An entry level offering that feels very entry level like. Cliff Leppke – CleanMPG – Dec. 17, 2020 Cheeky. That describes Hyundai’s subcompact crossover-like Venue. It’s a relatively inexpensive ride cloaked in designer whimsy. It slots below the Kona as the brand’s entry-level hatchback/crossover. Dressed in Denim Edition trim, it dons a white over blue exterior, white bumper and fender spats with vaguely Piet Mondrian-like t-shaped graphics. The result is waves from approving onlookers. The cabin charms despite hard plastic panels due to dual-tone hues, metal-like vent trim and funky seat fabrics. The front-drive Venue has more ground clearance than a car. Hyundai powers it with a modest 121-hp engine carried by struts up front and a beam axle in the rear. The mill mates to a continuous variable transmission. This CVT behaves like a conventional automatic when you stomp on the go pedal. The engine revs to redline, drops about 1,000 RPM and then repeats the process until you’ve hit your target speed. And the machine’s tone doesn’t grate, although the Venue is noisy. On the highway, the engine spins as low as 2,000 rpm or as high as 3,500 rpm as you navigate overpasses. Power and torque are merely adequate. Twirling the leather-clad directional hoop reveals artificial-as-vanilan response. Yet, during a suburban loop, which included COVID-19-caused vacant shopping- center parking lots, the vehicle felt light and lively with obvious body roll. Unfortunately, the Venue’s cheeky wrapper rides atop a rude suspension. It crashes on pimple-infested Wisconsin throughways. Its 17-inch tires on alloy wheels need a dose of Clearasall, as some road imperfections cause directional distress. Rear seat space is tight. The split-folding aft pew is Delta-approved and ready for landing, it’s bolt upright. The center shoulder belt attaches to the seat—a handy perk. Folding the back’s backrest requires forward cooperation as its headrests collide into the front seat backs. You can remove the headrests, though. And the rear cargo floor is height adjustable. Stowage is roomier than expected. Fuel economy is good: 32.5 mpg overall. Hyundai claims its two fuel injectors per cylinder improve gas atomization. The EPA numbers are 30/34/32 mpg city/highway/combined. This Hyundai’s cheerful environ cannot disguise several untidy items such as exposed spot welds, obvious headliner plugs and an erector set-style door window frames. Some carmakers punch inner and outer door panels out of single sheets of metal imparting a seamless aesthetic. Hyundai tacks on metal framing for guiding the window glass. This technique cuts lost metal in the manufacturing process but appears sloppy. Besides the playful colors and textures, the Venue offers a complete lineup of driving aids: blind spot warning, lane keep assist, rear cross traffic alert, forward collision abatement with pedestrian detection and a selectable snow mode. Lane keeping isn’t adroit; the vehicle wanders. The heated seat bottoms seem vintage Proctor Silex—even on low it will toast your buns. Audible warnings don’t come from the loudspeaker near the possible expensive encounter, but you get an alarm just the same. Convenience items include pushbutton start and an eight-inch touchscreen with navigation. The latter’s speech detection and location finding were effective. Hyundai adds Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Hyundai’s Venue is user friendly. Big buttons let you tweak instrument brightness. But you must crane your neck in order to see which one to press. I sometimes got LKA instead of the electronic rheostat. This miscue is noticeable because instrument illumination doesn’t automatically brighten enough under intense sunshine. In contrast, the steering wheel’s switchgear includes simple toggles. Hyundai puts the driver assist icons above the main gauges where those with older eyes can easily focus. Hyundai says the trim Venue appeals to the young urban oh-I’m-smart set. Drive it before buying it; its budget-car genes aren’t appealing. For $23,306 as tested, there are smoother, quieter, quicker and more comfortable alternatives—the chino pants, say, of the automotive world.