Hyundai calls their new Venue a charismatic crossover. Well that all depends. If you like short, stubby, stout cars then the Venue might elevate your heart rate.
I test drove the Venue in the version called Trend. It’s one short of the top of the line Ultimate version. The Trend model I tested was $25,159.
As I pulled into the parking lot at Rock Chapel Golf Course, friends waiting for me both gave thumbs down on the styling.
The body was a basic grey, but the roof, mirrors and other trim pieces were painted acid green. I like the two tone colouring, because it gave the otherwise chubby crossover a bit of style. The green highlights make it easy to find in a parking lot.
Though the marketing of the Venue hints at the rugged outdoor lifestyle that mythical Canadians appear to be leading, it really isn’t much more than a bulked up hatchback.
There is no All Wheel Drive option-which will disappoint many. The ground clearance of about 12 inches will not help the Venue on deep- snow cottage roads. The ride height that people mistakenly think allows them to see further down the road-is not a factor. Most anywhere you go, there will be 10 pickup trucks in front of you.
On the plus side, the seats in the Venue are just the right height for easy entry and exit, and there is tons of headroom.
I stand by my first impressions of the drive quality, which isn’t stellar. On the highway the Venue wants to wander in its lane like a bored shopper at Winners. You really have to pay attention and babysit the steering. On rough roads it thrashes and bobbles due to its short wheel base.
This really isn’t one of Hyundai’s most brilliant vehicles, and they make quite a few.
Reviewers also carp about the lazy performance of the 4-cylinder engine which produces just 121 horsepower. It didn’t bother me. You know it needs to be pedal to the metal when merging, and plan any passing moves accordingly. It makes me think the manual version of the Venue might be more fun to drive. The standard CVT (continuously variable transmission) isn’t bad and is less annoying than many.
The conservative horsepower means saving at the gas pump. The Venue potentially returns 7.8 L/100 km in fuel consumption numbers.
Inside, the sea of grey upholstery and plastic is leavened with bright green accents in stitching and trim around various dials. The seats were fine and ergonomics ok. The Venue comes with Apple and Android connections, though the central touch screen is curiously dull graphically. As is the Hyundai way, all devices pair easily.
It is well equipped with perks, such as heated steering, and front seats, a “Snow” mode for driving, and various traffic alerts such as rear cross traffic collision warning.
With the back seats folded down, I easily loaded golf clubs and a cart. Though when I closed the trunk by pulling on the interior hand grip, the body panel pulled loose with it.
The compact crossover category is wickedly competitive. The Venue needs improvement in order to stand out in the crowded field. Most of the time I was driving the Venue I was thinking, you could buy a used VW Golf for about the same money and have a vehicle with superior drive capability and build quality, and equipped with enough room for 90 percent of people’s needs.
The Venue isn’t on my menu.