Monday, September 16, 2013

Used Car Review - Chevrolet Venture (2001-2007)

Want a cheap van for the weekend family escapade? Myk Belmonte has one pick that you might love.

2001-2007 Chevrolet Venture

Bet you didn't know that Buick is doing well in China than in the States. They started with a Chinese version of the Century and Regal (the latter is known in the Philippines as the Chevrolet Lumina) and success started there. By just adjusting US (or Australian) models to Chinese preferences, you get high sales since you have listened to your market.

The Buick GL8 sold in China is the Pontiac Montana in the other side of the globe. First available to Chinese families in 1999 in both regular and extended versions, the Buick found success in the east rather than the west. Still sold as new under the name GL8 Business Edition despite a new generation model launched in 2010.

It was in 2001 when GM Automobiles Pilipinas sold the GL8 under the Chevrolet Venture badge. This rivaled the Hyundai Starex, newbie Kia Carnival, and paved way for other competitors from Nissan, Toyota, and Chrysler. The early models can seat 10 people due to taxation reasons while 2005 and later ones have capacity of seven bodies. Imports ceased in 2007 due to some unknown reason, and no direct replacement from Chevrolet was seen. Variants included a base model (it was named as the CT in 2005), LT (added in 2003), and the more plusher LT Premium (added in 2005).

Value and Costs
Your weekend car is now affordable, with prices in the range of P160,000-P310,000. With Chevrolets a victim of low resale values, this is one appealing package. That is, if you continue to read the preceding paragraphs.

Since this vehicle is discontinued, parts procurement can be limited to the casa or some American specialist shops. Problems which plagued Ventures are overheating, suspension, noise from the air conditioning, and radiator issues. Fuel consumption is more scary than a Filipino Horror Movie, so if you want this van, am I scarring you or making up your mind? If you desire this van, head for a later model since earlier ones can be a hit or miss.

Exterior and Interior
Let us not deal with the exterior design more since the main purpose is to haul people, not to steal glances. LT and higher models are distinguished by their two tone color and their roof rails. All Ventures come with dual sliding doors, making access easy.

It is what inside that counts, since you'll spend more time inside. For 10 seater models, there are three seat belts in the front (the driver gets a separate chair with adjust) and the third rows and four for the second row occupants. Life has been simplified for 2005 and later units with a 2-2-3 seating layout. With all seats up, the Venture can even accommodate a little at the back, while the third row can be adjusted forward. Legroom and headroom is definitely excellent, even with the seats all up. It uses a stick type shifter which gives more room for the legs while the dash is a button affair from the foglamps to the audio system, time is required to memorize one of them.

If the USDM Venture uses a 3.4 LA1 V6, the PHDM Venture has a LW9 3,086cc V6 gasoline good for 171hp at 5,200rpm and 345Nm at 4,400rpm. Performance in high speeds has an initial delay but when it kicks in, it is one blast of a drive. Even at highway speeds, the vehicle feels stable.

Driving Impressions
Thankfully, it drives like a car since weaving in traffic is a breeze and parking is cake. Visibility can be a problem especially when the vehicle is full. Overall, you'll love this vehicle especially if you are tired driving an AUV or any truck based vehicle.

Deciding to get a Venture is something debatable. You are rewarded with a comfortable ride and more space for people but downsides are in the financial aspect. Ask yourself if you are better with a different van or with a Chevrolet.  

The Good:
  • Cushy ride
  • Family friendly
  • Stable at high speeds
The Bad:
  • Coarse and fuel thirsty engine
  • Tight seating with 10 seater version
  • Maintaining can be expensive
The Pick: LT

Engine: 2,986cc LW9 V6 gasoline
Power: 171hp @ 5,200rpm
Torque: 345Nm @ 4,400rpm
Fuel Consumption: 5-7km/L (city), 7-10km/L (highway) (*estimated and varies)
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
Suspension: Front independent McPherson strut, rear rigid axle with torsion beam

Price (New): P900,000-P1,500,000
Price (Now): P160,000-P310,000
Rivals: Chrysler Town and Country, Hyundai Starex, Nissan Serena, Toyota Previa, Mitsubishi Spacegear, Ford E150, Kia Carnival, Mitsubishi Grandis, Toyota Hiace, Nissan Urvan
On Sale: Late 2001-2007

Chevrolet Quezon Avenue - (02) 374-1250
Chevrolet Pasig - (02) 672-1485
Chevrolet Shaw - (02) 721-0021

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