2009 Volkswagen Routan

2009_vw_routan_redThe Volkswagen Routan is a shared project with Chrysler, if shared means take my van and add your logos and some new sheet metal.

It looks very VW from the outside, at least the front and back do, with the squareness of the design really playing into the hands of the Routan.

Getting in and out of the Routan is easy enough. The doors open nice and wide to allow good access to the front- and second-row seats. Third row seats are a bit of a climb, but no different than in any other van. I’m just not sure if it is of any use to have anyone try to sit comfortably back there, since the seats are angled in such an odd direction.

Sure they fold into the rear cargo area nicely enough, but if the seats are a pain in the … you know where, and then you’re not likely to enjoy planting your you know where for any long period of time.

Need more stowage space? You need look not look any farther than the floor under the second row occupants’ feet. The storage system is a direct carry-over from the Chrysler van, and it’s handy as they come to keep clutter organized and passageways clear.

Add in the large front-row console, complete with four cup holders, a second glove compartment and integrated door pockets and you shouldn’t have any trouble stowing any of your goods.

What looks like a pair of DVD screens in the Routan turned out to be more fold down storage. I know my kids would have appreciated a little movie entertainment, but that is additional $2,400 on top of the Highline trim level (which already comes with three-zone climate control and power sunroof … let’s see you entertain the kids with those features).

The Routan also comes with power sliding doors and a power rear gate, because nobody really likes to touch the van when getting and out or loading and unloading it. One thing the kids really liked was the power windows on the sliding side doors, with pull up sun shades none the less.

The interior is nice enough, but one thing that did stick out was the gear-select shifter, which felt cheap and rattled as it was moved. Maybe some tighter fasteners would help.

Getting this family hauler moving is a 4.0-litre six-cylinder engine packing 253 horsepower and 262 lb.-ft. of torque. It’s more than favourable in the acceleration department, but it can be thirsty when used as your main runabout. My week left me with a combined fuel economy of 14.5 L/100 km.

The Routan is a decent family hauler, but for just under 40-grand I was expecting a little more from the Volkswagen brand.

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