Closely related to the Oldsmobile Silhouette and Pontiac Montana, the Venture is Chevrolet’s front-wheel-drive minivan. In 2002, the Venture added an all-wheel-drive option.
XM Satellite Radio and a CD/MP3 radio are available for 2004 models. A DVD player is newly standard on the LT edition with all-wheel drive. Second-row captain’s chairs are available for the LS version.
Ever since its predecessor, the Lumina APV, was introduced in 1990, Chevrolet’s version has been the lower-priced value-oriented member of the General Motors front-drive minivan trio. Renamed the Venture as part of its 1997 redesign, Chevy’s minivan handily exceeds the combined annual sales of its two GM companions.
The Venture lineup includes Plus, LS and LT trim levels. The Warner Bros. model has been dropped, but DVD entertainment is included with LT minivans. Versatrak all-wheel drive is available for the extended-length LT model. A brand-new group of GM minivans, which will no longer use that designation and actually look more like sport utility vehicles, is scheduled to debut during 2004.
Regular-length Ventures ride a 112-inch wheelbase and measure nearly 187 inches long overall. Extended-length models have a 120-inch wheelbase and stretch 200.9 inches from stem to stern.
All Ventures have dual sliding side doors. A powered right-side door is standard on the LT edition and optional on the LS model. Power operation of the sliding door on the driver’s side is also available. All-wheel-drive minivans have 16-inch tires, but front-drive models get 15-inchers.
A sport suspension is standard on the LT and optional on the LS. All-wheel-drive versions have an independent rear suspension.
Seating for seven occupants is standard, but eight-passenger capacity is optional in the LS and LT. The standard setup includes a two-passenger split bench seat in the second row and a three-place split bench seat in the third row. Flat-folding captain’s chairs with cupholders for the second row or modular bucket seats for the second and third rows are available.
All seats except for the front buckets can be removed. This allows for cargo volumes of up to 126.6 cubic feet in regular-length models and 140.7 cubic feet in extended-length versions.
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. Traction control is optional.
Antilock brakes and side-impact airbags are standard on LS and LT models and optional on the Plus. An optional rear parking-assist function emits an audible warning as you approach an obstacle to the rear while backing up. LATCH child-safety seat tethers are installed.
Ride quality in the Venture is pleasing, and performance is a definite plus. The Venture is energetic when starting from a standstill, and it passes and merges effectively. GM’s solid powertrain functions with impressive competence, and it has smooth, prompt gear changes.
Handling is fine on the highway, and the Venture steers with a light touch. However, this minivan isn’t as stable in curves as some of its rivals. Overall, the Venture fails to stand above the minivan pack.