Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book
KBB.com 2003 Chevrolet Venture Overview
Accommodating Without Being Overbearing
The problem with having a big family is that you need big accommodations to hold them; a big house, big vacation space and a big vehicle to move them all about. Striking a happy balance between something that will provide room for you and your brood yet will still leave you room to open your door once in the garage is no easy task. If you find yourself in this boat, you might want to test drive Chevy's Venture minivan; with room for up to eight and a modestly-sized body, the Venture fills most families' space requirements both inside and out.
The Venture design has been around for a few years, but it has held up relatively well. Chevrolet has kept their minivan competitive against such heavy-weights as the Dodge Caravan and Honda Odyssey by offering a myriad of clever options and an aggressive pricing strategy. You'll find no less then seven different models in the Venture line up covering everything from an entry-level special value trim to the top-of-the-line limited production Warner Brothers edition. The Venture also offers you a choice of standard or extended wheelbase on all trim levels. Though both wheelbases offer a stowable third-row seat, you'll find that with that seat occupied there is not much room for cargo in the standard wheelbase models. If you need to use the third-row seat on a regular basis, get the extended wheelbase.
The Venture comes standard with dual-sliding side doors and a large flip-up rear hatch. You can remove both the second and third row seats, turning your Venture into a cargo van with over 119 cubic feet of space (140 on extended models). The Venture is narrower than many of its rivals and this dimension does translate into less hip and shoulder room, but overall the interior is still a comfortable place for passengers, who probably won't be sitting shoulder-to-shoulder most of the time anyway. You can arrange your seating so that you have a second-row bench seat with integrated child safety seat or two additional captain's chairsa great option for siblings who don't like to be in close proximity to each other. If a little space isn't enough to keep your kids from turning the back seat into a boxing ring, you'll want to spend the extra cash and get the Warner Brothers edition that comes standard with a DVD-based rear-seat entertainment system. Your kids can either watch a video or play video games, all while listening through wireless headsets that leave you free to enjoy the radio or CD.
Families on a strict budget will appreciate the Value Venture trim that touts a base price of $22,000 and comes standard with a V6 engine, full wheel covers, intermittent wipers, air conditioning, cloth seating, tilt steering wheel, AM/FM stereo, dual remote control mirrors, auto-off head lamps and power door locks. That's a lot of content for the money and Chevy offers a generous list of stand alone and packaged options if you wish to add on a few more items. For those who like the minivans loaded from the factory, the Venture offers an LT and LS trim that should be able to satisfy all those middle-ground shoppers.
Mechanically, all the Venture trims feature the same sturdy 3.4-liter V6 engine. Rated at 185 horsepower, this powerplant has enough muscle to move the Venture without straining, but the extended wheelbase models really could do with a bit more power to be competitive with their larger rivals. The Venture also offers the option of all-wheel-drive, a feature you won't find on many competitors. The Versatrak system allows the Venture to be pulled by its front wheels alone; when wheel slippage occurs, the system immediately comes online and routes the engine's torque to the rear wheels until traction is regained. All this works without any intervention from you, which is a comforting tidbit to have in the back of your mind when driving in nasty winter weather.
As for the ride, you'll find the Venture's to be soft and forgiving. The steering is a bit light, but you do get a sense of the road via the steering wheel and for the most part the Venture tracks pretty straight without the need for constant wheel corrections. Anti-lock brakes are standard on LS, LT and Warner Brothers trims and optional on the Value and base vans.