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First Drive Review: 2020 Hyundai Venue is a petite, but loaded package

The Venue is a new subcompact SUV from Hyundai.

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motors America

The 2020 Hyundai Venue isn't small. It's petite. And, Hyundai has managed to squeeze a lot in that little package. The kicker is that they've also kept the price low delivering on the "more bang for your buck" sales strategy the automaker successfully championed for at least half a decade.

Venue fits at the end of the Hyundai stable below the Kona. It's about the same size as the Nissan Kicks and Chevrolet Trax. The Nissan Rogue Sport, Kia Seltos, and Chevrolet Trailblazer are closer in size to the Kona. It's not as big as the Hyundai Tucson, Santa Fe, or Palisade.

2020 Hyundai Venue From the side, the Venue is cute and not all that quirky.Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motors America

From the outside, the Venue is like its fellow subcompacts though its body styling is a touch like a first-gen Toyota RAV4. It's available in a two-tone paint scheme and its looks aren't too controversial though the grille isn't as attractive as the rest of the vehicle.

The subcompact crossover comes in just three trim levels: SE, SEL, and Denim. All the grades have the same 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine under their hood. It's paired with a standard six-speed manual transmission in the base model and available with an intelligent variable transmission (IVT). Venue SEL and Denim models have the IVT standard.

The engine delivers 121 horsepower and 113 pound-feet of torque. Though the numbers aren't high, the power is sufficient for the Venue to be used as a daily driver. Getting up to speed on the highway doesn't feel like quite the chore it does in the Kicks and there's a good amount of oomph to help the car pass at speed.

Hyundai has given us a front-wheel drive Venue. No all-wheel drive model is available but the company says it has a solution for that – Snow mode. Snow mode uses torque vectoring technology to escape situations that would make a driver want to use their all-wheel drive capability.

2020 Hyundai Venue Hyundai has given the Venue looks that are reminiscent of a first-generation Toyota RAV4.Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motors America

Venue's real story is inside. The model is surprisingly spacious for driver and front passenger. Legroom for rear seat occupants is at a premium, but that's not unusual in this size vehicle. The seats are more comfortable than what you'll find in many cars today and deliver just the right amount of bolstering.

Hyundai believes that they've delivered the right technology for their customer in the Venue and it's hard to argue. It comes standard with an 8-inch infotainment touch screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Navigation, dual charging USB ports, a rearview monitor, and heated front seats and side mirrors are available. The screen is responsive, and Apple CarPlay is easy to use on the system- just what you expect from Hyundai.

2020 Hyundai Venue The Venue's seats are surprisingly comfy.Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motors America

The automaker has also equipped the car with Blue Link integrations including Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Bluetooth is standard.

A good number of safety technologies are available including forward collision-avoidance assist, lane keeping assist, blind spot warning, driver attention warning, and rear cross traffic alert. Lane keeping assist was hit or miss during testing under the intense sun in Southern Florida. Either it was too sensitive or not sensitive at all. Other than that, all other systems worked as advertised.

2020 Hyundai Venue The Venue's infotainment screen is responsive and easy to use.Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motors America

The 2020 Hyundai Venue starts at $17,350 making it one of the least expensive models you can buy. Topping out just over $22,00, the Venue Denim feels like a steal, especially because it comes fully loaded.

Hyundai isn't busy reinventing the wheel with the Venue. They're making a better wheel that is good for the masses and right within their budget guidelines. That's something that should be applauded, and rewarded with sales.

Hyundai has partnered with Hyundai to help spread the word about the power of hydrogen.

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor Company

Hyundai Motor Company is convinced that the future of powertrains is hydrogen, not battery electric vehicles. To help promote their stance, and help others see that hydrogen is the way to go, Hyundai has enlisted the help of K-Pop supergroup BTS.

The company produced a five-minute film starring BTS and the pro-hydrogen messaging that made its world debut last night in Times Square one the billboard at the Marriott Marquis hotel. The film was screened recurrently for an hour between 7-8 p.m.

The film consisted of the seven members of BTS using hand-written messages to describe the beauty of Mother Nature and the importance of preserving and protecting the environment. Some of the imagery brought forth included forests, sky, snow, and waves.

That messaging was shown alongside the Hyundai Nexo, the automaker's hydrogen-powered SUV, which emits water vapor from its tailpipe instead of pollutants. The powertrain of hydrogen fuel cell powered vehicles don't require the level of highly pollutant mining that is required to produce battery electric vehicles like the Tesla Model X.

"With this captivating film, Hyundai Motor highlights its dedication to sustainable mobility and eco-friendly lifestyles," said Wonhong Cho, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Hyundai Motor. "We encourage our customers, fans and people around the world to take inspiration from the film to live in harmony with nature."

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BTS had previously been named Hyundai Global Brand Ambassadors. As part of their ongoing partnership with the brand, they arrived at the Grammy Awards on January 26 in a Nexo. They've also starred in a campaign for the Hyundai Palisade.

The power of hydrogen has started to become more of a talking point within the automotive industry. Toyota is also a big proponent of the fuel and has promised to built a 145-acre prototype city that runs on the gas a the base of Mt. Fuji. The Japanese company recently debuted the second generation of their Mirai sedan, which runs exclusively on hydrogen power.

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Nikola, a new vehicle manufacturer, recently debuted its hydrogen-powered pickup truck designed in tandem with Heavy D from the "Diesel Brothers" TV show, the Nikola Badger.

Starting February 26, seven different clips from the five-minute film – each featuring a BTS member and a special message about the environment – will be uploaded on Hyundai Motor's social media platforms: @hyundai.lifestyle for Instagram and @hyundaiworldwide for YouTube.

Until the end of April, fans can also upload their own pictures about protecting nature on their individual Instagram accounts with hashtags #MyCleanNature and #BecauseofYou, for a chance to win various offers and prizes. More information about the campaign is available on the company's website: www.hyundai.com/worldwide.

There have been four-, five, and six-speed transmissions. All the way up to 10-speeds. Now, there's the world's first predictive shifting technology that combines traditional transmission functionality with smart computing that takes into account road conditions and the flow of traffic to shit into the right gear. By optimizing gearing, vehicles can have improved fuel economy and less wear on a their mechanical elements including the brakes.

Called the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Connected Shift System, the technology employs intelligent software in the Transmission Control Unit that collects and interprets real-time input from underlying technologies, including 3D navigation equipped with a precise map of the road as well as cameras and radar for smart cruise control. The automakers say that the 3D navigation input includes "elevation, gradient, curvature and a variety of road events as well as current traffic conditions. This occurs while radar detects the speed and distance between the vehicle and others, and a forward-looking camera provides lane information."

Hyundai Kia  ICT Connected Shift System graph chart how it works The ICT Connected Shift System uses a variety of intelligent technologies to perform tasks.Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

Using these inputs, the system uses an artificial intelligence algorithm and shifts the gears accordingly. During testing, on curved roads the frequency of shifting was reduced 43 percent compared to vehicles without the system. It also reduced the frequency of brake usage by 11 percent.

Engine brakes are applied when an accelerator pedal is released when speed bumps are ahead, when downhill slopes emerge, and when the speed limit changes.

Currently, many vehicles feature a variety of drive modes that adjust shifting, suspension, and acceleration. This system is the first use of that technology with intelligent learning.

During the system development, the companies filed around 40 patents in South Korea and abroad.

The ICT Connected Shift System is just a step in the automakers' intelligent transmission technology development. They're working to develop the intelligence for the system to work with LTE and 5G communication to interact with traffic signals. However, this technology faces a major obstacle for use in daily driver scenarios because of the heavy investment required by municipalities to adopt that level of technology.

"Vehicles are evolving beyond simple mobility devices into smart mobility solutions," said Byeong Wook Jeon, Head of Intelligent Drivetrain Control Research Lab. "Even a traditional area of the automobile, such as the powertrain, is becoming a high-tech technology optimized for smart mobility through efforts to integrate ICT and artificial intelligence technologies."

The ICT Connected Shift System has not yet deployed to vehicles but the companies are planning to advance it in that direction as the technology evolves.