2009 Routan New Car Test Drive
The new Volkswagen Routan is a minivan, its first in six years. VW's last effort in this market, the EuroVan, was panned in the U.S. This time, Volkswagen has turned to Chrysler. The seven-passenger Routan is basically a Chrysler Town & Country with a different interior, a Volkswagen exterior, and revised suspension settings.
The 2009 Volkswagen Routan lacks the seating features that make Chrysler minivans unique, the Stow 'n Go and the Swivel 'n Go seating arrangements. The reason: The Routan has the underfloor storage areas that come with Stow 'n Go, but Volkswagen opted to make the second-row seats thicker and more comfortable, so they won't fit in the storage bins. The third-row seats fold into the floor, and the second-row seats can be removed to create a flat load floor that is big enough for 4' x 8' sheets of plywood. When the third-row seats are up, there is a handy well behind them that's great for groceries.
The Routan is offered with two engines, the Chrysler 3.8-liter V6 and the Chrysler 4.0-liter V6. The 3.8-liter V6 is adequate for around-town duty, and the 4.0-liter V6 offers decent pickup and passing power.
We found the Routan offers a smooth ride and the driver enjoys a commanding view of the road. Handling, however, is somewhat cumbersome. The ride is pleasant enough, ironing out most bumps, but it can feel a bit top heavy at highway speeds. In short, it is not as pleasant to pilot as the Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna, and Nissan Quest are.
Entertainment features will keep the kids' attention, however. The Routan offers single and dual screen DVD rear-seat entertainment systems. Video game systems can be plugged in, and each screen can show something different, including the front navigation screen. Also offered is VW's JoyBox hard-drive radio. It has a 30-gigabyte hard drive that can hold thousands of song and picture files.
The Routan is priced about a thousand dollars more model for the model than the Chrysler Town & Country. It has a much nicer interior than the Chrysler, but lacks the Chrysler's innovative seating features. Like the Chrysler, the Routan is a great rolling living room for families.
The 2009 Volkswagen Routan is offered in three models, S, SE, and SEL. The S and SE models come with a 197-hp 3.8-liter V6 and a six-speed automatic transmission. The SEL comes with a 253-hp 4.0-liter V6 with six-speed automatic. All models have front-wheel drive.
Routan S ($24,700) comes with cloth upholstery, leather-wrapped tilt steering wheel, four-way manually adjustable front bucket seats, two-passenger reclining second-row bench seat, third-row stowable split folding bench seat, manual side doors, air conditioning, cruise control, conversation mirror, power heated exterior mirrors, power front windows, power door locks, remote keyless entry, six-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo, auxiliary audio input jack, automatic headlights, three years or 36,000 miles of free maintenance, and P225/65R16 tires on steel wheels with wheelcovers. When ordered with the rear-seat entertainment package, the S ($27,300) and includes the DVD entertainment system with a single screen, one year of Sirius satellite radio, a Bluetooth wireless cell phone link, three-zone manual climate control, AM/FM/CD/DVD/MP3 sound system with a six-disc CD changer, automatic headlights, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Also offered for the S model are Trim Pack 1 ($785) with black roof rails and a trailer towing harness, and alloy wheels ($450).
Routan SE ($29,600) adds three-zone manual climate control, six-disc CD changer, eight-way power adjustable driver's seat with lumbar adjustment, lumbar adjustment for front passenger seat, second-row captain's chairs, power side doors, overhead storage system, steering wheel audio controls, second- and third-row sunshades, universal garage door opener, security alarm, and P225/65R17 tires on alloy wheels. The SE with rear-seat entertainment ($32,700) comes with dual DVD entertainment screens for rear-seat passengers, one year of Sirius satellite radio, AM/FM/CD/DVD/MP3 sound system, USB connection, auto-dimming rearview mirror, Bluetooth wireless cell phone link, rearview camera, power liftgate, and automatic headlights. Trim Pack 2 ($1985) includes a sunroof, power adjustable pedals, towing prep, and black roof rails. A Climate Package ($445) adds heated front seats and remote engine starting.
Routan SEL ($33,200) gets leather upholstery, three-zone automatic climate control, interior air filter, power rear liftgate, auto-dimming rearview mirror, heated first and second-row seats, power adjustable pedals, high-line front floor console with adjustable storage, and a Bluetooth hands-free cell phone link. The SEL with rear-seat entertainment ($36,300) includes dual rear-seat DVD entertainment, one year of Sirius satellite radio, a USB port, and a rear backup camera. Two option packages are offered for SEL: Trim Pack 3 ($2325) includes a sunroof, power adjustable pedals, power-folding third-row seat, remote engine starting, towing prep, and black roof rails. The Navigation package ($2475) includes a navigation system with touchscreen, USB connection, JoyBox 30-gigabyte hard-drive, one year of Sirius satellite radio, and a rear backup camera.
Routan SEL Premium ($38,400) includes high-intensity discharge headlights, chrome mirrors and door handles, auto-dimming exterior mirrors, premium driver information center, sunroof, fog lamps, power adjustable pedals, remote engine starting, 506-watt nine-speaker sound system, power folding third-row seats, eight-way power front seats, memory for the driver's seat and pedals, 115-volt power outlet, and rear park assist. The SEL Premium can be ordered with an Entertainment package ($2725) that includes rear DVD entertainment with dual rear screens, JoyBox 30-gigabyte hard drive, one year of Sirius satellite radio, USB port, and a rearview camera. A Navigation package ($2475) adds a navigation system with touchscreen, USB port, JoyBox 30-gigabyte hard-drive, one year of Sirius satellite radio, and a rearview camera. An Entertainment and Navigation package ($4500) combines equipment from both packages. The Towing Prep package ($600) includes a load-leveling suspension.
Safety equipment includes dual-stage front airbags, head-protecting curtain side airbags, tire-pressure monitor, ABS with brake assist, traction control, and electronic stability control. Optional safety features include rear park assist and a rearview camera.