Volkswagen's longstanding success in the United States is due in part to its enthusiastic fan base. The largest VW in the family, however, probably doesn't excite the Vee-Dub faithful all that much. The reason is simple: the Routan isn't a Volkswagen. VW's marketing may promise German engineering, but that's more than a little far-fetched. In fact, the Routan is really a Chrysler Town & Country with slightly different front and rear styling, a retuned suspension, and a few interior upgrades. It's even built by Chrysler in a Chrysler factory. Unfortunately, one of the Town & Country's coolest features--the Stow 'n Go second-row seats that fold into the floor--isn't available on the Routan. Last year, the Town & Country received a major makeover--and so did the Routan. The core of that change was a new 3.6-liter V-6 that replaced two aging V-6 engines. Power climbed to a very impressive 283 hp with no negative effect on fuel economy. The suspension and the chassis were also updated, improving the ride, handling, and steering. Unfortunately, the six-speed automatic is still not world-class. It is often hesitant to downshift and uncertain of which gear to choose. With a taut suspension and a nice interior, the Routan is a decent minivan, but it's not a true Volkswagen.
Trim levels: S, SE, SEL, SEL Premium
Body style: Minivan, 7-passenger
Engine: 3.6L V-6, 283 hp, 260 lb-ft
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Passenger volume: 163.5 cu ft
Capacities: Towing 2000-3500 lb; cargo (behind third/middle/front seats) 33.0/83.0/144.4 cu ft
Last year, the Routan received an extensive mechanical freshening, so there isn't anything significant to report for 2012. There are a few packaging changes to the various trim levels. The Routan SEL with navigation now comes with push-button start and rain-sensing wipers. Blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-path detection are standard on the top-of-the-line SEL Premium.
Standard safety equipment includes ABS; tire-pressure monitoring; front, driver's knee, side, and side curtain air bags; and traction and stability control. Optional features include a rearview camera, parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-path detection.
EPA Fuel Economy
All: 17 mpg city/ 25 mpg highway
- Powerful engine
- Functional interior
You Won't Like
- It's actually a Chrysler
- Sluggish transmission
A Volkswagen that only Americans could love.
If You Like This Vehicle
- Chrysler Town & Country
- Honda Odyssey
- Nissan Quest
- Toyota Sienna