VW Routan to Return Via Oprah

One of the first big scoops I ever landed as an automotive blogger was the story that Oprah was giving away free cars to her audience. My wife just happened to walk by Harpo Studios, which is near her office in Chicago, and filled me in that there were hundreds of cars with bows on them. The giveaway was one of the biggest model-specific promotions ever, and the Pontiac G6 seemingly had Oprah’s stamp of approval.

The same is happening again, except the vehicle being given away is a VW Routan minivan, and there will only be two lucky winners, not 276.

The Routan has been a failure for VW since its launch last year, and many thought production wouldn’t resume at the Chrysler plant where it’s made alongside the Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan minivans.

The company hopes Oprah’s stamp of approval will bring some of that Pontiac G6 frenzy to the Routan.

REPORT: VW banking on Oprah giveaway to raise awareness of slow-selling Routan minivans (Autoblog)


By David Thomas | July 13, 2009 | Comments (7)

VW Routan Goes on Production Hiatus


It appears that neither an inventive ad agency nor Brooke Shields was enough help for the Volkswagen Routan. The Windsor Star is reporting that VW has asked Chrysler (which builds the Routan) to cease production of the minivan for one month, starting Feb. 2.

VW says it needs a reprieve to adjust its inflated inventory levels. Currently, VW has a 148-day supply of vehicles on dealer lots. The Windsor Assembly Plant in Windsor, Ontario — which also builds the Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan — builds about 300 Routans a day.

According to The Windsor Star, an estimated 29,000 Routan vans have been distributed to VW dealers, and only a few thousand have sold. The Routan went on sale this fall and sold 3,387 copies in 2008. Just 899 sold in December.

VW hoped to sell 30,000-40,000 Routans a year — hence the massive inventory buildup. The worsening recession probably impacted the Routan’s chances of success.

At $24,700, the Routan is priced properly in the minivan segment, though the Toyota Sienna and Dodge Caravan are less expensive. VW is currently offering $1,000 off the purchase or lease of a 2009 Routan. We’d be willing to bet dealers would offer better deals, though.

Routan off-line for February (The Windsor Star)

By Colin Bird | January 30, 2009 | Comments (15)

VW Routan Minivan is Company's Second-Best-Selling Model


The first company to report its November sales is Volkswagen, and there are signs that today will be a bloodbath for every automaker. In October, VW saw its sales decline 7.9% from the same period in 2007. In November, the company’s sales declined 19.2%. Making that number even more grim is the fact that VW has three new models helping to boost sales: the new Tiguan SUV, the Passat CC sedan and the Routan minivan, which with only 1,324 sales in November is now the brand’s second-best-selling vehicle, behind the Jetta sedan’s 5,312 units sold.

The 1,324 number isn’t large, but when you consider that the affordable Kia Sedona minivan sold 1,863 units in October, maybe the Routan isn’t doing that badly for a brand-new model. Considering all the money the company must have spent hiring Brooke Shields for its Routan Boom TV commercials, at least consumers should know about the poorly named family-hauler by now. The Tiguan, on the other hand…   

By David Thomas | December 2, 2008 | Comments (14)

VW to Give $1,500 for College With New Routan Minivan


We’ve seen some innovative incentive offers before. Recently, car companies have jumped on the exploding gas-price craze, offering to help pay for fuel. Well, college costs are growing rapidly, too, which is why VW is targeting families with an incentive to save for future education funding.

With every sale of a new Routan minivan, VW will pay $1,500 into a UPromise account supplied by the buyer. The college-saving website then allows users to put the money into a 529 plan.

It’s not a bad idea, especially to tout a new model hitting the market for the first time, but VW says the Routan won’t hit dealerships until September. That’s a long time to wait after generating buzz with this college-cash announcement. The Routan is based on Chrysler’s Town & Country minivan and will have a starting price of $24,700. 

More VW Routan News

By David Thomas | May 8, 2008 | Comments (1)

Video: VW Routan vs. Chrysler Town & Country

VW Routan vs. Chrysler Town & Country Video

Volkswagen's minibus is perhaps the most iconic van of all time. Now the automaker is getting back into the van game, but with a model — the Routan — that is completely different from its old minibus; it’s based on Chrysler's minivans. In this video, we compare the new Routan with a Chrysler Town & Country to see where they're the same and where they differ. You can share this video via YouTube.

By David Thomas | February 9, 2008 | Comments (8)

Up Close: 2009 Volkswagen Routan


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.

By Kelsey Mays | February 6, 2008 | Comments (29)

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.

By David Thomas | February 6, 2008 | Comments (16)

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