By Shari Prymak
With consumer demand for crossovers at an all-time high, automakers are working to expand their offerings, explore new niches, and occasionally stretch the boundaries of what constitutes an SUV. In the case of Hyundai, the Korean brand has decided to scale back the once popular Accent in order to make room for its latest crossover: the Venue. Although it shares a platform with the affordable little Accent, the Venue takes on a whole new look and character to deliver what price-conscious crossover buyers are after.
The Venue serves as the entry-point to Hyundai’s SUV family, sitting just below the subcompact Kona in terms of both size and price. Compared to the rather conserve-looking Accent, the Venue comes off as far more adventurous with a boxy design and colourful details. It also ticks off most of the crossover checklist with its lifted appearance and chunky body cladding. Make no mistake; the Venue looks far more rugged than it actually is. At the end of the day, this is an urban vehicle designed for nothing more adventurous than a gravel road.
Despite having the look, the Venue can’t disguise the fact that it is a small vehicle, and the interior space reflects that. Rear seat and cargo space are comparable to that of a subcompact hatchback which means that it will be a tight squeeze for those who prioritize utility and practicality. In typical Hyundai fashion, the areas where the Venue mostly excels are features and user-friendliness. The standard 8 inch touchscreen is well-designed, easy to use, and comes with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The rotary dial climate controls and steering controls are equally effective and easy to master.
Driving the Venue is fairly uneventful, but it certainly gets the job done with a reasonable amount comfort and ease. Its compact dimensions make it easy to maneuver and fairly agile when thrown into corners. The 1.6L 4-cylinder engine only produces 121 horsepower, which means that power is adequate at best. The plus side is that fuel economy is quite respectable. With the help of an efficient continuously variable transmission (CVT), the Venue is rated for only 8.0L/100km city and 7.0L/100km highway. Unlike most crossovers, however, the Venue is not available with all-wheel drive, which further supports its mission as largely an urban runabout.
Pricing for the Venue starts at a very affordable $17,099 with a manual transmission or $18,399 with the CVT. Though reasonably well-equipped for the price, moving up to the $21,499 Preferred model adds many desirable features including a heated steering wheel, forward collision avoidance assist, lane keep assist, blind-spot warning, and rear cross-traffic warning. The range tops out with the Ultimate model at $24,899. In terms of size and pricing, the Venue’s closest rival is the equally affordable Nissan Kicks. Compared to the Kicks, the Venue offers a few additional features and a longer 5 year or 100,000km warranty, but lacks the interior space and standard active safety features offered by the Nissan.
Despite lacking all-wheel drive and a level of practicality that some may expect from a crossover, the Venue’s characterful design, lengthy features list, and affordability should make it a hit with consumers on a budget. It may just be a lifted-up hatchback at the end of the day, but it is one that punches above its modest price point, offering up the kind of value that Hyundai has long been well-known for. For those looking to get into the door of crossover ownership as affordably as possible, the Venue makes an excellent choice.