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Average User Score
5 ⁄ 5 stars
Based on 1 review
2011 Volkswagen Routan Overview
Overall User Score
Based on 1 review
Got seven people that have to get from here to there? The four-door, three-row 2011 Volkswagen Routan minivan may be worth a look. Beware, though, that there are those that maintain this less-than-inspired replacement for the VW bus, the Vanagon and the Eurovan has been done a disservice by Chrysler meddling. VW’s latest van incarnation is, after all, essentially a Chrysler Town & Country/Dodge Grand Caravan; it's mounted on the same chassis, shares more or less the same exterior design, and gets powered by the same engine. However, the new-for-2011 Chrysler V6 engine that drives the Routan is claimed by reviewers to be more powerful and more economical than either of the Chrysler-oriented engines of yore.
In any case, this updated minivan comes in four trims, the base S, lower-midlevel SE, higher-midlevel SEL, and the top-shelf SEL Premium. All trims are front-wheel-drive only, and all feature, besides a good amount of standard cabin amenities, 144.4 cubic feet of cargo capacity with the second row of seats removed (Chrysler's Stow n’ Go rear seats are not available) and the third-row seatbacks folded. A marginal freshening of the cabin for 2011 provides a tad more ambiance than Chrysler’s minivan offerings, though outside, VW’s mini doesn’t get the tweaks that characterize Chrysler and Dodge wagons this year. Ride comfort, nonetheless, is described by reviewers as adequate, if not plush, while handling is surprisingly nimble for a vehicle of this size. Though an improvement, the Routan’s new V6 still lacks refinement compared to some in its class, even when compared with Volkswagen’s own lineup of powerplants. Engine noise may be a nuisance for some, as well, though the standard 6-speed automatic transmission is described in most reviews as well-suited to its tasks.
VW’s Routan, alas, faces the additional challenge of trying to out-van the legendary Honda Odyssey, as well as Toyota’s Sienna and, of course, Chrysler’s Town & Country and Dodge’s Grand Caravan. While reviewers agree that the Routan may offer a bit more cachet than its Chrysler/Dodge forbears, it simply can’t compete with the big boys. Then there’s the added onus of Volkswagen mechanics servicing Chrysler engines. All in all, it makes one wonder why VW even bothers.
Power-wise, the 2011 Routan gets a Chrysler 3.6-liter V6 engine that’s mated with a 6-speed automatic transmission for 283 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. Variable valve timing (VVT) keeps gas consumption at a respectable 17/25 mpg, while towing maxes out at 3,600 pounds with the proper equipment.
Though not posh, the 2011 Routan lineup does boast its fair share of appearance, comfort and convenience amenities. The base S version sports 16-inch steel wheels, cloth upholstery, captain’s chair front seats, reclining second-row seats, and a leather-trimmed shift knob. Remote power door locks, meanwhile, complement power windows and power-adjustable heated mirrors, while tilt-wheel steering and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with mounted cruise and audio controls, as well as manually adjusted air conditioning, are also delivered. Entertainment in the S trim is provided by an MP3-capable single-CD player and six speakers. The SE, meantime, adds 17-inch alloy wheels, a roof rack, leatherette upholstery, power-adjustable driver’s seat, heated front seats and simulated alloy trim on the dash and doors. An enhanced trip computer, 6-CD changer, and Bluetooth hands-free communications technology round out this lower-midlevel trim’s enhanced amenities.
The higher-end SEL boasts such additional standard comfort and convenience goodies as a power moonroof, power-adjustable front passenger seat, heated front and second-row seats, leather upholstery and power-adjustable pedals. Techno-gadgetry such as a standard universal remote garage door opener, remote engine start, tri-zone climate control, a rear-view camera, DVD-based, voice-activated navigation and a power-folding third-row seat are also delivered with this upper-midlevel trim. Entertainment add-ons, meanwhile, include Sirius satellite radio and a USB connection.
Finally, the flagship SEL Premium trim level throws a standard rear power liftgate into the pot, as well as driver's memory settings and rear-seat DVD entertainment.
The only options worth mentioning for the Routan lineup are the rear-seat DVD entertainment and the DVD-based navigation system, both of which are available with the SE. The SEL, with DVD navigation standard, can be delivered with the optional rear-seat entertainment system, while the SEL Premium, already chock full of standard features, has no options available.
Standard safety features in the 2011 Routan lineup include four-wheel antilock brakes (ABS), traction and stability control, front side-mounted airbags, three-row head airbags, front head-restraint whiplash protection, daytime running lights and a post-collision safety system. SE and higher trims are delivered with a remote antitheft alarm, while the SEL and SEL Premium trims boast standard dusk-sensing headlights and turn-signal-integrated mirrors. The top-shelf SEL Premium additionally carries standard high-intensity-discharge (HID) headlights and front fog/driving lights.
The 2011 Routan’s new V6-based drivetrain seems to have alleviated owner complaints about this mini’s tepid (at best) gas mileage. However some owners are somewhat apprehensive as to how VW technicians will fare servicing Chrysler engines. Build quality also is an issue of some concern for a number of owners, with a few complaining already that Volkswagen’s minivan entry doesn’t measure up to the standards of most of its other automotive offerings.
On a more positive note, most owners are appreciative of the 2011 Routan’s looks, passenger room and cargo space, though a few wonder why the VW van’s second-row seats have to be removed when its Chrysler siblings offer the perfectly adequate Stow n’ Go folding rear seats. In any case, acceleration with the new V6 powerplant draws raves from owners, as do this pleasant mini’s ride comfort and competent handling. Finally, value is a word commonly used in owner descriptions of the 2011 Routan.
by Eric Tallberg
What's your take on the 2011 Volkswagen Routan?
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