Only a handful of minivans saw a sales increase during 2001, and Volkswagens EuroVan was one of them. In fact, sales jumped by 106 percent, according to Automotive News. But because the 2000 total included only 2,714 units, an increase to 5,600 last year isnt quite as dramatic as the percentage sounds. Volkswagen has stated the potential of selling 10,000 EuroVans yearly. If the German automaker decides to produce a modern-day Microbus, which currently appears to be a 50-50 possibility, the EuroVans fate is uncertain.
A highly welcome power boost reached the EuroVan during the 2001 model year, which helps to erase concerns that the van was underpowered. In addition, a sizable price cut accompanied the stronger engine. Because of the 2001 EuroVans substantial modification at midseason, the 2002 version is virtually unchanged, except for color choices.
Engineers took the 2.8-liter V-6 engine and gave it multivalve cylinder heads and other technical improvements; the power plant now derives 201 horsepower instead of the previous 140 hp. Offered only with front-wheel drive, the EuroVan has an automatic transmission and an Electronic Stability Program a lateral-skid control system that applies brakes as needed to maintain control. The EuroVan is the only van built in Europe.
EuroVan buyers can be accommodated in four ways. They can get a conventional seven-passenger GLS minivan. One alternative is the recreation-oriented MultiVan (MV), which has dual rear-facing center seats and a rear bench that converts into a bed. An MV Weekender Package with a pop-up roof is optional. Finally, a limited-production, extended-wheelbase Camper created by Winnebago Industries remains available at selected dealerships. The Camper features a pop-up roof with a two-person bed, refrigerator, dual-burner LP (liquid petroleum) gas stove and swiveling captains chairs.
With a higher stance than a typical minivan, the EuroVan stands 76.4 inches high. It rides a 115-inch wheelbase and measures 188.5 inches long overall. The Camper version, however, is built on a 130.7-inch wheelbase. Integrated fog lights are installed, and alloy wheels hold 16-inch tires. The EuroVan has a fully independent suspension.
The GLS and MV models each seat seven occupants. The GLS has second-row bucket seats with dual folding armrests that can be removed. The MV is fitted with rear-facing second-row buckets. A folding third-row seat is installed in both models, but the one in the MV converts into a removable bed. Standard equipment also includes one-touch power windows, central remote locking, cupholders, privacy glass, cruise control and a pollen/dust filter. A premium six-speaker cassette audio system is standard. Maximum interior volume totals 206 cubic feet.
As its name suggests, the Camper comes equipped with a refrigerator, LP gas stove, sink and other outdoor-living gear. It may be fitted with a removable two-person center bench seat rather than the standard, full-swiveling captains chairs. As an alternative to the full Camper, an optional Weekender Package for the regular EuroVan includes the pop-up roof, two-person bed, screens for two sliding windows, a second battery and a rear-facing seat with a refrigerator mounted below it.
Under the Hood
A dual-overhead-cam version of Volkswagens 2.8-liter VR6 engine (with four valves per cylinder) generates 201 hp. A four-speed-automatic transmission is used, and premium fuel is required. The EuroVan has a payload of more than 1,550 pounds.
All-disc antilock brakes are standard. Side-impact airbags are not available. In addition to the Electronic Stability Program, Volkswagens Anti-Slip Regulation system of traction control is standard.
A single change in a vehicle can sometimes make an enormous improvement in its overall appeal. This is the case with the reworked EuroVan, which behaves like a different vehicle than its 140-hp predecessor. Even its ride and handling qualities are more appealing, as the strengthened 201-hp engine manages to inject the EuroVan with a fresh personality.
A descendant in theme if not in details from the old VW Microbuses and subsequent Vanagons, the EuroVan is definitely not for everyone. Volkswagen doesnt consider it a minivan at all; instead, the company places the EuroVan in a class by itself. For starters, climbing aboard is a bit of a challenge, though the wide integral step helps.
Being defiantly different from the pack is part of the EuroVans appeal for some, while its a reason for possible disdain by those who fail to appreciate its subtly concealed attractions. Compared to most minivans, this larger van feels more ponderous on the road and less inviting when curves or corners lie ahead. Its a lot more satisfying while on the move than its less-powerful predecessor, but slow steering can be disconcerting in curvy areas. The EuroVan falls short of genteel, but the ride is surprisingly good even on rough rural pavement.
Acceleration is rather vigorous from a standstill, and the EuroVan is energetic enough for passing and merging situations. The otherwise-quiet engine growls a bit when stepping hard on the gas. The automatic transmission reacts crisply and gets the job done effectively, but the floor-mounted gearshift works a bit differently than most when moving into lower ratios. Even though the seat bottoms are short, the driver sits higher in the EuroVan than in a minivan, which provides a commanding view that is aided by big mirrors. Instead of a glove box, the EuroVan has a lockable compartment with ample storage space in the drivers door.
Quirky behavior and appearance aside, no other minivan offers anything like the outdoor-living accessories of a fully equipped EuroVan. This vehicle is more appropriately challenged by some of the camper-converted full-size models. Even when equipped with little more than a foldout table, the EuroVan MV becomes a special sort of vehicle.