2010 Volkswagen Routan Review

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2010 Volkswagen Routan Overview

Introduced in 2009, Volkswagen's Routan minivan is the latest in a long line of people movers from the German manufacturer. Created to fill a hole in VW's rapidly expanding model lineup, the Routan is designed to appeal to those families who need the space and versatility of a minivan, but who also want a dose of European flair.

For 2010 there are no major changes to the Routan. The van is built on Chrysler's RT platform, shared with the Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country. In an effort to appeal to a more sophisticated clientele, the Routan features exclusive front and rear sheet metal, along with upgraded interior materials. Its styling is decidedly handsome (for a minivan) and clearly sets the Routan apart from its more traditional domestic counterparts.

Under the skin all Routans share running gear with their Chrysler siblings. Two engines are offered; a 3.8-liter, 197-hp pushrod V6 is standard in S and SE trim levels, while SEL and SEL Premium trims feature a larger, 4.0-liter, SOHC V6 that churns out a healthy 240 hp. Both engines are mated to a six-speed automatic driving the front wheels.

The base engine does its best to cope with the van's portly 4,507-pound curb weight, yet still comes up short in the acceleration department; 0-60 mph takes a rather leisurely 10.2 seconds. The upgraded 4.0-liter V6 has more pep (0-60 mph in 8.9 seconds) and is also more refined, owing to its more sophisticated overhead-cam design. Fuel economy as rated by the EPA is 16 city/23 highway mpg for the base engine and 17/25 for the 4.0-liter motor.

In an effort to provide a European driving experience, VW engineers have upgraded the suspension on all Routans with stiffer springs, beefed-up shocks, and thicker anti-roll bars. These changes noticeably sharpen the Routan's road manners without seriously affecting ride comfort.

The Routan is available in four trim levels. The S trim comes standard with power accessories, CD audio with an auxiliary input, cruise control, and bench seats for the second and third rows. Stepping up to the SE trim replaces the second-row bench with captain’s chairs and adds a power driver’s seat, 17-inch alloy wheels, and power-sliding doors. The SEL includes the larger, 4.0-liter motor, leather seats with a power-folding third row, DVD navigation, and a power tailgate. The top trim is the SEL Premium, which adds a hi-fi stereo with rear seat DVD, remote start, parking assistance, and xenon lights.

The standard quotient of safety equipment is extensive and includes dual front, side, and curtain airbags, ABS brakes, and stability control. The Routan performed very well in crash testing, receiving a rating of Good from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Overall the Routan has plenty to offer in the highly competitive minivan market. It's stylish, handles well, and comes with a lot of standard equipment. For some these attributes may not be enough to justify the price increase over a similar Grand Caravan, but for those who demand performance and styling, the Routan may be just the ticket.

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