2010 Volkswagen Routan SE

Volkswagen's changes to the Chrysler's suspension and seats make for a slightly better driving experience, yes. But that doesn't make the Routan a good VW, it makes it a slightly better Chrysler. Every Routan I've driven, just like every Chrysler minivan, is plagued with interior rattles and squeaks. The short gearing plus the wheezing pushrod V-6's low-end torque are no match for the front tires, so wheelspin is a constant issue in the rain or starting out up big hills.

The Routan, like all minivans, is a hugely practical vehicle. But there are far better choices out there (notably the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna. Or a used Mercedes R-class). And none of them suffer from what is the Routan's biggest problem of them all: it's the worst badge-engineering insult since the Cadillac Cimmaron.

I hate the idea that Volkswagen is using clever TV spots to dupe its customers into thinking this is a "German-engineered vehicle." It's not, and that difference, if not immediately apparent to customers, will be when the rattles emerge. And does VW really think those customers will be coming back for another round? Doubtful.

Jason Cammisa, West Coast Editor

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