1993 Volkswagen EuroVan

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1993 Volkswagen EuroVan
Available in 3 styles:  Euro Van Passenger Van shown
Asking Price Range
$1,334–$17,030
Estimated MPG

17 city / 21 hwy

Expert Reviews

    Expert Reviews 3 of 5

By 

Orlando Sentinel

Bill Young, president and chief executive officer for Volkswagen of America, says the new VW EuroVan is ''a modern day extension of the original Microbus . . . ''

He's right - and depending on your point of view that may not be good news.

The new EuroVan is not much of an improvement over the old van. The major differences: the drivetrain has been changed and moved to the front, and there's more interior room.

That's about it.

PERFORMANCE

Unlike the trusty old Microbus, the new EuroVan has a front-mounted five-cylinder engine.

Yet when you twist the ignition key, the EuroVan somehow feels almost exactly like the old van, which for 40 years had a flat-four cylinder engine mounted in the rear.

The EuroVan runs with the same kind of sturdy but impatient roughness.

VW's five-cylinder engine develops just 109 horsepower, and it is forced to propel a vehicle that weighs between 3,800 and 4,200 pounds, depending on the model.

By comparison, the best-selling Plymouth Voyager weighs 3,300 pounds and offers a 142-horsepower 3.0-liter V-6.

Surprisingly, the test van came with a five-speed manual transmission, which is not a popular choice among minivan buyers. Most minivans are sold with automatics. But VW spokesman Larry Nutson says VW van buyers demand manual transmissions more than those who buy other brands. Nutson said VW thinks 25 percent of EuroVans will be sold with manual transmissions.

Even though a manual transmission is the most efficient way to get the power to the wheels, it didn't do much for the EuroVan.

Performance was sluggish. The engine was loud, and it groaned under the strain of hard acceleration.

Also, the EuroVan was tiring to drive after more than an hour or so. Because the EuroVan is so underpowered, you have to shift gears frequently.

VW has a world-class 172-horsepower V-6 in the Corrado and the Passat that would be a perfect match for the Eurovan.

In combined city/highway driving, the EuroVan got 15.1 miles per gallon.

HANDLING

This is another area where Volkswagen chose to go a different route.

The EuroVan feels big and unwieldy compared to most minivans. It doesn't have the same agility as a Chrysler minivan or the new Mercury Villager or Nissan Quest.

VW says the EuroVan is a midsize van, even though it is shorter than the Toyota Previa, Chevy Lumina and Dodge Grand Caravan.

There's a four-wheel independent suspension system underneath the EuroVan, but it is very stiff and unyielding compared with the competition.

I tested the EuroVan on a very rough dirt road and found that it did not ride any better than an old pickup truck.

I also did not like the brakes. They did not have nearly enough bite and would only work well when extra pressure was applied to the pedal.

The most successful minivans offer a sedan-like ride.

The EuroVan is not even close.

FIT AND FINISH

After hearing all these complaints, you might be wondering if the EuroVan has a strong point.

It does.

The interior is simply cavernous. It seems as if you could stuff a Little League team or a Boy Scout troop inside it. EuroVan seats seven in total comfort.

There are no compromises here. There is plenty of legroom and headroom and the seats are firm and comfortable.

The dash is laid out in a simple and almost utilitarian way. It comes across as sensible rather than stylish. A center control panel contains switches for the air conditioning and radio. The controls for the cruise control and windshield wipers are mounted on the steering column.

On the test van, a terrible smell of what seemed like burning plastic came out of the air-conditioning vents when the setting was moved from full cold.

VW spokesman Nutson said he had never heard of the problem. But the same thing happened in the three VWs I have tested this year.

The front seat tracks rattledo er rough roads.

The AM/FM cassette stereo sounded chintzy; turning up the volume caused buzzing noises.

It takes a Hulk Hogan type to raise the rear door, which is one huge and heavy piece of metal. You lift it, then stand out of the way as it opens up.

Perhaps the best thing about the new EuroVan is that it has the spirit and charisma of the old van. The modern engine and transmission should provide a degree of reliability the old one could never match.

But if you are looking for a minivan as Chrysler has defined it, you are not going to find it this year at the Volkswagen dealer.

Truett's tip: VW's new EuroVan captures the spirit and feel of the much-loved Microbus but doesn't offer the carlike ride and performance of a Chrysler or Mercury minivan.


    Expert Reviews 3 of 5

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