2009 Volkswagen Routan

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 source: Chrysler.

The Routan, therefore, is a reworked Chrysler Town & Country, upon which Volkswagen has lavished a mostly new interior, new front and rear styling, and a retuned suspension. The new interior includes new seats, which means that the Routan will not share two of the Chrysler minivans' headline features, second-row seats that either Swivel 'n Go (turn around to face the rear) or Stow 'n Go (fold into the floor). VW will offer a power-folding third-row seat, and its second-row chairs are foldable or removable.

Under the hood, you'll find a choice of Chrysler V-6 engines: a 251-hp 4.0-liter or a 197-hp 3.8-liter, both with a six-speed automatic. Volkswagen is not bothering with Chrysler's base 3.3-liter V-6.

Interestingly, the Routan's base price ("under $25,000") appears to undercut the 3.8-liter Dodge Grand Caravan by a couple thousand dollars. The Routan is due to arrive in dealerships in September.

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