Arguably, one of the most important reveals at the New York Auto Show is the Hyundai Venue. The Venue is Hyundai’s smallest crossover slotting in just below the Kona. With a price starting somewhere in the $17k - $18k range, it will also likely be the most prolific of the cars unveiled this week. The Venue’s main competition is the Nissan Kicks, Kia Soul, Jeep Renegade, and Ford EcoSport.
Outside, the Venue sits perky and upright, it will be the shortest length crossover on the market when it goes on sale in the fall. In spite of its diminutive size, it manages to look more premium than it is. It’s about 5 inches shorter than the Hyundai Kona which sits just above it in Hyundai’s lineup.
It has a deep set grill with a complex crosshatch pattern that gives an expensive look. The split light clusters add visual height to the front, making it look more truck-like. There are a contrasting color roof and mirror covers. I like the looks of the alloy wheels too. In back, a good size hatch opens to 19 cubic feet of cargo room that expands to 32 cubic feet with the rear seats folded. Hyundai even put some work into making the tail lamps display a unique Z pattern.
Inside, the Venue really shines. The upright dash is covered in a soft rubberized material. The seats have a denim-like look to them and they offer a good seating position for the driver. There are options on the upper trim to have the front and rear seats heated. Front legroom seemed a little tight, and I would need to move the seat back far enough that an adult probably couldn’t sit behind me. Rear seat legroom is tight, and I struggled slightly to get in and out. The rear seat is rather flat and park-bench-like. It is unlikely that if you are any taller than my 5’10” that you will be comfortable with the headroom.
All of the controls are in easy reach. The primary HVAC controls are three large simple round dials. An 8-inch touch screen sits high on the center stack and only pops up about an inch over the dash. My experience with Hyundai’s infotainment systems has been mixed, but the car was off when I visited, so I didn’t get the chance to try it. Either way, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay come standard, so as long as you’re happy with those, it should just work.
Hyundai is offering the Venue in just two trims, SE and SEL, and a single engine option, a 1.6 liter 4-cylinder. This engine will produce an estimated 121 horsepower and 113 lb-ft of torque. Like the Soul and Kicks, there is no all-wheel-drive option offered. Power is sent to the front wheels either via a CVT or a six-speed manual transmission. Hyundai is hoping to get an EPA combined rating of 33 mpg.
Tiny crossovers have become the 1990's hatchback of the twenty-teens. The Venue, Kicks, Soul, Renegade, and others offer crossover versatility in a city-sized package. Unlike those old hatchbacks which could be penalty boxes, my overall impression is that the Venue isn’t a car you buy just because it is cheap, but because you actually like it. It is a handsome, perky little package that looks more premium than it really is and offers a host of standard and optional safety features that some lack in the segment. Given that the Venue is likely to take the title of the most affordable crossover and do it while looking this good puts Hyundai in a great position.
Read our other First Impressions from the New York International Auto Show below: