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2009 Volkswagen Routan

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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 New for 2009

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.

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
6.2
Out of 10

Based on 130 Ratings for the 2009 - 2014 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    6.6/10
    Quality
    6.4/10
  • Reliability
    6.4/10
    Performance
    6.9/10
  • Comfort
    7.5/10
    Styling
    7.5/10

The Routan is very economical, roomy, and

By on Tuesday, June 7, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 28,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Comfortable ride, handles well, economical."

Cons: "second row seating flexibility"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8

"comfortable to drive, it handles well and drives very smoothly. The only complaint that I have, is the second row seats do not fold flat into the floor, like it's Dodge and Chrysler counterparts."

avoid at all cost

By on Tuesday, May 24, 2016

I owned and sold this car
Reason: engine malfunctioning

10 2.0
overall rating 2 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
2/10
Value
4/10
Reliability
1/10
Quality
4/10
Performance
2/10
Styling
7/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Appealing interior."

Cons: "Engine malfunctioning. Low relaiability."

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

"Bought the van at its 60k mileage. Appealing interior and interesting gadgets. Drove for about 4k miles. Engine malfunctioning started: extreme shaking with the engine light on/flashing. Sometimes other lights turned on two. Visited the dealers four times; couldn't quite figure out the issue. After changing oils and cylinders, sold it. The price after about 8k miles became about the half the price at which I bought it."

1 person out of 1 found this review helpful

My New BCF (best car forever)

By on Wednesday, May 11, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 2,900

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "GREAT VALUE, stylish, storage, power sliding doors"

Cons: "gas, towing, dashboard, not making it anymore"

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

"After my husband found a new job in Chicago, my 2 kids and I had to move to Illinois. I had to say goodbye to my beloved 2007 Honda Odyssey Touring. I needed a new car that I could drive in feeling good and relax in. I love German cars so I decided to stop by the Volkswagen dealership after disappointment from BMW and Mercedes. The salesman asked me what I needed and I said that I wanted a big car for my family and I. After checking out the Touareg (a little too pricey) he showed me a 2012 Volkswagen Routan SE w/DVD and Nav. I was surprised because I did not know that VW had a minivan. I was also surprised because it was a 2012 model. After checking out the Tiguan (too small) I decided to go with the Routan. It has the most amazing value. This was only the 2nd trim and it had navigation, leather, power liftgate and doors, and a dual DVD entertainment system. The VW styling is very nice and cool for a soccer mom. I have only had it for 2 or 3 months now. I have had no problems and I will probably keep it until it dies. I am having another baby and know that there will be no problem putting a booster in the Routan's large bucket seats. I do wish it had more VW styling inside, but I have no idea why VW stopped production as it is a great car and I see a surprising amount of them on the streets and driveways. The car holds up like a champ during winter and when I leave it outside in the bad weather it does fine. It is perfect for me, my kids, my dog, my house, and my anti minivan husband. I know we will be safe in an accident. Now I am considering buying an Audi SUV because the VW's towing isn't that great."

this is in my top 3.

By on Saturday, April 23, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 60,000

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
8/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
9/10

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

"I have owned 15 new vehicles in my lifetime. My 2011 VW Routan SE is the second best car I have owned. I have had this vehicle for 4 years and 8 months and it has just over 60k on the odometer. I have had it in the shop for premature brake problems (they seem to have a reputation for this) and the dealership did the repairs for free. I just recently had the rear discs and rotors replaced at an independent shop but was told the fronts were still good. I also experienced a hard transmission shift early in my ownership but it seems to have become less of an issue. I had a issue of my cruise control not staying engaged and shopped it four times before they found a pinched cable. Has not been a problem since. I just last December put a new set of michilin tires on the car. Those are the extent of the bad, now for the positive. I paid just over $25k for this SE model with the entertainment package and the VE covered seats, in August of 2011. My wife and I are above average in height and this vehicle is perfect for our height when entering and exiting. The heated seats work great and they are extremely comfortable on trips. My gas mileage when traveling at 70 miles per hour exceeds 30 MPG. It does suffer when going faster than 70 and of course when driving in the city. However we still get over 20 in city driving. The room inside the vehicle is spacious. Everyone is comfortable, but don't try to squeeze that third person in the third row, it just won't work. Even 3 small children can't get along in that seat, it just isn't comfortable. The dvd system works beautifully. The power doors, especially the tailgate, is a big plus. I will admit those side doors have hung up on me at times, but you can manually move them and the problem is not constant. There are many small places to store items and if you remove the middle seats (takes 2 minutes) you have all kinds of room to go shopping. My wife and I are in our retirement years and we will go on trips looking for gems to bring home. We throw a cooler full of drinks and snacks in the cargo area and come home with all kinds of items in that storage space. The vehicle is very versatile and dependable. It is relatively quiet on the road, the air conditioner works fine, it has a smooth ride, and with over 60k this vehicle still has plenty of life. Yes, I know I could have a major problem tomarrow, but I don't feel that is going to happen. I feel safe and secure in this VW and that is one of the reasons this is the second best car I ever owned."

Best Car Ever

By on Saturday, April 23, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 36,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "space and storage, good price, drives well"

Cons: "none"

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

"My family loves the VW brand. My first car was a beetle and my husband's was a jetta. We bought our Routan SEL Premium in 2014. It powerful and drives so well for a minivan. It is way more stylish than the Chrysler/Dodge. I love that there is no 2nd row stow-and-go because the seats are far more plush and large, also in the 1st and 3rd row. The power doors, tailgate, and 3rd row seats are especially helpful for my kids and my German Shepherd. We have never had any mechanical problems and gas mileage is a tiny bit above average. Car seats fit in easily and the nav/backup/radio is simple but thoughtful. I own all VW cars. We have a 2015 Touareg and 2011 Sportwagen. The dual dvd lets the kids watch something in the 2nd row and another thing in the 3rd row. (keeps them quite so we can listen to music :) ) I love the Routan and VW so much!"

1 person out of 2 found this review helpful

Not worth the headache

By on Tuesday, October 13, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 69,900

10 3.0
overall rating 3 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
3/10
Value
7/10
Reliability
1/10
Quality
1/10
Performance
5/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "Dual DVD Players, Captain Chairs in second row,"

Cons: "Brakes, sliding doors, and transmission issues"

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

"We owned our 2010 Routan for five years. If you google Routan, you'll find a plethora of issues. Chrysler built this vehicle, and VW actually tried to get out of their contract with Chrysler to stop making it. Today, they no longer make the vehicle. Another issue, was that Chrysler allegedly but brakes on the VW Routan that are not big enough for this vehicle. We got rid of our van because of this reason. I was putting new brakes on it every year. You may like this van if you, a) want a deal because they don't hold their value and b) you are ok with maintaining a vehicle. Chrysler also wouldn't let VW have the stow and go seating so instead VW has large comfortable captain chairs in the second row. They are nice, but do not fold out of the way like the Chrysler."

17 people out of 25 found this review helpful

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