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Expert Reviews 1 of 2
By Jim Flammang
April 15, 2002
Vehicle Overview Closely related to the Oldsmobile Silhouette and Pontiac Montana, the Venture is Chevrolets front-wheel-drive minivan. For 2002, the Venture adds an all-wheel-drive option. Ever since its predecessor, the Lumina APV, was introduced in 1990, Chevrolets version has been the lower-priced, value-oriented member of the GM trio of front-drive minivans.
Renamed the Venture as part of its 1997 redesign, Chevrolets minivan roughly matches the combined annual sales of its two GM companions. All three saw losses in 2001, according to Automotive News. Chevrolet sold a total of 88,788 Ventures in 2001, down from 97,450 during the 2000 calendar year.
Though the three models are similar in structure, they differ significantly in styling. Oldsmobiles Silhouette is positioned as the luxury version, while Pontiac focuses more on sportiness with its Montana. The Venture lineup includes the Value Van, Plus, LS, LT and Warner Bros. Edition trim levels. The Warner Bros. Edition comes equipped with a rear-seat video entertainment system. This year, riders in the rear can enjoy a newly available DVD-based video system instead of the previous videotape player.
Versatrak AWD is now available for the extended-length LT model, which has gained optional 16-inch wheels, a fully independent rear suspension and all-disc brakes for 2002. An external mast has replaced the prior glass-mounted radio antenna, and LATCH child-safety seat tethers are now installed.
Exterior The regular-length Venture rides a 112-inch wheelbase and measures nearly 187 inches long overall, while the extended-length model has a 120-inch wheelbase and stretches 200.9 inches from stem to stern. Wheelbase and length dimensions are close to those of the Dodge Caravan and extended-length Dodge Grand Caravan, but with a height of 67.4 inches, the Venture isnt nearly as tall as its Dodge competitors.
All Ventures have dual-sliding side doors. A powered right-side door is standard on the LT and Warner Bros. Edition and comes optional on the Plus and LS models. Power operation of the sliding doors on the drivers side is also available.
Interior Seating for seven occupants is standard, but eight-passenger capacity is available in extended-length models as an option. The standard setup includes a two-passenger, 60/40-split bench seat in the second row and a three-place, 50/50-split bench seat in the back. Flat-folding captains chairs with cupholders are available for the second row, as are modular bucket seats for the second and third rows.
All seats except for the front buckets can be removed, which then yields a cargo volume of up to 126.6 cubic feet in regular-length models or 140.7 cubic feet in extended-length versions. All Ventures have a swing-up rear liftgate. A stowable third-row seat with a covered, floor-mounted storage tray is available.
GMs OnStar communication system is standard in all models except in the budget-priced Value Van and the Plus edition. A universal garage door opener is standard. An in-dash six-CD player is optional in the LS, LT and Warner Bros. Edition but is not available for the Value Van and Plus models.
The rear-seat video entertainment system in the Warner Bros. Edition includes four wireless headphones and a wireless remote control. It works with a flip-down, 7-inch video screen and plays DVD video, DVD audio and CDs. A 1.5-second video memory is supposed to prevent interference to the sound and picture from potholes, railroad tracks and other road imperfections.
Under the Hood A 3.4-liter V-6 engine sends 185 horsepower to a four-speed-automatic transmission, which is the same powertrain used in all three GM minivans. A touring suspension that includes traction control is standard on the LT and optional on the LS and Warner Bros. Edition.
Safety Antilock brakes and side-impact airbags are standard in all models. An optional rear parking assist function emits an audible warning as you approach an obstacle to the rear while backing up.
Driving Impressions The Venture has improved noticeably since its 1997 debut, especially in terms of second-row seating comfort. Ride quality is pleasing, and performance is a definite plus. The Venture is energetic when starting from a standstill, and it passes and merges effectively. GMs solid powertrain functions with impressive competence, as well as smooth, prompt gear changes.
Handling is fine on the highway, and it steers with a light touch. However, the Venture isnt as stable in curves as some rivals. Although nothing is really wrong with the Venture, it fails to stand above the minivan pack. The video system in the Warner Bros. Edition is a bonus, but most minivans these days offer backseat entertainment.