Overview & Reviews
Volkswagen has a long history of building small vans. There was the Microbus, of course, as well as the more recent Vanagon and Eurovan. However, the "hippie van" was always just that, and the later vans were just too funky to catch on with a mainstream audience. Consequently, VW has never really had a competitive modern minivan. In hopes of rectifying this situation, the company introduced the Volkswagen Routan.
The Routan was actually a rebadged and reworked version of Chrysler's minivan. Its general shape didn't stray far from the Chrysler formula, but the Routan's redesigned front and rear suggested a Teutonic makeover. In the Routan's first two years on the market, the cabin had a more upscale feel than the Chrysler vans, including more supportive seating and a partially reworked dash featuring VW's signature red and blue backlighting. Below deck, Volkswagen engineers retuned the suspension for a more refined and responsive driving experience.
As such, we found the Volkswagen Routan to be more desirable than its Chrysler siblings in these early years. However, by 2011, those siblings had implemented a series of changes that actually made them more similar to the Routan, and that previous advantage Volkswagen enjoyed was largely erased. Ultimately, the Routan was discontinued after four years of production.
No matter what year you're looking at, it's hard to make a case for buying what was essentially a Chrysler minivan from Volkswagen. Not only does Chrysler's spotty quality record remain a concern over the long haul, but competing used minivans like the Odyssey and Sienna are better buys in most respects.
Most Recent Volkswagen Routan
The Volkswagen Routan was introduced for 2009 and produced through 2012. A seven-passenger minivan, it was available in S, SE, SEL and SEL Premium trim levels.
Base S models included 16-inch steel wheels, air-conditioning, second-row captain's chairs, a foldaway third-row split bench seat, a touchscreen-operated audio system and the usual assortment of modern conveniences. Stability control and a full complement of airbags were also standard.
The SE added larger alloy wheels, power side doors, a power driver seat, "leatherette" seating trim, heated front seats, rear sunshades and Bluetooth. The SEL got you tri-zone climate control, leather seating, a rearview camera, heated second-row seats and an iPod interface. The SEL Premium added a variety of luxury items like xenon headlights, keyless ignition/entry, driver memory settings and an upgraded sound system. A rear-seat entertainment system and a hard-drive-based navigation system were available on all but the base trim.
In its first two years on the market, the Routan S and SE trim levels were powered by a 3.8-liter V6 that produced 197 horsepower, while the SEL featured a stronger (and, surprisingly, more economical) 4.0-liter V6 that put out 253 hp. A six-speed automatic and front-wheel drive were standard. For 2011 and '12, every Routan was powered by a 3.6-liter V6 that produced 283 hp.
Anyone who has spent time in a Town & Country or Grand Caravan will instantly recognize the Routan's switchgear, dash-mounted shifter and basic overall design. The materials quality moved closer to that of its Chrysler siblings, but still remained a bit disappointing compared to most of Volkswagen's other models. The Volkswagen Routan version also lacked the Stow 'n Go second-row seats, but at least its conventional seats were nicely shaped. The third-row bench folded flat into the floor, while the second-row bench or captain's chairs could be removed for serious hauling duty.
In reviews, we found the Routan's original base engine to be sluggish and overmatched -- the SEL's larger V6 (and the later 3.6-liter V6) offered much livelier performance, and so equipped, the Routan was one of the fleetest minivans available. The Routan's ride and handling were a cut above the contemporary Chrysler minivans, but the van's overall dynamics still weren't segment-leading.
There were other less significant changes. For 2009 and '10, the base S came standard with an uncomfortable second-row bench seat that was later replaced with standard captain's chairs in upper trims. These early years also lacked the Routan's standard Chrysler-sourced touchscreen stereo interface and available Garmin navigation system.
User Reviews:Showing 1 through 10 of 150.00
Lemon - 2009 Volkswagen Routan
By Rourke - November 28 - 11:36 am
From the moment I bought the car it was in the shop 6 time. This last repair is going to cost me at least $1500 for the TIPM. This is crazy. Why is this allowed to happen?
Routan Rocks - 2009 Volkswagen Routan
By Kevin - November 17 - 3:03 am
*Exterior is beautiful (best looking minivan in my opinion) *Love the features (i.e. stow & go, power windows in rear dual sliders, sunroof, traction control, stability control, and much more) *Interior is improved over the Grand Caravan *Suspension is much better than Grand Caravan (thanks VW)
Turn and never look back - 2009 Volkswagen Routan
By tn_sunshyne - August 22 - 10:16 pm
This van has been plagued by numerous problems, rotor/ brake issues (replaced 4 times on the front and 2 times on the rear), check engine light/ thermostat issues 4 times, drivers side window problems, remote start problems. Has been in dealer repair shop for more then 30 days since owning it 15 months. Poor gas mileage. Trying to enforce the Lemon Law. It may be pretty on the inside and outside, but buyer beware, once warranty goes out,it's going to cost a lot to keep this vehicle on the road. This is not German Engineering at its finest. My Nissan Quest I traded for this was way better and more reliable then this van. I've learned my lesson the hard way and an expensive one at that!
Just..great - 2009 Volkswagen Routan
By fabio - July 15 - 2:56 am
I get 400 miles already..its my first new car and Im so happy with mine..I get 2 kids and my mother..all of them cant be happier with our van..every thing is great..roomy..softh..strong..cool..good price..all the toys..blue tooth..sattelite radio..2 tv screens plus 1 radio/video screen..30gb hard disc..compatible with ipod..power doors..power seats..every thing..good cuality materials...what else u wants ?
DISAPPOINTMENT. - 2010 Volkswagen Routan
By Gil Tigno - May 28 - 7:36 am
Big disappointment about reliability of the mini van that was relied heavily as family vehicle especially in transporting our grandkids to and from school. The van was purchased in 2010 (new) and the first safety concerned was a vibration of the body when the brake was applied. Problem was fixed as a factory defect and later we have to take it back to dealership for a number of alarms in the instrumentation panel. Lately, we noticed a white smoke coming from the engine, and had it towed back to the dealership to replaced a part of the cooling system that caused the coolant to leak. Unfortunately, this repair is not covered by the extended warranty and we have to pay over $600. Question is....do we have a lemon on our investment? I would not recommend buying this model to anyone.
Not as promised - 2010 Volkswagen Routan
By Ben - May 26 - 11:16 am
So here is the skinny on this - If you promise something, stand behind it and deliver - does not matter who the company is. The reason we switched from a SUV to a Minivan was because the gas mileage was supposed to be so much better 17/25. Instead I am getting similar mileage to the 7 passenger SUV that we had before this. 13/19 My wife loved her SUV and I convinced her that this would save us money on the gas, instead I feel like a fool but that is because, I / we were lied to and deceived.
So Far, So Good! - 2010 Volkswagen Routan
By Spartan08 - April 21 - 10:00 am
We have owned this van for about 3 moths now. We love everything about it except for the gas mileage. We drive about 800 miles a week so gas mileage is very important to us. We are averaging about 20 miles/gallon. When we bought this van, we were a little concerned about the quality. Especially since it is manufactured by Chrysler. The engine components and parts even have Mopar written all over them. So far we haven't had any problems whatsoever. We have learned that even though it is made by Chrysler; it doesn't mean it is a Chrysler. VW has definitelly refined the comfort and style. Our 3 year old loves the entertainment center.
Great Van - 2009 Volkswagen Routan
By routan_lover - April 1 - 3:33 am
We love this Van. It is roomy, quiet and so comfortable that my little one will fall asleep in minutes right after she gets in the van. We have tried Odysey with too much road noises and don't like the design of sienna. The SEL model is well equipped.
The Best One - 2009 Volkswagen Routan
By Thegooddriver - March 31 - 10:13 am
I have test-driven and researched different minivans for months before buying one and when I decided to, the Routan came out. At first, I was hesitant for it's a Chrysler-made minivan. I test-drove it and find it to be much better and the best for many reasons: it runs very smoothly, the suspensions absorb rough and uneven surfaces on HWYs very well and road noise isn't noticeable at all compared to the Odyssey. It also looks more sophisticated than other minivans. It definitely feels VW. Maybe, with VW and Chrysler combined, you can't go wrong, especially in this century. People nowadays rarely keep their cars for decades, so if for any reason this vehicle won't last, I won't worry.
Tarted up Chrysler eh? Worth a look - 2010 Volkswagen Routan
By Paul - March 12 - 3:46 pm
We looked at Siennas and Odysseys, however Toyota weren't willing to offer a whole lot in terms of incentives and I knew the Honda was due for a replacement model, so that kept it out of the running. I preferred the look and interior materials of the VW to the Chrysler. In addition, we got one heck of a good price for a loaded SEL Premium. So far, it's been perfect for the wife and the kids - she prefers the three rows of accessible seats, compared to our old CUV (Mazda CX-9) Time will tell on the reliability front.