Pedro Arrais review: Hyundai Venue ideal for a first-time buyer

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Budding musicians can go from venue to venue with the introduction of the 2020 Hyundai Venue, the least-expensive SUV/crossover you can buy in Canada.

The Venue is the new entry-level offering in Hyundai’s SUV/crossover lineup, fitting into the subcompact segment below the Hyundai Kona. It has a starting price of $17,099.

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It isn’t Hyundai’s least expensive vehicle yet, but it soon may be. In some markets, Hyundai has already discontinued the Accent, its current five-door subcompact hatchback, giving the Venue the crown. But that hasn’t happened in North America — yet.

The Venue comes in four trim levels, with my tester, the Ultimate model, carrying a sticker price of $24,899.

The Venue is aimed at the urban first-time buyer, and it appeals to that group with a budget-friendly price. Despite its diminutive dimensions, its boxy body contains ample room for friends and cargo.

Headroom is a generous 1,000 millimetres in the front and 980 mm in the back. Legroom is 1,050 front and 870 mm back, with passenger interior volume pegged at 2,602 litres.

My tester had the Ultimate trim level — the fanciest — with premium items more commonly found in luxury brands. The interior is simple, uncluttered and logically arranged.

Comfort items that I didn’t expect include a heated steering wheel, power sunroof, push-button start and climate control.

The rear seatbacks fold 60/40 and the cargo floor has two positions. Cargo capacity is 335 litres with the seats up and 1,148 with them down.

The infotainment system consists of an eight-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability. The menus were easy to decipher and the system response time was good.

Technophiles will appreciate Hyundai’s BlueLink connected vehicle system, which allows users to access some functions — such as remote vehicle lock or unlock, remote start and remote climate control via their smartphone.

The system even has an automatic collision notification function that will call for emergency services in case of a crash.

My tester had navigation built-in, but lesser trims don’t offer that feature.

There is only one engine available, a 1.6-litre four cylinder producing 121 horsepower and 113 pound-feet of torque.

A manual transmission is available — but only in the base model. Every other trim gets a continuously variable transmission).

Power is delivered to the front wheels only — there is no all-wheel-drive option. As if to compensate, drivers can choose a Snow option along with Normal and Sport modes.

Let’s be frank, that last mode is more optimistic than fact. If you do choose Sport, the engine rpms go up, but you don’t really go faster.

If performance is what you’re after, you really should consider the Kona, the Venue’s bigger brother.

Fuel economy is 8.0 litres per 100 km in the city and 7.0 on the highway.

Compared with the Nissan Kicks, another subcompact SUV, power output and fuel consumption are similar.

With a 2,520-mm wheelbase and a 5.1-metre turning radius, the Venue is refreshingly nimble in the city. Unfortunately, the short wheelbase also results in a choppy ride on rough roads.

Apart from premium touches in the cabin, the Ultimate also impresses with its safety suite.

You get forward collision-avoidance assist (with automated emergency braking), lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist, driver-attention warning, blind-spot collision warning with lane-change assist and rear cross-traffic warning.

While these features have become more common of late thanks to trickle-down effect of technology, it is the first time an entry-level model (albeit the highest trim in the line) has been so equipped.

With certain models, the Venue contrasts its entry-level stigma with a trendy/hip vibe, with eye-catching two-tone paint schemes and flashy wheels.

The Venue might be inexpensive to start. It can even be plain. But dress it up and you can go to town — and that’s the point.

THE SPEC SHEET

Type: Subcompact SUV, front-engine, front-wheel-drive

Engine: 1.6-litre four-cylinder, 121 hp at 6,300 r.p.m., 113 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,500

Transmission: Continuously variable

Dimensions (mm): Length, 4,040; width, 1,770; height, 1,592; wheelbase, 2,520

Curb weight (kg): 1,251

Price (base/as tested): $24,899/ $26,809 (includes $1,810 freight and PDI and $100 AC tax)

Options: Nil

Tires: 205/55 R 17 on alloy wheels

Fuel type: Regular

Fuel economy (L/100km): 8.0 city/ 7.0 highway

Warranty: Five years/100,000 km new car, five years/unlimited km roadside assistance

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