Crossovers, smaller vehicles with the desirable attributes of an SUV, are the most sold cars in almost every market on earth. The higher ride height and more spacious interior, combined with the drivability and economy of a hatchback, appeal to drivers seeking something more, different.
Crossovers are usually divided into compact and subcompact sizes. The compact class can vary quite a lot in size and includes the likes of the RAV4, Renault Duster and Hyundai Tucson. The dividing line is not quite clear, but sub-compact would include the Kia Soul and the Hyundai Kona. The latter was joined by a slightly smaller sibling in 2019, the striking if rather boxy Hyundai Venue.
The boxy shape common to this class is determined by the need to cram as much space as possible into the smaller floor plan. For many people smaller size equates to less safety, and rightly so. Which is why the recent safety award to the Venue by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in the USA is so significant – the 2020 Top Safety Pick.
The IIHS Safety Pick is the gold standard for vehicle safety not only in the States, but around the world. The IIHS was founded as far back as 1959 by associations representing 80% of the US car insurance industry. It soon became renowned as an independent safety research body and was instrumental in reducing US road deaths over the decades, even as that country’s population grew. One of its major successes was to test cars for crashworthiness. The integrity of these tests has resulted in cars with higher ratings enjoying greater sales.
So the Hyundai Venue getting the 2020 Top Safety Pick is a big deal for a smaller car. To get this award, a car has to meet several crash safety and prevention metrics, including good ratings in six different crash tests. For crash prevention, it must get advanced or superior marks for vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian situations. Headlights must have a minimum rating of acceptable.
In crash prevention, the Venue scored superior in all trim levels, while for pedestrians it ranged from advanced to superior depending on the trim.
This is obviously an American award, but it does carry significant weight in South Africa with our less than ideal road safety record. So you know how safe it is, so the only thing to do is to go and look at it, kick the tyres and take the Hyundai Venue for a test drive.