• Crossover
  • 2020 Hyundai Venue SEL Review

    2020 Hyundai Venue SEL Review

    What do you do in a crossover-crazy world and you need a subcompact to round out your lineup? Well, if you’re Hyundai you roll out the new 2020 Venue. It’s the automaker’s newest and smallest “urban” compact SUV, designed to go up against the Nissan Kicks, Kia Soul and Toyota C-HR among others. Aimed at younger entry-level buyers, it’s budget-friendly, fuel-efficient and at the same time offers some great technology. It’s available as an SE, SEL and Denim trim. My Stellar Gray SEL test vehicle arrived at my door equipped with two optional packages which add a lot of goodies, but raise the price quite a bit over the base model.


    Bold, boxy, chiseled styling comes to mind when you look at the Venue. The SEL’s chrome grille is styled more like the new Hyundai Palisade, than the Kona. Up front you’ll see cube-shaped headlamps. You’ll get high beams and my test model’s optional Premium package adds LED low beam headlights and daytime running lights, along with LED taillights and heated side mirrors as well as optional 17-inch alloy wheels (15-inch are standard.) The SEL also comes standard with body-colored door handles along with roof rails and it’s the only trim to offer an optional power one-touch sunroof.


    The Venue’s 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine provides 121-horsepower, which isn’t best-in-class but felt sufficiently peppy for city driving given its light 2,700-ish pounds. No complaints when it came to merging onto the highway and keeping up with traffic, either. A 6-speed manual is available but this vehicle has Hyundai’s quick, smooth-shifting Smartstream IVT (Intelligent Variable Transmission). While it’s not a sporty driving SUV, switching from Normal to Sport mode did make the drive feel a little more engaging. It’s front-wheel drive only with 113 lb.-ft of torque and offers a Snow Mode with advanced traction control to help in slippery conditions. It’s also equipped withHillstart Assist Control and rear disc brakes.

    Ride and Drive

    The Venue is easy to drive with a nice ride height. (Great visibility out the front and back windows.) It handles well, it’s easy to maneuver, and the suspension felt nice on the smooth highway. The ride was a bit less comfortable on city roads when I could feel road imperfections more than I’d like. The cabin was also a bit on the noisy side for me. But I encourage a test drive as noise levels can be subjective.


    The Venue’s two-toned cloth interior isn’t luxurious, but it’s nicely designed and roomy with nice leg- and head-room in both rows. There are no power seats in the lineup. The manually operated front seats felt on the firmer side. As you’d expect at this price point, there is a lot of plastic throughout and it’s missing soft-touch door armrests. However, an optional package adds some nicer elements I appreciated like three-level heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear shifter.

    A tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel with mounted controls is standard across the lineup. The Venue’s gauge cluster hosts a small 3.5-inch digital display that gives you driver information.

    You’ll find two cupholders up front. I had the albeit rare occasion to need more. So long story short, I ended up spilling coffee on both myself and the seat. However, on the plus side, if I hadn’t done that I never would have discovered how stain resistant the seats are. I was remarkably impressed by how easy the driver’s seat was to clean. Water and a damp cloth and presto it was gone.

    A unique storage space above the glove box fits a smartphone, but there is no wireless charging.

    Standard SEL features include automatic climate control, a hand parking brake, dual front USB ports, 12 volt, and power windows.

    A 6-speaker sound system is an upgrade over the base model’s four-speaker system.


    Technology is the best part about the Venue. The Navigation with Voice Recognition is superb - works just like it did in the 2020 Hyundai Sonata (a vehicle that costs nearly $10,000 more.) The system is easy to use, understands what you are saying, and is quick to respond. It also successfully found all the radio stations and locations I requested, even a small, local park.

    The lineup’s standard 8-inch touchscreen multimedia display is also fantastic and looks pricier than the car’s price point would indicate. Apple Carplay and Android Auto along with Bluetooth with Voice Recognition are standard across the lineup. The SEL adds the great Navigation system I mentioned above.

    Hyundai is also really embracing connectivity with its mobile app, Blue Link. With a compatible smartphone, you can do things like lock, unlock and start your Venue remotely. It also integrates with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.


    The Venue offers a 60/40 split and delivers the amount of cargo space you’d expect in a subcompact SUV. I had no trouble fitting my curbside pickup pet supplies back there along with some farmer’s market goodies.

    A rear covering shelf helps hide your stuff when needed and a dual level cargo floor feature accommodates taller items. The specs list a standard remote trunk release, but I couldn’t seem to find it, so operated it the old-fashioned way.


    The Venue lineup benefits from a lot of Hyundai’s really great driver assist features - and the base model comes standard with Forward Collision Warning, Lane Keep Assist, Cruise Control and Driver Attention Alert. The SEL can be equipped with an optional package that adds Blind Spot Collision and Rear Cross Traffic Warning.

    What You’ll Pay

    The base model starts from $17,300 not including destination. But to get the things I think are best about this SUV you’ll need to spend substantially more than that. This SEL with its options stickers for $23,405.

    The $1,150 Convenience Package that adds a power sunroof, sliding armrest with storage box, leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. Blind spot collision and rear cross traffic warning. The $1,750 Premium Package adds heated front seats and side mirrors, LED headlights and daytime running lights, led tail lights, 17-inch alloy wheels, push-button start, 8-inch screen navigation. $135 carpeted floor mats are also optional.


    Overall, the Hyundai Venue largely succeeds in its efforts to offer a budget-friendly option that looks great and still provides a lot of technology with a great infotainment system and safety features. If you’re shopping for a subcompact SUV, you should also check out the Nissan Kicks SR, which comes with more features including optional leather seats at this price point. Though it’s really hard to beat Hyundai’s fantastic multimedia touchscreen as well as Hyundai Assurance, Hyundai’s 10-year/100,000 mile power train warranty and 3-years of free maintenance.

    2020 Hyundai Venue SEL

    • What I liked most: Its excellent quality 8-inch multimedia touchscreen with Navigation and fantastic Voice Recognition.
    • What I would change: Add wireless charging and center drop down armrest with cupholders in rear seats.
    • MSRP: SEL Base price: $19,250; as equipped: $23,405.
    • Fuel Economy: 30 city/34 highway/32 combined.
    • Official Color: Stellar Silver.
    • Odometer reading when tested: 5,689 miles.
    • Weight: 2,612 – 2,738 lbs.
    • Spare Tire: Compact Temporary Spare.
    • Length-Width-Height: 159” long/69.7” wide/ " high.
    • Fuel Tank Capacity: 11.9 with filler on the driver’s side.
    • Towing Capacity: N/A
    • 2020 Hyundai Venue in a few words: A well-designed entry-level subcompact SUV that doesn’t skimp on great technology.
    • Warranty: 5-year/60,000-mile fully-transferable new vehicle limited warranty; Hyundai Assurance 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain limited warranty, 3 years complimentary service and five years of complimentary Roadside Assistance.
    • Final Assembly Location: Ulsan, Korea.
    • Manufacturers website: Hyundai