If you’re the sort of person who has dreamt of living in a tiny house, one no larger than a shipping container, because it once WAS a shipping container, you’ll appreciate the subcompact Hyundai Venue, the brand’s least expensive crossover, starting at $18,750.
Sure, if you want even less space, you could opt for a Hyundai Accent, and save $3,355. But the Venue provides a larger — um — venue, with more headroom, legroom, and an additional 5.3 cubic feet of cargo space or 18.5 cubic feet with the rear seats folded. Sure, the Venue costs an extra $100 a year to fuel according to the EPA, but that’s less than $2 a week. Skip your Starbucks habit once every two weeks and it should be easy to afford.
While we drove a 2021 model, the 2022 Venue carries over unchanged with the exception of a few trim details. For 2021, it’s offered in base SE, mid-level SEL and top-of-the-line Denim trim, which has been renamed Limited for 2022. That said, the difference in models is more than semantics.
For 2021, the SEL we drove had 17-inch wheels, a chrome grille, and featured a console bin with a sliding center armrest, leather shift knob, six speaker audio system, and optional heated seats, SiriusXM radio, proximity key with push button start, LED lighting, blind-spot collision warning with rear cross-traffic collision warning. This changes for 2022, if you want exterior LEDs, heated seats, SiriusXM radio, or proximity key with push button start, you have to opt for the Limited. If you want a sunroof, it’s standard on the SEL only, and otherwise unavailable.
At 159.1 inches long, the Venue is among the shortest vehicles you can buy on the American market. But its tall, square shape makes it seem larger than it is actually is, while providing a practical shape that’s ideal for hauling people or cargo. Opt for the Denim trim, and you’ll get a blue exterior capped by a white roof. It’s middle America trendy. All models now have standard alloy wheels.
The Venue’s sensible shape allows for a sensibly tall seating position, and when paired with the generous front seat legroom, imparts a sense of spaciousness. In back, there’s more legroom than you’d expect given the Venue’s overall length, especially if front seat passengers surrender some space. The tall side windows provide a good view, and there are minimal blind spots. Cargo space is generous given the Venue’s overall size, and there are plenty of small spaces to stash stuff.
The list of standard equipment is impressive, especially on SEL and Denim models, the latter of which evokes the feeling of denim with leatherette and cloth blue seats. Our test car had the $2,350 Premium Package, which added much of the optional gear previously mentioned, bringing the price $255 above the Denim’s base price.
If you can live with the Denim motif, it’s a better value. Or just wait for a 2022 model; the Premium Package is standard on the 2022 SEL, but its base price is $850 higher.
The Venue’s 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine and continuously variable transmission produces 121 horsepower and 113 pound-feet of torque through the front wheels; all-wheel drive is not offered. Neither is a manual transmission, which was available last year, but dropped for 2021, no doubt due to its lack of popularity.
Safety and Technology
Our SEL test model had an 8-inch touchscreen display audio system, AM/FM/HD Radio with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, dual USB ports, SiriusXM and navigation. A row of buttons made switching from navigation to radio easier than vehicles costing three times as much. Sometimes, you don’t always get what you pay for.
Advanced driver-assistance safety technology includes forward collision-avoidance assist with pedestrian detection, lane-keeping assist, driver attention warning, and high beam assist.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration rates the 2021 Hyundai Venue four out of five stars for overall crash safety, earning four stars in every category except side crash protection, where it’s rated five stars. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rates it a “Top Safety Pick,” earning “Good” scores in all categories except headlights and front crash prevention drive assist system.
The Venue shares its 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine with the Accent, and generates nearly identical horsepower and similar acceleration. Off-the-line performance is meager until the CVT unleashes the available power, so merging onto a highway needs a little planning.
Once up to speed, the Venue feels sprightly, and the CVT is fairly responsive with direct, alert steering. Body lean isn’t noticeable. Popping through traffic at speed is more fun than you might expect, and squeezing into tight parking spaces surprisingly easy. Yes, the engine moans when pressed, but wind, road and tire noise are more impressively low for a subcompact econobox.
Thankfully, the controls are simple and sensible. Rotary knobs control the climate, while a large screen controls the infotainment through an easy-to-understand user interface. Noticeably, the controls all have a hefty feel to them, imparting a sense of quality that’s rare in this class. There’s little doubt that you’re getting a lot for your money.
2021 Hyundai Venue SEL specifications:
|Dimension||L: 159.1 inches/W: 69.7 inches/H: 61.6 inches/Wheelbase: 99.2 inches|
|Powertrain||1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine, continuously variable transmission, and front-wheel drive|
|Fuel Economy||30 mpg city/33 mpg highway/31 mpg combined|
|Performance Specs||121 horsepower and 113 pound-feet of torque|
|Price||Base price: $19,800; As tested: $23,480 including $1,175 destination and delivery charge|
|On-Sale Date||Available now|
When it comes to this Venue, big things come in small packages, making the 2021 or 2022 Hyundai Venue SEL an excellent choice among small crossover utility vehicles.
2021 Hyundai Venue SEL — Frequently Asked Questions
Does the Hyundai Venue SEL have sunroof?
Yes. The SEL is the only trim to offer an optional power one-touch sunroof.
What is the difference between the 2021 Hyundai Venue SE and SEL?
The SE comes with 15-inch wheels, while the SEL wears 17-inch wheels. A sunroof and LED exterior lighting are optional on the SEL, but not on the SE. The SEL gets a chrome grille, rather than the SE’s black grille. Inside, SEL buyers get a console bin with a sliding center armrest, dual USB charging ports, leather shift knob, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and optional heated seats, SiriusXM radio, proximity key with push button start, and map light. Importantly, the SEL comes with standard blind-spot collision warning with rear cross-traffic collision warning. And the SEL’s audio system has six speakers, not four.
How much is a 2021 Hyundai Venue?
The 2021 Hyundai Venue starts at $18,750, making it the least expensive Hyundai crossover utility vehicle you can buy.