• Apr 20, 2009
Volkswagen Routan - Click above for high-res gallery

That the Volkswagen Routan has been a dismal failure is probably one of the worst kept secrets in the industry, but until now, few have taken stock of just how poorly the badge-engineered minivan was selling.

The idea was fairly straightforward, if a tad ill-conceived: take a Dodge Caravan, slap on a fresh face and a VW badge and give it an unpronounceable name. The minivan is built alongside its Chrysler and Dodge counterparts at Chrysler's Windsor, Ontario, plant... or at least it was until Wolfsburg asked Auburn Hills to stop production. Apparently, not a single Routan has rolled off the assembly line since last December, and there are no immediate plans to resume production.

Nor should they, necessarily: Of the 22,037 Routans produced between its introduction in September and the cessation of production just a few months later, only 5,582 (less than a quarter of those made) have actually been sold. With that much back-stock, Volkswagen Group of America has been offering some attractive incentives, and dealers are likely super-motivated to sell, but the Routan's retail price is still a couple grand higher than a Dodge Caravan's, part of which goes towards recouping Brooke Shields' paycheck for that ridiculous advertising campaign. And with no sign of the remaining Routans' value going anywhere but down, there's little motivation for VW (to ask Chrysler) to resume production, much less green-light its replacement.

If there's a bright spot here, it's that the Routan actually isn't a bad minivan, particularly now that good deals are available. It's been said that it is the best-driving Chrysler minivan (with the best interior of the bunch), and that's probably true – even if the name, marketing and idea that this is a proper VW has never managed to resonate with consumers.



[Source: Automotive News – sub. req'd]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 48 Comments
      Cool people
      • 2 Years Ago
      An idiot wrote this article. VW Routan has class leading sporty handling and a cool factor too.
      • 5 Years Ago
      This could be a great collector's item if they don't make anymore!

      And with Chrysler probably liquidating (here's hoping!) that's highly likely.
        • 5 Years Ago
        not to mention FIAT and Opel play in the same markets. Shacking up with Opel doesn't really get them anything. Hitching with Chrysler gives them a door into the US/Canada.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Jaime,

        Don't jump to conclusions because a European auto analyst who couldn't even name Chrysler's lineup is all down for an Opel/Fiat tieup. Of course he likes that idea. It brings him business. Stuff happening in the US/Canada may not.

        Problem for Fiat is cost. They don't have any money. As a matter of fact they are losing money. That's why they are particulary interested in Chrylser because they get access for free plus a 6 billion dollar low interest loan from Uncle Obama. If Chrysler goes C7, then they have to bid $ on the pieces - money they don't really have. That's why I don't buy the "FIAT should wait for a Chrysler BR and pick it up on the cheap" meme. What if they don't have the funds? What if they get out bid by another automaker for something they really want (like factories)?

        As for Opel, GM is expecting half a billion euros ($649 million) as the minimum for anyone to get Opel. FIAT isn't going to do that deal.
        • 5 Years Ago
        It's all pure semantics now, dearies.

        Marchionne is bringing in the hammer.
        This is not going to be pretty.

        "Fiat would be better served walking away from Chrysler to pursue an alliance with Opel, unlocking estimated savings of 1.5 billion euros - nearly seven times more than in a Chrysler tie-up before any job cuts or plant closures."

        http://www.reuters.com/article/marketsNews/idINLK71154620090420?rpc=44

        "Goodbye Chrysler" is what the headline should have read.
        VW is just a bit player in this melodrama.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Personally, I thought it was better looking than either of the Chrysler versions. Unfortunately, Chrysler insisted on keeping a lot of content out of this vehicle, yet forcing VW into a higher price point with less equipment. Combine that with one of the worst ad campaigns ever and a total depression in car sales and this is what happens.

      By the way, has anyone done a photoshop of what the Alfa version is going to look like?
      • 5 Years Ago
      In an already crowded market of minivans, why would VW rebadge a Caravan in the US Market as if we wouldn't know the difference? And why would Chrysler even allow them to? Hell if the Voyager couldn't survive...
        • 5 Years Ago
        the vast majority of car buyers (minivans especially) don't post on places like AB and probably wouldn't have clue #1 that chrysler builds the Routan.

        This thing failed for a few reasons:

        1) VW has lacked a van for the US market for so long that minivan buyers never even considered them
        2) it launched just as the entire industry went to hell
        3) VW's marketing has been completely bonkers for a couple of years now.
        • 5 Years Ago
        cool story, bro
      • 5 Years Ago
      Looked online at the price of one these vans fully loaded, over $40,000. I picked myself up off the floor and looked at what a used 2008 Caravan is selling for. OUCH!!! Wait a year and save $25,000 no brainer.
      • 5 Years Ago
      It's cooler than an SUV though. I'd rock one! Chrysler builds decent minivans, and this one has a bit nicer interior with a better badge!
      • 5 Years Ago
      I'm sure someone will find a reason to blame Chrysler for the poor sales.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The real blame is the fact that this was a warmed-over, poorly executed re-badged product in a down market and in a declining market segment.

        Oh, and add in the fact that it was not a real VW (German engineering, etc).
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yep. The only German engineering they did on this vehicle was German BADGE engineering... and we all know how poor that is in this regard.

        At least this has the 'highest quality upon initial launch' for Volkswagen. Haha.
        • 5 Years Ago
        As a vw audi fanboy I can wholeheartedly say I blame VW for the poor sales. None of their customers wanted this, the microbus concept perked some interest, but everyone knew this cross branded Chrysler product was a cross branded Chrysler product. Lesson learned I hope. I just feel bad for those who purchased a tarted up Chrysler.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Oh wow, I wrote "Chrystler"....I need to wake up!
        • 5 Years Ago
        I blame crappy advertising and the smarties at VW that believe the consumer doesn't realize this is an overpriced caravan.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I don't blame Chrystler for it at all. I think the van as a whole was just a bad idea, with poor styling, and released in a weak market. VW should have either re-released an old school style VW van or stayed away from that segment all together.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Strangely enough, I actually liked the Routan exterior design over Chrysler's version. Without an active multiple-displacement-system for the engine and some styling bits, not much of a difference from the Honda Odyssey also not much competition also. I do like all the interior storage options for their minivans though. You can either seat 7-8 or carry a bunch of stuff in the cargo area with the seats stowed.
      • 5 Years Ago
      LOL. Another instance of Autoblog being Honda-shy! The first thing that comes to _everybody's_ mind when they see the above pictures is that this is a Honda Odyssey. Someone took a Honda Odyssey, then attached a Caravan nose to it, and then, finally, slapped a VW badge as a final touch.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Let me say that I own a 2009 VW Jetta TDI so I really like VW.

      That said I never liked riding in this car when the dealer runs me between work and there for maintenance. It screamed too much Chrysler, and not enough VW/German engineering. I mean they didn't even change the radio or any of the dials from what Chrysler uses. It felt like a Chrysler when I rode in it, not a VW is all I am saying.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Mmmm shiny plastic
      • 5 Years Ago
      Maybe they should have sold the Robust truck instead. It would been a good competitor to the aging Ford Ranger.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I rented a Caravan (with stow-n-go) for a month for a photo shoot I was working on. Somewhat dreaded it- but needed it after renting a pathetic Tahoe with as much cargo room -due to unfoldable rear seats as a Miata. The Caravan actually surprised me. A lot. It's terrific. I have a BMW and Saab and love them both, but this Caravan got me thinking about the VW- if only because there's a VW dealer nearby and the interior is *that* much nicer. But.. the VW gets no Stow-n-go rendering it a van full of chairs. Forget it. If you actually need to haul something big -Chrysler kept the best for itself. Sorry VW. Sorry Brooke (and her show even got cancelled. Rough year for her and VW). In the end, I didn't buy either. I've already got one car brand going out of biz or bankrupt.. don't need another.
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