Driving Impressions : 2020 Hyundai VenueBy: Mark Moskowitz MD
If you have an entry-level sedan why not an entry-level SUV? Thus, Hyundai introduces its sixth distinct sport utility vehicle, the Venue.
Forgive me Hyundai but it has much the shape of lots of other econo boxes. Distinguishing it are the Hyundai grill, contrasting satin black window surrounds, sporty looking roof rails, and 'VENUE' written raised letters across the back.
We drove the SEL, improved by its two significant and only option packages. The Premium package adds $1750 to the $19,150 price and includes LED low beams,17-inch alloy wheels, heated front seats, a proximity key and a color touch screen with navigation. Safety concerns are addressed with the $1150 Convenience package; it adds rear traffic collision and blind spot warning, as well as a power sunroof.
These packages can't be divided and are not available on the base SE model which come standard with a six-speed manual transmission instead of the variable transmission of the SEL and the Denim. The base model also has rear drums instead of disks. The top of the line Denim comes only in the expected blue color and costs less than the accessorized SEL though outfitted with all our demo SEL's features except sunroof.
The Venue is an easy car to like. Entry to the front and rear doors is enabled by its tall roof and 40-inch doors. The seating position is comfortable and this 5 foot 10-inch tester had no problem as a passenger in the rear seat. I suspect it could easily accommodate six-footers despite the power sunroof which is standard on the SEL.
The interior is highly functional. As usual, I applaud Hyundai's use of multiple buttons and dials to supplement the infotainment system. In the front of the console, a deep recess allows the largest cell phone to lay flat. There's also a passenger-side dashboard insert for more storage as well as the closed console box and glove box. Seats up, rear cargo volume is a smallish 18.7 cubic feet. Drop both rear seat uprights and it expands to 31.9 cubic feet.
The Venue is a great around town car. It's small enough to easily park, it moves away from the curb quickly, and the steering is easy. Sport mode makes the steering a bit tighter and a bit more responsive. The trade off, increased and artificial resistance to steer, was not worth it for me. Sport mode also affects the shift points. Interestingly if you didn't know this was a variable transmission, you might believe it was a classic gear changing automatic.
The iPad found 0-60 times of around nine seconds. Entering the freeway takes anticipation. Others have found the car twitchy on the interstate. The SEL seemed unaffected at speeds up to 70 miles an hour. I was disappointed not to find adaptive cruise control though the Venue seems well outfitted when you consider its host of safety and convenience features. Normally I would be concerned about not having a front camera. But the car is small enough that I really did not find the need for it.
Even the base model has lane keep assist. It doesn't keep you consistently centered but it keeps you in the lanes. And it has Apple CarPlay and Android
auto. I was happy with the responsiveness and simplicity of the infotainment system.
Picking nits I would like to be able to buy a stick shift version with rear cross traffic alert and blind spot monitoring. I guess bundling is the order of the day and while that approach seemed to work for GM (and others) in the 60s and 70s you may remember what happened to them.
Just the same there's a reasonable amount of tech in even the base model which must be the least expensive or close to the least expensive SUV out there.
Complementing the value proposition is free maintenance for the first three years o 36,000 miles and a five-year 60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and the ten-year one hundred thousand mile powertrain warranty.
I think this is a great car. Waxing philosophic, I have somewhat of a problem recommending small entry level cars to entry level drivers. Safety ratings have not been published for this car and one worries about the safety of new drivers in the smallest of cars even in the seemingly smallest of collisions – a problem not unique to this manufacturer.