Vehicle Overview
Closely related to the Pontiac Montana, the Venture is Chevrolet's front-wheel-drive minivan. It's available in Plus, LS and LT trim levels. New for 2005, the LS Sport Touring Package includes an FE4 touring suspension, automatic level control, an onboard inflator kit and 16-inch chrome-plated aluminum wheels.

Only extended-length Ventures are offered for 2005, and all-wheel drive is no longer available. Ventures get only an abbreviated model run before they disappear, supplanted by Chevrolet's new Uplander minivan.

Dating back to the introduction of the Lumina APV in 1990, Chevrolet's version has been the low-priced, value-oriented member of General Motors' front-drive minivan lineup. Renamed the Venture as part of its 1997 redesign, Chevy's minivan has handily exceeded the combined annual sales of its GM companions, the Montana and the now-defunct Oldsmobile Silhouette.


Exterior
Extended-length Ventures 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. Standard tires measure 15 inches in diameter, on steel or cast-aluminum wheels, but 16-inch chrome-plated wheels are optional. A sport suspension is standard on the LT and optional on the LS.

Interior
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-folding bench seat in the second row and a three-place split bench seat in the third row. Captain's chairs for the second row are available.

All seats except the front buckets can be removed; this allows for cargo volume of 140.7 cubic feet. Space behind the third-row seat totals 31.5 cubic feet. Air conditioning, power windows and locks, and a tilt steering wheel are standard. GM's OnStar communication system can be installed. Ventures can be equipped with Mobility packages for disabled occupants that include a dealer-installed Sit-N-Lift power seat.


Under the Hood
A 3.4-liter V-6 sends 185 horsepower to a four-speed-automatic transmission. Traction control is optional.

Safety
Antilock brakes are standard on LS and LT models and optional on the Plus minivan. Optional equipment includes side-impact airbags and a rear parking-assist function that emits an audible warning as you approach an obstacle to the rear while backing up. LATCH child-safety seat tethers are installed.

Driving Impressions
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 delivers smooth and 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.