The 2020 Hyundai Venue doesn’t have enough flair

Executive Wheels: Although it looks like an SUV, it definitely isn’t one

2020 Hyundai Venue SEL

With a major decline in sedans in automakers lineups, I couldn’t help thinking when driving this new Hyundai Venue subcompact SUV, that it was simply Hyundai’s subcompact sedan, the Accent, with a SUV body. It struck me that you could take, for example, a Chevy Impala or a Chrysler 300 or a Buick Regal, replace the sedan body with a boxy SUV shape and, voila, sales would increase. That’s at least what it seemed like Hyundai has done with this 2020 introduction of the Venue.

So I kept thinking that when I reviewed the Venue I would check the specs of the Venue and the Accent and confirm my suspicion. Turns out I was wrong – they are very similar in specs, but not identical, and to my surprise it is the subcompact Accent sedan that is the larger of the two. Here are the basic size specs:

  • Wheelbase: Venue, 99.2 inches; Accent, 101.6 inches
  • Length: Venue, 159.1 inches; Accent 172.6 inches
  • Width: Venue, 69.7 inches; Accent 68.1 inches
  • Height: Venue, 61.6 inches; Accent 57.1 inches
  • Curbweight: Venue, 2,612-2,738 pounds; Accent, 2,679 pounds

The two vehicles even have a similar engine: a 1.6-liter, 4-cylinder job, with 121 horsepower rating in the Venue and a 120 hp rating in the Accent. 

Perception is everything. This isn’t about the Venue being a SUV, it’s about the Venue looking like a SUV. If you drive a sedan, you’re practical, but if you drive a SUV, you have flair. The new Hyundai Venue is an Accent with flair.

Which isn’t saying much. Overall, I like Hyundais, but I am not a big fan of the Accent, it’s too small, and this Venue left me a bit cold. The fact that it looked like a SUV didn’t make it one. It felt like a small car–lightweight, tinny, a little noisy. And, unfortunately, I had the Venue in one of those frequent February snowstorms and I got the car stuck twice where I needed to push it out of the gutter. On the plus side, it was so light it was relatively easy to get un-stuck.

It’s not an awful car by any means but given the price I know I could do better. For the lower-end SE model, the Venue carries a base price of $16,350; for this higher-end SEL trim the base price jumps to $18,250. On my test-drive model they added on another $5,000 (including $1,120 in destination charges) for a convenience package and a premium package, which brought things like a power sunroof, 17-inch wheels, safety tech (blind spot, rear and cross-traffic alerts), LED headlamps, 8-inch navigation touch screen and a slightly upgraded audio system. (Just so you know, the base price on a Subaru Impreza – with all-wheel-drive included – is $18,695, so for the same $23,405 they are asking for this Venue I could get a much better car.)

If Hyundai had put AWD in this vehicle at the same price, maybe I would have a better overall opinion. Or maybe for that money I’d get the Subaru and know my opinion and experience would be more positive.

The Venue, even in the upgraded trim, is a pretty Spartan offering. It’s a classic small, subcompact car with a SUV body. There is not enough to recommend.


Categories: Industry Trends, Transportation