By on November 27, 2019

Unless you’ve been living under an especially virulent rock, it’ll not have escaped your notice that most manufacturers are building crossovers and mini-utes (apologies to our readers in Oz for the loose usage of “ute”) to either replace or supplement the cars at the entry-level end of their lineup. After all, customers have to start somewhere, and if an affordable rig exists for young or first time buyers, the company stands a better chance of selling that customer their second car. And third. And so forth.

Priced at $17,250, the entry level Hyundai Venue SE definitely fits the bill. Known for packing its cars to the gunwales with standard features not generally found at instant ramen price levels, has Hyundai taken the same approach with this Venue?

First, your author would like to applaud the italicized H for continuing to imbue its cars with real names instead of calling this the iBX450eDrive. All Venues, regardless of trim, are powered by the same 1.6-liter four-banger making 121 horsepower. The boffins from Korea are doing their part to Save the Manuals by offering this base trim with a six-speed stick (it’s your author’s belief that while snazzy dual-clutch units are arguably faster to 60 mph in slick sports cars, entry level units like the Venue are infinitely more fun with a manual transmission). The automatic is a $1,200 proposition if you’re interested. You shouldn’t be.

Cloth seating surfaces are standard in all trims, so spending more on Venue doesn’t earn customers any peeled cows on which to sit. The infotainment touchscreen is also the same size regardless of trim, though the SEL gets nav. You’ll be fine without it; use your phone. Everything gets Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There are USB ports as one would expect in this day and age, plus Bluetooth and a steering wheel peppered with buttons. Air conditioning is standard equipment.

The new Venue adopts Hyundai’s recent design language for its crossovers and SUVs, one which plops a pair of narrow lamps above the actual headlights, giving them the appearance of a stern school headmaster who’s caught all hands smoking under the bleachers. These frame a large eggcrate grille, painted black on the SE. Side mirrors are body color on the base car but are not heated, sadly. Seven colors are available gratis, including the delightfully extroverted Green Apple shown here. Wheels are 15-inch steelies, helping to keep a lid on replacement costs.

Hyundai gives this sub-$18,000 rig a yaffle of driver aids as well, including the likes of forward collision avoidance and lane-keeping assist. This is a signature Hyundai play, putting gee-whiz features on its cheapest cars — a move that will likely help them achieve their goal of hooking customers for not just this car but the next one.

[Images: Hyundai]

Not every base model has aced it. The ones which have? They help make the automotive landscape a lot better. Any others you can think of, B&B? Let us know in the comments and feel free to eviscerate our selections.

The model above is shown with American options and priced in American Dollars. Your dealer may sell for less.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

33 Comments on “Ace of Base: 2020 Hyundai Venue SE...”

  • avatar

    So this is smaller than even the Kona? Interesting. 121 hp will probably outrun most city buses. I like that Hyundai gives its cars real names.

  • avatar

    It’s amazing how much kit comes complements of economies of scale. A friend got a base 2019 Escape with the 2.5. I don’t even know what the SE offers above the S model since entry SE models can come with the same engine.

    Aside from body coloured door handles, mirrors, and fog lights, you really wouldn’t notice.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    This is a decent value with a manual transmission which is the way I would want it.

  • avatar

    I wonder how available the M/T is, especially in interesting colors. I mean, it’s nice when a manual is offered, but it’s moot if it’s pretty much impossible to actually purchase one.

  • avatar

    I thought a yaffle was a woodpecker…..

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Matthew, did you actually drive or even sit in one of these? If so, what are the interior dimensions like in comparison with a Kona? Why would someone purchase this instead of a Kona? Or any other mini-CUV?

    I appreciate the comparisons that you did make, but really need to know more.

  • avatar

    Too bad Kia is giving up on manuals – the Seltos with the 175hp turbo would be an easy choice over this.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    My goodness, that looks like the Hyundai version of Kia Soul.

  • avatar

    I looked and did the “build” on the website. Under compare trims the SEL had a number of the options I wanted so thought I could pick and choose. Nope they were all bundled under the “convenience package” which included a sunroof. I really never want a sunroof. Why cut a hole in an otherwise perfectly good roof. It is a matter of when not if it will leak.

    In Germany and England one is usually able to pick each option individually and build the car that one wants. Why not here? And don’t say it is because of where the car is built. Hyundais are build in the good old USA.

    Can anyone answer why this is so. Is a sunroof needed to have Blind-Spot Collision Warning and heated seats?

    • 0 avatar

      I have to wonder if the no options models are all bundled to be built at the same time and so the machines that do or do not place kit on, and their operators, are idled during that portion of the manufacturing process.

      When I was looking for a manual AWD, I looked at an Impreza. However, because I did want a sunroof, I would have needed to go with their Eyesight package. That would have meant a lineartronic CVT.

      Is it easier to either add it all or keep it all off? I have no idea of the manufacturing requirements.

    • 0 avatar


      2020 Venue SEL Convenience package shows:
      – Power sunroof
      – Sliding armrest storage box
      – Leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob
      – Blind-Spot Collision Warning (BCW) with Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Warning (RCCW)

      The leather-wrapped wheel and knob for example, are potentially “freestanding” options – i.e., there are no attaching parts which would have to change or different wiring harnesses involved. So Hyundai could potentially offer those on their own. But this would drive order complexity and availability issues at the dealer, etc. Many manufacturers ‘bundle’ options like this with things like the sunroof. Some customers don’t like the potential leaks with a sunroof; some customers don’t like the reduction in headroom. The choices of which options to “bundle” together is all a compromise.

      The Sunroof on the other hand is tied in with the roof structure and drainage holes and drainage hoses and wiring harnesses and Sunroof switches and escutcheons (the ‘decorative’ plastic plate around the Sunroof switch). So there might be one body harness for Sunroof models and one for non-Sunroof. And if we tie the BCW and RCCW to Sunroof models, it reduces the number of wiring harnesses that we need to spec out and order and stock. [Not saying these are necessarily linked, just using it as an example.] So for some options, build complexity and build considerations (like tankinbeans said) definitely come into the picture. (And sometimes there are links between parts of the vehicle that you would never imagine.)

      But many times it’s just the product planners tying availability of certain option packages and features together in a way that makes some sort of sense to them. (Sunroof included with other features is probably one of the more common complaints.)

      • 0 avatar

        Bundling also cuts down on the number of possible combinations for dealers to stock. I bet 95% of people just buy cars off the lot in pre-configured setups. The idea of a dealer having a loaded car minus some random item would make inventory management a nightmare.

        For example when I bought my V8 Dakota Quad Cab back in ’02 I wanted everything, fully loaded, every box checked… except NO leather (too hot in FL) and NO 4WD (no snow in FL). The dealer basically laughed at me and said there was no such combination in a nationwide search. My own researched showed what I wanted was indeed very rare. I even offered to trade seats with another truck which is not allowed since the build sheet/VIN doesn’t match the vehicle which is a big no-no. So if I wanted such odd ball my only option was to order the truck and wait 8 weeks. I said OK and the sales guy nearly fell out of his chair, apparently nobody turns down leather. Basically once you spend a certain amount adding another few items is only another $5 or $10 a month in payments. At that point it seems nobody cheaps out and just gets the extra stuff (hey why not?). Which of course makes the dealer happy so they prefer this system. Remember the OEM’s customer is the dealer not you.

      • 0 avatar


        Thank you for the detailed, understandable explanation

        • 0 avatar

          You are very welcome. One possible approach to moving forward – get the content you want, including the sunroof. Disable the sunroof by removing the fuse (if standalone; I’m not seeing a diagram). If it never gets used, it may never leak? You would still have the glass opening to enjoy.

          [As someone pointed out in these pages awhile back, most sunroof leaks are due to poor drainage rather than the seals.]

          • 0 avatar
            Dave M.

            I’m on my 8th car with a sunroof. Only one has leaked, and that’s because the drain system was inferior (a known challenge for this model).

            For me, life’s too short not to have a sunroof. YMMV

          • 0 avatar
            Kita Ikki

            Sunroof “leaking” is always caused by a blocked drain, because a sunroof is always leaking. There is no way to completely seal a sunroof that can both pop up and retract. If you look at an open sunroof from above, you will see evidence of leakage (and dirt/debris etc) around the opening. That is normal. The problem is always a blocked drain (typically down the A-pillar) that causes the leakage to flood into the interior.

          • 0 avatar
            Kita Ikki

            For a sunroof that can both pop up and retract into the roof, “leaking” is always caused by a blocked drain, because that type of sunroof is always leaking. There is no way to completely seal a sunroof that can both pop up and retract inward. If you look at an open sunroof from above, you will see evidence of leakage (and dirt/debris etc) around the opening. That is normal. The “leaking” problem is a blocked drain (typically down the A-pillar) that causes the leakage to flood into the interior.

    • 0 avatar

      How many relatively-modern vehicles actually *have* sunroof leaks, anyway? It’s not 1985 anymore – bad memories may be just that at this point.

      • 0 avatar

        I was in the business a year ago. Every vehicle with a sunroof has the potential for the drains to be clogged by pollen or pine needles. It probably depends on where you live and whether or not you park near trees. Subarus have the worst designed drains though. We’d see more Subarus with leaking sunroofs than all other brands combined.

        • 0 avatar

          “Subarus have the worst designed drains though. ”

          Worse than those 00s Volvos with the two piece drain lines? All of the clog problems of a regular drain, only worse because the elbows caught crap that might have made it through a continuous tube, and on top of that when they got older the tubing would invariably shrink until it pulled free of the joint.

          If your car is from a company beginning with Vol you’re going to have a bad time.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve owned or leased 11 vehicles with sunroofs since 1997. Of those 11, only one ever leaked (the oldest and crappiest), and only when going around corners at high g with water on the roof.

  • avatar

    The only thing to criticise is that once again the six-speed stick is only available on the base model. The good news is that for a base model there’s plenty of standard kit.

    By the way, Hyundai lists the curb weight at a paltry 2,557lbs with the manual. I’ll bet it’s pretty fun to toss around.

  • avatar
    CKNSLS Sierra SLT

    Those on here lament the incredibly disappearing manual transmission as an option-yet the “take rate” by actual car buyers for manuals is minuscule.

    Let’s move on……..

    • 0 avatar

      How about breaking that down by actual model and using a realistic yardstick to measure that. On a car like this, well…duh. But look at vehicles where it actually makes sense: all 3 pony cars, miata, Toyobaru, Wrangler, civic, subaru WRX/sti etc. Those all have very healthy take rates for manuals. Factoring in millions of pickups, or brain dead midsized sedans and crossovers where manuals aren’t offered and if they are, make no sense gives a VERY skewed perspective.

  • avatar

    I checked out a pre-production SEL recently (the benefits(?) of living near Hyundai and Kia HQs and friends working there) and it seemed to compare favorably to a Kicks or EcoSport. I didn’t think there’s enough of a size and price difference with the Kona, but it being boxier, it _looks_ bigger than a Kona, and pricing tops out below a mid-level Kona so along with its more conservative styling, I suspect it’ll do pretty well.

  • avatar

    15″? Really? There really aren’t very many decent 15″ tire options anymore, as I’m discovering looking for replacements for the 15″ tires on my 24-year-old car.

    (I’d prefer to replace the wheels with 16s but I’m also having a hard time finding a decent set of the OEM 16 wheels at even semi-reasonable cost.)

  • avatar

    Is this a clone of the Soul?

  • avatar

    It is depressing, even how it looks like.

Read all comments

Recent Comments

  • 28-Cars-Later: “Seems like Japanese cities would be a pretty compelling market” Perhaps the Japanese are...
  • 28-Cars-Later: Perhaps though if you are correct I’d say that’s it for the segment since those Teslas...
  • 28-Cars-Later: “The reason given is that Hyundai Motor Group (which includes Kia) is targeting annual sales of...
  • BSttac: The only reason EVs exist is because of mindless politicians. I want nothing to do with an EV
  • Art Vandelay: Well I can tell you I’ve seen all of 1 in Japan this week. Seems like Japanese cities would be a...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Jo Borras
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber