Darting in and out of traffic and navigating tight areas can be completed with ease.
When Hyundai released the Kona two years ago, it was meant to target millennial car buyers looking to get into their first vehicle without breaking the bank. Things didn’t go as planned when much older buyers started snatching them up left, right and center – myself being one of them. Sales of the Kona make it the best selling subcompact crossover in Canada and this created another opportunity for Hyundai to go head to head with the very successful Nissan Kicks (reviewed here). Enter the 2020 Hyundai Venue Trend tested here; it’s smaller in size and price when compared to the Kona.
The Venue is also the replacement for the Hyundai Accent, which has seen a significant drop in sales over the past few years. Gone are the days where you could purchase an Accent for $9,995. The Venue starts at $17,226 and the Trend tester here is priced at $22,599, including an Urban Edition Package for an additional $550. This package includes LED daytime running lights and headlights with active cornering, premium cloth interior and a two tone exterior paint job that unfortunately deletes the sunroof.
The Hyundai Venue looks like nothing on the road, especially with the Urban Edition Package. During the week, it received quite a few extended stares from people trying to figure out what it was. Up front is a large grill which Hyundai has been using in all its SUVs, and the lighting mimics the design elements that started with the Kona (reviewed here) and trickled to the rest of the lineup., with DRLs up top and headlights placed beneath them. Body cladding has been used to a lesser degree when compared to the Kona and the rear end is flatter and similar to that of the Kia Soul (reviewed here).
Inside the Venue is a mix of black and grey. The Urban Edition Package does add some lime green accents for some much needed color. Unfortunately, the Venue is plagued with similar issues that have been noted in the Kona; a sea of hard plastics from the door panels, console and dashboard. The sound system is a bit bland, especially when compared to the Bose system that’s a conversation point about the Nissan Kicks. Other than this, the interior is solidly put together and everything is ergonomically accessible. The large eight-inch infotainment screen is typical Hyundai; loaded with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and easy to use.
At 6’3, getting in and out was a bit snug but once seated I had more than enough head room. For average sized passengers, there is surprisingly ample leg room in the back meaning this will make a great Uber or rideshare vehicle. For wider riders, shoulder room is a bit tight as this is a narrow vehicle with a small footprint. Cargo space behind the second row is limited at 355-liters, but put the seats down and this increases to 1,148-litres of capacity. The low floor and large rear hatch make loading and unloading a breeze.
As the Venue is a subcompact crossover, darting in and out of traffic and navigating tight areas can be completed with ease. The steering is light and perfectly acceptable for the average driver; it can be put into Sport mode for some added weight if you really find yourself needing more heft. A solid torsion beam rear axle keeps it planted, and while I expected a bit of bounce over larger bumps and potholes, the Venue surprised us with how solid it felt even without an independent rear suspension.
Similarly to the Accent it replaces, the 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine is naturally aspirated and only brings 121 horsepower and 113 lb-ft. of torque to the game. City driving is where the Venue feels right at home, remaining peppy enough to jump from light to light. When on the highway, passing needs to be a carefully planned and timed event. Sport mode isn’t recommended on the highway, as it holds a lower gear ratio and leaves it screaming over 3,000RPM.
Higher trim levels come equipped with Hyundai’s Intelligent Variable Transmission, a form of CVT. Base models come with a manual transmission, an omission on the Nissan Kicks and Toyota C-HR (reviewed here) in our market. What Hyundai has managed to do is remove the rubber band effect that has plagued most CVTs; the IVT replicates the feel of actual shift points when accelerating, and brings the benefit of additional fuel savings over a conventional automatic transmission. It’s a seamless operation, as most won’t even be able to identify this gearbox as anything other than a regular six-speed automatic.
Fuel economy is key in this segment and the Venue is rated at 8.0L/city, 7.0L/100km highway, and 7.5L/100km combined. These figures are slightly worse than Nissan’s numbers for the Kicks, but it’s not enough to really make or break a deal. During our cold weather test week, we averaged a very reasonable 7.6L/100km, spot on with the ratings and quite impressive considering the temperatures. The small 45-liter tank will accept regular-grade 87-octane gasoline without issue.
While the Venue rides on the same platform as the outgoing Accent (reviewed here), it has many improvements and increased practicality for those looking for an urban runabout. Consumers need to remember that it lacks all-wheel-drive, but a good set of winter tires make it perfectly compliant in inclement weather. Hyundai also does better the Nissan Kicks when it comes to standard safety and driver assist features. The Venue includes blind spot monitoring, Pedestrian Avoidance System, Lane Departure Warning, Cross Traffic Alert, as well as Rear Park Assist, all missing in the Kicks.
The 2020 Hyundai Venue Trend’s aggressive price point makes it a great choice compared to even its larger Kona sibling, if you don’t need the additional size or all-wheel-drive. It offers slightly higher ride height over a traditional hatchback, giving buyers more confidence on the road, even if it may be a bit of an illusion. It offers neat appearance packs and funky paint schemes in hopes of attracting younger buyers. At the end of the day, the Venue accomplishes the Accent’s mission decently well. It sits at a higher price point, however is able to better fit into the needs of today’s buyers.