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Expert Reviews 1 of 5
By Jim Mateja
December 6, 1992
Q-What`s the difference between a Volkswagen Eurovan and a CTA bus? A-The Eurovan doesn`t have a cash box at the door. We played Walter Mitty/Ralph Kramden for a week behind the wheel of a1993 Volkswagen Eurovan, the replacement for the VW
Vanagon and the latest-andfirst front-wheel-drive-successor to the original 1949 VW Microbus. The Eurovan rides and handles like a bus. Even the steering wheel sitsflat in your lap like those on one of the Chicago Transit Authority`s finestpeople
haulers. Eurovan`s size is somewhat deceiving. The wheelbase is 4 inches shorterthan a Dodge Grand Caravan, and the overall length is about 5 inches less thana Grand Caravan. But Eurovan sits almost 8 inches higher than that GrandCaravan. The
blockage of the sun is what makes it appear so massive. When you`re behind the wheel, you actually look down into the cabins ofthe pickup trucks alongside. Visibility is tremendous; it`s just that you sit so high you have to guard against nosebleed
at that altitude. When the car hiker pulled into the driveway with the Eurovan the firstwords out of our mouth were: ``Is that a van or a raised ranch?`` In an age when slim and slender have replaced big and bulbous, the 75-inch high,
4,200-pound Eurovan is very much out of place. Not only does theroof of the Eurovan seem to tickle the clouds, it has large, flat slab sidesrather than wind-cheating rounded edges. That means in strong breezes on theexpressway, imagine the yellow divider
line as the net, the pavement as thecourt and the Eurovan as the tennis ball. After radioing the tower for clearance, we took off from the driveway inthe 1993 Eurovan MV (Multipurpose Vehicle) only to find yet another annoyance.The MV comes with
facing rear seats. Two buckets behind the driver and frontseat passenger face the rear of the minivan. The backs of those two bucketsnestle against the backs of the driver and passenger seats. To recline thedriver and passenger seat at a comfortable
angle, you first have to reposture the backs of those bucket seats in back. Robin Williams must have drawn theseating chart for this machine. The Eurovan is powered by a 2.5-liter, 109-h.p. 5-cylinder engine teamedwith a 5-speed manual
transmission. Considering the Eurovan tips the scales atmore than 4,000 pounds, the 109 h.p. is a herd of horses shy of providingsufficient muscle. Eurovan is lethargic. The Environmental Protection Agency must have felt in a generous mood the day
it tested the van`s mileage. The Eurovan is rated at 17 m.p.g. city/21m.p.g. highway. The fuel gauge was constantly moving-much faster than the 2.5-liter 5-cylinder did. Should you be stopped at the light in a Eurovan and the person next toyou
challenges you to a race, decline-even if that person is on foot. It wouldbe difficult to imagine how an automatic transmission ($895) would handle the load. However, while some will complain
the Eurovan needs about 50 more h.p.,the ride and handling of the vehicle wouldn`t justify the added pep. As noted,you sit high in the saddle. With that raised center of gravity, you quicklylearn to ease off the gas pedal when approaching corners and
turns to keep thewheels down. To think of approaching a sharp bend in the road with 50 more h.p.propelling you is not a soothing thought. The 5-speed is a short throw, very smooth unit. But even it has adrawback. The shifter is almost
between the driver and passenger seats, onlyinches away from the driver`s thigh. The location is about as close as you`ll come to having a rear-seat passenger better positioned to do the shifting. One other irritant is the rear hatch lid. A garage
door is smaller-andlighter. Should a child open that door and forget to let go as it swings toits highest level, he or she would need a parachute to return to earth. One final negative is the absence of an air bag. That`s
not to say the Eurovan is totally without merit. Keep in mind that even the Nehru jacket caught people`s fancy at one time. The Eurovan presents the motorist with so many trials and so much adversity to overcome that itstarts to become appealing after
awhile. From that first Microbus in 1949, the VW multipurpose vehicle has been amaverick catering to those who march to a different drummer. VW laid claim to a hippymobile before BMW ever horned in with its yuppymobile. Actually, thevehicle fell
out of favor when the name was changed to Vanagon -referring topart van/part wagon and normalcy rather than novelty. Somewhere out there the Eurovan will win a following because it`s so darn unusual. The MV version we tested comes with those
rear-facing second row ofbucket seats. With a table top that pops out of the vehicle`s side wall, younow have a setup for a meal or a card game for nomadic travelers orvacationing campers. While most minivans offer fixed or only pop-open-a-crack
side rearwindows, the Eurovan side rear windows slide wide open for ventilation for thecard players and vacation travelers. The third rear bench seat slides forward, and the back fully reclines sothat once the card game is over, you and a cohort or
two can take a nap.Directly behind the third seat in the cargo hold there`s also a mattress soone more weary traveler can take a snooze. That rear cargo hold mattress rests on top of what appears to be cabinets reached by opening the garage door
hatch lid. Two large bins with securitydoors flank a suitcase compartment under the mattress. Some design engineerwith a love of travel and the outdoors obviously drew from first-handexperience to accommodate so much stowage capacity. In the
interest of safety, the Eurovan offers anti-lock brakes, but at arather stiff $835 optional price. The Eurovan MV we test drove has a base price of $21,850. Standardequipment includes the rear-facing seats (other models offer conventionalsecond
seats facing forward; regardless which way the seats face, they areremovable), pop-up rear table, sliding side windows, power brakes andsteering, rear window wiper/ washer/defroster, dual front/rear seat airconditioning/heating, AM-FM stereo, dual power
outside mirrors, 15-inch steel-belted radials, tinted glass, intermittent wipers, digital clock and tripodometer, driver- and passenger-side vanity mirrors, cupholders in the glovebox/front door pockets/rear side panels, body-color bumpers and side and
rear snap-in curtains. An optional ($2,530) Weekender package includes popup top with sleepingfor two added passengers to convert Eurovan into a tent on wheels. The packagealso offers refrigerator and auxiliary battery, to name just a few
items. At $21,850 we suspect Eurovan will more likely come into its own as aused vehicle when youth looking for uniqueness and families opting for low-cost motoring vacations can better af
ford one. Hunters, fishermen,snowmobilers and off-road bike enthusiasts probably will also be the oneshelping to contribute to Eurovan`s eventual cult status, the same enjoyed bythe old VW Microbus.