CHATHAM, Mass. – As the holiday season unfolds, we are often reminded (through advertising if nowhere else) that good things come in small packages. The 2021 Hyundai Venue subcompact crossover/SUV validates this adage.

At 159-inches long, the Venue is almost two-feet shorter than popular compact SUVs like the Toyota Rav4, Honda CR-V and Hyundai Tucson, yet its up-right, squared-off shape allows for comfortable room inside for four or, if the back-seat occupants are not large, five.

Value and economy throughout the Hyundai SUV line

The Venue anchors one of the industry’s most diverse range of crossover/SUVs — subcompact, compact, mid-size; two-row, three-row; gasoline, electric, hydrogen fuel cell and hybrid-electric powertrains – all offered in several trim levels allowing the buyer to tailor the right vehicle for his or her needs.

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The front-wheel-drive (FWD) Venue can be had in three trims from the $18,700 SE to the $22,500 Denim. I spent the week in a comprehensively equipped SEL ($19,800) with Premium Package ($2,350) and carpeted floor mats ($155) which wore a value-oriented $23,480 price tag (including $1,175 for inland freight & handling).

There is more to the cost of operating a vehicle than the initial cost. As gas prices seem to be in a continual upward climb, the Venue’s fuel efficiency stands out for a SUV of any size. The federal Environmental Protection Agency rates the subcompact at 30 miles per gallon in city driving, 33 on the highway and 31 overall.

I drove in my usual manner – heavy on the throttle when called for; aggressive on the twisty roads when traffic allowed – and saw the MPG meter topping 40 for the entire week! I was pleasantly surprised and happy with the results; the Venue will be a solid, economical vehicle.

No skimping on ADAS

The list of advanced driver-assist systems (ADAS) standard on the Venue SEL includes systems other companies do not even offer in comparably priced vehicles like blind-spot collision warning and rear cross-traffic collision warning.

Other standard ADAS are forward collision avoidance assist with pedestrian detection; lane-keeping assist; automatic high beams; rear-view camera, and driver attention warning.

Safety features include tire-pressure monitoring system and front, front-side impact and side-curtain airbags.

Powertrain efficiency

The Gamma Gen 2 family (Hyundai’s internal designation) of 1.6-liter four-cylinder engines provides the motive power for the 2021 Venue SEL. The dual-port fuel injection motor is engineered for fuel efficiency – which, as discussed earlier, was successful – and produces 121 horsepower and 113 pounds-feet of torque.

It powers the front wheels through the Hyundai’s Intelligent Variable Transmission, an automatic CVT (continuously variable transmission) with “six” computer adjusted speeds.

Comfortable, well equipped on the inside

The Hyundai Venue SEL with Premium Package is not a luxury vehicle, nor does it aspire to be one. It is roomy for the front-seat occupants and provides them with features, conveniences and amenities which belie the window-sticker price.

The well-shaped, comfortable seats feature multi-position adjustment (six-way, including height, for the driver) and heat. The steering wheel, adjustable for rake and reach, includes controls for the infotainment system, voice activation system and cruise-control.

Speaking of the infotainment system, it encompasses features previously thought of as out of this vehicle’s class. AM/FM/SiriusXM satellite/Bluetooth streaming audio/Apple CarPlay/Android Auto are the primary audio sources.

In addition to the steering wheel controls (including voice activation), a row of easy-to-use-and-find intuitive buttons and knobs on the dash and an eight-inch color touch screen provide infotainment operation.

And, again surprising in a vehicle at this price point, the Premium Package brings navigation to the infotainment system.

The Premium Package also includes a large power moonroof.

Venue – so what’s the story behind the name?

When Hyundai introduced the Venue at the 2019 New York International Automobile Show the Korean automaker decided to explain the genesis of the name:

Hyundai’s naming theme for SUVs has typically been a city or place. The new entry SUV name references a ‘place’ people want to be seen in. The vehicle embodies the characteristics of ‘the place to be,’ while reaching the final desired destination, wherever that may be. The Venue symbolizes a trendy, unique style, perfect for Hyundai’s newest and smallest SUV. For first time vehicle owners, Venue offers relaxation and protection with its standard safety features at an affordable price.

I am not sure anyone seeing me – or any other person – driving a Venue will understand just how smart a decision it was to pursue this subcompact SUV. The vehicle has some distinctive style features, but not necessarily ones which stand out from the two-box vehicles crowding America’s roads.

It does offer the qualities outlined in the final sentence – relaxation, safety features, affordability, but how many of the people you might pass know this?

In the end it does not matter what others might think — anyone who drives a Venue knows they have found something special in this small package: an efficient, value-laden conveyance which will keep a smile on their face whenever they pass a gas pump or write the check for the monthly payment.

Next week TBR Drives revisits the all-electric Mustang Mach-E SUV.