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2012 Volkswagen Routan

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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.

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 122 Ratings for the 2009 - 2013 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    6.5/10
    Quality
    6.3/10
  • Reliability
    6.3/10
    Performance
    6.8/10
  • Comfort
    7.3/10
    Styling
    7.4/10

The kids love it, and so does my mechanic

By on Tuesday, May 05, 2015

I owned and sold this car
Reason: Unreliable

10 4.0
overall rating 4 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
4/10
Value
4/10
Reliability
3/10
Quality
3/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Lots of creature comforts, fun to drive"

Cons: "Mechanically poor, cheaply built, money pit"

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

"Just unloaded this van after owning it for 87k miles. The first 60k miles were extremely uneventful other than the usual tires and brakes. After that, however, things really started to go downhill fast. First, the radiator blew. Then, a bad oil leak developed. Then the fan motor blower went out. Then the power steering system developed a bad leak. Then another coolant leak developed. Also, the van would sporadically just not start and smell of burning electronics. I maintained this vehicle religiously - addressing every problem as it arose, replacing the brakes every 12 months (not cheap - and should you really have to replace breaks every year? Very poorly designed), oil changes at 6k miles on the dot. Unfortunately, the van became too unreliable and it's not worth it to me to keep a car that I can't count on. We decided to trade it in, and on the way to the dealer a horrible thumping sound developed under the car. I don't even want to know what that was. All of this is not to say that the van doesn't have it's strengths. There are tons of creature comforts that make this van the ideal family vehicle, not the least of which are the dual DVD screens and accessory jacks. My kids were devastated to see the van go. Overall, I could not recommend this van. If longevity in a minivan is what you want, just bite the bullet and buy a Honda Odyssey. You will kick yourself if you don't, like I am."

7 people out of 14 found this review helpful

Love this ride!

By on Monday, May 04, 2015

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

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Room for everyone, nice ride, best looking minivan"

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

"I have driven a 2012 Routan since early 2013 and it is by far my favorite vehicle yet. I had an issue with the alternator around 40,000 miles but as usual the VW company takes great care of their drivers and it was towed, replaced, and returned swiftly and conveniently. Kids love the ride, so do the parents (and the friends for a good night out on the town - can haul a lot of drunkards with just one sober driver!). If you're on the fence, just go for it! Also extremely impressed at how this vehicle has held its value."

original owner, maintained, garaged

By on Saturday, May 02, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 51,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "great value for the price. Good family mini van."

Cons: "no negatives"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

"Original owner, purchased new in 2012. Car is in great condition, never been in an accident and no dents. Has been garaged 80% of the time. Gets 25-29 miles/gal fwy. Auto, air, built in back seat DVD player, auto side & rear door openers, navigation, back up camera."

2 people out of 4 found this review helpful

WORST CAR EVER!!!

By on Tuesday, January 13, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 39,000

10 1.0
overall rating 1 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "good design"

Cons: "constant problems!!! too many to list: recalls!"

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

"Don't let the great features fool you this car is a shaking, cheaply-made, is a money pit on wheels. Something is always breaking! I have to keep a running list for when I go in for oil changes (every 4ish months) of all the things that are not working properly, often they can't even fix them! I've never experienced such a poorly manufactured car. whatever you do ... don't buy this car!!!"

13 people out of 24 found this review helpful

love this van

By on Tuesday, January 13, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 47,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

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

"We ve had this van for 3 years & its been great for our fam of 5. Minor probs with cruise (fixed 1x under warranty) & now still wrks intermittently. Comfortable ride & very convenient."

5 people out of 9 found this review helpful

Not Bad

By on Tuesday, January 06, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 22,600

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
2/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "Nice styling, lots of pep"

Cons: "Resale value"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 3

"I thought that the Routan was discontinued after the 2012 model. I see that some dealers are still selling '13s and '14s but not here in my town. I bought the car new in October 2011 at a huge discount and it has been a pretty good car. I don't think I'd be thrilled now if I paid anywhere near the MSRP."

2 people out of 6 found this review helpful

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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?