2020 Hyundai Venue first drive: Frisky and frugal

The Kona and Venue both use Hyundai’s K2 architecture. But the Venue is based on a smaller version shared with the Hyundai Accent; that means the Venue is exclusively front-wheel drive. Engineers really focused on body rigidity for the Venue. And to accomplish that goal they adopted 46 percent advanced high-strength steel and used another 16 percent high-strength steel in the structure. Up front you’ll find a familiar strut-type front suspension, with a torsion beam handling things at the rear.
Take a tape measure to both the Kona and Venue and it’s clear which one’s the tyke. The Venue’s tiny 99.2-inch wheelbase is 3.2 inches shorter than that of the Kona. It’s also 5.1 inches shorter overall and narrower by just over an inch. Yet the Venue is actually a little taller, which helps it recover some interior volume. In fact, there’s 18.7 cubic feet of cargo volume behind the back seat and 31.9 cubic feet with that seat folded. But the neatest trick for cargo loading is the simple slot built into the back of the rear seat to store the cargo cover. Smart.
Buyers will be able to choose between three trims: SE, SEL or Denim. But there’s only one engine here—Hyundai’s 1.6-liter four-cylinder with dual port fuel injection and continuously variable valve timing. It’s the same powerplant the company uses in the Accent, and Hyundai says it should generate 121 hp and 113 lb-ft of torque. That may not sound like much but in its lightest trim the Venue only has to move 2,300 pounds. That’s several hundred pounds lighter than many subcompact crossovers. And unlike most new vehicles, the Venue is available with a manual transmission. Yay! However it only comes on the base SE models. Boo! Every other trim will hitch that four-cylinder to a continuously variable transmission, aka CVT. Although the EPA has yet to test the Venue, Hyundai predicts it will return 32 mpg combined.