We have had a 1999 Venture for 8 years and have only had one major expenditure with it. It has nearly 170,000 miles now. It runs like a top and is getting better gas mileage (20-26 mpg) than when we first got it.
I purchased the van with 55,000 on it so I expected it to be used and have minor repairs. The problems started with the intake gaskets blowing this turned out to be a very typical problem with the Venture; coolant deteriorates gaskets (Dex-Cool). Then there is the engine rattling also typical for the 3.4, caused by short piston skirts (design defect). Water pump went out ended up being related to the intake gaskets (Dex-Cool). Then there is the transmission hydraulic pressure defect that results in having to replace the transmission also typical of the 1999 Venture. These are all very costly repairs and I would not have purchased the van if I had known they were all so common to the Venture.
The only good thing about this van is the cost is it costs a lot less than Honda or a Nissan. But in the long run it probably still ends up costing more.
Better engine and transmission design and engineering.
I have never had a problem with the vehicle besides the intake manifold gasket. The vehicle is very reliable.It always starts on the coldest days and passes emissions. Great vehicle for going 2 the hardware store with except the chore of removing the seats.
Seats are removable but are a bit heavy. May be an issue for women or smaller individuals.
Increase the interior width by an extra inch to make it easier to put 4X8 sheets of plywood or drywall. A different trim near the hatch that can take a beating. Move the cup holders to the center console instead of being on the side of the seat.