2023 Hyundai Venue: Still the Same Accent in Disguise

Published on July 24, 2023 in Test Drives by Vincent Aubé

The gateway to the SUV/CUV world is called Hyundai Venue, a Korean little number that slightly undercuts its top rival, the Nissan Kicks. It’s also the automaker’s least expensive model, having taken the torch from the venerable Accent with the goal of attracting young drivers and first-time buyers. Apparently, nobody cares about small cars anymore.

Well, that may be exaggerating a bit, but there’s no denying all the steamrolling that SUVs have done in recent years. After 2023, there will be just two small cars left (Nissan Versa and Mitsubishi Mirage), while compact cars continue to lose market shares, as well. People looking for affordable transportation must now turn to pint-sized crossovers like the Venue.

The one we got to test drive for a full week in scorching weather earlier in the month was a top-line Ultimate model with all the bells and whistles you’d expect. How good was it? Read on.

Trying to Pass for a Little Truck

For those who don’t know, the Hyundai Venue is based on the same platform as the late Accent and uses the same naturally aspirated 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine. Output is rated at 121 horsepower along with 113 lb-ft. of torque. While it tries to pass for a little truck, the Venue comes with front-wheel drive only. There’s no all-wheel drive option available to tackle a proper Canadian snowstorm with confidence, although a good set of winter tires can take you to some places.

The Ultimate model stands out with 17-inch alloy wheels, a power sunroof, LED headlights and a unique front grille with triangular patterns. There haven’t been any significant changes to the Venue since launching for 2020, but some are likely to surface on the 2024 iteration based on what we’ve seen in other parts of the globe.

Look for a more attractive front end that’s not unlike the large Palisade’s. Incidentally, the Venue is a bit more spacious than the Accent, especially in terms of headroom.

Funky Cabin

As mentioned earlier, the Venue targets young, urban drivers more than families and fans of big-displacement cars. Designers therefore gave the Ultimate cabin some fancy touches including two-tone seats and white plastic trim around the air vents.

In typical entry-level fashion, hard plastics and big knobs are aplenty. On the bright side, ergonomics are excellent. The most commonly used controls are smartly arranged, while the multi-function steering wheel is fairly straightforward. The infotainment system obviously doesn’t compare to that of Hyundai’s luxury brand Genesis, but we like how it’s within easy reach and easy to use.

A clear sign of the Venue’s economical nature is the lack of refinement under the hood. Lead-footed drivers will find that the engine complains loudly under acceleration. Fortunately, it tends to calm down at more reasonable revs—one of the benefits of having a CVT.

It’s a good thing the suspension is tuned to handle road imperfections like bumps and potholes, because the seats provide decent comfort at best. In particular, the seat bottoms are too short. The Tucson and Elantra don’t have this problem, by the way. Oh, and the Venue offers a more upright driving position than the old Accent hatchback.

Confined to the City?

The 1.6-litre mill teams up with what Hyundai calls an Intelligent Variable Transmission (IVT), and as we said power is sent to the front wheels only. If you’re merely looking to thread your way through city traffic and don’t necessarily need a lot of power, the Venue will be just fine in most daily driving scenarios. Passing manoeuvres demand some careful planning, as you can imagine, especially with four adults on board. The transmission won’t allow quick bursts from 80-120 km/h.

The Venue isn’t ideal for fun trips on small, twisty country roads, but its short turning radius, almost MINI-like agility and fairly efficient engine combine for pleasant driving around town.

Steering lacks precision and weight, mind you, which kind of spoils the experience at times. Furthermore, the soft suspension results in significant body roll in sharp corners. And it’s not like there’s an AWD system to save the day. Did we mention the Venue relies on its front wheels exclusively? Oh, that’s right, we did. 

Cheap... or Not

Anyone considering a fully loaded 2023 Hyundai Venue Ultimate needs to prepare for a sticker shock. This model costs a bit over $30,000 including freight, PDI, dealer fees and tax. Seriously, who would want to pay that kind of money for a restyled Accent? (Cricket sounds).

As an entry-level product aimed at young customers, the Venue remains critical to Hyundai’s bottom line. If those drivers are satisfied with it after a few years, they’ll likely come back and move up to a larger, more expensive model (Kona, Tucson, Santa Fe, etc.). Pricing is something to think about, but it’s the same story with every other vehicle these days—new or used.

Test drive report
Test model 2023 Hyundai Venue
Trim level Ultimate
Price range $20,649 – $24,949
Price as tested CA$24,949
Warranty (basic) 5 years/100,000 km
Warranty (powertrain) 5 years/100,000 km
Fuel economy (city/highway/observed) N/A
Options N/A
Competitive models Chevrolet Trax, Kia Soul, Nissan Kicks
Strong points
  • Generously equipped
  • Plenty of headroom
  • Versatile despite its diminutive size
Weak points
  • Polarizing design
  • Lack of comfort (seats)
  • “Intelligent” CVT, really?
Editor's rating
Fuel economy 3.5/5 If you’re careful behind the wheel, the Venue can turn out to be more efficient than expected.
Comfort 3.0/5 The seat bottoms are too short and the cabin is noisy.
Performance 3.0/5 The Venue is no rocket, obviously.
Infotainment 3.5/5 The screen is small and the multimedia system isn’t the most cutting-edge, but we like how easy it is to use.
Driving 3.0/5 Pleasant around town, the Venue isn’t ideal for fun trips on small, twisty country roads.
Overall 3.5/5 Hyundai’s budget crossover is a decent contender, but it lacks the refinement of its larger, more expensive siblings.
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