Up Close: 2009 Volkswagen Routan

Routan500

I didn't understand this car when I first heard about it, and now that I've seen it I still don't understand it. Espousing the brand's newfound access to a "high-volume market segment" — perhaps the horde of minivan buyers heading for the exits? — Volkswagen CEO Stefan Jacoby introduced the Routan (ROO-tan) to journalists. It's no secret that this is a rebadged version of the Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan, so I set out to find exactly how the Routan bucks those routines.

Routan2

First were a few disappointments: For its second-row captain's chairs — no bench seat is offered — the Routan offers neither Stow 'n Go nor Swivel 'n Go, two of Chrysler's signature features. The seats fold flat but not into the floor, though the floor compartments are still there for storage. Spokesman Chrstian Buhlmann said VW passed on the feature because it wanted maximum comfort in the second row. I'll buy that answer in regard to Stow 'n Go, which requires narrow, rigid seats to fold into the floor. But the Swivel 'n Go seats are much more accommodating. Sure enough, I checked out a Town & Country across the convention hall, and I'm not exactly sure what the Routan's fixed seats bring to the ballgame.

Routan3

The Routan offers most of the Town & Country's other family features, like a Stow 'n Go third row, Sirius Backseat TV and the MyGIG infotainment system. Spokesman Steve Keyes said Volkswagen will market these features with VW-specific names. Buhlmann said the suspension and steering will also be tuned for a more European feel, and I hope that signals an improvement over the Town & Country's creaky ride.

Routan1

Up front, the cabin shares the same styling as Chrysler's minivans, though the gauges are new and the center controls have different markings. The upper dash uses softer materials than the Town & Country's rock-hard plastics, and the doors now have leather wrappings — probably the single nicest improvement over Chrysler's roughshod surfaces. Truth be told, though, I'm not sure these improvements are enough to outweigh the second-row seating issue.

Routan4

More Routan info and photos

Comments 

L

Thanks for the new photos!

I wonder if they'll ever consider slapping a diesel engine in this thing?

Has anyone heard about Chrysler putting a diesel or hybrid in their vans???

So what does Volkswagon have to gain by rebadging a Chrysler product? Hopefully it doesn't use a chrysler transmission because i drove a Caliber the other day and i'm not sure that tranny knows how to shift >.>

Trainer

With a Chrysler running gear, this will be the best Volkswagen ever, and the most reliable. VW did a nice job of improving the trim around the greenhouse - it makes the vehicle look more upscale than its American siblings.

VW must be nuts! Why would they use a Chrysler product? The only advantage this van has over the Chrysler is styling. They should have courted Mazda to bring their MPV newest MPV which was bumped out of the US because of the CX-9 but would have challanged Honda and Toyota.

bkt777

Technically the Calibur does not have a traditional transmission.

cody

Nice bkt, you beat me to it. The Caliber's tranny does not, in fact, "know how to shift" since it's a CVT.

I do think the interior and exterior of the VW van look better than either Chrysler vans, but I wish they would have changed the engine. The 2.0L Turbo with the 5sp auto would have been a nice base engine (probably would have been a little pokey, but the mileage would have been less Suburban-like), and the VW V6 would have been a nice engine for the higher trim level... Oh well, I'm not in the market for a minivan anyway.

Volkswagen continues its recent spate of strange names (Touareg, Tiguan) with its new minivan, the Routan. After years of trying with little success to sell its European minivan (the Eurovan) in the United States, and giving up on a plan to do a modern interpretation of the beloved Microbus for the U.S. market, VW finally just took the expedient route and went to the minivan

DD

why get this when you can get the Chrysler with an unlimited powertrain warrantee, and far more interesting features, such as the swivel and go seats, the removable table, the innovative center console....who would buy a Chrysler powertrain with a VW 50k warrantee when even Chrysler can't sell them?

Tracy

I've been a Honda Od. Van owner for 2 years now. I love, love, love, love my van. Smooth ride, no acceleration problems ever! Lots of room. It baffles me that VW would want Chrysler to make a mini van for them. Chrysler is notorious for mechanical issues. My van has to be the best out there. I would never buy a Chrysler ever, bottom line. Now, I'll never consider a VW van either.

ron ulrich

I'm a life-long VW user/owner. My parents had both bugs and buses. I have driven or owned virtually ever model since I got my license and started driving the wonderful 78 tdi rabbit (55mpg). Currently driving 4mo passat wagon and EV MV weekender.

I find it incredibly ironic and actually sad that VW, having been the creator of the family friendly ultra utilitarian van that can not be compared to, is now expecting it's customers to put up with an inferior offering like this. Rear facing seats and picnic tables, VW invented them.. Who are the marketing and product management gurus in VW's US van group? They should consider talking to their loyal customer base before launching yet another lead balloon. Many late model eurovans are selling now for more than retail. Why?, because you can not replicate the product. Why did they not just evolve the EV and improve on it instead of bailing from the market and trying to re-enter it with this turkey.. Good luck, I'll keep my EV on the road until they get their act together..

ron ulrich

I'm a life-long VW user/owner. My parents had both bugs and buses. I have driven or owned virtually ever model since I got my license and started driving the wonderful 78 tdi rabbit (55mpg). Currently driving 4mo passat wagon and EV MV weekender.

I find it incredibly ironic and actually sad that VW, having been the creator of the family friendly ultra utilitarian van that can not be compared to, is now expecting it's customers to put up with an inferior offering like this. Rear facing seats and picnic tables, VW invented them.. Who are the marketing and product management gurus in VW's US van group? They should consider talking to their loyal customer base before launching yet another lead balloon. Many late model eurovans are selling now for more than retail. Why?, because you can not replicate the product. Why did they not just evolve the EV and improve on it instead of bailing from the market and trying to re-enter it with this turkey.. Good luck, I'll keep my EV on the road until they get their act together..

Richard Cochran

I don't understand it either. I owned a EuroVan Camper for 11 years, and swapped it a year ago for a Honda Odyssey. The EuroVan was a wonderful vehicle, with unique versatility. The only reason I sold it was that parts and service were difficult to find and expensive. There's no way I'd put up with the VW dealer network for another "me too" van.

WR

I don't think I will buy this minivan. I would rather have the Eurovan that is much sleeker and better.
Better yet, get the Microbus back into business. If it is Chrylser engine and tranny, might as well buy a Chrysler with 100K warranty as mentioned by someone.

DodgeFan

Actually you could take this van to a Dodge Dealor. :) Since you know its a clone.

Cloggy

I think the reason as to why you’re getting, or better said “got”, the Routan is because VW thought it would be too expensive to design a mini van especially for the American market. I must admit the Microbus would have been nice to see but I’m not to sure as to how well it would have sold outside the U.S, especially since here in Europe (not to mention around the world) there are a number of “van” like variations driving around. You must remember that the eurovan (a.k.a. Transporter) is a proper van, it was and still is designed to be a working horse. Like the European van the Ford Transit, it was designed to take on many forms. And even though it can be made to carry a number of people it is not a proper family mini-van. Sadly for the American market VW designed actual MPVs, like the Sharan, and the Touran to do the school run. The Sharan is set up against the likes of the Chrysler Town & Country and the Touran would battle it out against the Mazda 5 and other MPVs of its size.
Apparently the guy who is to blame for the Routan use to work for Chrysler.

First I'd like to say that whoever talked about the caliber not knowing how to shift may want to do some more homework. The Caliber DOESN'T shift... It have a continous Variable transmission like a snowmobile or tank that makes for a smoother "Shifting" and greater fuel economy, it's an alright car.

Now in terms of the Routan, this vehicle outperforms the vehicle is a T&C on the outside but it is all VW inside... and as for value, try driving the VW vs the T&C in the snow and you'll be sold... The Routan handles like no Mini ever before. I'm not a big fan of the swivel and go seats I think they are ridiculous and unsafe... but it is unfortunate they don't have a stow and go options(This is to offer more comfortable bigger 2nd row seats).

Look at it this way... If you live where it snows you want a Routan, if you live where it doesn't then take a look at the interior and decide wheather the leather trimmed doors and sportier suspension is worth the money. You have to buy what fits yours style remember you'll be driving it for a while so those upgrades on the inside may be the tipping point for you to go German.

I have started Building a Campervan on the VW Routan Platform. I have owned an 02 eurocamper, and moved to a Sprinter camper van. And now find interest in building micro campers or minivan campers. The VW Routan / Dodge Caravan platform is very spacious you can sit in it comfortable, sleep 2 with length to spare. Camper will feature sink, stove, fridge. maintain seating for 6 and sleep two. Will be fitted with screened covering for all openings, rear hatch tent that will fold into camper (no set up required). Swing away bike rack, roof rack basket, and awning. Digital TV, and 120v power. A heater can be added if needed but will not be standard. Will be a great soccer mom ride, or weekend warrior base camp.

JIll

VW had us thinking they'd be making a magic bus....sure fooled us...didn't they?

I don't want a Routan...I want a Magic Bus. We have a garage and the Westfalia pop-top will fit in nicely. We can camp and wave to other owners. Routan is just a Chrysler product.

I felt like we got bated into thinking we'd be getting the Magic Bus, and then got switched to a Chrysler product. Just my feeling. Won't be spending money where we've had this experience.

joe rhymes

My daughter just wrecked her VW Routan. When putting it in drive from a parking spot, it accelerated on its own, Unable to stop until it hit a building pillar. Has anyone out there experienced a similiar problem. Would appreciated hearing from you.

Thanks.

frank hagens

My 2009 sel routan has cruise control problems. while in cruise going down hill the cruise disengages & the transmission also disengages. if you are not aware of it immediately the engine races to 6000 or 7000 rpms. you must stop the car shut the engine down and start over. vw cannot find the problem.

Bill

My Routan started having electrical issues. If you are listening to the radio with the car on ACC for less than 10 minutes, the car will not start and you will need to jump start it. This is odd since I can hear the radio in my Toyota Camry for 30 minutes and no a problem. My Camry has stayed all night with the lights on and no problem, it works in the morning without any issues.

don phaneuf

Why in the world would VW put out a rebadged Chrysler that provides no absolutely none of the appeal of their former product to a known and loyal following? Hind sight being 20/20, the absolute best vehicle I've ever owned was an 88 Vanagon MV. Home away from home and ground clearance & rear weight that allowed off roading on jeep trails even without the Syncro. I screwed up and traded for a Eurovan and a host of electrical problem at 190K. Hopefully VW Brazil will some day go into re-production of Vanagons. I'll stand in that line.

margaret shafer

So SORRY I ever bought my Routan. The accelerator has stuck twice,took it back to dealer twice NO PROBLEMS they report.Then on another occasion using cruise it happened three times on a 20 mile ride and always going down hill. The engine roared @5500rpm's @ 20 miles per hour.Can't wait for tranny problems.Once again took it back to dealer and no PROBLEMS!!! I hope I don't kill someone or vice versa! Consumers BEWARE!!!

Sam McKee

I have a 2009 SEl and I have had the cruise control problems, rear power tail gate failed and the backordered part took 3 weeks to get in, the floor mats are falling apart after less than 18 months and they won't replace them. The side power door just started not working right (won't close) and I am taking it in this week for repair. I wish I would have bought the Toyota!!!!!!!!!

The Volkswagen Routan is a rebadged 7-seat minivan variant, manufactured on the Chrysler RT platform.

PETIER

VW of U.S needs help because the so called Eurovan is called the T4
i just purchased a 2012 VW T5 California, it on its on its way to Maine, and let me tell you taht it will make the so called VW Chrysler van to shame, Look it up you guys will like it

Jeff

This vehicle is a death trap. On one occasion the gas pedal got stuck as my wife was on the highway and she had to vear off of the road into the ditch, VW says nothing is wrong with the car, a year passes by and the car lost all power, no power steering, no throttle, limited brakes and they had it in the shop for 7 weeks and could not find a problem. I refuse to let my wife drive this inferior product.

Mindy

I am considering a VW Routan... Now all these stories scare me!! I am looking at the 2012/2013 model

j. white

Our 2009 routan had the cruise control disengage while going downhill at 50 mph. The drivers side cv axle will be going to the dealer this week to be replaced. The transmission makes a thumping noise at 20 mph. We had the car in the shop 4 months ago to have one of the tail lights replaced because it had water in it. While it was in the shop we told them about the noises from the cv joint and the thumping while shifting. They said the noises where from worn tires.

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