2020 Hyundai Venue Denim Edition Review: Try One on for Size

by Paul Strauss
2020 Hyundai Venue Denim Edition Review: Try One on for Sizezoom in

    2020 Hyundai Venue Denim Edition

  • Engine: 1.6L DOHC 4-cylinder
  • Horsepower: 121
  • Torque (lb-ft.): 113
  • Transmission: "Intelligent" CVT
  • Drive Configuration: FWD
  • City/Hwy/Combined MPG: 30/34/32
  • Curb Weight (lb): 2,612 to 2,738
  • Wheelbase (in): 99.2
  • Total Length (in): 159.1
  • Width (in): 69.7 (w/o mirrors)
  • Ground Clearance (in): 6.69
  • Base Price (USD): $22,050
  • Price as Tested (USD): $23,505

As demand for crossovers has risen in North America in recent years, each major automaker has expanded upon its CUV and SUV lineups, with an emphasis on offering a size for every purpose. At one end of the Hyundai spectrum is the capacious Palisade, and at the other end is the diminutive and playful Venue.

At just 159.1 inches long, the Venue is 5.5 inches shorter than the Kona, making it the new littlest of the Koreans’ seven crossovers and SUVs. With its waffle weave chrome grille, skinny headlights, and crisp, distinctive body styling, there’s no question the Venue is a spiffy little car. It’s definitely more adorable than aggressive, but has way more curb appeal than most other starter cars on the market.

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With an MSRP starting at just $17,350, you’d be hard-pressed to find another vehicle that looks this nice at this price point. It’s especially nice in the Denim Edition, which gets an exclusive blue paint color and white roof, along with pinwheel style 17″ alloy rims, LED headlights, daytime running lights, LED tail lights, and upgraded interior trim, among other features.

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Under the hood of the Venue is a diminutive 1.6-liter, naturally-aspirated inline-4 engine that makes just 121 horsepower and 116 lb-ft. of torque. Working in concert with Hyundai’s “Intelligent Variable Transmission” aka CVT, it’s by no means a quick car. Its little engine and drivetrain works hard under acceleration, and is a bit noisier than other small engines that benefit from turbocharging. That said, it’s perfectly fine for getting around town, and fuel efficient, offering a combined 32 mpg.

I found the Venue to be quite pleasant to drive in the city and suburban streets, as well as on the highway up to about 70 mph. Above that speed, it doesn’t feel as planted as larger crossovers – quite possibly due to its combination of tall profile, short wheelbase, and low weight.

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Inside, the Venue continues with its styling flair, with two-tone materials, and faux aluminum bezels that give everything a more premium and polished look. The Denim Edition’s special blue seats have stitched leatherette trim, and uniquely patterned cloth seating surfaces. The seats are comfortable and supportive, and there’s plenty of legroom and headroom for front seat passengers. One unusual thing is that the position of the “B” pillar (immediately behind the front row) had me scooching myself forward a bit whenever exiting the Venue with the driver’s seat in an appropriate position for my long legs.

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The back seat of the Venue isn’t bad for a car of this size either, assuming you don’t have the front seats pushed back too far. Cargo space is limited, with 18.7 cubic feet behind the second row, increasing to 31.9 cubic feet with the 60/40-split back seat lowered. While these are small numbers for a crossover, they’re still significantly better than a small sedan. There’s also a dual-height cargo floor, which can buy you a little extra height when you lower it, or raise it to provide an even floor.

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An 8-inch LCD touchscreen comes standard on every Venue, including Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support, along with Hyundai’s Blue Link connected car system for three years. There’s a single-zone automatic climate control system, as well as available heated front row seats and heated mirrors (standard with the Denim Edition.) Standard safety and tech features on every Venue include forward collision avoidance with pedestrian detection, lane-keeping assist, driver attention warning, brake assist, rearview camera, tire pressure monitoring system, remote keyless entry, and more. An optional blind-spot warning system with rear cross-traffic alert is available, and comes standard on the Denim Edition as well.

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While the Venue isn’t the most dynamic car when it comes to performance and handling, it is one of the most visually appealing subcompact crossovers, and a great option if you’re looking for an entry-level car with style and a solid package of safety and convenience tech. Add to that, excellent pricing, a 10-year/100,000 mile powertrain and 5-year/60,000 mile vehicle warranty, and 3-year/36,000 mile complimentary maintenance, and the Venue represents yet another in Hyundai’s long line of great bang-for-the-buck offerings.

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