Ever since the Lumina APV introduction in 1990, Chevrolets version has been the lowest priced value-oriented member of the GM trio of front-drive minivans. Renamed the Venture during its 1997 redesign, this minivan is still closely related to the Oldsmobile Silhouette and Pontiac Montana. The three differ in styling, with Oldsmobile posing as the luxury version and Pontiac focusing more on sportiness. Chevrolets edition nearly matches the combined sales of its two GM companions.
Wearing a restyled grille and front fascia, only the passenger models are on sale; the Cargo van version was dropped this year. The lineup includes Value, Plus, L, LT and Warner Bros. editions, the latter equipped with a backseat video entertainment system. New features include lower anchors for rear child-safety seats, as well as available rear parking assist.
Regular-length Ventures have a 112-inch wheelbase and measure nearly 187 inches long overall. Extended-length models ride a 120-inch span and stretch past the 200-inch mark. Measurements are close to those of the newly redesigned Dodge Caravan and Grand Caravan, but Ventures arent nearly as tall.
All Ventures have dual sliding doors. A power right-side door is standard on the LT and Warner Bros. Edition and optional on the Plus and LS. During the 2001 model year, a power driver-side door arrives as an option.
Standard seating is for seven, but optional eight-passenger seating is available in extended models. The standard setup includes a two-passenger 60/40-split bench seat in the second row and a three-place 50/50-split bench in back. A new recline lever promises easier seat adjustment. Flat-folding captains chairs with cupholders now are available in the second row, as well as modular bucket seats for the second and third rows.
All seats except for the front buckets may be removed, yielding a cargo volume of 133 cubic feet in regular-length models and 156 cubic feet in the extended versions. All Ventures have a swing-up rear liftgate. During the 2001 model year, a stowable third-row seat with a covered, floor-mounted storage tray joins the option list.
GMs OnStar communication system is standard except in the Value Van and the Plus edition. A universal garage door opener has been added this year, and GM revised the climate control system. Cupholders moved from the side of the front seats to the dashboard. A new in-dash six-CD player is optional, but not in all models. The backseat video entertainment system in the Warner Bros. Edition gets a bigger video screen and cordless headphones this year.
Under the Hood
Like its GM mates, all Ventures have a 185-horsepower, 3.4-liter V-6 engine and a four-speed-automatic transmission. A touring suspension and traction control are standard on the LT and optional on the LS and Warner Bros. Edition. Antilock brakes and side-impact airbags come standard across the board. In addition, the new rear parking assist system sounds an audible warning when youre getting too close to an obstacle while backing up.
The Venture has improved since its 1997 debut, especially in terms of second-row seating comfort. Ride quality is pleasing, and performance is a definite plus. Energetic when starting from a standstill, the Venture also passes and merges effectively. GMs solid powertrain functions with impressive competence and smooth, prompt gear changes. Handling is fine on the highway, steering with a light touch, but the Venture is not 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.