Modern tech plus a warranty, for a used car price.
As evidenced by the lack of new vehicles available under $20,000, many entry-level car shoppers now resort to the used market for their transportation needs. But back in 2018, Hyundai Vice President Mike O'Brien told CarBuzz that it noticed how few vehicles are available at an affordable price point and said the Korean automaker was planning to solve this issue. Fast-forward to the 2020 Hyundai Venue, the car that O'Brien was hinting at, and we see why the company was eager to introduce a new crossover below the Kona.
We recently spent a week driving the Venue, and after that time, we believe Hyundai built a perfect alternative to a used car. This entry-level model has a lot to offer at an affordable price point, but here are five attributes in particular that we love.
Hyundai's current design language looks modern and tasteful, with some models getting funkier than others. The Venue adopts the same split headlight design as its larger sibling, the Kona, but Hyundai wanted to keep its crossovers from looking too similar to each other. To this end, the Venue gets a distinctive cascading grille design, which makes the pint-sized crossover look more aggressive. Higher trim models benefit from stylish 17-inch wheels, and the two-tone paint job found on the Demin trim adds to the curb appeal.
The Venue may be tiny, but it is packed to the brim with outstanding technology, even on lower trims. Standard features on the base SE model include forward collision avoidance, lane-keep assist, driver attention warning, and an eight-inch touchscreen display with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The higher SEL trim adds drive modes and automatic climate control. Features like a sunroof, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, LED running lights, heated seats, built-in navigation, and proximity key with push-button start are available optionally. Even a used luxury car from just a few years ago could miss some or all of these features.
To keep costs down, the Venue only comes with one engine option, a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine with 122 horsepower and 113 lb-ft of torque. This may seem like an insufficient amount of power for a new vehicle, but with only around 2,700 pounds to haul around, the little engine gets the Venue to 60 mph in a scant 8.8 seconds. Its small stature combined with surprisingly communicative steering makes the Venue a joy to hustle around tight city streets.
That low curb weight also helps the Venue achieve excellent fuel economy figures of 30/34/32 mpg city/highway/combined. The Venue's continuously variable transmission works fabulously with the 1.6-liter engine, often fooling you into thinking it is a conventional automatic. Hyundai does not offer the Venue with all-wheel-drive, as that would drive up the price and hurt fuel economy.
The Venue has a tiny footprint, but Hyundai has maximized the interior space to the best of its ability. There are plenty of little areas to place small items in the front row, including a handy shelf in front of the passenger seat, though rear legroom is a bit cramped with just 34.3 inches of rear legroom. In the cargo area, you'll find 18.7 cubic feet of space with a removable load floor. Folding down the back seats opens the storage space to 31.9 cubic feet, making the Venue more versatile.
With a starting price of $17,350 for the SE trim with a manual transmission, Hyundai positioned the Venue to compete with used alternatives like a Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla. Some of those used options may have a bit more space, but the Venue offers newer technology, one of the best new-car warranties in the business, and the access to better financing that isn't available on a pre-owned purchase. A fully-loaded SEL or Demin trim can exceed $22,000, but with a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty included, the Venue feels like a more trustworthy alternative to a used car.