2020 Hyundai Venue – Tiny and not so mighty

Perhaps I am losing my grip on the automotive world. When I got a call asking me if I want to review the Hyundai Venue I quickly answered yes, without really knowing what the Venue was. I assumed it was an all-new vehicle, probably an SUV or SUV-ish in some way. I wanted more information, so I checked Hyundai’s press release to familiarize myself. Here is what it said:

“The new Venue empowers the urban entrepreneur lifestyle many consumers experience in today’s fast-paced environment”

Perhaps I am not only losing my grip on the automotive world but also on the rest of the world because I do not know what an urban entrepreneur is or does. In turn, I have no idea who, according to Hyundai, the target audience for the vehicle is. And so, I shall just write about this vehicle generically.

It’s the little one!

I’m an SUV, trust me!

It looks like a tiny SUV. On Hyundai’s website, it is listed under the Tuscon and Kona, so it must be an SUV or at least SUV-ish. It has roof rack rails, so it has to be an SUV. The front has some funky headlights, slightly resembling the ’14-’18 Jeep Cherokee. The side has some sharp angles in the door frames but is otherwise plain. The rear has a slab-like look to it with equally funky taillights. It is a rather small vehicle by American standards and it looks to be going after the oddly styled Toyota C-HR.

The drivetrain is where the Venue loses a bit of its SUV-ness because it is only available as a front-wheel-drive vehicle. All three versions of the Venue are powered by the same 121-horsepower 1.6-liter four-banger. It has just enough power but it is buzzy and needs a lot of motivation at highway speeds. All versions are rated 30 MPG in the city and 34 on the highway, which are not spectacular figures.


The interior is a typical Hyundai set up in terms of features and materials. Everything is intuitively placed and easy to use. The touchscreen is easy to navigate and it has proper volume and tuning knobs, as well as quick access hard buttons. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay work very well. Three big knobs for HVAC keep things simple. The loaded model pictured here had automatic climate control but that system didn’t always turn the A/C on when needed, which resulted in fogged-up windows.

The seats are not very comfortable but are wrapped in a nice fabric and are heated. More back support, a softer bottom, and some side bolstering would make them a lot better. The rear bench splits 60:40 and has an armrest. A USB port for rear passengers would have been a nice addition. The trunk has an interesting floor, that can be lowered to make more space or placed higher to make it even with the folded rear seats.

To fully evaluate its SUV-ness, I happened to drive the Venue on some post-snowstorm roads. Tires are the most important thing for winter driving and the Nexens that came on the Venue are just not good in the snow. Off-line traction was bad but it was fine once moving. Going up an angled driveway was impossible; it just would not go up it. I used an old trick and reversed it up the driveway. With the engine and more weight over the powered wheels, it reversed uphill well. If you like the Venue just make sure to get winter tires for it and there won’t be any issues. There is a snow driving mode and it kept the wheels from spinning once moving but it did nothing from a standstill.


To be fair to the Venue, it is Hyundai’s third lowest-priced vehicle, above the Accent and just $50 more than the base Veloster, and the lowest-priced SUV, or SUV-like vehicle. Its price starts at $16,850. The loaded SEL model seen in these pictures had an MSRP of $23,270. That is significantly less than the Toyota C-HR, Honda HR-V, or even the Corolla Hatchback.

The Venue is an entry-level, small SUV. Except it’s not really an SUV but more of a hatchback. It’s no Grand Tourer but it’s a damn good runabout. It’s another new vehicle in a competitive market but it does not really bring anything special along. Those who buy it will like it. Will urban entrepreneurs love it? I have no idea.

[Disclaimer: Hyundai tossed us the keys to its Venue and included a full tank of fuel.]

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19 responses to “2020 Hyundai Venue – Tiny and not so mighty”

  1. Sjalabais Avatar

    Never heard of it before either, but this looks great. Simple, compact, efficient and decently modern. Looks like a great deal from where I am sitting.

    1. crank_case Avatar

      Maybe you should sit closer to the screen.

      1. Sjalabais Avatar

        Haha, dunno, why would reasonable, compact, everyday cars only acquire status as “decent” after 20-30 years have passed? This is a basic hatchback with a quite modern exterior to my eyes.

        1. crank_case Avatar

          This is based on an Accent. The orignal Accent is still crap 26 years later. Like the original accent it’s passable as transport, but meh. Not even got the crap, but RWD skids LOL angle of the recycled Cortina that was the Stellar.

        2. crank_case Avatar

          This is based on an Accent. The orignal Accent is still crap 26 years later. Like the original accent it’s passable as transport, but meh. Not even got the crap, but RWD skids LOL angle of the recycled Cortina that was the Stellar.

          1. Sjalabais Avatar

            The original Accent and the Venue above have little but the logo in common. This is a small motor, everyday car with ok features by a solid manufacturer. The original Accent barely managed to make it past its first 5-8 years before mechanical issues and rust started to gnaw away at it.

          2. crank_case Avatar

            Yeah, it’s still mediocre, even compared to an i20/30

  2. Zentropy Avatar

    The red-less images threw me off a little (was the blue shift intentional?), but that last unmolested photo shows a pretty clean looking car, almost suggesting “Volvo XC40” if the taillamps ran up the D pillars. It’s not as tidy up front. Hyundai has been applying that grille shape to almost everything they make recently, and I haven’t warmed up to it.
    Too bad it’s not offered with a manual transmission, but the price is right for a basic SUV-ette runabout.

    1. Fuhrman16 Avatar

      It looks like a 6 speed row-your-own is offered on the base model.

      1. Zentropy Avatar

        Ah, good– what I thought I had read was that a DCT and manual were available in other markets, but that the US would only get the CVT. While I think it’s a shame when standard transmissions aren’t offered on higher trim levels, availability at all is commendable. Besides, I personally don’t usually buy highly-optioned cars anyway.

    2. Kamil K Avatar

      I was just playing around in photoshop, trying to make bad pics better.

  3. Dabidoh_Sambone Avatar

    Looks like a Kia Soul to me. Honestly, the shape is such a portmanteau of CUV’s that it disappears if you look at it too long.

  4. Maymar Avatar

    “Urban entrepreneur” sounds like a pretentious spin on “gig economy. In other words, look for herds of these to sport Uber logos and clog the roads stopping in stupid places very, very soon.

    Otherwise, sounds like a tall Accent, which will be perfectly adequate for plenty of people and pad Hyundai’s bottom line healthily.

    1. outback_ute Avatar

      Yes, the taller body should give more space inside than a ‘normal’ 4m long hatch. I bet it will be another vehicle aimed at the young but bought by the older. This has replaced the Accent on the Australian market, at something like $4.5k increase in price (aka 30%).

      What is unusual is the lower grades have 185/65R15 tyres against the 205/55R17 here – nearly 1.5″ smaller diameter, so that they actually have different final drive ratios. The 15″ wheels & smaller tyres make it look undershod.

      It is available in a rather, um, distinctive grey/metallic gold combo… complete with matching stitching and accents inside.

  5. crank_case Avatar

    Urban Entepreneur?

    So hot dog vendors and taxi drivers?

  6. wunno sev Avatar
    wunno sev

    man i cannot get over that bullshit line about the urban entrepreneur.

    i understand that they try to target certain demographics, but like, what if they just…….didn’t write that line? is there any person who bought the car for whom the last little nudge they needed was a smarmy sack of buzzword from the market research department? there’s no way any one human being read that and was like, “yeah, this is a pretty good sentence.”

    like, jesus. just don’t fucking write that line. write “this is a small car for white people who wish they lived in a trendy neighborhood, or maybe Colorado”. i’d be more likely to buy a Hyundai Venue if they said that, just out of admiration for their honesty. but “urban entrepreneur lifestyle”? get the absolute fuck outta here with that shit.

    1. wunno sev Avatar
      wunno sev

      and i want to be clear, nobody at Hyundai read that sentence and thought it was good either. diffuse responsibility through enough bureaucracy and next thing you know 737 MAXs are taking scuba lessons and i have to read about a Tupperware on four wheels that addresses fast-paced modern lifestyles.

      god dammit.

  7. Juan Avatar

    This car is a total piece of shit. You would have to be either broke or totally clueless to buy it…