2020 Hyundai Venue Review

2020 Hyundai Venue - The 2020 Hyundai Venue Denim Edition is a lively, practical, small SUV.


Price: $22,050

Pros-Distinctive. Fairly roomy. Upscale interior. Lively. Nimble. Safety items. Thrifty. Affordable.

Cons-Tight rear seat. Front-drive only. Occasional noisy engine. Bumpy road jerky ride. No steering feel.

Bottom Line-Cleverly designed and surprisingly upscale for the price.

The 2020 Hyundai Venue Denim Edition subcompact SUV once might have liked out of place in an SUV crossover market once dominated by mostly much larger vehicles. But why not a small SUV if it's done right? The Venue is such a vehicle. Hyundai calls it "unapologetically small."

No need to apologize. The $22,050 (without freight charge) Venue Denim Edition four-door hatchback is the smallest Hyundai SUV, but has room for four adults (five in a pinch).

Its surprisingly upscale interior, often just found in much costlier SUVs, has nicely shaped blue leatherette and denim seats (manual adjustment only), tilt/telescopic wheel with cruise and audio controls, push-button start, padded armrests, automatic climate control and an easily used 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system. Gauges can be quickly read, and there's a row of well-marked small dashboard buttons and several large climate system dials.

There's also Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, besides USB and 12-volt power ports. All materials are high grade, except for a mediocre-looking headliner. Curiously, a large rotary dial in the dashboard does nothing but show the interior temperature, as if someone forgot to give it a useful control function.  

Also, the Venue Denim Edition has no optional sunroof or manual transmission-they're offered on lesser Venue models.

The Denim Edition test vehicle has a boxy silhouette with tasteful cladding and chiseled angles, modestly high roof and special denim (blue of course) paint with body color door handles, a rather striking white roof and nice white paint touches above all wheels and the headlight trim. It's all very classy. The grille looks aggressive, and the vehicle has a wide stance.

The Venue's handy 99-inch wheelbase and 150-inch length makes it easy to park and maneuver. Granted, those with tall legs will wish they had a little more legroom behind a tall driver, but there's plenty of headroom for occupants to sit a bit higher than in a car and peer through large glass windows.

The nicely shaped but moderately sized cargo area has a somewhat high but wide opening beneath the hatch. Split-folding rear seat backs easily flip forward to greatly enlarge the cargo area.  

The four-cylinder engine is small at 1.6-liters and generates 121 horsepower and 113 lb./ft. of torque but has such features as two fuel injectors per cylinder and continuously variable valve timing. However, although the engine makes the Venue lively in town, it gets nosy when quick merges into fast traffic and passing above 65 m.p.h. are called for. That's because horsepower and torque aren't reached until high engine revs are attained because of the engine's size.

Still, the the Venue is quick off the line and the 0-60 m.p.h. time is a respectable 8.5 seconds. The Venue Denim Edition delivers an estimated 30 miles per gallon town and 34 on highways. There's an 11.9-gallon fuel tank.

All Venue models have the same engine. Excluding the $1,120 freight charge, they are the $17,350 SE, $19,250 SEL and $22,050 Denim Edition, which has the special paint and interior. Only the SE comes with the six-speed manual transmission (to be dropped for 2021); the other models have a smooth automatic CVT transmission, which can be manually shifted . A Driver can select Normal, Sport or Snow modes. I encountered no snow, and found Sport mode doesn't change the vehicle's response much.

Ground clearance isn't overly generous so drivers shouldn't try adventuresome off-road treks.

The ride is smooth on good pavement but gets choppy on bumpy roads. Steering is quick but lacks feel, leaving a driver to only guess what the front tires are doing. Handling is nimble, although there's slight body lean when taking expressway ramps at above-average speeds. However, electronic stability and traction controls, along with 55-series tires on 17-inch wheels help stability. The brake pedal has a nice linear action.

Safety features include forward collision avoidance assist with pedestrian detection, blind spot and rear cross-traffic collision warnings, driver attention warning, lane-keeping assist, rearview camera and front side impact and side curtain air bags.

The hood is unusually heavy for such a small vehicle and is held open with only a prop rod, but the engine compartment looks as neatly designed as the rest of the Venue.

Dan Jedlicka

Dan Jedlicka's Website

Dan Jedlicka joined the Chicago Sun-Times in February 1968 as a business news reporter and was named auto editor later that year. He has reviewed more than 4,000 new vehicles for the Sun-Times--far more than any newspaper auto writer in the country. Jedlicka also reviewed vehicles for Microsoft Corp.'s MSN Autos Internet site from January, 1996, to June, 2008.

Jedlicka remained auto editor at the Sun-Times until October, 2008, and continued writing for the newspaper's AutoTimes section, which he started in 1992, until February, 2009. While continuing his auto writings at the Sun-Times, he served as assistant financial editor of that newspaper from 1970 to 1973, when he began his automotive column.

He has appeared on numerous radio and television shows, including NBC's "Today," ABC's "20/20" and "The CBS Evening News." He was a host, consultant and writer for Fox-TV Channel 32's 1991 New Car Preview show and that Chicago-based station's 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995 Chicago Auto Show Previews.

Jedlicka's auto articles have been printed in national magazines, including Esquire and Harper's. His auto columns have been reprinted in U.S. government publications and economic textbooks and he is profiled in the "World's Greatest Auto Show" history book about the Chicago Auto Show. In late 1975, Jedlicka was host and technical advisor for three one-hour television specials, "Auto Test 76," which aired nationally on PBS and were the first nationally televised auto road test shows.

In 1995, Jedlicka was the recipient of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois Inc.'s Consumer Education Award, given annually to a person who has gained distinction in the field of consumer education. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Media category and inducted into the Legends of Motorsports Guild at the Carquest World of wheels custom car show in Chicago in January, 2006.

Jedlicka was a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year jury, composed of a select number of auto journalists from throughout the country, from 1995 until 2009. From 2010 to 2012, he was a member of Consumer Digest magazine's auto experts panel that gave Best Buy new vehicle recommendations.

He is a 1987 graduate of the Bob Bondurant Race Drivers School and later of the BMW "M" and Skip Barber Advanced Driving schools. He was a member of the U.S. team that participated in the 1987 1,000-mile Mille Miglia race/rally in Italy and has been a race winner at the Chicago area's Santa Fe Speedway.

Jedlicka has owned 25 classic cars, including 1950s and 1960s Ferraris and 1950s and 1960s Porsches, a 1965 Corvette, a 1967 Maserati and a 1957 Studebaker supercharged Golden Hawk. Jedlicka resides with his wife, Suzanne, in the Frank Lloyd Wright historic district of Oak Park. They have two children, James and Michele.

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