2010 Volkswagen Routan Photo
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On Styling
On Styling
Though the Routan doesn't fully capture Volkswagen's typical feel, it delivers enough style to make it an attractive option.
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Standard features for all Routan minivans include an ingenious power-folding third-row seat, 144 cubic feet of storage with the seats stowed and removed, and sliding doors both left and right with windows that roll down. All trim levels offer a Volkswagen-tuned suspension that promises better handling than the Chrysler vehicles with which it shares a platform, a fact that's reflected in its stable on-road feel. Despite the "German tuned" suspension, the Routan feels more like a slightly more composed American minivan, with comfort at the fore. Seats are supportive and comfortable, with no complaints even on long trips.

Taking a look at the interior, the Routan's Chrysler roots begin to show through, and not in a good way. Materials, switches, controls, and other details aren't quite what you'd expect from a Honda Odyssey or Toyota Sienna, much less a Volkswagen. The controls for the HVAC, for example, are a morass of illegible black plastic buttons and require more attention to adjust than they should.

That said, the Chrysler minivans on which the Routan is based are themselves very competent vehicles in many respects. The Routan gets most of those advantages, but Chrysler's Swivel N' Go seating isn't one of them. The S trim picks up standard second-row folding bench seats, while the SE and SEL trims add fold-flat/removable captain-style chairs. All models get the folding/disappearing/reclining third-row seat that Chrysler calls Stow N' Go. The combination of these various seating arrangements allows all models to fit 144 cubic feet of cargo with the rear seats stowed. A few more options, including a rear conversation mirror, power windows in the sliding side doors, plus in-cabin entertainment and touch-screen navigation, help bring the Routan up to the specification you'd expect from a Volkswagen.

Despite its relatively affordable cost, the base S model can quickly be optioned up to the price level of the Touareg luxury SUV. Upgrading to SE trim gets larger wheels and power sliding doors, a garage door transceiver, and heated power mirrors, but the bottom line will show it. Going to the SEL trim costs even more, but adds a more powerful engine, better fuel economy, a more refined cabin, and rear-seat entertainment.

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