The 2020 Hyundai Venue is a front-drive subcompact SUV designed to challenge the likes of the Nissan Kicks, Ford EcoSport and Toyota C-HR. While Hyundai /zigman2/quotes/204364212/delayed HYMTF +0.27% calls the Venue an SUV, we see it more like a tall hatchback designed for purely urban adventures, which explains the lack of an optional all-wheel drive model. Strong points for the Venue include its modern and comfortable interior, long list of standard features, impressive 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty and available suite of standard and optional driver safety assists.
While smaller than the Hyundai Kona, the Venue nevertheless provides good interior space for four adults, although taller passengers will find the rear seats a bit cramped. Cargo space is also acceptable, but thanks to the folding rear seats, wide hatchback opening and dual-level cargo floor, the Venue can carry large and bulky items when required.
The Venue isn’t big on performance, but its 121-horsepower 4-cylinder engine does offer good fuel economy and can be mated to either a 6-speed manual or CVT automatic, a rare choice in this segment. But perhaps the Venue’s most intriguing feature is its price. Starting just under $18,500 out the door, the Venue makes a tempting choice and even steps on the feet of some used SUVs that don’t offer the same level of safety features or warranty coverage.
What’s new for 2020?
2020 is the first year for the little Hyundai Venue.
What we like
Impressive standard safety features
Good fuel economy
Reasonably accommodating interior
Standard Apple /zigman2/quotes/202934861/composite AAPL +1.91% CarPlay and Android Auto
What we don’t
No AWD model
Manual only offered on base model
$18,470 - $23,170
A 1.6-liter, 4-cylinder engine good for 121 hp and 113 lb-ft of torque motivates the Hyundai Venue. On the base SE trim, a 6-speed manual is the standard transmission, while the SEL and Denim trims come with a CVT automatic that is optional on the SE. Fuel economy numbers for the manual are 27 miles per gallon in the city and 35 mpg on the highway. The CVT ups those figures to 30 mpg city/34 mpg hwy.
Also on MarketWatch: 8 affordable new cars that get at least 40 mpg
Standard features and options
The Hyundai Venue comes in three trims: SE, SEL and Denim.
The Hyundai Venue SE ($18,470) includes forward collision avoidance with emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, a driver attention monitor, power windows, power door locks, power mirrors and a 6-speed manual transmission. Also standard are 15-in steel wheels, an 8-in touch-screen display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, USB and MP3 auxiliary input jacks, a rearview camera, Bluetooth, 4-speaker AM/FM stereo, air conditioning, cruise control and rear drum brakes.
The Venue SEL ($20,370) adds a CVT automatic transmission, rear disc brakes, 15-in alloy wheels, Drive Mode Select, chrome grille, roof side rails, dual USB charging ports, voice recognition for the Bluetooth hands-free phone, two additional speakers, automatic temperature control and a driver’s auto up power window.
Also see: The 10 best new car models of 2020
Optional equipment for the SEL comes in the form of two packages. The Convenience package adds a power sunroof, sliding center armrest, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. The Premium package adds heated front seats, LED headlights, 17-in alloy wheels, proximity key with push-button start, 8-in color touchscreen with navigation, Bluelink connected services and heated exterior mirrors.
The Venue Denim ($23,170) adds all the features of the SEL’s option packages minus the power sunroof. It also features exclusive denim color with white roof and denim color interior treatment.
Hyundai’s 2020 Venue comes standard with a full suite of active and passive safety systems. Included in the list are front and front-side impact airbags, front and rear side-curtain airbags, electronic stability control and a rearview camera. Standard driver assists include forward collision warning with pedestrian detection, lane-keeping assist and a driver attention monitor. Blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are optional.
As of the writing of this review, neither the government nor the independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety have crash-tested the Hyundai Venue.
Behind the wheel
The 2020 Hyundai Venue isn’t big on power, so don’t expect any great impressions on acceleration or passing power. While it feels peppy off the line, once you ask the Venue to perform at speeds over 45 mph, there isn’t much response. The CVT automatic is programmed to “shift” like a traditional automatic and worked quite well in our test car. The Venue is clearly better at city commutes, with a tight turning circle and a size that makes it easy to maneuver and park. Take the Venue out on the highway, however, and it feels a bit nervous. The steering is light and the car has a tendency to wander a bit on certain freeway surfaces. Thankfully, the Venue’s standard lane-keeping features works well here and is not overly aggressive like some rival system.
The Venue’s overall ride quality is good, but the short wheelbase and optional 17-in tires can make the ride rather stiff. SEL and Denim trim offer Hyundai’s Drive Mode Select, which adjusts throttle input and steering feel via three settings: Normal, Sport and Eco. While we tried all three in various driving situations, we didn’t really notice much of a difference and chose to leave it in the Normal setting most of the time. After a day on the road, our fuel economy figures lined up perfectly with the Environmental Protection Agency estimates, even after a day of pushing the little Venue pretty hard.
Other cars to consider
2020 Honda HR-V — The HR-V has a longer track record than the Venue and a more versatile interior. It also offers the option of AWD.
2020 Nissan Kicks —The Kicks is a bit sportier than the Venue and comes with more standard driver safety assist. The Nissan /zigman2/quotes/207656007/delayed NSANY +3.72% Kicks gets better fuel economy but also costs more and has a shorter warranty.
2020 Toyota C-HR — Like the Venue, the C-HR is only offered with front-wheel drive. It’s radical exterior makes it less practical when it comes to outward visibility and interior space. Compared with the Venue, the C-HR offers a more powerful engine and better handling but a shorter overall warranty.
2020 Ford EcoSport — The Ford /zigman2/quotes/208911460/composite F -0.55% EcoSport lacks the advanced driver safety assists standard on the Venue, but it does offer a sporty ride, more powerful engine and the option of AWD.
Used Honda CR-V — A 2015-2018 Honda /zigman2/quotes/207173990/composite HMC +1.72% CR-V offers more power, more room and a solid reputation for longevity and strong resale. However, depending on the year and trim, advanced driver assists may not always be available.
If you’re all about a low price and shifting your own gears, the base SE trim offers everything you need in a small car and some extras that are unexpected at this price. If you’re all about style, the Denim trim is the best choice, but if you’re all about having a sunroof, you’ll have to opt for the SEL with the Convenience package, as the top-line Denim doesn’t offer one.
This story originally ran on Autotrader.com .