TheCarConnection.com's expert reviewers drove the 2010 Volkswagen Routan to bring you their own firsthand Bottom Line impressions of the vehicle, and supplemented that with the most authoritative sources from around the web to give you a conclusive picture in the Full Review.
- Attractive exterior
- Available 4.0-liter V-6 engine
- Smooth-shifting six-speed automatic (V-6 models)
- Carlike handling
- Ample cargo room
- Crude, inefficient base engine
- Not all interior plastics up to VW expectations
- Balky transmission in base package
Leaning on Dodge's Grand Caravan for basis of the Routan minivan, Volkswagen taps into a core American market. Well-equipped and offering a competitive set of features and abilities, the 2010 Volkswagen Routan presents an attractive package-but it's best when upgraded. New for 2010 is the addition of standard satellite navigation on SEL and SEL premium models, plus a standard rear entertainment system on the SEL premium. For 2010, there's a range of new colors throughout the lineup.
VW calls the Routan the "Volkswagen of minivans," and it wears its corporate identity clearly on its exterior. The attractive front end pairs a large VW logo with monochrome bumpers that give it more curb appeal than its platform-mates at Dodge or Chrysler. The interior is mostly successful, too, though the details aren't as refined as most "pure" Volkswagen vehicles, with some plastics coming up short. On the other hand, the instrument panel is easy to read, pleasingly styled, and attractive with a two-tone color scheme.
Rough and unrefined, the base 3.8-liter pushrod V-6 engine that comes standard on the S and SE trim levels also struggles to get the 4,500-pound van moving with authority. At 197 horsepower, it's understandably overtaxed at anything but a leisurely pace. Paired with a balky base six-speed automatic, the Routan's performance in base trim is less than inspiring. The 4.0-liter V-6 engine that comes standard on the SEL trim is a 180-degree difference, however, with its 251-horsepower output and smooth power delivery through an upgraded six-speed automatic transmission more than up to the task. Surprisingly, the more powerful engine also delivers the better fuel economy ratings, scoring 17 mpg city and 25 mpg highway compared to the 3.8-liter engine's 16/23 mpg.