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2012 Volkswagen Routan

Overview
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2012 Volkswagen Routan Review

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KBB Expert Rating: 7.3

The early VW bus is iconic in the truest sense of the word, and while later VW people-movers – the Vanagon and Eurovan – may have lacked the Microbus' intrinsic charm, they compensated with distinctive personalities and a surplus of utility. Today's Routan, built atop a donor platform provided by Chrysler, omits personality completely and brings to the table a people-carrier with virtually no versatility beyond carrying people. Lacking any provision for camping, and certainly no capability (like the Vanagon Syncro) for adventure touring, the Routan falls relatively flat in the automotive catalog – and certainly has failed to connect in the VW showroom. That said, Volkswagen's marketers have attempted to imbue the Caravan-based hauler with a semblance of Autobahn, interior updates provided by VW are tasteful in a nondenominational way, and the new 3.6-liter V6 is both more responsive and efficient than the powerplants which preceded it.

You'll Like This Car If...

Chrysler's family of minivans has attracted a huge block of fans over the years. For those seeking typical minivan attributes but desire a platform more responsive than is typical, VW's modifications to the Chrysler platform may be just the ticket.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If you're looking for a van to chill out (or just hang out) in a 1960s kinda' feel-good way, this isn't your cup of green tea. The Routan is no better or worse than other badge-engineered devices (Mercury, anyone?), but that's rarely a reason for investing upward of $30K.

What's New for 2012

With extensive updates provided to the Routan for 2011, this is a year of additional features and equipment. The 2012 VW Routan SEL with Navigation adds keyless access with push-button start, along with rain-sensing wipers. The top-of-the-line SEL Premium now features both Blind Spot Monitoring and Cross Path Detection. With the soccer team making da' noise, both could prove invaluable.

Driving the Routan

Driving Impressions To its credit, Volkswagen worked diligently to provide the Chrysler van platform with some semblance of what back in the day it used to call "Fahrvergnugen" ("It's what makes a...

car a Volkswagen"). But even after putting lipstick on a pig, it typically remains a pig. With that as the caveat, the Routan comports itself on the road in a manner no 1967 Microbus ever dreamed of doing. And the later Vanagons and Eurovans weren't exactly Porsches in corners or over the open road. A suspension menu comprising firmer springs, shocks and bushings gives the Routan a distinct edge when compared to its Chrysler siblings, while the 3.6-liter, Chrysler-sourced V6 is one of the very best powerplants attached to any minivan architecture.
Favorite Features

3.6 Liter DOHC V6
This is the powerplant that is singularly transforming Chrysler's lineup of Dodges, Chryslers and Jeeps, and what it does for Chrysler's own divisions it does for VW's offshoot. Its 283 horsepower and 6-speed transmission do a commendable job of moving the minivan's mass, while delivering economy on the order of 17 mpg city/25 highway. Within the context of the minivan segment in 2012, the Routan powertrain is among the best in the marketplace.

Outstanding Value
With its base S model boasting a starting price of just $28,000, this is family transportation a great many families can afford. And unlike SUVs, the Routan benefits from a low center of gravity for better handling, a generous greenhouse for better outward vision, and real-world fuel economy of 20-plus mpg. More consumers should take the bait.

2012 Volkswagen Routan Details
Interior

The key to any minivan's success in the marketplace is its management of space, and few do it better than Chrysler; they have, for all intents and purposes, been doing this particular act the longest. There is but one seating layout, with room for seven; two front seats for driver and front passenger, two Captain's chairs for middle-row passengers, and a third row, 3-across bench. A touch point unique to the Routan is a VW-style steering wheel, and perforated leatherette is reminiscent of certain entry-level Mercedes-Benz models. The third-row bench can be folded flush into the floor but, notably, Chrysler's Stow-'n-Go middle-row seating is not offered on the Routan.

Exterior

Volkswagen claims the Routan is "instantly recognizable as a member of the VW family." We'd agree, if Volkswagen, rather than Fiat, had become heavily invested in the fortunes of Chrysler. Despite a number of styling tweaks unique to the VW spinoff, this remains – from the front, sides and rear – a product of Chrysler's styling studios and stamping plants; don't let anyone tell you otherwise. With seven distinct trim levels, the Routan is offered in a range of seven colors.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

With the drivetrain coming in one size (3.6-liter DOHC V6 connected to a 6-speed automatic), the balance of the Routan's features are determined by trim level. But all Routans are well-equipped, beginning with the S model's comprehensive list of standard features. A 3-zone climate control system, second-row Captain's chairs, leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel, cruise control, power windows with 1-touch up/down for both first and second rows, CD/MPE player with 6-speaker sound system and user-selectable fuel optimization are just some of the features offered on the base, under-$28K Routan. In contrast, at the top of the Routan ladder is the SEL Premium, which at roughly $45K includes Blind Spot Monitoring and Rear Cross Path Detection, Nut Burl trim, 115V power outlet, 8-way power driver seat with memory and 8-way power passenger seat, 9-speaker 560-watt sound system and 17-inch Soho alloys.

Optional Equipment

Most options are purchased via trim level. The first step – and some $5,000 – above base is SE, and that delivers several options appropriate to active lifestyles, including a roof rack, 8-way power driver seat with lumbar, Bluetooth connectivity, adjustable pedals and DVD/MP3 capability. For those traveling with families, the SE with RES provides rear-seat entertainment, a power liftgate and rearview camera system, and lists for just under $35,000.

Under the Hood

Historically, Chrysler had a powertrain for almost every trim level, a range of choices making for both confusion on the showroom and a production/distribution headache at Chrysler. With the introduction of the 3.6-liter V6, that messy production and selection process is behind them. The new 3.6 is fully competitive with anything offered by the volume (Toyota and Honda) minivan makers.

3.6-liter V6
283 horsepower @ 6,350 rpm
260 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/25

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2012 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

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