The 2020 Hyundai Venue
From the February 2020 print edition
A new segment is emerging in the automotive market: tiny, front-wheel drive budget crossovers.
Sedan sales continue to fall at a precipitous rate—74 per cent of all vehicles sold in Canada were light trucks in 2019, meaning SUVs and pick-ups—and that trend is expected to deepen over the coming months and years. This has led some automakers such as Ford and General Motors to drop most of their car line-ups entirely.
Several other brands are taking different approaches, though, including Hyundai. While small cars remain in the Korean marque’s line-up, the all-new Hyundai Venue addresses these shifting market preferences by offering a budget-friendly crossover alternative to the compact sedan. This is about as frugal as a crossover is going to get, and at the moment the Venue sits in a pleasant niche without a lot of direct competition.
Still, its pricing does tend to lean a little higher: the subcompact hatchback Hyundai Accent with which the Venue shares a platform starts at $16,585 with freight and PDI, while the Venue starts at $19,036—and both of those prices are with a manual transmission.Add in the optional CVT, and those entry points go up to $19,335 and $20,336 respectively. This means that the functional difference for most applications is roughly $1,000, which isn’t quite as far apart as the base prices but is certainly more than zero. Where style is any sort of concern, though, the crossover is the way to go these days.
Under the hood
All grades are fitted with the same engine, a 1.6-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder that produces 121hp and 113lbs-ft of torque at 4,500rpm. These numbers look low on paper, but in practice the Venue’s maximum curb weight of approximately 1,250kg keeps it feeling relatively energetic in spite of its engine. Getting going from a stop is where the lower power comes across the most, and drivers who prefer a bit of kick might be inclined to stomp on the throttle to encourage things along, which can come with a sacrifice in fuel economy.
Since kick has come up, it’s worth noting that the Nissan Kicks, the Venue’s most direct competition, has a lower curb weight (max 1,215kg), better fuel economy (7.7/6.6), equivalent power figures (122hp, 114lbs-ft at 4,000rpm), and more spritely handling, though it does come with a slightly higher CVT entry-level price of $21,240.
The Kicks also outdoes the Venue on wheel size at lower
trims, sporting 16-inch steel wheels to the Venue’s 15-inchers (steel at Essential, alloy at Preferred), until they both even out to 17 inches at their mid-priced grades.
Where the Venue pulls ahead is in base-model features. Heated front seats and outboard mirrors are included from the entry level, as is an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality. (It isn’t possible to equip satellite radio on the Venue at all, however, while on the Kicks these features all become integrated at the SV grade.)
Several desirable safety technologies are available on the Venue—forward collision avoidance with pedestrian detection, blind spot warning, lane keep assist, and rear cross-traffic collision warning—but they aren’t included until the Preferred grade, while this equipment is standard on the Kicks. That said, the Venue also offers Hyundai’s driver attention alert system at that same price point, which can be a valuable feature in certain applications.
In situations where comfort, technology features and a trendy crossover body style are called for at low price points, the new Hyundai Venue shines. However, the value proposition isn’t quite as stark at higher trim levels, and some cross-shopping may therefore be called for when higher budgets are in play.