at the first drive. Rear seat passengers will find their knees are likely not afforded the comfort needed, and long journeys might be trying for all but small children.
The rear hatch styling has surprisingly good visibility, similar but better the the Ford Escape. The hatch reveals a nice (optional) cargo mat, under which a real spare and (also optional) locking wheel nuts reside. Folding the rear seat opens up a roomy flat-floored cargo area, transitioning from 18.7 to 31.9 cu feet.
Having heard some initial comments about the Venue, the most striking thing is this is not super-small. It has a much better feel and road presence than the old Scion xA for instance. Not dissimilar than a Kia Soul, but with more traditional styling that should appeal to those that think the Kia is a bit boxy and/or faddish.
Fuel economy was not measured during our drive, but EPA rated at 27/35/30 for our base SE manual-equipped car. That is unexpectedly lower than what some feel this should deliver. It will be interesting to see what real-world reports will show, and would not be surprised if higher economy would be the norm.
The 2020 Hyundai Venue SE 6-speed manual 1.6L is one of the best entry-level crossovers, that places emphasis on affordability one can find on dealer lots, as we did. It drives bigger, better and far quieter than expected. The safety features that come standard worked above expectations and better than some moderately priced cars as well.
James grew up in an Indiana community where the auto industry was at its heart. His first car was an Olds 442, and many of his classmates had their father’s hand-me-down muscle cars. Met his wife in college. They have three children. Survived esophageal cancer. Is passionate about enjoying his second chance and his automotive interests further that goal.