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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
6.2
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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