2009 Volkswagen Routan S

Wow! Based on my colleagues' hateful notes, I must be the biggest Routan fan on the planet. I don't love the vehicle, don't get me wrong, but I can see how it sorta makes sense for both companies:

-Volkswagen needs a vehicle for the North American market that seats more than five passengers, but it's not worth it for VW to invest billions in such a low-volume product.
-Chrysler has too many North American factories operating at below capacity, and it can profit from rebadging its minivan for another maker.

I've seen worse rebadging jobs. The upmarket VW touches are easy to spot if you're familiar with the Chrysler minivans, but they're still nice, including a better shifter, nicer interior door trim, and much more substantial inside door handles. The Routan's ride feels slightly firmer than that of the Chrysler/Dodge twins, but as others noted, this vehicle creaks way too much over our atrocious road surfaces.

The white gauge faces are VW specific, too, but they don't cohere well at all with the red radio backlighting and blue clock/radio display. I like these base cloth seats better than those in our top-of-the-line T&C. I find them to be more comfortable, firm, and grippy. Speaking of seats, it's strange to see the old second-row bench (no Stow 'N Go) ... I haven't driven a minivan with that arrangement since my parents' '87 Grand Voyager rusted into eternity.

I think the Routan's exterior styling is more jelly-bean-ish than that of the Chryslers, and it's the worse for it. But my main issue with the Routan is its silly German-engineering/ Brooke Shields ad campaign. I'm not a hater, though.

Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor

New Car Research

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