Behind the Wheel

2020 Hyundai Venue Review: You can do a lot worse than this subcompact crossover

The subcompact Hyundai Venue is a proper choice that doesn't feel like a compromise.

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

Jeremy Clarkson once pointed out that things sold by the gram are always more exciting than things sold by the pound. I don't think he was talking about small, Korean-built crossovers, but the 2020 Hyundai Venue is my test car this week and I was very impressed. It's not sold by the gram, but it is very small.

The Venue is the smallest SUV that Hyundai makes — a subcompact crossover in industry parlance — with a tiny 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine making 121 horsepower. That's not a lot, but then the Venue is not a lot of car.

2020 Hyundai Venue Two-tone versions of the model are available.Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

This is a city car, aimed primarily at singletons and young couples. You know this because Hyundai uses the word "urban" about 8,200 times in its marketing and press materials for the car. A Chevy Suburban it isn't, but this might be a car for potential future Suburban buyers, before they move out of downtown and have three kids.

Being a tiny SUV, there isn't a ton of room in the backseat or the trunk, though it makes the most of the space. It has more storage than a small hatchback (like the Mazda 3 or the Toyota Corolla Hatchback, which might be cross-shopped against the Venue), largely because it's taller. With the 60/40 split-folding second-row seats folded down there's plenty of room for a fairly epic Costco run.

Up front, though, is where the Venue really shines. The interior is standard Hyundai fare, which is a compliment. If you opt for a higher trim package, you've got an 8.0-inch touchscreen sitting high atop the dashboard, compatible with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Down the middle, there are large controls for the single-zone climate control, a hefty storage bin complete with 12-volt and double USB ports.

2020 Hyundai Venue The interior of the Venue is typically Hyundai - good.Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

Considering that I've written entire reviews hanging off the fact that I didn't have a good place to put my phone, I'll reiterate the fact that this bin is a great place for it — or for a bag of Skittles or whatever snack strikes your fancy.

There's a straightforward shift knob (PRND), a couple of cupholders, and a smallish covered bin that is also your armrest. Decent sized bins in the doors complete your storage ensemble. It's not as well-designed inside as a Volvo XC40, which includes a small trash bin fore of the center console, but it's close — and half the price.

For a small, inexpensive city car (my nearly-fully loaded test unit priced out at $23,405), it comes with a raft of useful features including a power sunroof, LED head- and taillights (if you get the Premium Package), and a whole host of safety features.

The Venue comes with Hyundai's excellent safety suite with one notable exception. There's automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind-spot and rear cross-traffic alert, a driver attention warning system and Hyundai's terrific lane-keeping assist system that can do a bit of steering for you on the highway. But it's missing adaptive cruise control, which is supremely disappointing.

2020 Hyundai Venue Most Venue models have an automatic transmission though a limited number of manuals are available.Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

Venue buyers do get an awful lot of car for their money, but this is a particularly disappointing miss — and it's odd that the car would feature active lane keeping (you can even take your hand off the wheel for a few seconds and it'll steer for you) but not the more common adaptive cruise.

As a primer, adaptive cruise is perhaps the most useful feature on any new car today. It allows you to set a cruise control speed, but uses a combination of radar and cameras to detect vehicles directly in front of you and will lower your car's speed to match. In other words, if you're in traffic, you can set it and forget it — your car will automatically slow down to meet the speed of the car in front of you. Some systems will even bring your car to a complete stop. It makes traffic considerably less frustrating to sit in, and once you have it, you'll never buy another car without.

2020 Hyundai Venue The Venue, as tested, comes with an 8.0-inch infotainment touch screen.Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

But, it's not the end of the world. If you're on the market for a small crossover or first new car or something fuel efficient (32 mpg combined), you can do a lot worse than the excellent (inside and out) Hyundai Venue.

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The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder arrives on dealer lots this summer.

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder doesn't have to be capable of rock crawling or deep water fording. What it has to do is service the needs of families in their daily life and give them the opportunity to competently go off-roading on rocky trails should they desire. The new, fifth-generation models does just that and adds in enough nifty features to make it among the most compelling choices for three-row SUV buyers.

The 2022 Pathfinder is thoroughly modern though not the boxy off-roader it once was. The SUV's styling harkens back to that time with a tilted, darkened C-pillar and a return to a more muscular body style. That styling makes straightforward visibility good but for shorter drivers seeing what is immediately in front of the grille is a challenge that necessitates using surround view camera technology (available only in upper trim levels) when navigating challenging terrain.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder The Pathfinder can easily handle the roads less traveled.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Under the hood is a 3.5-liter V6 that offers up 291 horsepower and torque - plenty to do the job without complaint. The SUV's nine-speed automatic transmission replaces the continuously variable transmission (CVT) from the previous generation and delivers smooth shifts. Though low-end torque isn't as robust as I like it to be, once up over 35 mph, the Pathfinder's powertrain delivers smooth, powerful sailing.

The redesigned architecture and components underpinning the Pathfinder make it stable on the road and don't allow it to wallow on winding roads. Even off-road, the suspension provides the right blend of stability while the drive dynamics allowing the driver to feel engaged with their surroundings whether on freshly paved roads, city streets, or muddy trails.

Nissan has given the Pathfinder a 6,000-pound towing capacity and even when maxed out the engine's functionality is strong as ever. The transmission can get held up in a gear mid-range when performing this function, however, with 5,000-6,000 rpms registering on the tachometer but a quick release of the gas pedal recalibrates the offering bringing it down to a more traditional 2,000 rpm range.

The eight-seater Pathfinder clearly has the Toyota Highlander in its sights, with good reason. It's the top-selling three-row SUV in the country. Nissan boasts that three adults can fit across the rear bench seat of the Pathfinder and, as long as they're average size or smaller, the marketing talking point holds up. There is gobs more room back there than there is in the Highlander.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder Nissan has given the Pathfinder ample cargo space.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Getting in and out of the third row is easy thanks to one-touch buttons on the outboard side of the second-row chairs that move the SUV's captain's seats forward creating enough room to get through to the back. Smartly, Nissan's engineers have put duplicates of these buttons on the back side of the same seats allowing third-row passengers to simply press the button to move the seat up.

The third row can also be accessed via a split between the captain's chairs as well, a space traditionally occupied by a center stowage bin/cup holders/arm rest. Owners can quickly remove the center console by opening a panel on the front and pulling the release mechanism. The one-handed operation takes seconds and the console can be easily stored in the under-floor trunk space behind the third row seat for ease.

Speaking of cargo space... The Pathfinder is one of the most spacious midsize SUVs on the market today for both passengers and cargo. There is a substantial amount of room behind the third-row seat and the under-floor storage area is nearly twice the size of the one in the Highlander. Plus, it has a feature that allows the area cover to be automatically propped up when pushed up by a user. This is especially help when carrying groceries or plants home and keeps them from being crushed.

The first- and second-row seats are suitably comfortable, even for extended periods of time and standard trig-zone climate control makes finding the right in-cabin mix easy. Bottle holders in the pockets of the front doors are exceptionally large, fitting even bulky water bottles.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder The Pathfinder's front row seats are comfortable.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

In front of the driver is a standard tachometer, speedometer, and 7.0-inch driver information display. Buyers can upgrade to a fully digital 12.3-inch instrument cluster and head-up display but they're not reason enough to upgrade to the top-tier Pathfinder Platinum on their own.

Nissan packs the new Pathfinder with a host of desirable features that make living with the Pathfinder easier including one-touch auto up/down windows, a wireless phone charger, grocery hooks in the rear cargo area, USB ports in all three rows, second-row sunshades, rear door keyless entry, wireless Apple CarPlay, and a motion-activated lift gate.

The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder is priced to start at $33,410 for the two-wheel drive S base model and $35,310 for the four-wheel drive S base model. The model tops out around $50,000 with destination and delivery included, which seems fair when comparing the Pathfinder to other vehicles in the market.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder The Pathfinder can tow up to 6,000 pounds.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

If you're thinking of purchasing a Ford Explorer, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Hyundai Palisade, Kia Telluride, Honda Pilot, or Highlander, do yourself a favor and schedule a test drive of the new Pathfinder when it arrives at a dealer lot near you. You may just be surprised how seamlessly it fits into your daily life compared to the competition.

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The 2022 Acura TLX has the technology enabled.

Photo courtesy of Acura

Toyota and Lexus announced that the WarnerMedia RIDE app would be coming to their models earlier this year. Now, Honda and Acura will be offering the same.

On certain Wi-Fi enabled Honda and Acura vehicles, AT&T unlimited in-car Wi-Fi users will have access to the WarnerMedia RIDE app. The app allows users to connect multiple devices in their vehicles to browse, stream and share premium content from the WarnerMedia library while on the road.

Honda and Acura vehicle owners have been able to use their on-board modem as a hot spot for connecting up to seven devices since 2017. Models compatible for the new tech include the Acura RDX (2019-present), Acura TLX (2021), and Acura MDX (2022) across all trim levels. Honda vehicles with the tech include Accord (2018-present, Touring), Odyssey (2018-present; Touring, Elite), Insight (2019-present, Touring)., Passport (2019-present; Touring, Elite)., and Pilot (2019-present; Touring, Elite, Black Edition).

The WarnerMedia RIDE App allows passengers to access 1,000+ hours of live and on-demand entertainment. The app includes hit TV shows and movies from top brands such as Cartoon Network, CNN, HBO Max, TBS, TNT and TruTV, spanning animation, entertainment, news, sports and more.

WarnerMedia RIDE app The WarnerMedia RIDE app allows users to choose their own avatar.Photo courtesy of Acura

Users can set up profiles and personalize their user exerpience with an avatar from the WarnerMedia library. Profiles also ensure age-appropriate content with options for adults to restrict access to their profiles with an access code.

"Wireless connectivity and connected car services continue to be key features for customers and our long-standing relationship with AT&T continues to be one way we deliver exciting new content to Honda and Acura owners," said Art St. Cyr, vice president of North American Auto Strategy for American Honda. "Honda will continue working to enhance the in-car experience, including the capabilities of the AT&T network and access to top content with WarnerMedia RIDE."

"We're always looking for new and innovative ways to elevate the connected car experience for our customers. With WarnerMedia RIDE, we are delivering a connected experience that's perfect for journeys," said Joe Mosele, vice president, Mobility & Internet of Things, AT&T. "Our collaboration is keeping Honda and Acura owners connected wherever they travel with hours of news and entertainment for the whole family."

WarnerMedia RIDE is available now in the App Store and on Google Play for all U.S. unlimited data plan subscribers. WarnerMedia RIDE is included at no additional cost for existing and new unlimited subscribers.

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