The all-new 2020 Hyundai Venue is the latest entrant in the burgeoning small crossover segment.
The all-new 2020 Hyundai Venue is the brand’s newest and least expensive offering in the burgeoning small-SUV segment. At its launch this week in Miami, Hyundai execs touted it as an alternative to a used vehicle, and its low ($17,350) suggested price gives some credence to that. At the same time, though, Hyundai hopes that many budget-conscious new-SUV buyers will find the Venue to be a compelling choice, so after our test drive of the Venue this week we decided it would be valuable to look at the new SUV in the context of two of its most popular and most likely competitors, the Honda HR-V and the Nissan Kicks.
Admittedly, the Hyundai Venue and Honda HR-V are very different takes on the small crossover SUV segment, while the Kicks lies somewhere in between. The HR-V has been a sales heavyweight in the subcompact SUV segment since its launch, and it is a crossover in the conventional SUV idiom, emphasizing interior space and offering all-wheel-drive. The new Venue has much more in common with the Kicks. Neither offer all-wheel-drive and both offer similar interior and cargo space. One could call them crossover SUVs — their manufacturers would certainly appreciate that — but you could look at them as new-generation station wagons too.
The new Venue certainly looks the part of an SUV with an upright, two-box body that seems purposeful. Roof rails, substantial wheel arches, and a reasonably upright windshield contribute to its SUV credentials, while the grille echoes the look of the midsize Hyundai Palisade crossover. The Venue’s headlights ride below the turn indicators as an adjunct to the front fenders. In comparison to the Venue, the Honda HR-V is more rounded and organic with a very conventional Honda front end that could grace a subcompact sedan. The Nissan Kicks and the Venue have more similarities, as both designs channel SUV-like design parameters like an upright rear windscreen. The Venue is the shortest of the trio in overall height and overall length. The length differential is the most telling. The Venue is 10 inches shorter than the Kicks and over 11 inches shorter than the HR-V.
The 2020 Honda HR-V has a more organic exterior that partly disguises its expansive interior space.
The 2020 Nissan Kicks and Hyundai Venue share a common exterior style ethos.
Hyundai vehicles have been getting high marks for their intuitive controls for several years now, and the Venue continues in that tradition. No doubt due to its sub-$18,000 price the Venue’s interior does include some hard plastic, but with a sizable infotainment screen, a 3.5-inch TFT instrument cluster and available automatic climate control, the Venue offers more than its share of upscale niceties. The leather-wrapped steering wheel has integrated audio and cruise controls and the rearview camera system features dynamic guidelines, another upscale touch.
The large infotainment screen dominates the attractive Hyundai Venue interior.
Neither the HR-V or the Kicks have the benefit of being as new as the Venue, yet each offers an attractive interior. The Kicks interior integrates the infotainment screen into the dash panel in a more conventional manner than the Venue, and it houses its instruments in a nacelle. Aesthetically, the Honda HR-V’s dash and interior are the least attractive of the three vehicles. All the requisite instruments and controls are there now that Honda has added a volume knob to its audio system, but the mid- and top-trim levels of Venue and Kicks outpoint it on style.
Up-level Nissan Kicks trims offer interiors with near-luxury touches.
Infotainment & Tech
As Hyundai’s C.J. Eckman, assistant manager of IoT and connected car product, said so correctly, “You can’t have old tech on a new car you expect to sell to younger buyers.” With that in mind, the Venue is stuffed with advanced technologies that facilitate connectivity and driver assistance. The baseline is standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and that is accompanied by an infotainment system that features an 8-inch color Display Audio touchscreen system and the aforementioned rearview camera. Navigation is an available option on the mid-level SEL trim and is standard on the top-level Denim trim, and the system includes free Real-Time Traffic provided by HD Radio. The Venue also offers Hyundai available Blue Link integrations with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant that enable things like remote start via voice command from inside your home.
The 2020 Honda HR-V offers complete instrumentation and controls.
The gateway to the Kick’s infotainment system is a centrally mounted 7.0-inch full-color display with NissanConnect as standard equipment on mid-level SV and top-level SR grades. It features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Kicks also offers an available Intelligent Around View Monitor that uses four on-board cameras to present a virtual composite 360-degree bird’s-eye view of the Kicks, with split-screen close-ups of the front, rear, and curbside views.
The current generation HR-V includes a Display Audio system featuring a volume knob (hooray!) and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. Like the Venue, the HR-V also has an optional dedicated navigation system that is available exclusively in Touring trims. EX and higher trim levels have a 4.2-inch TFT Driver color display that offers selectable information including turn-by-turn directions.
Engines & Transmissions
The Hyundai Venue is powered by a new 1.6-liter dual-port injection 4-cylinder engine that delivers 121 horsepower. With the exception of the base Venue, which uses a 6-speed manual transmission, the engine is paired with Hyundai’s Intelligent Variable Transmission (IVT) automatic, the company’s proprietary take on the continuously variable transmission. Both the front-drive Honda HR-V and the all-wheel-drive version are equipped with a 141-horsepower 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine teamed with a continuously variable automatic transmission. The Kicks’ standard engine is a 122-horsepower 1.6-liter 4-cylinder with Continuous Variable Valve Timing Control System. Its only transmission choice is Nissan’s Xtronic continuously variable transmission.
Of major import is the fact that both the new Hyundai Venue and Nissan Kicks are front-wheel-drive only, while the HR-V offers optional all-wheel-drive. The Venue partially compensates for its lack of AWD with its optional multiple driving modes that include Normal, Sport, and Snow. The traction tuning for snow adjusts torque between the left and right drive wheels to take better advantage of the available traction. The Nissan Kicks offers a conventional traction control system.
Electronic Driver Assistance & Safety Systems
All three vehicles in this comparison include suites of electronic driver assistance systems. The Hyundai Venue’s standard collection includes Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist, Lane Keeping Assist, and Driver Attention Warning. Blind-Spot Collision Warning and Rear Collision Cross-Traffic Warning are optional.
The Nissan Kicks’ suite is called Nissan Safety Shield 360, and it includes Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Rear Automatic Braking, Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and High Beam Assist. Rear Door Alert is standard on Kicks mid-level SV and up-level SR grades.
The Honda CR-V offers a list of standard safety features including traction control, but its Honda Sensing suite of safety and driver-assist technologies is reserved for EX and higher trim levels. The collection of equipment includes Adaptive Cruise Control, Collision Mitigation Braking System, Forward Collision Warning, Lane Keeping Assist System, and Road Departure Mitigation incorporating Lane Departure Warning.
Value for Dollar Spent
The 2020 Hyundai Venue is clearly being positioned as the high-value choice in the segment. The base Venue has a manufacturer’s suggested list price of $17,350 plus the rather stiff $1,120 destination charge. The top-of-the-line Denim trim has a suggested list of $22,050 plus destination. Most buyers should find what they are looking for at about $20,000 or so. The suggested list price for the base S trim level of the Nissan Kicks is $18,870 plus $1,095 destination charge. It does come with an automatic (CVT) transmission as standard equipment. List price for the top-level Kicks SR is $21,120 plus destination. The larger, more accommodating Honda HR-V has a larger set of prices to match. Base price for the front-drive LX trim is $20,820 plus a destination fee of $1,120. An all-wheel-drive Touring trim HR-V has a suggested price of $28,890 plus destination.
The 2020 Hyundai Venue is a high-value new entrant into the growing small SUV class.
So what is the verdict? Frankly, it is a split decision. If you need interior room and are willing to pay significantly more for it — perhaps several thousand dollars more — the HR-V is a good choice. If that is less important to you than obtaining a vehicle with SUV utility and style but at a price under or right at $20,000, then the all-new 2020 Hyundai Venue is a significant bargain. Its interior space and cargo capacity are similar to the Kicks, but it is less expensive and liable to hold its value equally well, plus it offers a longer warranty than the Nissan.