New Car/Review

Chevrolet

Chevy Venture EXT WB Edition (2001)

SEE ALSO: Chevrolet Buyer's Guide

By Matt/Bob Hagin

SPECIFICATIONS

     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 30,315
     Price As Tested                                    $ 32,110
     Engine Type               OHV 12-valve 3.4 Liter V6 w/SMFI*
     Engine Size                                 207 cid/3400 cc
     Horsepower                                   185 @ 5200 RPM
     Torque (lb-ft)                               210 @ 4000 RPM
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                  120.0"/72.0"/200.9"
     Transmission                           Four-speed automatic
     Curb Weight                                     4014 pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                  25.0 gallons
     Tires  (F/R)                             P215/70R15 touring
     Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/drum (ABS)
     Drive Train                  Front-engine/front-wheel-drive
     Vehicle Type                      Seven-passenger/five-door
     Domestic Content                                        N/A
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                               N/A

PERFORMANCE

     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            19/26/22
     0-60 MPH                                       11.0 seconds
     Maximum payload capacity                        1457 pounds
     Maximum towing capacity                         3500 pounds
                 * Sequential multi-port fuel injection

(Chevy mini-vans go back 40 years to the Corvair Greenbriar wagon says historian Matt Hagin. His dad Bob says those who owned one would like to forget it and pass on the new Chevy Venture Warner Bros.)

MATT - Despite the SUV onslaught with its macho omnipresence, the low-key minivan is still dear to the hearts of succor-moms and scout-leader dads when it comes to transporting family and kids to sports fields or semi-remote camp sites. They carry lots of gear, especially if they have that ubiquitous roof rack, and they're much more user-friendly when it comes to fill-up time. But Chevrolet has its work cut out for it in the superheated minivan market.

BOB - Every year, the "players" in the minivan segment come up with more gadgets to make their vehicles more attractive to young couples who have a couple of "sprouts" to keep amused while they make their monthly sojourn to see the grandparents. Now Chevrolet has struck a deal with Warner Brothers to capitalize on the star status of Tweety Bird, Sylvester the Car, Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd to draw minivan buyers into its showrooms. The "WB" Venture is best know for its center-mounted TV screen that's controlled by the adults in front and has a system whereby the noise part of those cartoons is fed into earphones that are attach to pre-pubescent ears. And as I recall my days of hustling all you kids around in the back seats of those old nine-seater behemoth domestic station wagons of the '60s, rear-mounted video systems are a pretty good idea.

MATT - Not all the Venture versions come with those kid-pleaser, Dad. There are a total of five different models of the 2001 Venture and the base model is called the Value version. It's very basic and although the buyer can option it up with a gaggle of goodies, it can never equal the full-boat Warner Bros. "goodies wagon." In between the two are three others that have various standard items and have various suggested retail prices. The cartoon-slanted model we evaluated has a versatile seating system that the Chevy folks say can be alter into something like 200 different configurations. This is stretching it, I think, but the rear seats can be folded up in lots of different combinations and the center seats can fold up almost flat into the floor. One of the plusses that our long wheelbase Venture has for making life easy for parents is the two rear sliding doors that are power operated. This makes it fairly easy to get into the third-row seats but it's better left to slender passengers and the young ones.

BOB - The powertrain is "classic" Chevrolet and the 3.4-liter V6 pushrod engine puts out 185 horses and 210 pound/feet of torque. It's fairly spritely off the line and has good passing power on the highway but the engine is "busy" at cruising speeds. The transmission is a four-speed automatic and it's the only unit available in any of the Venture models. Our vehicle carried the optional towing package that included a heavier-duty suspension system, a heavy-duty engine cooling system and an automatic leveling device which I'm told is handy when the van is loaded with kids plus carrying a full compliment of equipment inside as well as strapped to the standard rooftop luggage rack. Traction control is part of the towing package too, but it's standard equipment on some of the other Venture models. It also has one of those neat sensors that warns you if you're going to hit something when you're backing up.

MATT - The demographics of Venture buyers is kind of interesting, Dad. The male-female purchaser split is 50/50, half of them are college grads, most are married and their median age is 50. The Venture promotional kit stresses that the Venture was designed with a "family-comes-first" mentality.

BOB - With all the stress on building Ventures for kids with items like the Warner Brothers back-seat cartoon video system as well as a built-in air pump for blowing up beach balls, it would appear that those "average" 50-year old buyers got something of a late start on raising a family.

 

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