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VW Routan driving impression


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Tested..... 2009 Routan SEL I think. White / tan cloth. Used.....11k on the odo.

3.8 litre motor. Lightly optioned.


Room and Space - cargo and passengers

Front row seating comfort. For those that like to sit high, this is nice. Seat can be adjusted for perfect driving position unless you like it low.

Engine does well at highway speeds.

Excellent frontal visibility and decent out the sides and back.

Excellent gauges, convenient radio location, nice climate controls. Steering wheel feels nice.

Sliding door windows can roll down and have built in sunshades.

Good steering and handling.

3.8 has a decent snarl at certain speeds.

Engine turns only 2000 rpm at 70+ mph.

Good plastics and build quality for the dash and door panels. Interior a nice upgrade over Caravan.

Major styling improvements to boxy Dodge van.


Instances where more power would be appreciated like in town driving and hard core roll on acceleration.

Transmission doesn't bang off shifts as fast as you'd want. Lags off of stoplights in power and shifting and roll on acceleration the tranny could kick down faster as well.

Powertrain does not feel "tight". In fact, whole vehicle with 11k does not seem as tight as my Fords with 50k.

NVH needs some work. Lots of cabin noise from below at highway speeds and lots of powertrain noise as well.

Feels heavy, tall, large, and long, and feels like a bus at times when you're not simply eating up straight highway miles.

No steering wheel controls, and dumb cruise control and wiper layouts.

Power window and mirror controls feel cheap.

Despite really nice second row seats, piss poor footspace and leg comfort for adults in the second row (why not get rid of the storage wells and make it footspace if you aren't gonna have sto n go?).

Lacks second row seating options of new Odyssey and Sienna.

Engine upgrade to 4.0 is pricey but would solve some of the engine and powertrain issues.

Floor console between front seats is cheesy and cheap.

Residual values vs. MSRP are a big problem that may or may not be able to be offset by incentives or fleet dumping.

Verdict -

Overall I'd mildly recommend for anyone looking for a very functional van who can get one for a decent price. There is plenty of delight and user convenience in this model and the interior is pleasing enough that most mainstream families would like that. Engine, powertrain, some build quality, and NVH need work despite steering and handling being ok. Second row seating / footspace may be a deal breaker for people with adults or larger kids in the second row. I would definitely advise anyone to hold out and check the new Odyssey and Sienna first and also consider if a Ford Flex may not be a bad option as well. I personally know from a recent test drive that the Flex is more enjoyable to drive, is more refined overall, and feels more fun and carlike and less huge although cargo carrying is not to peer with the minivans.

Note, because of the interior deficiencies, I don't think I could recemmond the Grand Caravan, but probably a more optioned T&C would be ok.

Edited by regfootball
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