Despite not having all-wheel drive, the 2020 Venue still appeals to buyers at an affordable price.
Distinctly Styled, Pleasantly Appointed
The new Venue has a striking design in its segment. It is shaped like a decorative box with an elegant shell. Overall, the Venue is definitely, the XS size. Under that body, however, are only 6.7 inches of ground clearance, or just more than an inch more than the Hyundai Accent upon which it’s based. The Venue also is not available with all-wheel drive, although it does look tougher than other front-drive subcompact utes.
Cabin is decorated with excellent quality materials. The device is solidly used, in line with its modest price. At $18,470, the base SE model with the standard six-speed manual transmission is the least expensive crossover money can buy; add $1500 for the optional continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), which is standard on the mid-level SEL ($20,370) and the top-spec Denim ($23,170) trim levels.
The 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Audio is equipped for the Venue. However, this car is not equipped with heated steering wheel, electric seat adjustment or wireless charging. Opt for the Denim model and you get interior upgrades such as a padded armrest and leatherette upholstery with contrasting white piping.
The rear seat also lacks vents in the back of the center console as well as 12-volt or USB ports. In return, passengers will feel comfortable when there is ample leg room when sitting behind. The Venue can hold only 19 and 32 cubic feet, respectively.
Each Venue is equipped with a naturally aspirated 1.6-liter engine that develops 121 horsepower and 113 lb-ft of torque. However, that meager amount of torque is not fully unlocked until the engine rotates at 4500 rpm. At higher speeds, the steering is quite sensitive and the wind catcher shape makes the car feel restless. At least the CVT does an admirable job of limiting engine droning, even when called upon for max power.
If at high speeds the car feels uncomfortable, then around town it feels quicker and more confident. Moving between lanes becomes easy with a firm suspension. While the engine’s throttle response is a bit lazy, the Venue has enough grunt to motor away from stoplights without struggling to keep up with traffic. But we do wish the brake pedal felt more linear and had a stronger initial bite.
Safety devices to support the driver are quite fully equipped. Standards include automatic emergency braking, lane keeping assist, and driver attention monitoring. In addition, blind spot monitoring and rear traffic warning are optional. Accent buyers have to skip most of those features and only get forward-collision warning with automated braking.
Give Them What They Want
The Venue’s lack of all-wheel drive may be a turn off for some and further muddies its equation versus conventional subcompact hatchback cars, which generally are more fuel efficient, better to drive, and only slightly less capacious. But virtually every volume brand today offers a wee crossover, and their collective sales numbers look to be going nowhere but up. The Venue should fit in that group well, because it hits almost all of the key points that shoppers in this space demand while demonstrating that cheap transportation doesn’t have to feel, well, cheap.