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Recently at the New York Auto show, Korean company, Hyundai unveiled its all-new small SUV called the 2020 Hyundai Venue.

While traveling to Korea last month with Hyundai and Kia, we got a chance to take a heavily camouflaged, pre-production Hyundai Venue out for a very short (less than five minute) first drive at Hyundai-Kia’s Namyang Research Center outside of Seoul.

Small and nimble in our very short test drive, we were impressed by just how amenity packed the little SUV was.

The Venue is Hyundai’s seventh SUV in the lineup which currently includes the all-new 8-passenger Palisade, the hydrogen powered NEXO, the award-winning Kona, Kona Electric, Tucson, and the Santa Fe. Hyundai says that while most of their SUVs tend to be named after a place, the Venue name “references a ‘place’ people want to be seen in.”

What is the 2020 Hyundai Venue?

The 2020 Hyundai Venue is the smallest SUV from Korean company Hyundai. It sits below the Hyundai Kona in the lineup and while Hyundai says it seats five, it would really seat only four adults comfortably.

Hyundai executives told us that they are targeting the Venue at young urban-dwellers who want something that can easily maneuver around tight city streets but offer a bit more style than other small SUVs on the market.

The Venue is targeted at first time buyers since it is the smallest of the bunch and it will likely be priced to get customers into the Hyundai line.

In terms of size, the Venue competes with vehicles like:

All these small crossovers are targeted at the same demographic that Hyundai is going after with the Venue.

The Venue is smaller all around than the award-winning Kona. It is a full 5.1-inches shorter in length and 1.2-inches narrower. Still, inside, passengers get 91.9 cubic-feet of interior volume and cargo capacity in the Venue is 31.9 cubic-feet with the rear 60/40 spilt seats down.

The back seat is somewhat small and cramped for a tall adult, especially if you have tall occupants in the front seats, so we’d recommend the back seats for children or teenagers who don’t need a ton of space on long drives.

2020 Hyundai Venue: Packed with Unique Style

The Venue gets a bit more of an edgy design compared to a lot of what we have seen from Hyundai in the past, and it is packed with style.

2020 Hyundai Venue Interior

During our time in Korea we got a chance to get a sneak peak of the Venue before its New York Auto Show debut and talk with designer, SangYup Lee, who formerly worked for Lamborghini, and is now the head of design at Hyundai.

He described the look of the entire line of Hyundai vehicles like a collection of chess pieces rather than the more traditional Russian-doll styling of other manufacturers. Russian dolls are essentially nesting dolls that are smaller versions of the same design. Chess pieces, he pointed out, are part of a cohesive whole, but each piece has its own unique and distinct look.

The Venue is one of the smaller pieces on the Hyundai chess board and it will be offered with a variety of color combination customizations and options to make it further stand out amongst the very crowded, small crossover pack.

The Venue will come in eight different exterior colors and either grey or black cloth interiors. One other option points out the rather unique style points of the Venue:  An exterior blue color called Denim which can be paired with a white roof, denim cloth, and white leatherette inside.

From a design standpoint the Venue is more angular and a bit edgier than some of the things that we have seen coming out of Hyundai recently. It has a similar kind of cascading grille as others in the Hyundai line-up but it is far more angular. From our early look, the new Venue looks to borrow a few design cues from both the largest Palisade and it’s big brother the Kona.

One other neat thing we got to try out on the pre-production Venue we drove in Korea was the unique cargo cover storage system. Most small crossovers come with a cargo cover that either rolls back or lifts up when you open the liftgate. When you don’t need it, you usually have to store it in your garage or find another place for it in the car. In the Venue we drove, you disconnect the two small strings that attached to the liftgate and slide the cargo cover along the backs of the rear seats. No need to find a place to store it!

The rear cargo space also offers a dual level position to allow for taller items. Hyundai calls the Venue the “ideal alternative to a subcompact car.”

What comes in the 2020 Hyundai Venue?

Hyundai is known for its ability to pack a ton of tech and luxury into its vehicles and the Venue is no different.

It comes at its base with a ton of driver safety and convenience technologies including:

  • 8-inch color infotainment screen
  • Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
  • Forward collision avoidance
  • Lane-keeping assist
  • Blind spot warning
  • Driver attention monitoring
  • High beam assist
  • Rear cross-traffic warning

Optionally Hyundai says that you can outfit a 2020 Venue with the following technology:

  • 8-inch navigation system
  • Bluetooth and BlueLink
  • Fast Charging USB port
  • Rear View Monitor
  • Heated front seats and side mirrors
  • 5-inch TFT digital dash display
  • Dual USB ports

Hyundai is offering the Venue with the BlueLink integration. This system allows owners to start their car using connected services like Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. All an owner has to do is ask their Amazon Echo or Google Home to start the car (after they put in their personal pins, of course).

The Venue also gets a snow mode though, because it is such a small vehicle it likely won’t be offered in AWD.

What Engine Comes in the 2020 Hyundai Venue?

The Venue gets Hyundai’s fuel-efficient Smartstream 1.6-liter engine and is available with a 6-speed manual which is not common for small SUVs, or many cars for that matter. It will also come with an available automatic CVT transmission.

Hyundai estimates that the Venue will get around 33 miles per gallon combined. No EPA ratings are available for the 2020 Venue.

What is the 2020 Hyundai Venue Like to Drive?

We drove the 2020 Hyundai Venue for two runs on a very short track at Hyundai’s Namyang Research center outside of Seoul. Engineers set up a short course using cones that included a straight acceleration run followed by a slalom, a sharp U-turn and then a quick steering maneuver at speed. In the short runs we got, the Venue seemed nimble and sufficiently quick. Mind you, the version we drove in Korea is an early prototype and some tweaks and updates will likely come before the Venue hits the sales floor.

2020 Hyundai Venue Driving in Desert

Engineers in Korea told us that the 1.6-liter engine puts out around 123 horsepower and 113 pound-feet of torque. That’s competitive with the Nissan Kicks and Ford EcoSport.

On the straight away the Venue felt powerful enough to make a short merge on a U.S. highway. While it’s certainly no rocket ship, it felt like it could be competitive amongst its group of small crossovers on the market today. We drove a version with the automatic continuously variable transmission (CVT) and the shifts were subtle and unobtrusive.

In the chicanes, the Venue cornered relatively flat and did not toss its occupants (whether in the front or rear seats) around unnecessarily. The steering felt direct and linear without giving a whole lot of feedback, though the surface we drove on was very smooth.

The turning radius that we experienced on the course was seemingly small and would likely make the Venue a good vehicle to drive in tight parking lots or crowded urban spaces.

Overall, from our very short prototype test drive, the Venue seems like a decent-handling small SUV that would be on par with a many of the competitors on the market.

We can’t wait to spend a bit more time in a US-spec version and really test it out.

What will the 2020 Hyundai Venue Cost?

Official pricing for the Hyundai Venue hasn’t yet been announced but Hyundai says it will be the cheapest SUV it offers.  It will be priced below the Hyundai Kona which starts around $21,000.

When Can I Buy the 2020 Hyundai Venue?

The Hyundai Venue won’t be available until the end of the year. Hyundai says that the 2020 Venue will show up in car dealerships by the fourth quarter of 2019.

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2020 Hyundai Venue: First Drive of Hyundai’s New Small SUV
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2020 Hyundai Venue: First Drive of Hyundai’s New Small SUV
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First drive of the new 2020 Hyundai Venue – a new small and stylish SUV with extras that's priced to move drivers to the Hyundai lineup.
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Abigail Bassett is an Emmy-winning journalist, video content producer, and manager who has covered a wide range of world-impacting events including everything from the invasion of Iraq to Katrina and the financial and housing collapse. She has covered premiere automotive and lifestyle launches and unveilings all over the world over the last 15 years. Abigail has also extensively covered personal finance for a variety of outlets and start-ups including CNN Business, Money Magazine, and LendingTree. She spent more than ten years as a Senior Producer at CNN in New York and was most recently the Senior Director of Photo, Video and Social Media at Edmunds. She currently lives and works as a freelance writer and content manager in Los Angeles. Her clips have appeared in top-tier publications including Autoweek Magazine, Forbes, Arstechnica, Motor Trend, TheDrive, Fast Company and Fortune. She is also a U.S. juror for the World Car Awards.

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