2003 Venture New Car Test Drive
Chevrolet Venture represents a solid alternative among minivans, one that will appeal to a lot of buyers. Its V6 engine is willing, and its ride is smooth and car-like. While neither the most economical minivan you can buy, nor the most powerful, Venture remains competitively priced for a van with V6 power.
Its best feature may well be its wide range of seating and cargo configurations. Available modular bucket seats and captain's chairs allow you to precisely tailor the Venture's interior for any conceivable combination of passengers and cargo.
Last year's Venture added two significant new options: GM's Versatrak four-wheel drive, and a DVD-based entertainment system in the special Warner Bros. Edition. The 2003 Venture remains unchanged.
The Chevy Venture comes in a variety of trim levels. Two lengths are available: the standard 112-inch wheelbase and an extended 120-inch wheelbase. All models are powered by a 185-horsepower 3.4-liter overhead-valve V6 engine, which drives the front wheels through a four-speed automatic transmission.
The bargain-priced Value Van ($21,520) comes with a surprisingly high level of standard equipment, including air conditioning, side-impact air bags, anti-lock brakes, dual sliding doors, and a tilt steering column. The Value Van rides on the shorter wheelbase, but still provides seating for seven.
Plus and LS models each add another layer of interior amenities. Both are available in either the standard wheelbase or the long wheelbase, with the longer chassis adding an even $1000 to the price. Long-wheelbase models come with a 25-gallon gas tank, rather than the 20-gallon unit installed in short-wheelbase Ventures.
Venture Plus ($24,920) comes with an AM/FM/RDS radio and six-disc CD changer, cruise control, deep-tinted side and rear glass, power windows, and remote keyless entry. The Plus version can be ordered with a power sliding door on the passenger side.
LS ($25,770) adds an overhead console, a roof rack, and aluminum wheels, and makes the power sliding door standard on the passenger side. A power sliding door for the driver's side is optional.
LT ($29,880) rides on the long wheelbase exclusively, and comes with second-row captain's chairs and separate front and rear air conditioners. Traction control and a touring suspension with automatic load leveling are standard as well.
The Warner Bros. Edition ($30,040) adds a DVD-based entertainment center that should take the 'are we there yet?' out of even the longest trip. Some owners say it has eliminated the phrase, 'Don't make me stop the car and come back there,' from their parental repertoire. That alone could easily be worth a thousand bucks. Like the LS, the Warner Bros. Edition comes only on the longer wheelbase.
Extended-wheelbase LS, LT, and Warner Bros. versions can all be ordered with Versatrak all-wheel drive (AWD). An independent rear suspension, four-wheel disc brakes and 16-inch wheels are part of the AWD package.
LATCH (Lower Anchors and Top tethers for Children) child safety seat anchors come standard. GM's OnStar communications system comes as standard equipment on LS, LT, and Warner Bros. models. Also available is an ultrasonic rear parking aid to alert drivers about hard-to-see objects hiding behind the van.