1.14.2010

Volkswagen Routan Review



By now, the word is out to the extent that there are Amish who know that the Volkswagen Routan is a re-badged Dodge Grand Caravan/Chrysler Town & Country minivan.

So was Brooke Shields lying to us about that "German engineering" stuff?



Not really.

See, VW did go in and re-work the suspension...so technically, it's German engineering.

And while it's not engineering per se, we'll give thumbs up to the VW crew who gave it a more attractive front and rear styling treatment.



They also ripped out a ton of cheap interior materials and put in the good...well, decent...stuff for the Routan.



So, from a handling, appearance and interior quality (or at least "niceness") standpoint, you really have to say that the VW Routan is what Chrysler should have built in the first place.

I drove the mid-pack SE model with Trim Pack 2 (sunroof, adjustable pedals, roof rails and an auto-adjustable rear suspension. It also had heatable front seats and a remote starter.

Bottom line: $32,720. Much better than the over-optioned Dodge Grand Caravan that started with a base price 2 grand cheaper than the Routan but ended up at 41 grand and change.

The EPA says it's good for 16 miles per gallon in the city, 23 on the highway (the 6-speed automatic helps).

And it's five stars on all the crash tests (four on rollover).

So, if you want a Dodge Grand Caravan or Chrysler Town & Country, the best one might be a VW Routan.

That's fine, but I'd prefer for Dodge and Chrysler to build them right themselves and for VW to build...VWs. Like the VW Microbus concept they teased us with at the beginning of the decade.

If you agree, let VW know. Given that only 5,000 or so Routans have found homes so far this year, they're probably considering options.


UPDATE:
With both GM and Ford out of the minivan business and the asian minivans fairly long in the tooth, I thought it was time for another taste of the Routan.

Everything above still stands...and until Toyota, Honda, Hyundai and Kia show up with their new ones (2011 and later), the VW Routan (equipped as above) would be my choice, playing with my own money.

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