Venue brings youthful vibrance to competitive segment

New subcompact crossover from Hyundai brings plenty of excitement

Remember the scene in the Steve Martin movie The Jerk where his character obnoxiously celebrates the arrival of the new phone book? Of course it’s silly and juvenile – and right up my comedic alley – but it kind of made me feel this way when a brand-new model arrived at my driveway to review.

As someone who reviews more than 60 new vehicles each year, many often blend together; it’s nice to see an all-new model. So let me rejoice like The Jerk (some would argue I am a jerk) and say, “The New Hyundai Venue Is Here!”

Generally, I find subcompact crossovers as exciting as a new phone book, but the Venue felt new, fresh and dare I say it, teetering on exciting.

I usually end my reviews with a list of the price, but I’m going to start it off by stating that the MSRP for my tester was $19,250. That’s important to remember as very few vehicles on the road fall below that $20K threshold. When you consider the price, the impressiveness of the Venue magnifies.

On looks, the Venue resembles other little bubble crossovers in this highly competitive segment. The styling is modern and not too frilly. The overall look should present mass appeal for the Venue as a vehicle ideal for new/young drivers or for empty nesters looking to downsize. Mission accomplished in regard to the overall styling and providing broad appeal, even if overall there’s nothing extraordinary about the exterior.

From someone who has done this for years, the Venue nameplate on the back of the vehicle is elevated and painted to match the body color. Big deal? That’s actually an extra expense that isn’t really necessary but shows some of the special touches found on this affordable vehicle.

Where the excitement wanes is in the Venue’s powertrain. The 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine makes only 121 horsepower and 113 lbs.-ft. of torque. It’s slow off the line. Although it does seem to overperform its output numbers a bit, it’s still a pokey vehicle.

The Venue has a modified continuously variable transmission (CVT) that is called an intelligent variable transmission. This means it’s programmed to shift at an optimal way. More times than not, it’s no big deal and seems OK, but in a few gears and at the mid-range RPMs, the transmission seems to hold the revs too long. There is a manual transmission option for the Venue.

Inside, as is the case with most of Hyundai’s product line, the interior is impressive. The key word for the Venue is value. For a $20,000 vehicle there are nice features you don’t often find on vehicles that are $10,000 to 15,000 more expensive. This is where Hyundai is really winning over consumers.

The Venue claims to be a five-passenger vehicle, but it’s really more like a four-person vehicle, as a fifth person would have to be a small child. Their presence would eat into the shoulder and hip room on the back seat. But two adults will be quite comfortable in the back seat of this small crossover.

The cloth upholstery is high-quality and soft. The front seat is comfortable and there’s a great vantage point for the driver. The infotainment is basic but has all the technology you need including Apple CarPlay. It’s an intuitive system and won’t confuse anyone. I can appreciate that.

Cargo area is near the bottom of the segment with the Venue offering only 18.7 cubic feet behind the second row and 31.9 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down. It’s adequate but uninspiring. A vehicle like the Honda Fit has far more useable cargo room than the Venue.

There are three trim options for the Venue including the base SE trim, the middle tier SEL (my tester) and the cutely named, top-tier Denim trim. As such, my tester had a base price of $19,250. With the Convenience Package that includes a sunroof, blind spot monitors and a leather-wrapped steering wheel, along with the Premium Package which has heated front seats, 17-inch alloy wheels and a bigger touchscreen, my tester had a final MSRP of $23,405.

The Venue, which doesn’t offer all-wheel drive (only front-wheel drive) has an EPA rating of 30 mpg/city and 34 mpg/highway. In a week’s worth of mostly suburban driving, I averaged 32 mpg.

So, there’s my take: The Venue is better than a new phone book! It’s a value-oriented, youthful, affordable crossover.


  • Price/As-tested price………………………………………… $19,250/$23,405
  • Mileage…………………………………… 30 mpg/city; 34 mpg/hwy
  • Engine……………………………………… 1.6-liter 4-cylinder
  • Horsepower…………………………… 121 hp/113 lbs.-ft.
  • Transmission…………………………… Intelligent Variable Transmission
  • Drive wheels……………. Front-wheel drive
  • Final assembly point……………. Ulsan, Korea

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