2020 Hyundai Venue Denim Review: A Quirky, Surprisingly Upscale Affordable Crossover

It's no speed machine, but you still get quite a bit for your money

ProsCons
✓ Distinctive looks☓ Front-wheel drive only
✓ Upscale interior☓ Occasionally noisy engine
✓ Value☓ No steering feel
✓ Standard safety features☓ Jerky ride on bumpy roads

2020 Hyundai Venue: Overview

This 2020 Hyundai Venue ‘Denim’ has a boxy silhouette with tasteful cladding and chiseled angles. Couple that to a modestly high roof and special Denim (blue) paint, a rather striking white roof and white paint touches above the wheels and surrounding the headlight trim, and it’s all very classy. The Venue’s grille looks aggressive, and the vehicle has a wide stance. 

All 2020 Hyundai Venue models have the same engine. Including $1,140 in destination charges, trims include the $18,490 SE, $20,390 SEL and $23,190 Denim special edition. Only the SE comes with the six-speed manual transmission (and Hyundai is dropping it for 2021) — the other models have a smooth continuously variable transmission, which can be manually shifted.

Performance

The 2020 Hyundai Venue’s four-cylinder engine is small at 1.6-liters, and generates 121 horsepower and 113 lb-ft of torque. It has such features as two fuel injectors per cylinder and continuously variable valve timing to improve efficiency. However, although the engine keeps the Venue lively in town, its lack of low-end grunt makes it noisy when merging into fast traffic or passing above 65 mph. Peak horsepower and torque aren’t reached until high in the engine rev range, a down side of tiny, naturally-aspirated powertrains.

Still, the Venue delivers an estimated 30 miles per gallon town and 34 on highways. It has an 11.9 gallon fuel tank, making the effective range around 380 miles.

Drivers can select Normal, Sport or Snow modes depending on the conditions. I encountered no snow in August, and found Sport mode doesn’t change the vehicle’s response much. Ground clearance isn’t overly generous and the Venue is strictly front-wheel drive, so drivers shouldn’t try adventuresome off-road treks. 

The Venue’s ride is smooth on good pavement but gets choppy on bumpy roads. Steering is quick but lacks feel, leaving a driver to only guess what the front tires are doing. Push past that, however, and the handling is nimble, even with some slight body lean while taking freeway ramps at above-average speeds. However, electronic stability and traction controls, along with 55-series tires on 17-inch wheels help stability. The brake pedal has a nice linear action.

Comfort and Convenience

The Venue’s handy 99.2-inch wheelbase and 159.1-inch length make it easy to park and maneuver. Granted, those with tall legs will wish they had a little more legroom behind a tall driver, but there’s plenty of headroom for occupants to sit a bit higher than in a car and peer through large glass windows.

Its surprisingly upscale interior, often just found in much costlier SUVs, has nicely shaped blue leatherette and denim seats (manual adjustment only), tilt/telescopic wheel with cruise and audio controls, push-button start, padded armrests, automatic climate control and an easily used 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system. Gauges can be quickly read, and there’s a row of well-marked small dashboard buttons and several large climate system dials.

There’s also Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, as well as USB Type-A and 12-volt power ports. All materials are high grade, except for a mediocre-looking headliner. Curiously, a large rotary dial in the dashboard does nothing but show the interior temperature, as if someone forgot to give it a useful control function.  

The nicely-shaped but moderately sized cargo area has a somewhat high but wide opening beneath the hatch. Split-folding rear seat backs easily flip forward to greatly enlarge the cargo area. Also, the Venue’s Denim trim has no optional sunroof or manual transmission option. They are offered on lesser Venue models. 

Verdict

The 2020 Hyundai Venue once might have looked out of place in a SUV market once dominated by mostly much larger vehicles. But why not a small SUV if it’s done right? The Venue is such a vehicle. Hyundai calls it “unapologetically small.”

No need to apologize. This $23,190 Venue Denim is the best-equipped version of the smallest Hyundai SUV you can buy right now, but it still has room for four adults (five in a pinch). 

Safety features include forward collision avoidance assist with pedestrian detection, blind spot and rear cross-traffic collision warnings, driver attention warning and lane keep assist, as well as a host of front and side-curtain airbags.

Bottom Line — the 2020 Hyundai Venue is a cleverly-designed and surprisingly upscale crossover for the price.

See more on the brand new Hyundai Venue below:

2020 Hyundai Venue Denim Specifications:

MSRP$23,190 (includes $1,140 destination)
Price as tested$23,345
Engine1.6-liter N/A inline-four
Power121 hp @ 6,300 rpm
Torque113 lb-ft @ 4,500 rpm
TransmissionContinuously variable transmission (“IVT”)
Drivetrain layoutFWD (no AWD option)
Curb weight2,738 lbs. (with accessories)
Fuel Economy (EPA)30 / 34 / 31 (city/hwy/combined)
Wheelbase99.2 inches
Ground Clearance6.7 inches
Length x Width x Height159.1 x 69.7 x 61.6 inches
Cargo Volume behind 2nd row18.7 cubic feet
Max Cargo Volume31.9 cubic feet
Warranty5-year/60,000-mile basic warranty
10-year/100,000-mile powertrain