Howdy hoons, it’s me again, back with some more crossover review hotness. After a palate cleansing go in a 2005 Alfa Romeo 147 GTA, I’ve decided to just own it, the car-based SUV is likely here to stay after all. At least this week’s ride was a fun looking little crossover, the Hyundai Venue. It’s not just any Venue though, it’s the cool looking “Denim” version. Let’s see if it’s skinny jeans or mom jeans, or something else altogether.
I’ll also try and get through this without (m)any Squid Game references. Green light, let’s go!
Venue Denim Overview
Hyundai refers to the Venue as a Urban Compact SUV, which means it’s easy to park, yet hip. Somehow. There are but three trim levels for the little Venue.
Sub twenty grand for a subcompact SUV is pretty solid, and even the base SE comes with some decent stuff. For another $3,300 you’ll get exclusive denim color and a white roof, plus some denim-looking interior bits. It’s blue, on blue with some blue. The Denim is, obviously, the loaded version of the Venue, with elements from the Premium Package including heated front seats and mirrors, a sunroof, LED lighting everywhere, automatic climate control, Hyundai’s Blue Link Connected Car system, nav, and more. It’s definitely not spartan inside the Venue.
The Venue is lil, with derived from the same platform that underpins the Hyundai Accent. It basically looks like a tall hatchback, with a short wheelbase and stubby proportions. It’s about the same width and height of a Toyota C-HR, but it’s a dozen or so inches shorter.
The fact that the rear cargo area doesn’t plummet downward in an attempt to be as coupe-like as possible means that cargo space is actually much better than the Toyota. You’ll get 60/40 split-folding rear seats with about 19 cubic feet of cargo room behind that. That bumps a bit (32 cubic feet) when the back seat is folded down.
I dig the wheel design, it’s a little busy but geometrically interesting. Add a set of really cool looking slim LED headlight with additional lighting below, and you’ve got yourself a Venue. It’s a pretty simple formula.
The magic of the Venue is on the inside though. Peep those seats, it’s a pretty funky little hatchback inside. I’m not a massive fan of the tan, I almost wish they had gone full blue jean motif and just made the whole damn thing blue. The seating position is actually really good though, with surprisingly great bolsters.
The Venue Denim doesn’t feel like a twenty-something thousand dollar vehicle on the inside, even with it’s MSRP coming in at roughly half of the average new car price being paid currently (an amazing $45,031). That’s a great differentiator in the subcompact segment, and I imagine buyers will pay a little more for some added comfort.
It’s impressive from a tech perspective, with a nice eight-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. As noted, the cargo space is ample for a smol guy like the Venue, and I found basic day-to-day errands easy to crank through. I liked all of the cubbies and slots to store stuff. There are some odd design elements though, that big round HVAC readout in the middle? That doesn’t do anything other than just display the temperature. You can’t rotate it, which is counterintuitive.
Driving the Venue around town is great, the engine gets a little buzzy when it revs, but for daily driving in the city it’s great. Head out onto the highway and things take a turn for the worse though. The 121 horsepower “Smartstream” 1.6L four-cylinder is the same no matter which trim you choose. I made a comment the other day at a press event that “almost all new cars are fast”. A relative statement for sure, but I have rarely felt that a new car I’ve been reviewing was too slow to merge onto the highway or do illegal speeds with ease.
The Venue is not in that camp, the 113 ft. lbs. of torque isn’t quite enough to get the 2,738 lb. vehicle moving. Even when it’s at speed, dropping your foot on the accelerator doesn’t really result in much. As usual, the sport button makes it worse, it just over-revs the engine every time you hit gas.
Off the highway in the bendy bits, it wallows in the turns. Plus, because it’s down on power to pull it along when the road straightens, it doesn’t really have an enthusiastic side. Also, that blind spot from the rear c-pillar is very annoying. Otherwise, it would make a great daily driver for someone who sticks to city streets of b-roads. Just don’t try and merge in front of a semi truck in a Venue.
The amount of vehicle you get for around $20K is fantastic. Compared to subcompact competitors like the Nissan Kicks and Toyota C-HR, the Venue seems a bit more upscale. Plus you get Hyundai’s rockin warranty, a decent 30 / 33 / 31 (city/highway/combined) MPG rating, and a host of impressive safety features. While I won’t say that the Venue Demin Edition is fun to drive, it’s not, but it’s actually a really nice place to spend some time. It’s the kind of car I’d recommend to someone who isn’t really into cars that is looking for an inexpensive, but new, commuter car.
Hyundai has some decent offers at the moment, $1,500 off, 0.9% APR and a $159 /month ($2,399 due at lease signing).