1999 Volkswagen EuroVan

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1999 Volkswagen EuroVan
Available in 2 styles:  EuroVan Passenger Van shown
Asking Price Range
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Estimated MPG

15 city / 20 hwy

Expert Reviews

    Expert Reviews 3 of 5

By 

Los Angeles Times

Volkswagen cherishes its reputation for building vehicles that chuckle and offer quirks by the quintal.

Such as the 1999 EuroVan.

For more than half a century--from the original 1947 Transporter through the vagabond Microbus of the '60s to this happy wanderer-- EuroVans have always looked as if they ride roller-skate wheels and stand taller than most reviewing stands. They're as square as the boxes they came in, but that look has always been part of their charm.

EuroVans have windows wide and sunny enough for hanging geraniums. And they are available with a camper top, double bed, a pair of swivel armchairs, drapes, three ashtrays and a refrigerator. Which is more than you'll get at better motels.

What has typically kept the seven-passenger EuroVan from a passing grade in the minivan market--less than 1,500 sold in the United States in the first three quarters of this year--has been a wheezy engine that should never have been borrowed from the good folk who make leaf blowers.

But that four-cylinder fright is long gone, replaced by a 140-horsepower V-6, the same capable VR6 used in the VW Jetta sedan. It has been modified with the focus on low-end pulling power. That translates to 177 pounds-foot of torque at 3,000 revolutions per minute, which is enough tug for a 4,400-pound trailer. Or 1,000 pounds of people, pets and geranium mulch.

Styling remains blunt and shows absolutely no challenge to those jolly minivan monopolists Chrysler, Ford and General Motors. But the EuroVan does match the competition with standard anti-lock disc brakes, four-wheel independent suspension, daytime running lights, air conditioning, dual air bags, power door locks and windows, four-speed automatic transmission and six-speaker sound system for news and tunes. But no power sliding door.

EuroVans come in several varieties--the base GLS; the dressier MV (which takes the overnight kitchen-and-parlor package); and the roomier Camper, with a wheelbase 15.7 inches longer than that of the GLS or MV. EuroVans offer more seating configurations than musical chairs. Fuel consumption is 15 miles per gallon in the city, 20 mpg on the highway, which is better than a Ford Explorer but not as good as the Dodge Caravan.

*

As work and personal plans happened to collide, we drove the EuroVan to Arizona for Thanksgiving. The load included enough Christmas lights for Phoenix City Hall, a 5-foot-tall plastic Santa, place settings for nine, crystal, silver, a case of last month's selection from Geerlings & Wade and a bunch of cat carriers holding our three strays. Casey, Amos and Slick.

It was a run that tested everything, and the EuroVan mostly scored well. Two rear-facing center seats, which felt to be about 40 pounds apiece, removed easily with a click and a snatch. The V-6 pulled in serious fashion, allowing a constant cruise comfortably beyond what state gendarmes tolerate. The driver's seat was a velour-covered high-bucket with fold-down armr ests and well-sprung padding that strained neither disks nor glutes. A pair of center-console cup holders held coffee and a tubby bottle of Krazy Kiwi Passion without spilling a drop.

But desert crosswinds, particularly when we scooted past 18-wheelers, were a slap up the side of the head that gave the Teutonic minivan a bad case of the shifts and shudders.

The sliding door required more heaving than a sliding door should, the tailgate swung high and heavy overhead until the grab strap was more necessity than convenience, and front wheel wells protruding into the cabin were a definite restriction on foot room.

These scraps of thoughtlessness will not be lost on canny consumers tuned to the ease and comforts of Ford's Windstar; Nissan's Quest; Toyota's Sienna; and, of course, the Chrysler-Plymouth-Dodge triplets, Town & Country, Voyager and Caravan.

Price is another hobbler. A well-dressed Quest sells for $25,000, a Voyager for $22,000; even the highly polished T own & C ountry can be had for $30,000.

While our EuroVan MV--including $2,000 spent on an optional sunroof, alloy wheels, heated front seats and Hot Chili Red Metallic paint--was stickered at $34,000. Not a lot of bratwurst for the buck.




    Expert Reviews 3 of 5

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