2020 Hyundai Veloster

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2019
The Car Connection
2019
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Andrew Ganz Andrew Ganz Senior Editor
October 24, 2019

Buying tip

Adaptive cruise control is frustratingly limited to the range-topping trims, so shop carefully if you have a long commute.

The 2020 Hyundai Veloster has a polished feel, matched with strong engine options and a dash of practicality.

The 2020 Hyundai Veloster dares to be different, and it succeeds. On one hand, it’s a practical hatchback with decent luggage capacity and an extra rear door for easier human, pet, or grocery loading. On the other, it’s a zippy sports car that can be optioned up to genuine track-level fun.

Overall, we rate the lineup at 6.5 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)  

The Veloster comes in three flavors: base, Turbo, and N -- the latter now to Hyundai what M is to BMW, or at least that’s the intention.

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Base versions use a tepid 2.0-liter inline-4 paired with either 6-speed manual or automatic gearboxes. Turbos swap in a 1.6-liter turbo-4 that churns 201 horsepower to the front wheels through either a 6-speed manual or a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The Veloster N comes only with the manual and features a tuned 2.0-liter turbo-4 rated as high as 275 horsepower with an optional Performance package. The standard Veloster Turbo provides good acceleration and confident handling, while the Veloster N begs to stop at a race track on the way home. All versions ride firmly, but are reasonably quiet.

Interior space is good for a small car, with enough room for shorter adults to sit one behind the other. With up to 45 cubic feet of cargo space, the Veloster is a practical buy. Better yet are its 7.0- or 8.0-inch touchscreens, which operate quickly and boast standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Also standard is a complement of collision-avoidance tech, though adaptive cruise control is restricted to only the costliest of Velosters.

The Veloster has done well in what crash tests have been performed, and most versions top 30 mpg on the highway. 

7

2020 Hyundai Veloster

Styling

The quirky 2020 Hyundai Veloster offers more styling personality than anodyne rivals.

At first glance, the latest Hyundai Veloster looks a lot like the original, third door and all. A closer examination reveals that the 2020 Veloster cleaned up and more harmonious inside and out, though not without quirks that straddle the line between off-putting and high-personality.

We rate the little hatchback at 7 out of 10 for its looks. (Read more about how we rate cars.)  

The Veloster has broad front end with an upright mesh-like grille separated from the swept-back headlights by a fair amount of sheet metal -- or plastic, as it actually is. From the side, the latest model looks more like a two-door wagon than its perky predecessor, at least in profile. The available contrasting black roof works well, though it might be a little toasty in Phoenix in July. From the rear, the high-mounted taillights dive into the relatively small hatchback opening.

Hyundai sets trim levels apart with numerous styling cues such as upsized wheels, glossy black or red trim, and painted roofs and pillars, though even the base version has a suitably upmarket appearance. Turbos have a tailpipe pair jutting out from the rear diffuser. Veloster Ns have an even more prominent body kit. 

Inside, the Veloster draws heavily from the Kona crossover. A reasonably big 7.0-inch display is standard, while a bright 8.0-incher is optional. There’s lots of hard plastic and shiny piano black trim, but enough brightwork and variation in upholstery keeps high-spec versions from looking downscale. 

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2020 Hyundai Veloster

Performance

You’ll want the Veloster Turbo if driving fun is what you’re after.

The 2020 Hyundai Veloster comes in three configurations, each with its own 4-cylinder engine and its own personality. Our 6 out of 10 rating here applies to the Veloster Turbo, which earns a point above average for its acceleration. The zippy Veloster N would add a couple of points for straight-line acceleration and handling. (Read more about how we rate cars.)   

Base cars use a 2.0-liter inline-4 rated at 147 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque, which sends power forward through either 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmissions. We’ve not driven this version, but we have enough seat time in other Hyundais with this powertrain to know that acceleration will be fine, but not thrilling.

The Veloster Turbo makes use of a 1.6-liter turbo-4 that’s down on displacement but way up on power: 201 hp and 195 lb-ft await drivers to be sent forward through either a 6-speed manual or a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic, and the Veloster R-Spec can be had with a B&M Racing short-throw manual gearbox.

The turbo’s torque peaks at a low 1,500 rpm, enough to help it sprint to 60 mph in about six seconds while providing ample power in both around-town and high-speed passing situations. Acceleration is accompanied by synthetic sound piped into the cabin, which can be turned off. 

Various drive modes rework transmission shift points and either add or subtract steering heft. In any mode, the car handles confidently and delivers a quality ride thanks to a multi-link rear suspension swapped in with last year’s redesign. The Veloster rides firmly, but not uncomfortably -- at least on the smooth Texas roads where we have sampled the car so far. Grip is terrific with the optional summer tires, which drivers in wet or cold climates will want to swap for winter rubber around Thanksgiving. 

The car’s steering disappoints up against the predictable, less-synthetic feel offered by the Civic Si. 

Hyundai Veloster N

For a pole-vault into VW GTI territory, meet the Veloster N. It’s strapped with a high-output turbo-4, stiffer suspension, better brakes, and a clear target in mind.

The Veloster N likes to turn corners rather than plow through them, something we’re not sure we’ve been able to say about a car with the automaker’s stylized H affixed to its nose. Bigger brakes than the standard Turbo, which can be upsized to even larger platters, pair with standard Michelin Pilot SuperSport and optional Pirelli P-Zero rubber to give the car proper German sportster bona fides. As they should since the Veloster N was developed by a team led by an ex-BMW engineer in Germany.

The 250-hp 2.0-liter turbo-4 is boosted to a healthy 275 hp with the optional Performance package, which strikes us as $2,000 well spent as long as you’ve budgeted for replacing pricier tires and brake pads. The 6-speed manual gearbox delivers short, positive shifts, and the standard rev-matching prevents upsetting the car’s weight balance when slipping down a gear or two. Aided by the grippier rubber, the retuned steering and an electronic limited-slip differential on the front axle make the most of corners. As a track-day car, the Veloster N is a new favorite.

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2020 Hyundai Veloster

Comfort & Quality

The 2020 Hyundai Veloster is 50 percent more useful than you might expect.

The 2020 Hyundai Veloster’s 167-inch overall length makes it one of the smallest new cars available, and yet it makes up for its trim proportions with well thought-out touches.

We rate the 2020 Veloster at 5 out of 10 for its comfort and quality, a decent figure for a car this small. An extra point for cargo space gets offset by its still-cramped back seat. (Read more about how we rate cars.)  

The Veloster features two side doors on the right side and a longer driver’s door, which gives rear-seat riders easier access than in a typical coupe. Truthfully, most buyers will probably use the third door for loading a pet or a week’s groceries since rear-seat space is at a premium.

The front seats are comfortable and offer a good range of adjustment. Cloth is standard, with a cloth and leather combination upholstering most Turbos. Range-toppers use full leather. 

A narrow cabin means that the Veloster never feels truly spacious, though even sunroof-equipped models have decent head room.

With the second row upright, the Veloster can lug nearly 20 cubic feet worth of cargo, and more than double that with the seat folded down.

Ample sound deadening, a stiffer body, and an active-noise control feature on turbocharged models means the car is reasonably quiet, while the nice interior graining helps obscure price-conscious plastic trim. 

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2020 Hyundai Veloster

Safety

The 2020 Hyundai Veloster has done well in crash tests and has the potential to climb higher once the NHTSA gives its say.

With a good range of collision-avoidance tech standard on all versions of the 2020 Hyundai Veloster and a Top Safety Pick rating from the IIHS, the small three-door is a safe choice. We rate it at 7, which could climb if it’s given top marks when the NHTSA weighs in. (Read more about how we rate cars.)   

All Velosters have automatic emergency braking, while active lane control, blind-spot monitors, pedestrian detection, and adaptive cruise control are available on higher trim levels. A driver-attention monitor displays a coffee cup on the instrument cluster when it thinks drivers are ready for a break.

The IIHS gave the Veloster “Good” ratings in every crash test. Base versions have headlights rated “Poor,” while other models were rated “Acceptable.”

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2020 Hyundai Veloster

Features

A strong infotainment system and a wide array of models mean there’s not a bad 2020 Hyundai Veloster in the bunch.

Between base, turbocharged, and track-ready N versions, the 2020 Hyundai Veloster comes in a lot of flavors. It won’t be hard for most shoppers to distill the lineup into what they need, and at every step along the way they’ll find a well-priced hatchback with good equipment backed by a comprehensive warranty.

The 2020 Veloster earns an 8 out of 10 from us. (Read more about how we rate cars.)  

Base Velosters can be had for a few Benjamins under $20,000, though an automatic transmission costs $1,000 more. They’re well-equipped with collision-avoidance tech, alloy wheels, power features, and a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Bluetooth and a USB port as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.

Zip up to the top of the spec sheet and the $28,500 Veloster N is something of a steal given its 250-horsepower rating, upsized 8.0-inch touchscreen backed by Infinity speakers, adaptive cruise control, and more. Spending the extra $2,000 for the Performance package’s 25-hp bump, 19-inch wheels, stickier rubber, and upsized brakes is worthwhile for weekend track warriors.

For commuters—and for us—the $26,500 Veloster Turbo strikes a good balance with heated seats, the larger screen, a sunroof, and wireless smartphone charging.

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2020 Hyundai Veloster

Fuel Economy

The 2020 Hyundai Veloster is a fairly thrifty runabout, even in ferocious Veloster N form.

All versions of the 2020 Hyundai Veloster are reasonably miserly, at least considering their underhood power. We rate the range at 6 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)   

The most frugal of the bunch is actually the Veloster Turbo, which takes advantage of the smaller displacement afforded by its 1.6-liter engine. With the 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, the Veloster Turbo is rated by the EPA at 28 mpg city, 34 highway, 30 combined. Stick with the 6-speed manual and those figures decline to 26/33/29 mpg. 

Base models are rated at 27/34/30 mpg with the automatic and 25/33/28 mpg with the automatic.

With its more powerful engine and different gearing, the Veloster N is the guzzler of the group at 22/29/25 mpg.

All Velosters are designed to run on regular unleaded fuel, something we can’t say about some rivals with similar power.

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6.5
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 7
Performance 6
Comfort & Quality 5
Safety 7
Features 8
Fuel Economy 6
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