Caraganza First Drive Review 2020 Hyundai Venue: Tiny Dancer


I’m not prone to be surprised much. Maybe it’s because I’m old, or cynical perhaps. It’s not that I’m adverse to surprises, not at all. I don’t mind being surprised on occasion, it’s just that I am not often. Surprised that is.

Does that make sense?

Through the years I’ve driven all manner of cars, most good, some not. Only a few have been surprises. Because well, as already noted I’m not prone to be surprised much.

When Hyundai told me they were sending me their all new for 2020 Venue for a recent week, I did some basic research and did a bit of an eye roll afterwards. Another small crossover in a world filled with small crossovers.

Sigh.  Just what the world needs more of, another small crossover.

Turns out I was in for a bit of a surprise.

With its introduction for MY 2020, The Venue officially slots into the Hyundai lineup as its smallest crossover. It’s a full 5 inches shorter than the Kona, which is already pretty small itself.  Yet it allegedly seats five adults.

Well, I thought to myself, we‘ll see about that.

The 2020 Venue can be had in three trim levels: SE, SEL and Denim.  The SE (base model) comes with standard features like automatic headlights, an 8-inch touchscreen display, automatic emergency braking, lane keeping assist atop 15-inch steel wheels. Moving up to the SEL adds an armrest storage box, automatic climate control, adds another USB port, two more speakers to the sound system (up from four), and a snow drive mode. The 15-inch wheels become alloy.  The Denim model adds two-tone blue and white paint which is the only available color, and simulated leather seating.

Option packages start at the SEL level and include the Convenience package with a sunroof, a sliding armrest, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert.  The Premium package adds LED headlights, heated front seats, Hyundai’s Blue Link Connected Car system, keyless entry, push-button start and 17-inch alloy wheels.

The Denim gets most of the options found on the SEL.


Under the hood the Venue gets by a 121-hp four-cylinder engine paired with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). If you want a six-speed manual by the way, you can get it on the SE model, but not for 2021.  Among the few changes for 2021, Hyundai dropped the manual, so all models get the CVT.

My tester for the week was the 2020 SLE with both the Convenience and Premium packages.  The first surprise was the look.  From the outside the Venue has sort of a Palisade vibe, boxier and squarer than the funky curves of the Kona.  Thus, the look appeals a little more us older drivers.  Inside, the Venue’s interior seems roomier than its small exterior size would suggest.  Overall, it has 19 cubic feet of cargo room which increases to 32 cubes when the back seat is folded flat.

Up front the room seems fine, and while I might not want to go for a long road trip shoved with three other adults in the backseat, for short hauls it seems like it would not be too much of an issue.

Speaking of road trips.  The 121 horses under the hood seem fine for jaunts around town. Almost zippy. But I’m not sure that would be enough power for long highway trips. It does lag a bit coming up to speed on a highway on-ramp, but once there should be okay.

If you want a small crossover for everyday driving around town however the Venue seems like a good choice. During my week there was enough power to get the job done, the cabin was roomy and comfortable, and the ride just fine.

But wait there’s more.

What really caught my eye is the value the Venue brings to the table.  It turns out that the Venue is the cheapest crossover in America. The base Venue starts at $18,470, a bit less than the Kia Soul ($18,610) and Nissan Kicks ($19,965).

Sure, it needs a few things; a heads-up display, power-operated adjustments for the front seats, wireless phone charging, and the cabin does contain a great deal of plastic, and there’s no all-wheel drive available.  But for what it is, the Venue really is a good value.

The lesson is, that as long as you take it for what it is as opposed to what it isn’t, we all be just fine.

It will be interesting to see how Hyundai will evolve the Venue in the coming years. It’s pretty darn good right out of the gate, so it should only get better.  And for someone who wants a small crossover that isn’t a speed demon, or a long road tripper, and wants to save some money, the Venue should be at the top of the shopping list.

Take a look, you might just be in for a nice surprise.

The 2020 Hyundai Venue SEL
MSRP: $19,150
MSRP (as tested): $23,280
Engine: 1.6 liter I-4, 121 horsepower @ 6300 rpm, 113 ft-lb torque @ 4500 rpm
Transmission: CVT with OD
Fuel Mileage (EPA): 30 city, 34 highway, 32 combined
Fuel Mileage (as tested, mixed conditions): 31 mpg
Base Curb Weight: 2738 lbs.

Exterior Dimensions (inches)
Wheelbase: 99.2
Length: 159.1
Width, without mirrors: 69.7
Height: 61.6
Front Track Width: 61.2
Rear Track Width: 61.6
Minimum Ground Clearance: 6.7

Interior Dimensions
Total Passenger Volume (cubic feet): 91.9
Front Head Room (inches): 39.4
Front Leg Room (inches): 41.3
Front Shoulder Room (inches): 53.9
Second Row Head Room (inches): 38.6
Second Row Leg Room (inches): 34.3
Second Row Shoulder Room (inches): 53.7
Cargo Space/Area Behind Front Row (cubic feet): 31.9
Cargo Space/Area Behind Second Row (cubic feet): 18.7
Cargo Space/Area Behind Third Row (cubic feet): 18.7

Basic: 5 Years/60,000 Miles
Drivetrain: 10 Years/100,000 Miles
Corrosion: 7 Years/Unlimited Miles
Roadside Assistance: 5 Years/Unlimited Miles

Greg Engle