DETROIT – Small use to be a synonym for cheap but not anymore.

We test drove the 2021 Hyundai Venue and were impressed. It was a subcompact crossover, it seems the category has grown, because of its performance and size.

It was powered by 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that made 121 horsepower and 113 pound-feet of torque. It was mated to a continuously variable transmission that had been engineered to simulate automatic shifts. This it did nicely.

The Venue had respectable speed. It handled well. The suspension traversed rough streets, without a lot of bouncing and acceleration and braking were good.

The crossover looked good. It had a two-tone paint job. The top was white, the body was gray and there was black cladding around the wheel wells and the bottom of the frame. It also had a luggage rack on the roof.

The Venue’s inside appearance looked anything but cheap. There was a light gray cloth interior, Hyundai called it denim. We will not argue but it was not black. There was a pattern to it. Machining is so refined these days that stitching had been constructed into the interior.

And though they said this was subcompact car there was nothing small about the interior. There was a surprising amount of head room. Because it was front wheel drive, that made for an almost flat floor in the rear passenger compartment.

Three people could sit abreast in the second row, although it would be a little close. There was a good amount of legroom as well.

What impressed us most about the 2021 Hyundai Venue was its equipment. There was lane keeping assist, forward collision assist, with pedestrian warning, blind spot collision warning, as well as rear cross traffic warning and the rearview camera that goes with it.

There were three drive modes: sport, normal and snow. The instruments were analogue. It had keyless operated doors and ignition. It also had satellite radio, Apple CarPlay as well as Android Auto, LED headlights and heated front seats.

And there was voice control, a navigation system and adaptive cruise control. For $23,380 as tested, we think the 2021 Hyundai Venue was a surprisingly good deal.


Frank S. Washington is editor of

The Hyundai Venue outperforms its class in every way. (Photo Credit: