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Exterior view of the 2021 Hyundai Venue Denim Edition

In the flooded market of small crossovers, it's becoming more of a challenge for automakers to stand out, so Hyundai takes a two-vehicle approach. The Hyundai Venue and Kona both have a similar size and competitive set of subcompact rivals, but it's the Venue that toes the line between a hatchback and a crossover, similar to the Kia Soul and Toyota C-HR.

Now in its second year on the market, the Venue continues to be one of the most value-oriented offerings in this segment, and I had a chance to spend some time with the 2021 Hyundai Venue in its top-of-the-line Denim Edition trim level.   

2021 Hyundai Venue Denim Edition Exterior

Exterior view of the 2021 Hyundai Venue Denim Edition

Historically speaking, crossovers haven't exactly been known for groundbreaking design language, but Hyundai has started to change that in recent years with a lineup of CUVs and SUVs that push the limit in the segment.

Across its entire crossover lineup, Hyundai features some sort of split front light design. In the 2021 Hyundai Venue, that includes the turn signal above the square-shaped headlights with an LED daytime running light ring. This modern front end plays off the Venue's boxy design, and the rounded wheel arches give the Venue a sense of athleticism, while the Denim Edition's  stylish 17-inch alloy wheels perfectly fill the wheel openings. That said, the Denim Edition adds even more style, with a two-tone paint job which includes white accents over the exclusive Denim blue paint job, along with standard LED headlights and taillights.

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2021 Hyundai Venue Denim Edition Interior

Interior view of the 2021 Hyundai Venue Denim Edition

Thanks to its squared-off edges and tall roofline, the 2021 Hyundai Venue is much larger inside  than you might expect from a subcompact vehicle. Even though it's considerably smaller than the Kona, the Hyundai Venue offers a comparable amount of interior space, including more rear-seat headroom. The Venue's 18.7 cubic feet of cargo space is among the lowest in its segment, but the good news for those concerned about cargo volume is that the rear seats fold down to form a perfectly flat load floor, which opens up 31.9 cubic feet of space for cargo.

Getting into the 2020 Hyundai Venue shows a wonderfully designed cabin that maximizes space, but major touch points (such as the front armrests) lack padding. That's unfortunate, because with denim-style cloth with leatherette trim and contrasting white accents, the two-tone interior of the Denim Edition is really quite stylish.

Being the top trim level for the Venue lineup, the Denim Edition also comes standard with leather-wrapping on the steering wheel and shift knob, heated front seats, a proximity key with push-button start, and navigation. This eight-inch touchscreen provides easy access to Hyundai's incredibly intuitive infotainment system, and it includes Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

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2021 Hyundai Venue Denim Edition Performance

View of the engine block of the 2021 Hyundai Venue Denim Edition

The 2021 Hyundai Venue offers a single powertrain configuration consisting of 1.6-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder, a continuously variable transmission, and a front-wheel-drive layout. Hyundai dropped the manual transmission from the Venue lineup for 2021, and the lack of available AWD matches up competitors like the Nissan Kicks and Toyota C-HR. This engine produces 121 horsepower and 113 lb-ft of torque, and it has EPA-rated fuel economy estimates of 30 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway, which outperforms rivals like the Honda HR-V and Chevrolet Trailblazer.

With solid shift points, no "rubber band" feeling, and far better efficiency than the manual, the Venue's CVT feels pretty good, and the engine delivers a decent amount of pep for the 2,600-pound crossover. One downside about driving the Hyundai Venue is that the ride quality can be a bit bouncy, which is likely attributed to its short 99.2-inch wheelbase. Keeping its size and price point in mind, though, the Venue is a great vehicle which offers the maneuverability of an urban commuter along with long-haul passenger comfort.

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2021 Hyundai Venue Denim Edition Safety

View of the safety features of the 2021 Hyundai Venue Denim Edition

The 2021 Hyundai Venue received a four-star overall crash rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which includes a five-star side-impact rating.

Standard safety features include Forward Collision Avoidance Assist with Pedestrian Detection, Driver Attention Warning, Lane Keep Assist, and Automatic High Beams, while the the Denim Edition adds Blind Spot Collision Warning, and Rear Cross Traffic Collision Warning. There's also an upgraded version of Forward Collision Avoidance Assist, along with cyclist detection capability.

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2021 Hyundai Venue Denim Edition Overall

Exterior view of the 2021 Hyundai Venue Denim Edition

Hyundai has one of the strongest crossover/SUV lineups you can currently find, with offerings ranging from the red-hot Palisade down to the ultra-affordable, subcompact Venue. Even with a slightly higher price (up $1,400) for 2021, due to the addition of a standard CVT, the Hyundai Venue is still one of the most affordable new cars on the market.

Given its $18,750* starting price, the only vehicle in the Hyundai lineup which costs less than the Venue is the subcompact Hyundai Accent sedan. Equipped with the Denim Edition, the Venue used for this test drive review had an as-tested price of $23,380*. With a tiny price and size, it's hard to expect perfection from the Venue. But this affordable subcompact is a solid choice that's packing plenty of style, loads of available technology, and an industry-leading warranty.

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Jeffrey N. Ross | Apr 14, 2021

2021 Hyundai Venue Denim Edition Specs


4-door, 5-passenger, FWD


1.6 I4, 121 hp, 113 lb-ft
CVT automatic


30/33 mpg (city/hwy)

NHTSA Safety Rating

★ ★ ★ ★  

AutoNation Drive Test Drive Review: ★ ★ ★ ★

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*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.

**Based on EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending on specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.