Hyundai Venue Review - Affordable, Front-Row Fun
Nosebleeds usually refer to the worst seats in the house; they’re the highest up and farthest away from the action. At any venue the nosebleeds are also the cheapest. The adage “you get what you pay for” defines them perfectly. Priced like nosebleeds, the Hyundai Venue has the pep and style of much more expensive floor seats.
Hyundai (and sister brand Kia) made its name in the United States by producing cars at great value. Quality was sacrificed, but the low price point was certainly alluring. They were successful, and that’s why Hyundai is the power player that it is today in the automotive world.
In the past decade, Hyundais have elevated beyond the simply cheap to being genuine threats to the establishment, all while remaining great value. The all-new Venue is a warranted exaggeration of a great car at a great value, with this particular Venue SEL stickering at $23,425 including destination fee. If you’re looking for space per dollar, this is it. It’s larger than a Toyota C-HR, but at several significant thousands less for a comparable model. In fact, the Venue starts at just over $19,000.
The Interior follows the same design motif, and the two-tone scheme looks great on the surface. It’s a very spacious and comfortable cabin to be in, but the cabin materials consist of about 90 percent hard plastic. Besides the fantastic leather-wrapped (actual leather!) steering wheel and soft, cloth seats, everything else is hard plastic. But hey, you can’t judge, this car costs how much again?
Fuel economy is excellent, averaging 32.5 while achieving 42 on the freeway. On the freeway, it must be noted how loud the Venue can be. Between the engine’s extra noise when requiring revs and the wind/road noise, it can seem a bit like a concert venue at times. And I don’t mean an acoustic set; think Van Halen. It can also require a bit of constant steering input above 70 MPH as well to keep it in line.
I got a chance to drive down the Venue down the winding Latrobe Road towards Ione, CA. What I found was very unexpected. Most affordable boxes fall apart into dismal understeer and an extreme reluctance to turn. Not the Venue, though. Driven at a higher pace, it becomes strangely enjoyable.
The body rolls, sure, and overall grip isn’t what you’d call great, but the package works; it’s all very well controlled, with well-judged damping over bumps and compressions, a balance closer to neutral than it has any right to be, and the steering is even decent. Because it’s slow, you can really dig into the throttle and use everything you have available. And on a road like Latrobe, there isn’t much that would be able to get away from the big little Venue. A Corvette, even, would struggle to pull away on a back-road such as this.
I was shocked to see in my mirror the smile painted onto my face. It wasn’t just good, but fun. This brought me to thinking, what would a hot Venue be like? Give it a manual gearbox, an extra 40-50 horsepower and it might just be stupendous. Hyundai has made great strides in creating driver’s cars, like the Veloster N for example. It makes me wonder if the great Albert Biermann, once the brainchild of BMW’s M cars and now employed by Hyundai, had any influence in the chassis tuning of the Venue…
There are knocks against the Venue. It’s a bit loud inside and wayward on the freeway at higher speeds while hills trouble it. But what you do get is a small yet spacious car that’s well equipped, gets great gas mileage, good looking, and is weirdly fun to drive on back-roads. Hyundai has a winner with the Venue. Please, make an N version…
Hyundai Venue SEL
Pros: Excellent value, economy and interior space, chassis likes being driven hard
Cons: Needs more power, loud on the freeway
Verdict: An excellent and fun yet extremely affordable car
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