Hyundai Venue

Pitting itself against its own successful Kona

Roseville, Calif. – Sometimes we wonder about the reasoning behind the introduction of new vehicles. The Hyundai Venue is a classic example.

Debuting a year ago, the subcompact sport utility vehicle was fairly well received from most auto reviewers. However, Hyundai already had a fine subcompact SUV – the affordable and attractive Kona was unveiled in 2018.

Kona sales have increased each year and reached a high in 2020 of 76,263, while the more stodgy-looking Venue was off to a slow start, barely breaking 19,000. Judging by sales through June 2021, the Venue was on pace for a yearly total of approximately 31,000. Mid-year sales indicate the Kona could surpass 100,000 for 2021.

2020 Hyundai Kona
Hyundai Kona

So, back to our original premise: why did Hyundai feel it needed another subcompact SUV? Is it smart to pit two family members against each other, especially when a successful one like the Kona is already established?

Maybe the reasoning is this simple: Hyundai loves its SUVs. Besides introducing the Venue last year, it also debuted the Palisade, the brand’s largest-ever vehicle. Other Hyundai SUVs include the Santa Fe, Tucson and Ioniq, a new electric-powered model.

Like almost every vehicle produced by the South Korean automaker, the 2021 Hyundai Venue is fairly practical and offers lots of bang for the buck. Note that the Venue starts at around $18,900 and the Kona is approximately $20,600.

Starter SUV

Hyundai Venue interior

The folks at Hyundai figure the Venue is a good starter SUV for the younger generation. It is the second least expensive Hyundai – the Accent sedan is the most affordable.

There are few changes to this year’s Venue. Yet perhaps one of them is a key to what appears will be a better sales year – the elimination of manual transmission in the base model. There are also minor changes to standard and optional features.

The Venue still offers one engine, a 1.6-liter, four-cylinder that produces 121 horsepower and 113 pound-feet of torque. It goes a 0-60 mph in a sluggish 9.4 seconds. Yet from our vantage point, the Venue never seemed too underpowered in driving-around-town situations, probably due to its light weight (2,612 pounds). Fuel economy is 30-33 mpg.

There’s not much fun factor with the Venue, yet there are driving positives. It can zip around corners, provide adequate acceleration in freeway situations, brakes well, and is easy to maneuver. Standard safety features in all trim models (SE, SEL, Denim) include automatic emergency braking, driver-attention warning and lane-keeping assist.

AT A GLANCE – 2021 HYUNDAI VENUE

  • Performance: 1.6-liter, four-cylinder, 121 horsepower
  • Mileage estimate: 30-33 mpg
  • Price estimate: $18,900 to $22,200
  • Warranty: 5 years/60,000 miles; Drivetrain: 10 years/100,000 miles; Roadside assistance: 4 years/unlimited; Corrosion: XX years/unlimited

Interior

The Venue receives good marks for its interior makeup. It has a smart layout with a standard 8-inch infotainment touchscreen and utilizes knobs and buttons that are logically arranged.

Like practically all subcompacts, seating can be an issue. Leg and head room are adequate up front and the seating is comfortable. However, the back seat would be a major squeeze for three adults or young teens.

Storage space is 18.7 cubic feet behind the rear seats and expands to 31.9 cubes when the second row is down. Two nice additions are a stowable cargo cover and a cargo area with an adjustable floor.

Final thoughts

Given the choice, we would go with the Kona over the 2021 Hyundai Venue. The Kona is a little better in most categories and the price difference is under two grand.