2020 Hyundai Venue: A near perfect Chicago vehicle

2020 Hyundai Venue: A near perfect Chicago vehicle
2020 Hyundai Venue at the 606 Graffiti Garden. (Photo by Jill Ciminillo)

I attended the launch of the 2020 Hyundai Venue in Miami back in January, and I really liked this petite new utility vehicle. It’s right-sized and correctly priced — especially now as unemployment is reaching all-time highs.

Sometimes owning a car isn’t an option, it’s a necessity. So, a lot of people buy used (which I’m totally in favor of BTW), but if you want all the latest safety technology, new is the way to go. 

Now you can get a new car with all the latest standard safety features for less than $20K — less than $19K if you can deal with a manual transmission.

After a week with the Venue in the Chicago, I like it even more. As if that were possible.

The Hits

One of the best things about the Hyundai Venue is its ability to blend into an urban environment. Whether I was trying to parallel park in teeny tiny spots or merge with traffic, Venue had me covered. It’s super easy to maneuver, and with a 99-inch wheelbase, it turns on a dime.

One of the most impressive things to me, however, was how quickly the 121-horsepower engine was able to get up to highway speeds. Sure, you hear the engine whine, but the Venue doesn’t really struggle to fall in line. Every time I entered the Kennedy I was impressed. Passing was also relatively easy.

After the preview, a lot of journalists mentioned while this would be fine for urban driving, you wouldn’t want to take it on a road trip because of its harsher ride and road noise that enters the cabin. So, I went on a road trip to Indianapolis to see if that was true.

None of that bothered me. For an entry-level SUV, it did just fine. It was quiet enough that I could use the hands-free to talk to my parents on the phone, and while I did feel the rough patches on the road more than I would in something larger and more luxurious, it wasn’t awful. It helped that most of my route was fairly smooth pavement.

2020 Hyundai Venue

If a small vehicle like the 2020 Hyundai Venue can fit my water bottle, I firmly state every automaker should figure the same. (Photo by Jill Ciminillo)

I found the seats comfortable enough, though I will admit after three solid hours behind the wheel, I was definitely ready to stand.

The test vehicle was the top-tier Denim model, and I loved the two-tone exterior as well as the kitschy jean-like seating material. It had heated seats and Apple CarPlay (which is standard at the base trim), so I really didn’t need much more than what I had. 

The biggest hit, however, has to be the standard safety features. The base Venue comes equipped with forward collision avoidance assist, lane keep assist and driver attention warning. 

Oh, and for such a small car, I would like to point out the cup holders are just perfect.

The Misses

Frankly, I don’t have much here. 

During the drive program, my drive partner dinged the Hyundai Venue for not having a height adjustable seat belt. She said it was too high, and so the belt cut into her neck. I’m about 4 or 5 inches shorter than she is, and I didn’t notice this problem.

This is the smallest, least expensive SUV in Hyundai’s lineup, so there is road and engine noise entering the cabin. Plus some of the finishings are a bit plasticky. 

2020 Hyundai Venue

2020 Hyundai Venue interior (Photo by Jill Ciminillo)

The Trims

SE ($18,740): Equipped with a manual transmission, 8-inch infotainment touchscreen, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, forward collision avoidance assistance, lane keep assist, driver attention warning. Adding an automatic transmission adds $1,200.

SEL ($20,370): Adds Drive Mode Select including Snow Mode, dual USB charging ports and automatic climate control. Available Convenience and Premium Packages.

Denim ($23,170): Adds exclusive two-tone exterior, “denim” interior, 17-inch wheels, leatherette combination seats, heated front seats, passive entry and push-button start.

The Chicago Factor

In addition to price, the size of the Hyundai Venue alone makes it an excellent Chicago vehicle. I was able to wedge it into tight parallel parking spaces and fitting in my city garage wasn’t even a question.

While it doesn’t offer all-wheel drive, starting at the middle trim, the Venue offers “Snow Mode,” which in simple terms provides better traction in slippery situations. For a better description, you wan watch this video demonstration with a way better explanation from Hyundai’s Derek Joyce.

At the end of the day, I like the standard safety, I love the design — which many people have remarked looks decidedly Mini-like — and I appreciate how adaptable it is in an urban environment.

For more information, you can read my first-look review on The Median.

2020 Hyundai Venue

The 2020 Hyundai Venue looks a little like a Mini from this angle. (Photo by Jill Ciminillo)


The Specs
Engine: 1.6L, 4-cylinder
Horsepower: 121 horsepower
Torque: 113 lb-ft
Fuel economy (combined): 32 mpg
Drivetrain: front-wheel drive
Height: 61.6 inches
Width: 69.7 inches
Length: 159.1 inches
Wheelbase: 99.2 inches
Seating capacity: 5
Cargo capacity (behind rear seats): 18.7 cu ft
Base price: $18,740
Price as tested: $23,305

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