Quite often I am asked “What happens when you get a vehicle you don’t like”?
Well, here goes.
It has been very rare that I could not find it in my heart to enjoy something about the wide array of vehicles I have tested over the years. Each one of them seems to “speak” to me in a different way. Some through their luxury – others their fun factor. Lately, many have shone through the technological advancements in the marketplace.
And then Volkswagen sends me the Routan minivan.
Normally I love VeeDubs, be they new Beetle or CUV, but when the German automaker went to Chrysler to shop for a new minivan, that’s where I draw the line.
Please don’t get me wrong – if you are in the market for a new minivan, the latest Caravan/Town & Country product is quite capable and lives up to its quarter century-legacy – that being a box loaded with utility and function for large families or small businesses. It works.
But please don’t take a rental fleet standout, wrap it in “Fahrvergnügen” and expect me to like it … that dog just won’t hunt. And those silly and annoying Brooke Shields’ commercials? Don’t even get me started on that.
This ain’t no microbus and this won’t replace the Eurovan. Maybe they will sell more Routans than the aforementioned nameplates of VW past but when you have virtually the exact same product for sale right up the street from a company that NEEDS to sell vehicles right now, well, you just cannot compete. I hope the Routan does well globally but I do not think it will be a huge hit here in the States. (April new vehicle sales figures show VW selling 4,801 minivans year-to-date while Chrysler and Dodge have sold nearly 60,000 units combined.)
That’s what happens when I get a vehicle I don’t particularly care for. I like this vehicle as a Chrysler/Dodge, but not as a Volkswagen. And now that Fiat is coming into the corporate picture, I may get my wish. I would hope the Italians force Chrysler to stop selling its minivan to the German automaker. And I can go back to loving Volkswagen that much more, thank you very much.
By the numbers, the 2009 VW Routan we tested came in SE trim and was powered by a 197hp 3.8-liter V-6 engine backed by six-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode. It features all of the basic safety and convenience items one would expect in a new vehicle. About the only thing we found unique was the addition of “Euro-tuned suspension system” in our tester over a comparable Chrysler model.
If you are a Volkswagen customer and just have to have a minivan, well, this is obviously your baby. Expect to pay around 30 grand for it at this trim level and expect fuel economy to average around 16 mpg city and 23 mpg highway.
Don’t expect anything more.
This just in: Now we have a talking Microbus telling us to buy the Routan?
Ach du lieber!