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Expert Reviews 1 of 2
By Jim Flammang
February 26, 2003
Vehicle Overview In size and configurations, Volkswagens van stands apart from the pack. A highly welcome power boost reached the EuroVan during the 2001 model year, which helped to erase concerns that the van was underpowered. The 2003 version is essentially unchanged.
Offered only with front-wheel drive, the EuroVan has an automatic transmission and an Electronic Stability Program, which is a lateral-skid control system that applies the brakes as needed to maintain control. Its the only European-built van sold in the United States.
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 a rear bench seat that converts into a bed. An MV Weekender Package with a pop-up roof is optional. A limited-production extended-wheelbase Camper created by Winnebago Industries remains available at selected dealerships, and it features a pop-up roof and a two-person bed.
With a taller stance than the typical minivan, the EuroVan stands 76.4 inches tall. It rides a 115-inch wheelbase and measures 188.5 inches long overall. Integrated fog lights are installed, and alloy wheels hold 16-inch tires. The EuroVan has a fully independent suspension.
Each standard model seats seven occupants. The GLS has second-row bucket seats with dual folding armrests. The MV gets twin rear-facing second-row buckets. A folding third-row seat is installed in both, but the MVs seat converts into a removable bed. 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, an optional Weekender Package for the regular EuroVan includes the pop-up roof, two-person bed, two screened sliding windows, a second battery and a rear-facing seat atop a refrigerator.
Under the Hood
A dual-overhead-cam version of Volkswagens 2.8-liter VR6 engine generates 201 horsepower. A four-speed-automatic transmission is used, and premium fuel is recommended. The GLS model has a payload of more than 1,550 pounds.
All-disc antilock brakes are standard. Side-impact airbags are not available.
Boosting engine output in 2001 injected the EuroVan with a fresh personality. With its quirky behavior and appearance aside, no minivan offers anything like the outdoor-living accessories of a fully equipped EuroVan.
A descendant in theme from the old VW Microbuses and subsequent Vanagons, the EuroVan is definitely not for everyone. For starters, climbing aboard is a bit of a challenge.
Being defiantly different is part of the EuroVans appeal for some, but its also a reason for possible disdain. Compared to most minivans, this larger van feels more ponderous and less inviting when curves or corners lie ahead. Slow steering can be disconcerting, but the ride is surprisingly good even on rough pavement.
Startup acceleration is rather vigorous, and the EuroVan is energetic enough for passing and merging. The automatic transmission reacts crisply, but the floor-mounted gearshift works differently than most. Even though the seat bottoms are short, the driver sits high for a commanding view. Instead of a glove box, the EuroVan has a lockable compartment in the drivers door.