Just what Hyundai pined for...yet another crossover.
Two years ago, the South Korean automaker debuted its largest five-door crossover to date, the three-row Palisade, earning accolades from the greater motoring press. Now Hyundai addresses the other end of the trendy spectrum with high expectations concerning the lineup's least-big crossover.
While packing a three-row crossover such as Palisade full of high-tech niceties makes marketing sense, offering similar expectations in an entry-level-sized product combined with entry-level pricing remains a thornier proposition.
Consider entry-specific vehicles a gateway, or first step, into any given automaker's lineup. Since no second chances exist to make a good first impression, the stronger the entry effort, the better the odds of brand loyalty taking hold. Hyundai's all-new 2020 Venue is all in and tempting.
Hyundai now boasts half-dozen crossovers of varying sizes. Crossovers remain a consumer favorite even as Covid 19 looms large. Sedans and the funky Veloster, showcasing three side doors, also dot Hyundai lots with nary a pickup truck in sight.
Pitting the all-new Venue against other company crossovers, its overall length measures 158.9 inches, shortest available. The closest compatriot is the compact Kona at 164.0 inches, but Venue stands taller by half an inch.
The front-wheel-drive Venue offers three trims: SE, SEL and lower-volume blue-hued Denim (as in denim jeans with an available contrasting white roof). Entry SE comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission while SEL upgrades with intelligent variable transmission (no foot clutch employed when shifting, similar to a traditional automatic transmission) which Hyundai utilizes successfully in other compact four-cylinder models. Its Hyundai's in-house branding of a continuously variable transmission (CVT), prioritizing fuel-savings vs. performance. The IVT is a $1,200 SE option.
Price sensitivity, a major concern of first-time new-car shoppers, gets addressed with starting numbers below the $20,000 ceiling. Don't expect a bare bones skeleton on wheels as this perky newcomer does a decent job of including current must-have items and unexpected-yet welcome surprises:
+ For starters Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, two Smartphone interplays, come standard allowing downloadable phone 'Applications' to play through Venue's eight-inch, on-dash, tough-sensitive flat screen.
+ A nice array of radar-enhanced safety nuances come standard. A decade earlier, these were privy primarily to upscale luxury offerings. Now, Venue includes items like lane keep assist and forward collision warning with pedestrian detection standard, all working to prevent fender benders and accidents from occurring in the first place.
+ A drive mode dial offering three selections: normal, sport and snow; resides between front buckets. The snow option offers an extra layer of grip, useful during the snow season in this front-wheel-drive vehicle.
+ Cruise control comes standard with touch commands located at 3 o'clock on the steering wheel face. At 9 o'clock, secondary audio functions assist with volume control and station presets without hands leaving the wheel.
+ Another notable item; a temporary spare tire snuggled under the two-stage cargo floor. Several competitors quietly severed ties with this handy orb in the name of weight savings and/or de-contenting.
+ As with all Hyundai's sold in the U.S., an industry leading 10-year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty comes standard, one of the longest-durations offered; helping Venue stand apart from fellow entry-level products. This length of coverage only applies to the original owner.
+ Building upon the powertrain warranty, Hyundai introduced 'Complimentary Maintenance' coverage earlier this year for new vehicles purchased after Feb. 1. This three year/36,000-mile program most notably covers periodic oil/filter changes and tire rotation.
Behind the wheel, gobs of headroom await front occupants, even if opting for the power sunroof. During past eras, sunroofs often encroached upon roof heights. Electronic push button start comes standard.
Simple and easy-to-interpret best describe the interior layout. The instrument panel includes two circular analog gauges with a multi-paneled center digital window scrollable via steering wheel buttons. Ventilation controls employ two dials with integrated push panels. A larger center orb, with cool blue digital readouts and icons, separates dials. Front and rear defroster buttons nestle between. Underneath resides a cove for Smartphone storage and plug ports. Additional cove storage is on board above the single-bin pull-down glove box.
The basic four-speaker sound system wisely includes two black twist knobs controlling volume and station select; some 'advanced' systems have bypassed these tactile mainstays with frustrating results. The volume dial measures about three-times the size of its mate, a creative distinction between the duo. Between dials reside eight push buttons interacting with the touch screen above.
Second-row seatbacks fold with a 60/40 split inviting greater cargo-carrying opportunities. Fold seating down, and 31.9 cubic feet of space awaits behind the first row. When prone, two adults fit with optimal comfort, although Hyundai promotes Venue as a five seater. Cloth remains the fabric of choice, but Denim trims update to a cloth/leatherette mix.
The 1.6-liter, four-cylinder, 121 horsepower power plant coupled with the IVT is comforting, but not ready to sweep many zero-to-60 competitions; acceptable for an entry-level offering. Save those beefy horsepower pangs when celebrating impending mid-live crisis vehicle purchases (say a Kia Stinger). Instead, feast on Venue's fuel economy numbers topping the 30-mile-per-gallon barrier. City mileage estimates at 30 mpg and 34 highway rate darn good for an internal combustion product. The 11.9-gallon tank accepts regular, 87-octane fuel.
Currently, all Venue trims include conventional internal combustion engines with no gas-electric hybrid, plug-in electric hybrid or all-electric EV alternatives. For those opportunities, one must step up to Hyundai's Ioniq crossover, offering all three propulsion choices. In addition, Hyundai's Kona (the next rung up Hyundai's crossover step ladder) offers an all-electric plug in. The only rub for us hearty Midwesterners, coastal areas get first dibs selling Hyundai's all-electric versions.
Venue's diminutive size makes for a good urban vehicle, easy-to-park and fuel friendly. It strains a bit when tooling entrance ramps while accelerating on to the Interstate. Audio tire feedback becomes apparent during higher speeds as does wind noise.
An SE trim checks in at an attractive $17,350. Our SEL tester included a $19,250 starting point. A Convenience Package ($1,150) and Premium Package ($1,750) and carpeted floor mats ($136) brought the bottom line to a relatively attainable $23,405 after factoring the $1,120 destination ding. The nicely packaged Denim trim starts at $22.050
The convenience package adds a power sunroof and leather-wrapped steering wheel along with another layer of radar safety enhancements (rear-cross traffic alert and blind spot collision warning). The premium package brings along heated front seats, heated side-view mirrors, in-dash navigation functions and LED head and tail lights.
Open the manually-operated back hatch, and plentiful headroom awaits, at least for those shorter than six-feet one inch. When closing the relatively light-weight hatch door, a convenient cupped indent eases the pull-down process. Roof side rails add versatility and a brutish element. Compared to subcompact crossovers from Toyota and Honda, Venue's exterior sides conservative. 2020 Hyundai Venue
Price as tested: $23,405
Engine: 1.6-liter inline four
Wheelbase: 99.2 inches
Overall length: 158.9 inches
Overall width: 69.7 inches
Overall height: 61.6 inches
Curb weight: 2,732 pounds
Fuel Economy: 30 mpg city/34 mpg highway
Powertrain warranty: 10-year/100,000 mile
Assembly: Ulsan, South Korea