2009 Volkswagen Routan
The Volkswagen Routan minivan returns for the 2011 model year, with much of the upgrading that's taken place on its sister vehicles, the 2011 Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan.
The biggest news is a new powertrain for the minivan family. A 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 is the sole engine available, and it's paired with a six-speed automatic. The front-drive Routan makes 283 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque, and based on our experience with the Chrysler minivans, it's a brisk, pleasant performer.
Exterior and interior changes keep the VW look intact. And Volkswagen still forgoes the Stow 'N Go seating that sets the Chrysler minivans apart; the Routan doesn't have fold-flat seats in the middle row, but the second-row captains' chairs can be removed entirely, leaving behind underfloor storage tubs.
Safety gear has been carried over. The usual front, side and curtain airbags are fitted, with anti-lock brakes and stability control. A rearview camera is now available, but the Routan doesn't get the blind-spot detection system offered on the Chrysler vans.
The Routan's been praised as a higher-quality version of the Chrysler minivans, but with the improvements to those vans, we're eager to see photos of the Routan. (The 2009 model is pictured here.) VW promises they're coming soon--but in the meantime, pricing has also been revealed. The base $26,930 Routan S includes manual sliding side doors, cruise control, an AM/FM/CD with auxiliary audio jack, cloth seats, and power windows/locks/mirrors.
The $31,770 SE adds power sliding side doors, a power driver seat, heated mirrors, power-adjustable pedals, a CD changer and Bluetooth, and comes with vinyl upholstery. A rear-seat entertainment system with twin LCD screens is an option on the SE, as is a navigation system.
The $37,390 VW Routan SEL tops the range with its standard sunroof, automatic climate control, navigation system, satellite radio, USB port and real-time traffic. Options include the DVD system, and a premium package with a megawatt audio system and dual power front seats.We'll update this review once the Routan is available for a test drive. For now, see our in-depth review of the 2010 Volkswagen Routan, and if you're curious about new powertrains, take a look at our 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan first drive.