Small crossovers like the 2020 Hyundai Venue now have a big stage.
With the Venue, Hyundai has fielded a smaller companion to its own Kona crossover, not to mention an urban runabout five-door hatchback that fits neatly in the shadow cast by its big new Palisade.
Sold in SE and SEL editions, the 2020 Venue compares to vehicles such as the Nissan Kicks to the Ford Ecosport. It outzips them with a less buzzy interior, a more user-friendly cockpit, nicer seats, and a step-ahead warranty.
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Though it’s far from quick or plush, a $18,470 Venue SE or a $20,370 Venue SEL doesn’t have to be either. We give it a TCC Rating of 6.2 out of 10, before safety scores are in. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The Venue kicks off things with a rugged look that owes as much to bigger Hyundais as it does to the Yeti—the Skoda Yeti. It’s square-rigged and contrast-roofed, as quickly identifiable as a Kia Soul. Highlighted with bright paint choices and available 17-inch wheels, the snappy Venue body wraps around a cockpit made for two and some occasional friends and stuff, with a big touchscreen at the infotainment helm and well-chosen textures and trims padding the doors and dash.
A 1.6-liter inline-4 on loan from the Accent sedan couples with a 6-speed manual that will be as rare as Yeti sightings (depending of course on where you live), or a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) that ships power to the front wheels. All-wheel drive is a no-show, the Venue has only about 6.7 inches of ground clearance, and its strut-and-beam suspension takes the sting off the highways’ worst. With just 121 horsepower on tap and a perfect footprint for dart-and-shoot driving in traffic, it excels at short trips and tight parking spots. The EPA pegs CVT gas mileage at 32 mpg combined.
On its short 99.2-inch wheelbase, the 2020 Venue can’t cope with huge potholes, but it’s remarkably packaged to cope with up to four adults. Two in front get grippy fabric-covered seats, plenty of head room, and storage for smartphones. Rear-seaters have good head room too, with the concession that their knees will touch the front seatbacks. The Venue’s 18.7 cubic feet of cargo space swells to 31.9 cubic feet when the rear seats fold down, and its cargo cover tucks into a storage niche when it’s not needed.
Hyundai’s savvy with features on the 2020 Venue. It bundles automatic emergency braking into every model, along with an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a great 5-year-60,000-mile warranty. Blind-spot monitors, 17-inch wheels (up from standard 15-inchers), navigation, and keyless ignition all can be had on the more expensive versions—but no Venue can be outfitted with adaptive cruise control, leather upholstery, or power front seats. “Keep it simple” isn’t just a motto for the 2020 Venue; it’s the big idea for a little car that does mock-crossover very well.