As automakers continue killing off cars in their lineups, the obvious replacements for the vacancies are crossover SUVs. This is the case with the 2020 Hyundai Venue, the brand’s newest and smallest crossover, which replaces the Accent sedan.

It’s not only a more consumer-friendly product at the base of Hyundai’s lineup, but the Venue is also a vastly better vehicle than the Accent ever was. After spending time with the Venue down under and now in the U.S., we’re convinced Hyundai’s new baby is the standard for vehicles starting under $20,000.

Value In The Venue

Without any added context, the Hyundai Venue is a good car. For its asking price, however, the Venue is a great car. At $17,350 with the standard six-speed manual or $18,550 with the optional continuously variable transmission, the base Venue SE trim brings a decent slew of standard features including an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple Carplay and Android Auto, projector headlights, lane-keep assist, and front collision warning with automatic emergency braking. That’s a healthy set of features without having to step up to the next trim level.

If you prefer your Venue with all the bells and whistles, a loaded SEL model comes in at $22,150 before destination. With this comes blind-spot monitoring, rear-cross traffic alert, heated front seats, navigation, LED running lights and taillights, and bigger 17-inch wheels. Our video test features the quirky Denim Edition ($22,050), which packs a two-tone blue-and-white paint job and a super fun blue interior theme.

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Compact, But Not Small

As the baby of the Hyundai family, slotting just beneath the Kona, (of which it is five inches shorter), the Venue’s closest rivals are the Nissan Kicks, Toyota C-HR, Mazda CX-30, and its Kia counterpart, the Seltos, which we’ll drive next month for the first time.

With the exception of the stylish Mazda, points go to the Hyundai for being the best looking in the class. There’s something about the Venue’s design that just works. It has the right proportions and its boxier design is more mature than the rounder Kicks or C-HR. Our favorite details include the daytime running lights (optional on SEL, standard on Denim) and the tasteful body cladding, which isn’t overdone like some new vehicles hitting the market. That said, the Denim’s multi-color appearance is the plucky little crossover’s best look – it’s fun without being cheezy.

2020 Hyundai Venue: Review
2020 Hyundai Venue: Review
2020 Hyundai Venue: Review

Thanks to the Venue’s tall and narrow proportions, headroom is plentiful in every seat in the house. While we are big fans of the “denim” seat inserts and blue leatherette interior in our test vehicle, we can’t say the same of the front seats’ manual adjustability. After hours of driving the Venue, we struggled to find a driving position that felt right for an extended period of time. That said, there is enough legroom to fit even your tallest friend in the front row, although the Venue’s 34 inches of rear legroom might grow tight for that same friend.

Look past the blue wave of color all through the Denim Edition’s interior and the rest of the package is very likable. There are only a few examples of obvious interior cheapening – the lack of a driver’s side grab handle, cheap egg carton-like material lining the roof, and single storage net behind the front row come to mind – otherwise, the Venue’s interior feels up to snuff. This is especially true of the aforementioned standard 8.0-inch touchscreen, which looks great and is equally nice to use. The anti-glare coating stands up to fingerprints quite well, and there is almost zero lag time when switching between menus.

2020 Hyundai Venue: Review
2020 Hyundai Venue: Review

Hitting The Road

This class of vehicles isn’t known for setting your hair on fire from behind the wheel, and the same can be said of the Venue. Its 1.6-liter four-cylinder puts out 121 horsepower and 113 pound-feet of torque, which is borderline insufficient, but livable. More importantly, the Venue manages 30 miles per gallon in the city, 34 on the highway, and 31 combined. During our mostly-highway drive, we saw just over 30 mpg by the end of the day. Pushing the little crossover to highway speeds takes a heavy foot and overtakes should be planned in advance. Once at cruising speeds, however, the Venue offers impressive noise management – it’s easily the quietest in the class. Similarly high praise goes to the suspension, which is very composed over bumps and provides a plush ride.

This class of vehicles isn’t known for setting your hair on fire from behind the wheel, and the same can be said of the Venue.

All-wheel drive is not an option, however Hyundai includes a Snow Mode, which optimizes the shift points and traction control for tackling limited-traction scenarios. There’s also a Sport Mode which brings some added punch but keeps the engine higher in the rev range where it starts to exhibit some noise issues. Our advice is to leave the powertrain in Normal Mode for the best behavior. Taken as a whole, the little Venue is a pleasure to drive for long distances and shakes many of the “cheap” stigmas sometimes associated with economy vehicles.

Standout Favorite

It’s less often that we get to declare a car the obvious favorite in a segment, but the Hyundai Venue earns that badge of honor pretty handily. Any of its shortcomings, such as the limited horsepower or interior cost-cutting, are also present in the Venue’s competition, making it harder to knock the Hyundai. The company’s choice to replace the entry-level Accent with a crossover was inevitable given market demand, and after spending time with it on American roads, we’re okay with this particular crossover replacing its sedan sibling.

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