2008 Chicago Auto Show: 2009 Volkswagen Routan
- Competes with: Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna, Chrysler Town & Country
- Looks like: Volkswagen missed the “minivans are out” memo
- Drivetrain: 197-hp, 3.8-liter V-6 with six-speed automatic, or 251-hp, 4.0-liter V-6 with six-speed automatic
- Hits dealerships: Summer 2008
Volkswagen famously got into a game it didn’t know how to play a few years ago when it debuted the Phaeton luxury sedan with a big price tag, putting it into a segment it didn’t have a place in. Minivans are actually a VW trademark, with the iconic Microbus and even the Eurovan in the 21st century. The Routan hopes to reclaim the minivan mantle for the company, but it looks to be not much more than a Chrysler underneath the skin.
Now, that’s not to say the new Dodge and Chrysler minivans aren’t good. They have a lot of value, but it looks like VW skimped on revamping the Routan interior with its trademark high-quality materials. The company says the Routan will start under $25,000, though, which might sway someone looking at a similarly equipped Town & Country or Dodge Caravan, which start at $27,895 and $27,000, respectively, when equipped with the same 3.8-liter engine.
Stability control and power sliding doors will also come standard.
How much of a Chrysler is the minivan? Both engines are from Chrysler, as is the optional touch-screen navigation unit with hard drive, which Chrysler calls MyGig. Not borrowed is the popular Stow N’ Go seating feature or the new Swivel N’ Go setup; that could be a deal-breaker for buyers. The Routan will be built in the same assembly plant as the Dodge and Chrysler products, too. More photos are below. Let us know if you think the price is right for this VW version of the minivan.