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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Electric vehicles

NHTSA looking into Tesla's in-car video games

Some owners have discovered that their car's video games work when the car is moving.

Tesla

Tesla's vehicles are among the most advanced and forward-thinking products of any kind, but serious innovation doesn't come with tradeoffs. The automaker has been in the news recently because of issues with how its advanced cruise control systems function, and now, Autoblog reports that the NHTSA is asking questions about Tesla giving drivers the ability to play video games and browse the internet while driving.

Tesla Arcade hands-on: the Model 3 is your video game console youtu.be

The feature is intended to be used while the car is parked, such as while charging, so the discovery that people can use them while driving is a serious one. Vince Patton, the person who filed the complaint with the NHTSA, tested his car and found that he could play Solitaire and a fairly involved action game while it was in motion. Internet browsing was also possible, meaning the driver could take their attention completely off the road ahead for extended periods of time.

Tesla Model 3 Tesla's screens offer advanced functions that many others do not. Tesla

Tesla was already under investigation over crashes involving its Autopilot feature. Several collisions have occurred between Teslas and emergency vehicles stopped on the side of the road. Following the initiation of that investigation, the NHTSA raised other questions with the automaker over a buggy software update that was pushed out, retracted, fixed, and reissued outside of the normal recall process. Despite their names, it's important to clarify that neither the Autopilot nor Full Self-Driving features are capable of driving the cars without driver awareness and input.

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Hyundai released pricing for the Ioniq 5 today.

Hyundai

The first of Hyundai's Ioniq-branded electric vehicles is almost here, and the automaker finally released pricing information. The Ioniq 5 starts off at a reasonable price and reaches deep into premium territory, but it's got the capability and the equipment to justify its price tag.

Hyundai Ioniq 5 Owners will get two years of free charging. Hyundai

Pricing for the line includes:

  • Hyundai Ioniq 5 SE Standard range with 168 hp and RWD: $40,925
  • SE single motor with 225 hp and RWD: $44,875
  • SE dual-motor with 320 hp and AWD: $48,375
  • SEL single-motor with 225 hp and RWD: $47,125
  • SEL dual-motor with 320 hp and AWD: $50,625
  • Limited single-motor with 225 hp and RWD: $51,825
  • Limited dual-motor with 320 hp and AWD: $55,725
All prices include a $1,225 destination charge. It's also worth noting that the Ioniq 5 is eligible for up to $7,500 in government tax credits, though the size of the final tax rebate depends on the customer's individual situation. Range estimates for the Ioniq 5 span from 220 miles for the SE Standard Range to 303 miles for other single-motor models. Hyundai's party trick with the new crossover is its charging system, which is claimed to replenish the batteries from 10 to 80 percent in just 18 minutes.

Standard features for the Ioniq 5 include 19-inch aero wheels, a 12.3-inch touchscreen with EV information, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, blind spot monitoring with safe exit assist, lane keeping assist with lane following assist, parametric pixelated LED headlights, flush door handle, and more. To ease customers' transition into EV life, Hyundai partnered with Electrify America to provide unlimited 30-minute charting sessions for two years following purchase.

Interior of Hyundai's Ioniq 5 revealed ahead of Feb. 23 debut automotivemap.com

Hyundai offers complimentary maintenance for up to three years or 36,000 miles, which includes tire rotations and other services. The car's battery and electric system are covered by a ten-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. The Ioniq 5 is scheduled to go on sale this month.

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