The 2020 Hyundai Venue argues small and affordable doesn’t mean basic

Hyundai traveled to the 2019 New York Auto Show to unveil the Venue. We’re not talking about a sponsorship deal with a football stadium, or writing about the grand opening of a hip, 1980s-inspired restaurant in NYC’s Chelsea Market. Venue is the name of the South Korean firm’s newest crossover.

Aimed at what Hyundai identified as “urban entrepreneurs,” the Venue joins the company’s growing family of crossovers and SUVs. It’s positioned below the Kona in terms of size and price as an entry-level model. It wears an assertive-looking front-end characterized by a wide grille and headlights positioned well below the turn signals. Sculpted sides and an available two-tone paint job help reduce its visual mass. Overall, the Venue falls in line with Hyundai’s bigger people-movers without completely copying their style.

Its pocket-sized dimensions take Hyundai into a segment of the American new car market most of its rivals have steered clear of due to paper-thin profit margins, and a perceived lack of interest from buyers. Time will tell whether the company’s bet will pay off. What’s certain is that small doesn’t mean basic — the Venue is available with a long list of tech features and creature comforts including an 8.0-inch touchscreen for the infotainment system and heated front seats, plus Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa integration. Owners can instruct the car to start itself by speaking to an Alexa-enabled device, like an Echo. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility both come standard, too.

Although its 158-inch footprint makes it about five inches shorter than the Kona, the Venue is not as small inside as its city-friendly dimensions suggest. It comfortably seats four adult passengers while holding 18.7 cubic feet of cargo — that’s only 0.5 cubes less than the Kona. Folding the rear seats down yields a total of 31.9 cubes.

The waterfall-shaped grille hides a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that spins the front wheels through a six-speed manual transmission. Buyers who don’t want to drive a stick can select an optional continuously variable transmission (CVT) at an extra cost, but it doesn’t sound like all-wheel drive is available. The trade-off is that the Venue returns 33 mpg in a combined cycle.

Why Venue? Hyundai explained it chose the name because other members of its crossover and SUV lineup are named after places. It makes the Kona, the Tucson, and the Santa Fe, for example. The Venue “embodies the characteristics of ‘the place to be,’ en route to the final destination, wherever that may be,” according to the company.

Made in South Korea, the 2020 Hyundai Venue will begin disembarking on American shores in late 2019. Pricing information hasn’t been revealed yet, but its sub-Kona positioning suggests it will start in the vicinity of $18,000.

Updated on April 17, 2019: Added full information about the Hyundai Venue.

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