2020 Hyundai Venue is the Beginning of the End for Economy Cars
By Dan Ilika – Trader.ca
The 2020 Hyundai Venue might very well represent a watershed moment – not just for the mainstream automaker, but for the mainstream auto market in Canada as we know it.
This could be the turning point that defines the foreseeable future; the mark at which the crossover coup d'état truly begins. Soon will come the overthrow of the economy car segment, with affordable small sedans and hatchbacks ousted from driveways across the country, replaced by the Venue and crossovers like it.
If you look closely, you'll see the crossover revolution has been slowly gaining momentum. Honda hasn't – at least not as of yet – committed to the Fit's return to Canada after this year, leaving the HR-V to occupy the role of the brand's smallest vehicle. Over at Nissan, sales of the well-priced Micra are winding down, leaving the Kicks crossover as its most affordable five-door. Hyundai, meanwhile, bid adieu to the Accent sedan last year, and with the arrival of the Venue, don't be surprised if the hatchback's days are numbered, too.
What does all this mean to the average Canadian consumer? Well, not much – at least not on the surface. Crossovers are in high demand these days, meaning most folks are probably fine with the shift from small cars to small crossovers. However, the new normal won't be without its negatives.
Not All Are Created Equal
Canadians' appetite for all-wheel drive is all but insatiable, so a crossover like the Venue seems like a no-brainer, right? Wrong. Its boxy shape, tall-ish ground clearance, and rugged body cladding might suggest all-wheel drive is an obvious checkbox on the options list, but don't be fooled: it isn't offered here.
Driving the front wheels alone helps make the Venue the country's most affordable crossover – more on that later – but it also inevitably takes it off some Canadians' shopping lists. Should you be one of them? Certainly not, as the Venue is a perfectly capable commuter (and a good set of winter tires is a must either way).
The Venue isn't the only subcompact crossover to skip all-wheel drive altogether, with the Nissan Kicks and Toyota C-HR doing the same – though the latter doesn't offer the same financial incentive, with its pre-tax starting price undercutting the most expensive Kicks by only a few hundred dollars.
And those are just the crossovers that don't offer all-wheel drive at all. For most others it's offered as a costly option on base versions, or as part of pricier trim packages. Take the larger 2020 Toyota RAV4, for example: Its advertised starting price of $28,090 before freight and fees is reasonable, but that's for a front-wheel-drive model – adding all-wheel traction takes another $2,100. In fact, not until the $38,890 RAV4 Trail model is all-wheel drive included in the price. Not even three-row SUVs like the Toyota Highlander and Hyundai Palisade are exempt from this type of low-price trickery, with the most affordable versions of both powering their front wheels only.
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