2021 Hyundai Venue Denim Edition: An old Soul?
Price: $23,305 as tested. Carpeted floor mats ($135) were the lone option.
Conventional wisdom: Consumer Reports likes the controls, fuel economy, and braking, but not "the ride, noise, fit and finish, or rear seat."
Marketer's pitch: "Small SUV. Big city hustle."
Reality: Definitely has the flavor of the original Kia Soul in so many ways.
What's new: Hyundai added the Venue to its lineup in 2020. Though like the Soul, it's smaller, and no all-wheel-drive version is offered. It's an attractive little box, looking like a kiddie-cart version of the Palisade.
Up to speed: The Venue has a small-car "peppy" feel. It's tuned to make a quick getaway from a standing start up to about 25 mph. After 25 mph, though, it becomes harder and harder to make the 1.6-liter engine keep up the momentum.
But that peppiness is an illusion brought on by the Venue's small dimensions and low-riding profile. The engine makes just 121 horsepower, and the Venue gets to 60 mph in 8.8 seconds, according to Motor Trend, so that bears out my impression.
Shiftless: The power curve is not aided even a little bit by the continuously variable transmission. It's just a rotten thing to do to a small car, give it this kind of golf cart feel without the awesome power of an electric motor's continuous power curve.
Hyundai does offer "gears" 1 through 7, but the test car was stubborn about downshifting. If it were my car, I'd have it back to the dealer in a hurry.