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1999 Chevrolet Venture

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1999 Chevrolet Venture
Available in 7 styles:  Venture Extended Passenger Van shown
Asking Price Range
Estimated MPG

18 city / 25 hwy

Expert Reviews

1999 Chevrolet Venture 3.7 6
$ 8-6,252
June 27, 1999

Like most things in life, choosing between a regular-wheelbase and extended-wheelbase minivan is fraught with tradeoffs.

The shorter, regular-wheelbase model is a bit cheaper, more maneuverable, easier to park and usually more carlike in the corners.

The longer, extended-wheelbase version counters those assorted face cards with an ace in the hole: utility.

The extended-wheelbase Chevrolet Venture I drove recently is a case in point. The extended model's extra 14 inches of length raises its interior volume (with the second and third rows of seats removed) to 155.9 cubic feet, which is a significant 29.3 cubic feet more than you get with the regular model.

Since most minivan owners keep those backseats in to haul folks instead of stuff, it's probably more meaningful to put the difference this way: When you put a third row of seats into a regular minivan, the cargo area behind the last row virtually disappears. But with an extended van such as the Venture I tested, you still have a nice storage compartment back there.

That difference can be crucial to a couple who want to take several kids on vacation.

Certainly, the handsome extended-wheelbase Venture is a good choice for hauling folks and stuff. Redesigned in 1997 and blessed with some important upgrades since, the Venture is a comfortable, quiet and exceptionally safe minivan. Standard safety gear includes side air bags for the driver and front-seat passenger, daytime running lights with an automatic control that turns on the regular headlights at night, seat-belt pretensioners and four-wheel antilock brakes.

As that litany of standard safety stuff might suggest, the extended Venture is a good value. Its base price of $23,045 also includes a gutsy V-6, and a silky new-for-1999 electronic four-speed automatic gearbox.

Other equipment tossed in with the base price includes air conditioning, seven-passenger seating, dual sliding rear doors, tilt steering, a rear window washer/wiper/defroster, power door locks and a theft deterrent system.

The Venture is a comfortable and convenient way to go, particularly when it's as loaded as the leathery tester, which included the many-splendored LT package. The latter adds goodies such as rear air conditioning and captain's seats.

I got to test that comfort and convenience on a highway trip that involved four adults and their luggage. The rear storage area would have handled our six bags with ease, if I had stacked them on top of each other. But since the four bucket and captain's seats in the front two rows were all we needed, I just folded down the split-fold rear bench and tossed a couple of the bags on top of it, thus preserving the rear view.

The optional power sliding rear door was pampering to the brink of decadence. But being an unredeemed hedonist, I rather liked it. There was also lots of shoulder space and legroom for everyone, and the interior was hushed enough at highway speeds to permit easy conversation.

The quietude on the highway had to do with good aerodynamics and sound insulation. The Venture's lack of squeak and creak on bumpy surfaces was a function of strong unibody construction derived from the use of longitudinal rails and side-to-side cross-members.

Thanks to its 3.4-liter V-6, which develops 185 horsepower and a lot of low-RPM torque, or pulling power, the Venture was muscular when it needed to be.

Base vehicle: Front-drive, 3.4-liter engine, four-speed automatic transaxle, power steering, power disc/drum antilock brakes, 15-inch steel wheels, all-season radials, front and side air bags for front-seat passengers, air conditioning, rear window wiper/washer/defogger, theft deterrent system, heated power mirrors, stereo, clock, tilt steering.

Test model: Leather seats, power front bucket seats, second-row captain's seats, split-fold rear bench, speed control, power windows, keyless entry, premium sou system, alloy wheels, touring suspension and tires, traction control, luggage rack, rear A/C, overhead console, power passenger-side sliding door, rear audio controls, alarm.

Base price: $23,045.

Test model: $28,670 (inc. shipping).

EPA city rating: 18 m.p.g.

Test mileage: 20.5 m.p.g.

Warranty: Three years/36,000 miles bumper to bumper, roadside assistance and courtesy transportation.

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