LOS ANGELES — One of the toughest decisions by product planners working on the Hyundai Venue was to engineer the subcompact crossover with front-wheel drive only — forgoing claims as an occasional off-road vehicle capable of spinning all four wheels in mud or snow.
And Hyundai could have added all-wheel drive with little effort, given that the Venue is a new global product. "We could have very easily created all-wheel drive for this," said Michael O'Brien, vice president for product, corporate and digital planning at Hyundai Motor America. "We have all the parts. We know how to do it."
But what the planners gave up in awd grip, they gained in carving out a niche of their own.
The Venue is built from the ground up as a stylish urban crossover for the U.S. at the price of a ho-hum economy car — a play that could even convert some used-car shoppers into new-vehicle buyers and bring them into the Hyundai fold.
At its size, it's the first of its kind, but not likely the last, O'Brien said.