As a long time VW fan, I was hoping the Routan wasn't going to be what logic tells you it is; a warmed over Chrysler minivan. I'm sorry to say that all my fears were accurate. Sure, the seats are more comfortable and offer more support. Additionally, the dash materials and gauges are slightly better. But in the end, there's no hiding from the fact that the Routan is based on a vehicle that is lackluster at best. The creaks and groans that afflict our long-term Town & Country are present in the VW as well. This base, 3.8-liter engine is low on power, and the sounds it emits would make any longtime VR6 fan sad.
A Volkswagen PR man once told me that the majority of customers that walk into a VW dealership don't know that the Routan is a Chrysler underneath. He also said that VW desperately needed a people carrier to keep customers from leaving the brand. Those are valid points but couldn't they have picked a better donor than Chrysler? It's one thing to base an Audi on a VW platform, it's another thing to base a VW on a Chrysler. Sorry VW, you disappoint me.
Marc Noordeloos, Road Test Editor