When it comes to its 2020 vehicles, Hyundai has ruthlessly banished boring styling. Highlighted by a wild new grille, the brand’s current look, we think, is worn by some Hyundai models better than others.
The all-new Venue micro crossover is one of the Hyundais that wears it well -- so well, in fact, that (to our astonishment) three different people on three different occasions offered the same unsolicited opinion: It looks like a Mini.
No doubt that magnanimous assessment was, in large part, fostered by the white-roof-over-dark-body paint job worn by our top-of-the-line Venue Denim. Even so, that’s quite a compliment to bestow on what is, in fact, the cheapest crossover currently on offer to American car buyers.
Offered in SE, SEL and Denim trims, the tiny Venue starts at just $18,490. Of course, the top-trim Denim we drove costs more -- $23,325, to be exact, including our tester’s optional $135 carpeted floor mats -- but that’s still pretty modest considering that its just-over 23-grand price is really about the most you can spend on a Venue.
And Venue is well equipped. Even on the base SE, standards include an 8.0-inch infotainment touch screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, a 60/40-split folding rear seat, dual-level cargo floor, forward-collision warning, auto emergency braking and lane-keep assist.
Our loaded Denim boasted such standards as 17-inch wheels, the aforementioned contrasting roof paint (a Denim exclusive), six-speaker audio (it’s four in lesser Venues), navigation, LED headlights and taillights, satellite radio, leather-wrapped shifter and steering wheel, keyless entry/start, heated seats and active safety stuff like Forward Collision Avoidance Assist and Blind-Spot Warning.
The only significant cost-cutting move seems to be in Venue’s tractive talent. Despite its conceit as a “crossover SUV,” it does not offer all-wheel drive. Every Venue is a front-driver and every Venue is powered by a 1.6-liter, 121-hp I-4 that generates a modest 113 lb.-ft. of torque.
That power, such as it is, is managed in the base SE by a six-speed manual transmission. SEL and Denim get a standard CVT automatic, which is optional on SE.
On the road, Venue feels perky enough around town, but woefully slow when it comes to at-speed acceleration on the highway, where we spent most of our time. And when the skinny pedal is hammered, Venue sends up a cacophonous racket that belies its leisurely increase in velocity.
On the other hand, fuel economy is excellent. We realized 34 mpg in 165 miles of mostly highway motoring, just as the EPA figured.
Inside, room is marvelous up front in seats that are surprisingly well-bolstered and comfortable. In back, head room is stupendous but, not surprisingly in this little guy, leg room is dependent on the kindness of front passengers.
The infotainment interface is easy to use, with a logical touch screen, handy hard buttons to take you to the menu you desire and radio knobs for both volume and tuning.
From a size perspective, Venue is designed to compete with the likes of the Mazda CX-3, Ford EcoSport, Kia Soul and Nissan Kicks, although seems it’s the front-drive-only Soul and Kicks that are really living rent-free in Venue’s mind.
Regarding the name, Hyundai, in christening Venue, has abandoned its penchant for naming its crossovers after U.S. locales -- Kona (a district in Hawaii), Tucson (a town in Arizona), Santa Fe (a city in New Mexico), and Palisade (an amusement park in New Jersey, a state park in Utah, a town in Colorado, and who knows what else). Instead of a real place, Hyundai says, this “new-entry SUV name references a ‘place’ people want to be seen in.”
So, if you want to be seen in a 121-hp subcompact front-drive crossover, Venue is calling your name.
And, hey, folks’ll think you’re in a Mini.
This content was produced by Brand Ave. Studios. The news and editorial departments of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch had no role in its creation or display. For more information about Brand Ave. Studios, contact email@example.com.
Auto reviews, driving trends and up-to-date news about life on the road.