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2011 Volkswagen Routan

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2011 Volkswagen Routan Review

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While the press and public beg VW to bring back the classic Microbus, the company has instead taken a shorter (and cheaper) route, offering a minivan that is not entirely of its own creating. For the 2011 Volkswagen Routan, VW teamed up with Chrysler, borrowing the basic Dodge Grand Caravan platform and providing it with a hefty dose of VW styling. Die-hard VW fans, however, may have issues with the Routan, as its powertrain and electronics are pretty much Chrysler-derived. Available in three well-equipped models – S, SE and SEL – the Routan is a comfortable and practical front -drive family vehicle cable of holding as many as seven passengers; it's also loaded with features that help to make long road trips less arduous.

You'll Like This Car If...

Although its drivetrain is borrowed from Detroit, the Routan's suspension and steering calibrations are clearly German. If you like a stiffer ride, sharper cornering and a more upscale interior, the 2011 Volkswagen Routan is probably the minivan for you.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If you're attracted to VW because you feel German engineering is superior to everyone else's, the Routan's Chrysler-based origins probably won't appeal to you.

What's New for 2011

For 2011, all Routan vans are now powered by a 3.6-liter V6 engine teamed to a new six-speed automatic transmission. Also new is a leather-wrapped three-spoke steering wheel, an ECO fuel switch that adjust the transmission's shift points for optimal economy, a stowable roof rack (SE and SEL) and front-passenger side airbags.

Driving the Routan
Driving Impressions

Of primary importance to VW was the ability to impart the 2011 Routan with a distinctly European driving character. The stock Chrysler springs, shocks and bushings were swapped out in...

... favor of firmer parts and the power steering unit's valve proportioning was adjusted to create a heavier feel that responds more quickly to inputs. The result is a minivan that still has a comfortable ride, but feels more in-touch with the road. The improved springs and shocks help minimize body roll and lean and the new steering setup allows the Routan to track straight without requiring constant corrective inputs. Helping keep the Routan firmly planted to the road are a host of electronic assists, including traction control, anti-lock brakes and Electronic Stability Control with brake assist. The new 3.6-liter V6 pumps out an impressive 283 horsepower and does a good job quickly moving the 4,500-pound Routan up to highway speeds. 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 those in the Chrysler counterparts, the first- and second-row individual seats in the Routan have been upgraded, 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.

2011 Volkswagen Routan Details
Interior

VW retains Chrysler's gauges, switch gear, heating and ventilation components and audio systems, but applies a liberal dose of German flavor by adding thicker carpeting, form-fitting seats (available in cloth, V-Tex or perforated leather) and soft-touch material on the dash, door panels and armrests. Numerous storage areas abound inside the Routan, which features cup holders at every seating station, under-floor storage bins and an overhead storage console. An available 115-volt outlet is ideal for powering laptops or game consoles, and overhead airline-style lighting allows individual nighttime illumination that won't light up the entire cabin. The 2011 VW Routan's second-row captain's chairs can be folded flush into the floor, while the third-row bench seat can be flipped 180-degress to serve duty during tailgating parties.

Exterior
2011 Volkswagen Routan photo

The 2011 Volkswagen Routan may start life as Grand Caravan, but VW's unique styling and suspension tuning make it far superior to its American cousin. Sharing only the side door panels, glass and windshield with its Chrysler twin, the Routan creates its own visual appeal by touting a prominent grille, wide lower air intakes and aero headlamps. S trims ride on 16-inch steel wheels, while the SE and SEL feature standard 17-inch alloy rims with 225/65 all-season tires. Up top, a newly-available roof rack features pivoting roof rails that stow into the side rails, while around back a subtle spoiler and integrated third brake light rest atop the large hatchback door.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

Beyond the 3.6-liter V6 engine and a six-speed automatic transmission, all Routans feature an impressive array of standard equipment, including power windows, locks and mirrors, keyless remote entry, three-zone air conditioning and cruise control. Front seats on the S trim level are manually operated, the SE 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 manually controlled on the S and SE and automatic on the leather-trimmed SEL, which also gets a power sunroof, heated second-row seats, remote start and power-folding third-row seats. The SEL Premium adds a 506-watt nine-speaker sound system, 115-volt outlet and a tire-pressure monitoring system that individually monitors each tire. All models include stability and traction control, anti-lock brakes, driver's knee airbag and front-seat side and side-curtain airbags, and all scheduled maintenance is free during the vehicle's basic warranty period.

Optional Equipment

The 2011 Volkswagen Routan model lineup leaves the options list limited to a few dealer-installed items. If you order the SE you can have the rear-seat entertainment system with or without navigation, but not the other way around; on SEL trims the rear-seat entertainment system must be bundled with navigation. The navigation package includes a 30 GB JoyBox music hard drive, USB port and backup remote camera. On the SEL and SEL Premium, the navigation also includes iPod interface and Sirius Travel Link. A power liftgate is available on the SE trim and standard on SEL and SEL Premium.

Under the Hood

All 2011 Volkswagen Routan models are now fitted with a single engine and transmission combo: A 3.6-liter V6 and six-speed automatic transmission with ECO mode. The new engine is one of the most powerful in this class and is a welcome addition. Fuel economy is also quite good, although we assume mileage figures will vary based on the passenger complement and individual driving habits. The Routan's V6 is also capable of running on E85, a blend of 15 percent gasoline and 85 percent ethanol.

3.6-liter V6
283-horsepower @ 6350 rpm
260 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/25 (gasoline), 12/18 (E85)

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2011 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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