The Routan, Volkswagen's version of the Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan minivans, is more upscale than both its siblings, but it skips some of their most versatile features. With seating for seven in three rows, competitors include the Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna and Nissan Quest.
New for 2012
The SEL trim level gains rain-sensing windshield wipers and push-button start, while the SEL Premium now includes a blind spot warning system.
The Routan shares the same boxy shape as the Town & Country and Grand Caravan, but its face wears Volkswagen's sloping grille and lower air dam. The headlights incorporate rounded sections for the outboard bezels. Exterior features include:
- Optional power sliding doors
- Optional power liftgate
- Optional xenon high-intensity-discharge headlights
- Optional fog lights
- Optional roof rack
The Routan's dashboard carries two distinct layers separated by metallic trim. Unlike the Town & Country and Grand Caravan, whose dashboards received substantial upgrades last year, the Routan gained only a redesigned multifunction steering wheel. The steering wheel doesn't telescope, however. Interior features include:
- Standard removable second-row captain's chairs fold onto themselves but not flat into the floor
- Standard three-seat third row drops flat into the floor
- Optional backseat entertainment system with two flip-down screens
Under the Hood
Volkswagen says it tuned the Routan's suspension and steering for a sportier, more European ride than the minivan's U.S.-brand counterparts. Like both of them, the Routan received a new 3.6-liter V-6 last year. It replaced the outgoing 3.8-liter and 4.0-liter V-6, but its power ratings exceed both. An Eco dashboard button optimizes shift points for the six-speed automatic transmission for better gas mileage. Mechanical features include:
- 3.6-liter V-6 with 283 horsepower and 260 pounds-feet of torque
- Maximum towing capacity of 3,600 pounds
A driver's knee airbag and side-impact airbags for the front seats joined the Routan's standard side curtain airbags last year. Including the required dual front airbags, the Routan has a total of seven standard airbags. Safety features include:
- Standard antilock brakes
- Standard electronic stability system
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