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2009 Volkswagen Routan

Overview
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2009 Volkswagen Routan Review

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Although cost issues kept the slick Microbus concept it showed at the 2001 Geneva Auto Show from ever seeing production, VW has finally made its move to join the minivan market with the 2009 Routan. Available in S, SE and SEL trim levels, this seven-passenger, front-drive family hauler was derived from the latest version of Chrysler's best-selling people mover, which itself was completely redesigned for 2008. While the Routan shares most of its key mechanical and electrical architecture with the Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Caravan, it boasts unique styling treatments, inside and out. Despite continuing volume pressure on this market segment, Volkswagen hopes the Routan's distinctive VW appearance cues, appealing features, Euro-tuned suspension and attractive pricing will help it grab up to 40,000 buyers in its debut season.

You'll Like This Car If...

Buyers who love the formidable benefits a minivan offers when it comes to true utility and ease of operation but want something with a more sophisticated look and driving character will find plenty to admire in the new 2009 Volkswagen Routan.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If your minivan taste runs to a softer-riding package and you want kid-oriented Swivel 'n Go seating or hideaway Stow 'n Go second-row seats, stick to the 2009 Volkswagen Routan's Chrysler cousins. If having a state-of-the art, big-screen navigation system is important, consider a Honda Odyssey, Nissan Quest or Toyota Sienna.

What's Significant About This Car?

Although tardy to the minivan scene, the new Routan does give Volkswagen a vehicle with first-rate mechanical credentials, distinctive visual character and the kind of comfort and convenience elements that should help boost its overall appeal to anyone who is considering a minivan purchase.

Driving the Routan

Driving Impressions One of VW's primary goals with the Routan program was to impart a distinctly European feel to its ride and handling. Stiffer springs, tauter shock-absorber settings and revised valving in...

the power steering system do exactly that, creating a package that's firmer than the average minivan while remaining comfortable as a long-range cruiser. Body roll is nicely curtailed in corners and the steering feels positive without being twitchy. It's not quite enthusiast-grade, but it is a welcome compromise that's ably assisted by the standard Electronic Stabilization Program with traction control and vented-front and solid-rear anti-lock disc brakes. With a curb weight around 4,500 pounds, the Routan is a good deal more energetic with the 4.0-liter 253-horsepower engine in the SEL than with the smaller 197-horsepower 3.8 V-6 in the S and SE. The dash-mounted shift lever takes a bit of getting used to, but its positioning does allow easy Sport-mode gear changes.
Favorite Features

Impressively Contoured Seats
While somewhat firmer than their Chrysler counterparts, Volkswagen upgraded both the first- and second-row individual seats in the Routan, adding more aggressive and supportive bolstering to complement the vehicle's sportier suspension tuning.

Carefree Maintenance Program
The Routan comes with VW's all-encompassing Carefree Maintenance program that complements the normal three-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty with zero-cost coverage for all basic routine servicing performed during that same time period.

2009 Volkswagen Routan Details
2009 Volkswagen Routan photo Interior

VW established a signature look for the Routan's spacious cabin, retaining the Chrysler gauges, primary electrical components, supplemental switchgear, heating and ventilation elements and the various cupholders, bins and under-floor storage areas, but recasting everything else – from the dash to the door panels to the carpet – in a more upscale manner. That enhanced character plays best in the leather-lined SEL, but even the cloth-covered S and SL trims boast a bounty of soft-touch surfaces and neat center consoles, plus more supportive first-row seats and better-bolstered, adult-scaled foldable and removable second-row Captain's Chairs (or a two-place bench in the S). Row three is best for kids, but it does flip over for "tailgating" duties and can be folded flat into the floor.

Exterior

Volkswagen's decision to endow the Routan with a unique exterior pays handsome dividends. In order to create its own sense of corporate visual character, VW kept only the side door panels, glass and windshield from the Chrysler minivan donor platform. Up front, the Routan's prominent grille, air intakes and aero headlamps impart an arguably more sophisticated flavor with recognizable VW flair. The rear-end treatment, while less distinctive, brings smoother, rounder overall contouring and features a Routan-specific hatch design. At the S trim level, the Routan has 225/65R16 all-season Yokohama tires on steel wheels, while the SE and SEL have standard 17-inch alloy rims with 225/65 Bridgestone tires.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

Beyond V6 engines, a six-speed automatic transmission and seats for seven, all Routans feature an impressive array of standard equipment, including power windows, locks and mirrors, keyless remote entry and cruise control. Front seats on the S trim level are manually operated, the S has a power driver's seat and both front seats are power-operated with the SEL Premium. The upper trim levels also have dual-power sliding doors, second-row Captain's Chairs, steering-wheel audio and cruise control buttons and a six-disc CD/DVD player with an enhanced AM/FM/CD/MP3 sound system. The air conditioning is single-zone with manual control on the S, tri-zone on the SE and automatic climate control on the leather-trimmed SEL, which also gets power-adjustable pedals, a power rear liftgate and heated front- and second-row seats. All models include stability and traction control, anti-lock brakes and front and side-curtain airbags.

Optional Equipment

Major Routan optional extras include a Tow Package (which increases trailering capacity from 2,000 to 3,500 pounds) and a Rear Seat Entertainment Package (which includes Bluetooth, SIRIUS satellite radio and a single video screen on the S model, with dual wide screens on the SE and SEL). The SE also offers a Climate Package (with heated front seats and remote start) and the step-up SEL Premium "option package" adds a power sunroof, HID headlamps and foglamps, upgraded audio and a power-folding rear seat. The SEL and SEL Premium each offer a touch-screen Navigation Package (with 30 GB JoyBox music hard drive, USB port and backup remote camera) while opting for the Premium also allows buyers to add a nine-speaker, 506-watt audio upgrade.

Under the Hood

All 2009 Volkswagen Routans are fitted with one of two different Chrysler V6 engines. Both run on regular unleaded gasoline and are backed by a six-speed automatic transmission with manual Sportshift mode. The 3.8-liter overhead-valve V6 in the Routan S and SE makes 197 horsepower and 230 pound-feet of torque while the more sophisticated single-overhead-cam 4.0-liter in the SEL cranks out a robust 251 horsepower and 259 pound-feet of torque. Surprisingly, the bigger six also earns better EPA fuel economy ratings, with 17 mpg city and 25 mph highway marks compared to the 3.8-liter's 16-mpg city/23-mpg highway numbers. Not so surprisingly, that extra muscle also helps trim the SEL's factory-estimated zero-to-60-mph acceleration time from 10.2 to 8.9 seconds.


3.8-liter V6
197 horsepower @ 5200 rpm
230 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/23

4.0-liter V6
251 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
259 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4100 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/25

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2009 Volkswagen Routan Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
6.1
Out of 10

Based on 107 Ratings for the 2009 - 2012 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    6.6/10
    Quality
    6.4/10
  • Reliability
    6.4/10
    Performance
    6.8/10
  • Comfort
    7.3/10
    Styling
    7.3/10

worst vehicle ever!

By on Tuesday, April 15, 2014

I owned and sold this car
Reason: too many problems!

10 1.0
overall rating 1 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
1/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
1/10
Quality
5/10
Performance
2/10
Styling
4/10
Comfort
3/10

Pros: "very nice looking..."

Cons: "not realiable car...."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1

"The car had too many electrical problems, it consumed too much gas, the interior was made with cheap plastic, the shift gear timing was off all the time. Bad choice - DO NOT BUY IT!"

worst vehicle ever!

By on Tuesday, April 15, 2014

I owned and sold this car
Reason: too many problems!

10 1.0
overall rating 1 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
1/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
1/10
Quality
5/10
Performance
2/10
Styling
4/10
Comfort
3/10

Pros: "very nice looking..."

Cons: "not realiable car...."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1

"The car had too many electrical problems, it consumed too much gas, the interior was made with cheap plastic, the shift gear timing was off all the time. Bad choice - DO NOT BUY IT!"

worst vehicle ever!

By on Tuesday, April 15, 2014

I owned and sold this car
Reason: too many problems!

10 1.0
overall rating 1 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
1/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
1/10
Quality
5/10
Performance
2/10
Styling
4/10
Comfort
3/10

Pros: "very nice looking..."

Cons: "not realiable car...."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1

"The car had too many electrical problems, it consumed too much gas, the interior was made with cheap plastic, the shift gear timing was off all the time. Bad choice - DO NOT BUY IT!"

This vehicle is not worth the VW hype!

By on Wednesday, March 05, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 78,000

10 5.0
overall rating 5 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
5/10
Value
3/10
Reliability
3/10
Quality
3/10
Performance
6/10
Styling
5/10
Comfort
5/10

Pros: "roomy, floor storage, lots of cup holders"

Cons: "unreliable, expensive, gas hog, customer service"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1

"We bought this vehicle used with one previous owner. In the 2 years we have owned it the electrical system in the driver side sliding door slowly failed one piece at a time. Every time we took it in we were told there is nothing wrong with it. The door now no longer functions at all electronically. Not even the window works. Gas milage sucks. Tires have had a slow leak from day 1. Parts are rediculously expensive and heavan forbid you try to use a non-VW part. If you do, it won't work properly. Overall, I will never own one of these vehicles again and will probably just go back to my trusty Fords."

2 people out of 3 found this review helpful

not a good van

By on Wednesday, February 05, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 66,000

10 3.0
overall rating 3 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
3/10
Value
4/10
Reliability
2/10
Quality
2/10
Performance
4/10
Styling
7/10
Comfort
5/10

Pros: "the body styling, entertainment system"

Cons: "mechanical (see above), bad in the snow"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1

"it was the first year so there were some kinks to work out. I expected VW to stand by their product and do the right thing when issues in the first year design came up. we had/have issues with one of the running lamps always being out, the brakes were too small for the weight of the van (went through 3 sets of brakes and only got the last ones for free after loud complaining I would have expected that since it was a known issue they would have realized and not make me buy brakes every couple of miles), tire pressure sensors rusted out and needed to be replace. for the tire pressure sensors the dealer was looking for $90 per wheel and then $180 to put them in...over $400! bought them on amazon and had the local tire guy install them without issue."

We needed a van. VW had vans.

By on Wednesday, January 15, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 15,000

10 7.0
overall rating 7 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
7/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
Not Rated
Quality
7/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Features, price, engine mileage"

Cons: "Tranny, tranny, tranny."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6

"With VW closing out the Routan in 2012 I had an opportunity for a very good deal. An SE with Nav and RSE and 3 year maint for $23k. I couldn't find a 2010 lower level Toyota Sienna with under 40k miles for that price. I didn't expect a Toyota. I had one on an extended rental and it was nice. But neither did I want to pay Toyota money. The engine in the VW is great. Very powerful and surprising mileage. On a trip from the Central coast to the LA area (5 hrs) the van got 27 MPG and that was average 75 mph +. The transmission on the other hand gets easily confused. On the highway it's fine. If you drive it like a grandma easing on the throttle trying to save gas it's pretty smooth. But try to pass or push the throttle a little to make it shift down good luck. It doesn't want to stay in the lower gear. It stutters on shift changes. It will shift up so that it's at 1200 RPM at 45 miles per hour going up hill. There should be a patch for this. Wife loves it. She drives like a grandma saving gas."

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Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

Buying this car?