By KBB.com Editors
Although cost issues kept the slick Microbus concept it showed at the 2001 Geneva Auto Show from ever seeing production, VW finally made its move to join the minivan market last year with the introduction of the 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 win over American families.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 2010 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 2010 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 2010
The Routan line is simplified into four well-appointed trims that include S, SE, SEL and SEL Premium. Stand alone options are eliminated, packaged instead into each trim level. The SE and SEL can be ordered with navigation but require the rear seat entertainment system as well. All trims receive more standard equipment, including three-zone manual climate control on the S trim; Bluetooth, heated seats and power adjustable pedals on the SE; and a power sunroof, remote start, power third-row seat and a tow prep package on the SEL.Driving It 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 valve proportioning 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.