Kelley Blue Book: The 2020 Hyundai Venue review: the lowest-priced SUV in the U.S.

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  • All-new Venue set to be the lowest-priced SUV in the U.S.
  • Pricing starts at $17,250 plus $1,095 delivery
  • Rivals include Nissan Kicks, Kia Soul, and Ford EcoSport
  • Shortest and widest SUV in class
  • Advanced safety tech standard
  • Set to go on sale in late 2019

The 2020 Hyundai HYMTF, +2.79%   Venue is the automaker’s newest, smallest and most affordable SUV. It’s now the smallest, most affordable SUV on the market, in fact.

Taking the place of the Hyundai Accent 5-door, the new Venue also has some big shoes to fill. Hyundai is 3-for-4 so far on its recent SUV overhaul, with the newly redesigned Santa Fe, all-new Kona and forthcoming Palisade already collecting plenty of praise and awards from across the industry.

But the Hyundai Venue subcompact SUV is pretty impressive in its own right, offering a compelling combination of SUV-style, plus features, value and surprisingly good driving manners. If there are enough buyers for whom the tiny Venue is big enough, Hyundai might extend its SUV streak to four in a row.

How much does the Hyundai Venue cost?

The base 2020 Hyundai Venue SE equipped with a 6-speed manual starts at $17,250. SE models with the IVT automatic (Hyundai’s version of a continuously variable transmission) are priced from $18,450. The SEL models, all of which come withe the IVT, are priced from $19,150. Adding the Convenience package increases the price to $20,300, while combining Convenience and Premium packages results in an MSRP of $22,050. A special Denim model with an exclusive paint scheme, contrasting white roof and select trim pieces is priced from $21,950. All prices exclude $1,095 delivery. The Venue is available in front-wheel drive only.

For reference, the larger Hyundai Kona starts at around $20,000, while the Nissan NSANY, -0.08%   Kicks starts at about $19,500.


The Hyundai Venue

When does the Hyundai Venue come out?

The 2020 Hyundai Venue is set to go on sale in late 2019. We’d hoped to see it around October, as it has already been released in Australia and India (where it is currently the best-selling SUV on the market), but Hyundai tells us that U.S. buyers will have to wait until December.

Hyundai Venue engine

The 2020 Hyundai Venue is powered by an updated version of the automaker’s 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine making 121 horsepower. It’s matched with a 6-speed manual transmission in the Venue SE or a continuously variable automatic transmission in the Venue SEL.

Hyundai Venue fuel economy

Official EPA figures have yet to be announced, but Hyundai’s says internal testing projects city/highway-combined fuel economy of 32 mpg. That’s right in line with the Nissan Kicks.

We traveled halfway around the world to discover the 2020 Venue

Although the new Venue won’t make its debut in the U.S. until December, Hyundai invited us to Australia to drive a Down-Under-spec version which gave us some sense the forthcoming SUV-let. Beyond having their own, market-specific feature sets and availability, the major differences between the Aussie-spec Venues we drove and the U.S. versions started with the fact that they were necessarily right-hand-drive vehicles (Australia, remember, shares both a Queen and driving rules with England).

Less obvious to the naked eye, the Venues we hustled in the left lane through hills above Queensland’s Sunshine Coast were not equipped with either the 6-speed manual transmission nor the continuously variable automatic (CVT) that we will see offered on models coming to the U.S.A.stead, a 6-speed automatic transmission did the shifting for us. The naturally-aspirated (no turbocharger) 1.6-liter four is the world-wide engine for the new Venue.

Finally, the U.S.-bound Venues will ride on a softer suspension that what we drove in Australia. Changes for the U.S. include different shock absorbers along with quieter, longer-lasting, better-mpg all-season tires instead of summer tires.

So, what is it like to drive the 2020 Hyundai Venue?

Driving the new Venue for the first time successfully challenged and exceeded as many of our expectations as driving the performance-forward Hyundai Veloster N did last year, but very different ways. Despite running on one of the shortest wheelbases in the sub-subcompact arena, the Venue surprised us with how quietly and composed it was for a such a small SUV.

Especially in city driving — anything under 50 mph, really — the work that Hyundai did with sound insulation on the Venue paid off. At freeway speeds however, you do get some A-pillar wind noise coming into the cabin, along with the drone of the 1.6-liter engine, which becomes a constant companion on the open road.

It’s got a short wheelbase, yes, shorter even than the itty-bitty Hyundai Accent, with which it shares the smallest iteration of the company’s K2 platform. But the Venue also carries a wide, macho stance — wider even than its bigger brother, the Kona (which is 5 inches longer). The Venue is taller too. This boxier dimensioning allows the Venue’s exterior shape to embrace its SUV-ness with a masculinity that “differentiates it as much as possible from the Kona” (and the Kona audience), according to Hyundai’s exterior design chief, Jang Jae Bong.

Somehow, the shorter wheelbase doesn’t make for a disturbingly rough or dicey-feeling ride. Quite the opposite, unless we were running down rough gravel roads or over old, rutted pavement the ride spent surprisingly little time calling attention to itself. When we heard that the shocks and tires were being swapped out when the Venue comes stateside to soften the ride, we were a little surprised and now very interested to see how much more livable the SUV gets. Significantly, this little ute feels completely at home on the highway, trading its urban-centric personality for a steady, sturdy high-speed confidence.

Easily the weakest link in the Venue’s driving chain is the engine, regardless of the transmission. True, this newborn Hyundai is the lightest player in its class, but that 1.6-liter 4-cylinder is also the least powerful engine. Mated to the Australian 6-speed automatic transmission, the 1.6’s estimated 121-horsepower and 113-lb-ft of torque perform around-town duties without issue, but the little engine has to work hard to mount an assault on a freeway on-ramp, climb hills with 400 pounds of people in tow, or execute a 2-car pass with alacrity. That’s true even with the Venue’s selectable drive-modes (Normal/Eco/Sport) set to Sport, which adjusts throttle mapping and holds gears longer.

Hyundai’s CVT techs have their work cut out for them, and we’re very curious about the 6-speed manual gearbox that’s standard on the base SE version. In the end, a turbocharger with a geared automatic transmission might work wonders for everything but the Venue’s price.

Does it have all-wheel drive?

No, the Hyundai Venue is front-wheel drive only. Especially at the entry end of the market, we’re seeing more SUVs forego all-wheel drive. The Nissan Kicks and Toyota TM, +0.27%   C-HR are two examples.

See: Should you buy a car with all-wheel drive?

For what it’s worth, the Venue’s driving programs include a snow mode that promises to deliver smoother and more confident acceleration in slippery conditions. If you’re liking the Venue but must have all-wheel drive, keep in mind the Hyundai Kona snagged our Subcompact SUV Best Buy Award this year.

Hyundai Venue interior

Hyundai continues to produce some of our favorite interiors across the segments in which they compete. The Venue’s cabin features the relative simplicity typical of a sub-$20,000 interior, but with touches of the rugged personality established by the exterior.

Though the Hyundai Venue is one of the smallest SUVs on the market, even the tiniest SUVs can provide outsize cargo flexibility by virtue of the wide-opening rear hatch and fold-down rear seats. In addition to a 60/40-split, flat-folding rear seat, the Venue offers a convenient dual-level cargo floor.

Small? Yes. But compared with a subcompact sedan the Venue is cavernous.

How many people does the Venue seat?

The 2-row Hyundai Venue offers seating for five, consistent with its key competitors. We’re glad the 4-passenger fad has largely faded, but we won’t be signing up to ride in this sub-subcompact SUVs center seat for anything longer than a lunch run.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto

As part of the standard 8-inch touch screen infotainment system, the Hyundai Venue supports both Apple AAPL, -0.09%   CarPlay and Android Auto for easy and familiar voice control of music, navigation and more. Built-in navigation is also available, with real-time traffic info and free map updates for three years.

Amazon Echo and Google Home

“Hey Google, start my car.” Hyundai’s Blue Link connected car system includes integrations with Amazon AMZN, +0.63%   Alexa and Google GOOGL, -0.50%   Assistant, providing a variety of cool capabilities. Most remote features are also available via Hyundai’s Blue Link mobile app and

Hyundai Venue warranty

The Venue is covered by Hyundai’s exceptional 5-year/60,000-mile limited and 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranties. The limited warranty is fully transferable to subsequent owners and includes complimentary roadside assistance. 

Hyundai Venue colors

In addition to the required white, black, silver and gray, Hyundai Venue color choices include Scarlet Red, Intense Blue, Green Apple and Denim. And trends being trends, you might have guessed the Venue would also be available with a contrasting roof, mirror and trim color.

Impressive safety suite

Entry-priced vehicles continue to offer an increasing amount of advanced safety tech, but those features aren’t always standard. A base-level 2020 Hyundai Venue, however, offers a couple of features we consider especially valuable for inexperienced and/or distracted drivers: forward collision avoidance and lane keeping assist. Combined with a backup camera plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, we’re not sure you can get more of our favorite teen-driver tech for less money.

Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist with Pedestrian Detection (standard) uses a front-facing camera to help detect and avoid or minimize a collision.

Lane Keeping Assist (standard) Can steer a car back into the lane if it senses unintentional drifting.

Driver Attention Warning (standard) Warns driver if it detects fatigue or carelessness.

Blind-Spot Collision Warning (optional) A light lets you know when there’s a car in your blind spot. If you don’t notice the indicator and try to change lanes anyway, the system gives you a stronger warning. Drivers who own a car with blind-spot warning never want to give it up.

Rear Collision Cross-Traffic Warning (optional) When backing out of a blind parking spot, for instance, this system alerts the driver if there’s a car coming down the aisle.

These advanced safety features are in addition to expected/mandated standard safety features including front, side and head curtain air bags, stability and traction controls, plus ABS, EBD and brake assist

2020 Hyundai Venue SE

Even at base price, the Hyundai Venue offers some impressive equipment. Features we might not expect to see at this price include an 8-inch color touch screen, auto headlight control, body-color mirrors and door handles (not black plastic), steering wheel-mounted audio controls, cruise control, sliding sun visors with dual vanity mirrors and the aforementioned safety tech.

Related: How to choose trim levels and options when buying a new car

Expected features include Bluetooth and USB connectivity, rearview camera, cloth seating, air conditioning, projection headlights, four speakers, 15-inch covered steel wheels, remote keyless entry and a 6-way adjustable driver seat.

2020 Hyundai Venue SEL

Upgrading to the top-trim Hyundai Venue SEL nets the automatic transmission (CVT), 15-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, rear disc brakes, roof rails, six speakers, underfloor cargo storage, plus simulated front and rear skid plates. Not a lot of must-have features in that mix, really, but upgrading to SEL is the gateway to these compelling packages:

Convenience Package: This is the package to pick if you’re only picking one. The Convenience Package includes a proximity key with push-button start (leave it in your pocket or purse), blind-spot and rear-traffic collision warning, two USB inputs, auto climate control, a sliding armrest and storage box, driver side auto-up window, plus a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob.

Premium Package: The “feel warmer and look cooler” package adds heated front seats and side view mirrors, 17-inch alloy wheels, plus LED headlights, taillights and daytime running lights.

Connectivity Package: Includes built-in navigation and Blue Link Connected Car systems. We prefer Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for all our navigation needs, but the Blue Link system offers some intriguing capabilities including remote start, remote unlock and geofence, curfew and speed alerts.

The Denim version: If you want it all and you plan to look good having it all, the 2020 Hyundai Venue Denim is your play. The Denim starts with the exclusive Denim exterior color set off with a contrasting white roof and trim pieces. Inside, the exclusivity continues with Denim-color cloth and leatherette interior. The Denim also comes equipped with the Convenience Package and Premium Package. Like we said you get it all (all but a sunroof, that is), and you’ll look your best.

Hyundai Venue key specs
  • 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine
  • 121 horsepower @ 6,300 rpm (est.)
  • 113 lb-ft of torque @ 4,500 rpm (est.)
  • 6-speed manual or continuously variable automatic transmission
  • Curb weight: 2,257 to 2,732 lbs.
  • Length: 158.9 inches
  • Wheelbase: 99.2 inches
  • Width: 69.7 inches
  • Height (with/without roof rails): 62.7/61.6 inches
  • Head room (front/rear): 39.4/38.6 inches
  • Leg room (f/r): 41.3/34.3 inches
  • Shoulder room (f/r): 53.9 / 53.7 inches
  • Total interior volume: 110.6 cu ft
  • Passenger volume: 91.9 cu ft
  • Cargo Volume (rear seats up/folded): 18.7/31.9 cu ft
  • Final assembly: Korea
About the name

Santa Fe, Tucson, Kona, Palisade, Venue. One of these things is not like the others. As you can see, Hyundai breaks from tradition a little bit with the Venue name. Given the target audience’s affinity for concerts and festivals, we’ll buy it.

Hyundai Venue vs. Nissan Kicks

With the arrival of the 2020 Hyundai Venue, we expect the Nissan Kicks to be relegated to second-most-affordable SUV on the market. But the Kicks is larger than the Venue — closer in size to the Kona — and includes an automatic transmission at base price. Horsepower is similar and fuel economy should be, too. The 2020 Hyundai Venue gets the nod on (projected) price and overall features.

Hyundai Venue vs. Kia Soul

Kia calls the Soul an SUV, we call it a wagon. Either way, the Kia Soul and Hyundai Venue are sure to be cross-shopped. While the starting prices are similar, when you compare the entire lineups the Soul really sits half a class above the Venue. The Soul is larger, roomier, offers available turbo power and a longer list of available features and tech. Comparing just the base models, we see the Soul’s size and added power as its key advantages, while the Venue boasts forward collision avoidance, lane keeping assist and the promise of slightly better fuel economy.

You might like: The 10 coolest things about the all-new 2020 Land Rover Defender

Hyundai Venue vs. Hyundai Kona

The Hyundai Kona is a step above the Venue in size, and starts at nearly $20,000. Very often the challenge facing entry-level models is that you get a lot less (room, refinement, features) but you don’t pay a lot less. No doubt many shoppers will weigh Venue and Kona and come to the same conclusion, but the fact remains that for many buyers smaller is better.

Is the Hyundai Venue a good choice for you?

The new Hyundai Venue looks good and drives surprisingly well for a vest-pocket-sized SUV. The price is right. It has an excellent mix of features including one of the best warranties in the business. As an urban utility vehicle, it shines. If it offered a 360-degree camera, the Venue would be the prince of the city. Only one big question remains: Is it big enough? Whether it’s roomy enough for you, your passengers and your cargo needs? That’s a question only you can answer.

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