Review: 2020 Hyundai Venue Trend
Giving the people what they want.
THE PROS & CONS
- What’s Good: Good feature content, especially at lower trims.
- What’s Bad: Neither as engaging or as efficient a drive as the competition.
“There it is!”
This is not an expression of surprise. It’s an expression of humour.
My best friend and I have just exited a mall – I’m not much of a shopper, to be honest, but everyone needs to replace their clothes eventually – and we’re walking with our purchases back toward where we parked.
Sometimes, this means going in circles and tapping unlock buttons on a key fob to make lights flash and horns beep. Not this time, though. Despite the diminutive dimensions of the Hyundai Venue, we can spot its acid green accents clear across the parking lot. That exclamation of discovery, made from well over a football field away, is followed by light-hearted laughter.
Few of the people who take this car home will choose this dramatic colour combination. But the fact that it’s an option at all speaks volumes about who Hyundai has in mind for this newest entry into the subcompact crossover segment: the youthful driver, the first-time buyer, the look-at-me types. It’s an urban car through and through, for people who want to see and be seen.
The Venue is an entirely new product for the Korean brand, slotting into the brand’s line-up below the already tiny Kona, and it’s sold only as front-wheel drive. The resulting lower-cost pricing structure puts it into the same conversation as the upcoming Kia Seltos (about which few details are known yet), the Toyota C-HR, and the car that by many measures provides the closest competition, the Nissan Kicks.
The New First Car
It’s no secret that SUVs are in fashion right now: nearly 75 of new cars sold in Canada in 2019 were light trucks, meaning either pick-ups or SUVs. That doesn’t mean that the market for the economical small vehicle has gone away; it’s just that those buyers are asking for cars that look like what their neighbours are driving. The Venue takes the same platform used in the Accent, Hyundai’s smallest car, and drops a crossover body on top. It’s the definition of giving the people – or in this case, the fashion-conscious first-time buyers – what they want.
What remains to be seen is whether those buyers want something that’s quite this edgy. Even without the brightly coloured accessories, the Venue’s grid-like grille design, split lighting treatment, and angular stamping are distinctive. On the other hand, the Toyota C-HR goes a fair way further down this road. For the moment the Venue is arguably the best-looking car in its segment, but that’s pulling from a relatively small sample size.
The interior stands out enough to merit special mention, though, not only in its two-tone treatment but in the quality of the materials and finish, both of which are very good for this price point. And if you opt for the green accents after all, then you’ll be able to see every touch point in your peripheral vision and will never need to take your eyes off the road again. One minor gripe: the dashboard shelf is evidently coming back into vogue, and I’ve never been a fan of it. It’s too easy a place for dust and junk to accumulate. But Hyundai’s not alone in applying this design element, so studies must be telling automakers that my opinion on this is the minority view.
I appreciate the thoughtfulness behind Hyundai’s two-stage cargo floor, which can be left on its highest setting to align with the rear seats when they’re dropped, or it can be lowered to add a little more volume to the standard position’s 355 litres of cargo space. That’s still tight where storage capacity is concerned, but put those seats back up and the second row offers enough space and comfort for the average-sized adult. It’s also nice to see front-row space well used through measures like recessing the cup holders to keep drinks out of the way and leaving a space for a phone to rest just ahead of the shift lever.
All grades are equal under the hood, where a 1.6-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine makes 121 hp and 113 lb-ft of torque that peaks at 4,500 rpm. It’s important to add the Venue’s curb weight of 1,250 kg to this discussion, which helps it to feel a little sprightlier than these figures might otherwise suggest. It’s only when getting going from a stop that things noticeably drag while waiting for the continuously variable transmission to get things moving. People who drive the way I do might be inclined to lean a little too heavily on the throttle at lower speeds to help move things along.
This also might help explain my fuel consumption results for the week, which landed bang on the Natural Resources Canada combined rating of 7.5 L/100 km. I’d hoped to do better, and when I put some effort into it, I did – the numbers started dropping quickly. That said, the Kicks does outperform the Venue on this point on paper (7.2 L/100 km), as well as in weight (1,215 kg max), and in power output (122 hp/114 lb-ft at 4,000 rpm), and – in my experience, at least – in responsiveness and handling. If drive experience matters most to you, you may find you’re better served by heading in that direction.
But if you’re looking for good feature content on a budget, this is where the Venue gets back its traction. Heated front seats and outboard mirrors are standard, as is an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility. In a Kicks, you need to spring for the SV grade to get these features. But satellite radio fans, take note: SiriusXM can’t be equipped on a Venue at all.
By the time you get to this Trend grade in the Venue, there’s a stout list of safety features for the price: forward collision avoidance with pedestrian detection, blind spot warning, lane keep assist, and rear cross-traffic collision warning are all included here. If you’re spending less, though, the Kicks makes these features standard equipment, so you’ll need to weigh which features you feel are most important.
For those shopping at the budget end of the Venue’s trims, there’s an attractive package here, especially where cold weather features are concerned. Further up the grade walk, though, feature content evens out and aspects like fuel consumption and drive feel become more present factors. While I’d be leaning more toward the Nissan Kicks were I shopping in this segment, style will win a lot of people over here, and the Venue’s mix of edgy looks, pleasing proportions, and opportunities for individuality could be the clincher for a lot of buyers.
2020 Hyundai Venue Trend
BODY STYLE: Subcompact crossover
CONFIGURATION: Front-engine, front-wheel drive
POWER: 1.6-litre 4-cylinder; 121 hp, 113 lb-ft of torque from 4,500 rpm
TRANSMISSION: Continuously variable transmission
FUEL ECONOMY: (L/100km) 8.0 city/7.0 hwy/7.5 combined
PRICE: $24,536.20 as tested, including freight and PDI
WEBSITE: Venue Trend