2012 Volkswagen Routan Review
The 2012 Volkswagen Routan is a solid choice among minivans, but others in the class offer more flexibility, nicer interiors and better performance.
If you want to see corporate cooperation in the automotive industry, look no further than the 2012 Volkswagen Routan. Though it wears a VW badge, the Routan is based on the two minivans built by the Chrysler corporation: the Chrysler Town & Country and the Dodge Grand Caravan. As a result, all three minivans have similar features, looks and performance. Car and Driver imagines the conversation went something like this: "Hi, Chrysler? It's VW. Heard you broke up with Mercedes. You okay? Anyway, calling to see if we could rebadge your minivan. Yes, that's right. No, this isn't a prank call. We don't have a van that we can sell in the U.S. So you'll make us a van? Cool.”
The Routan used to distinguish itself from its Chrysler cousins with an upscale interior and a more responsive suspension – advantages that German cars typically have over American ones. But in 2011, Chrysler upgraded its vans while the Routan mostly stayed the same. As a result, the gap between the Routan and the Chrysler vans has decreased, leading many test drivers to question if the Routan, with its higher price tag, is worth the extra money. Not only do the Chrysler vans keep pace with the Routan in terms of interior features, but other vans, like the Honda Odyssey, drive better.
The bottom line is, if you're shopping minivans, the Routan is a good choice, but so is almost every other van in the class.
Other Vans to Consider:
Minivan shoppers are lucky because finding a good minivan is largely a matter of personal preference. If you’re looking at the VW Routan for its performance, make sure you also check out the Honda Odyssey, which reviewers say is the best driving van in the class.
Since the 2012 Volkswagen Routan is so similar to the Chrysler Town & Country and the Dodge Grand Caravan, they also deserve a spot on your shopping list. The Chrysler vans have some features, like second-row seats that fold directly into the floor, which the VW doesn’t have. Chrysler and Dodge incentives also tend to be better than what VW offers, so you could save some money by going for either one of the Chrysler vans.
Details: Volkswagen Routan
The 2012 Volkswagen Routan comes in four trims: the S base model, the SE, the SEL and the SEL Premium. All Routan models seat seven in three rows. Changes for 2012 are minimal and include additional standard features for the SEL and SEL Premium trims. See full 2012 Volkswagen Routan specs.
- "Last year, we would've told you that the Routan stood out with better driving dynamics and a substantially nicer cabin. But for 2011, the Chrysler vans have closed the gap considerably (if not completely). Plus, the Chryslers still include Stow 'n Go seats and a few other features not available in the VW. And from a long-term ownership standpoint, you have to wonder how vested VW is in the Routan or what the service experience of a Chrysler vehicle at a VW dealership might be." -- Edmunds
- "It gets VW-ish sheetmetal and a dedicated interior and rides on an exclusive suspension, but those who expect the Routan to be more Chrysler than Volkswagen are not too wide off the mark. Think of it as a Volkswagen interpreted by Chrysler." -- Car and Driver
- "When all is said and done, the Routan might look and feel like a Volkswagen, but that doesn't mean that it is one." -- Automobile Magazine
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