When we tested the Chevrolet Venture in 1998, we found it to be quite a nice vehicle. Now that Chrysler is a German subsidiary, and some of our readers may be looking for an all-American vehicle, the time seems right to present the Chevrolet Venture once more. This time, in 2000, we tested the new extended-wheelbase Warner Brothers edition, which comes complete with a built-in VCR and roof-mounted monitor, not to mention separate audio controls for the rear passengers.
Many people still have not heard of this two-year-old minivan, thanks to one of the world's worst advertising campaigns. The slogan has little to do with the vehicle, and its many strengths seem to have been ignored by the ad agency. That's a shame.
The Venture can accommodate a great deal of cargo, more than the Grand Caravan; yet it rides nicely and accelerates with ease, thanks to a standard 185 hp engine. All Ventures come with the same responsive, smooth-idling engine, which is capable of handling heavy loads or fast acceleration easily. Handling is good with the optional touring package, mediocre on the extended-wheelbase model without it.
Clear removal instructions are sewn onto the optional 38-lb seats: pull on one loop, then pull on the other, squeeze a wire, and lift. Installation is also easy after the first time, though we recommend reading the instructions (in the owner's manual). The standard bench seats are more difficult to remove, but they do fold flat to make space.
The interior was very well done, except for the usual GM high beams/washer/ wiper/cruise control/turn signal stalk. There were a few removable rubber surfaces which kept noise down by providing quiet places for coins and gadgets. Most controls were easy to use.
Getting in and out was easy, though the detents on the front doors need to be a little firmer, and the sliding doors needed to be pushed firmly open so they would not slide closed by themselves.
The daytime running lights light turn signal bulbs rather than the high beams, to avoid annoying other drivers.
The Venture is a nice minivan, but we'd say the touring suspension is almost mandatory on the long wheelbase model. It could also use better cupholders, and a more decisive transmission. Aside from these relatively minor gripes, we found it to be a worthy competitor for the Voyager and Sienna, and far above the Windstar.
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