NEW ORLEANS, La. — The 2020 Hyundai Venue rounds out the brand’s family of crossover vehicles. The cute ute is the bookend to the three-row Pallisade, introduced last year. It has been developed to appeal to what Hyundai refers to as pre-family buyers — millennials and next-gen consumers.
Don Romano, president and CEO Hyundai Canada, told us here during the launch of the Venue that it would fill a void in the company’s portfolio, appealing to first-time buyers, or those starting their lives and careers “with something suitable to their lifestyles."
Lawrence Hamilton, Hyundai Canada’s director of marketing, said the development of the company’s new entry-level vehicle focussed on meeting the needs of a new generation entering the market. He said 40 per cent of new-vehicle buyers next year will be millennials and urban car buyers.
“They want and need flexible interiors and connectivity,” said Hamilton.
Low price, quality interior
The Venue is based on a shortened version of the same platform used for the Accent, but offers the same ground clearance as the larger Kona. As the least expensive Hyundai, it offers nothing special in terms of suspension or brakes — struts and discs up front and a beam axle and drums at the rear.
The interior belies the low pricing. Fit, finish, material quality, design and standard features are worthy of a much higher price tag. Clever touches and storage spots abound, including a two-level cargo floor. The top trim level comes with BlueLink enabling the driver to access a variety of functions through a smart phone. The big infotainment touch screen is augmented by good old-fashioned knobs for volume and tuning.
The Venue may be small, but it has been given a healthy dose of safety features. The majority of the structure is made from high-strength steel. Hyundai’s SmartSense system provides forward collision avoidance, blind spot collision warning, lane keep assist, high beam assist and rear cross traffic collision warning.
Hyundai says the Venue will offer the most customization in the cute ute segment. There are 23 exterior colours and a number of two-tone paint choices. There are three colour schemes for the interior, including a denim look. Artfully applied contrasting stitching, bright trim and shaded seat surfaces are spread across the trim levels.
With only 121 horses in the corral, power could best be described as adequate. The base model comes with a six-speed manual transmission, the others with a well-programmed continuously variable automatic. I didn’t get to try the manual and suspect very few buyers will go that route. The CVT does a decent job of behaving like a conventional automatic under all but full-throttle conditions, when it sounds like a motorboat or snowmobile.
There are four drive modes to choose from — normal, eco, sports and snow. Eco blunts engine and transmission response. There is little discernible difference between the normal and sport, beyond delayed upshifts. Hyundai says there are no plans for an all-wheel-drive version. It insists that the “snow” mode’s ability to control engine, brake and pedal mapping and use of torque vectoring, makes the Venue more than capable of handling deep or hard packed snow and slippery surfaces.
Tight turning ideal for urban life
Designed specifically for urban living, the Venue’s small size, short turning circle and light weight combine to serve that purpose very well. It scoots away from lights with ease, slots into small parking spots and offers decent room for four adults and a good amount of stuff in back.
The Venue will come in four trim levels: In typical Hyundai fashion, the smallest of Hyundai’s five crossovers will be feature-laden and value-priced. The “Essential” version of the city-friendly ute starts at $17,100, ($18,400 with automatic transmission and cruise control). Standard equipment includes heated mirrors and front seats, air conditioning, a 20-cm infotainment screen with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, rear-view camera and remote keyless entry.
The Preferred trim, the one Hyundai expects the majority of buyers to choose, comes in at $21,500 and includes the automatic and cruise control plus push-button start, heated leather steering wheel, blind-spot collision warning with rear cross traffic alert, front collision avoidance with pedestrian detection, lane keep assist, automatic high beams, driver attention warning, roof rails and 15-inch alloy wheels.
At $22,600 the Trend adds 17-inch alloy wheels, power sunroof, dual USB charge outlets and six-speaker audio system. An extra $1,500 brings LED head and taillights, a two-tone exterior paint and a premium cloth interior, but dumps the sunroof. The top trim level is aptly named Ultimate. At $24,900, it adds navigation, wireless connectivity, satellite radio and automatic climate control.
Model: 2020 Hyundai Venue Ultimate
Engine: 1.6-litre, four-cylinder, 121-horsepower, 113 lb.-ft. of torque, regular fuel
Transmission: six-speed manual or continuously variable automatic
NRCan rating (litres/100km city/highway): 8 / 7
Length: 4,040 mm
Width: 1,770 mm
Wheelbase: 2,520 mm
Weight: 1,251 kg
Price: $17,099 base, $24,899 as tested, plus freight
Competition: Mazda CX-3, Ford EcoSport, Kia Soul, Nissan Kicks
Options on test vehicle: None