Volkswagen has been in and out of the minivan business in the United States the past several years, so its no surprise that the EuroVan is the slowest-selling model in this segment. VW sold just 3,395 vans in 1999 versus 293,100 for the market leader, the Dodge Grand Caravan.
The front-wheel-drive EuroVan is a niche vehicle in more ways than one. It comes as the GLS, a conventional seven-passenger minivan; the Multivan, which has dual rear-facing center seats and a rear bench seat that converts into a bed; and as the Camper, a limited-production model available through select dealers.
VW teams with Winnebago Industries on the Camper to offer a conversion package that includes a pop-up roof with a two-person bed, refrigerator, two-burner LP gas stove, two swiveling captains chairs and other amenities. Some of the Campers features are available on the Multivan in the Weekender option package, including the pop-up roof with bed, the refrigerator (mounted below one of the rear-facing seats) and window screens.
The GLS and Multivan are 188 inches long about the same as a short body Dodge Caravan and 76 inches tall, nearly 8 inches taller than the Caravan. Both come with a single sliding door on the passenger side that opens and closes manually.The Camper is 16 inches longer and nearly 4 inches taller and also comes with a single sliding rear door on the passenger side.
GLS models have a typical minivan arrangement of seats for seven arrayed 2+2+3 front to rear, but the only way to remove the middle and rear benches is the old-fashioned way with wrenches. No quick-release latches are provided, though the rear bench folds for more cargo room.
The Multivan seats seven as well, and the three-place rear bench converts to a bed and is removable with quick-release latches. The two middle buckets in the Multivan also are removable but face the rear.
Volkswagen says there is at least 19 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear bench, but the company does not list cargo volume with seats folded or removed. Needless to say, the spacious interior can hold more than any other minivan.
Under the Hood
All models come with a 2.8-liter V-6 engine rated at 140 horsepower and a four-speed automatic transmission. For a van that weighs a minimum of 4,220 pounds, that is enough power for only leisurely acceleration.
The EuroVan is certainly different, but except for the Weekender option package or Camper model, the differences dont have redeeming values. The EuroVan is roomy but also big, clumsy, slow, harder to climb in or out of than other minivans, and expensive.