Volkswagen Reveals 2009 Routan Minivan in Chicago

The best-looking Chrysler minivan will be sold by Volkswagen.

By Chris Haak


Actually, Volkswagen hasn’t revealed the van yet, but will later today. Unfortunately for VW, German magazine AutoBild broke the embargo last night with photos and the press release, so other websites quickly followed suit.

The Routan is built by Chrysler LLC for Volkswagen, and therefore has a nearly identical interior, as well as the same exterior body panels between the A-pillar and the D-pillar. Unfortunately for Chrysler, the parts that are different on the Routan look (to my eyes) far better than on the original vans.

The front end is more contemporary looking, with swoopy headlights and a chrome grille, nice air dams. The rear is differentiated from the Chrysler vans with different taillights that are reminiscent of a Touareg or Golf.

The van is powered by either a 3.8 liter V6 that produces 197 horsepower and 230 lb-ft of torque, or an optional 4.0 liter V6 that produces 251 horsepower and 259 lb-ft of torque. These engines are identical to the ones offered in the Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Caravan.

What isn’t mentioned in the press release (which you can find below) is whether the van offers either Chrysler’s new Swivel-n-Go or Stow-n-Go second row seats. I saw rumors a few months ago that the Routan may not get the trick seats (at least the Swivel-n-Go ones) since they’re something of a Chrysler exclusive.

The van goes on sale later this year starting below $25,000. I haven’t seen VW’s sales goals for the Routan, but it should do reasonably well among existing VW customers who need more interior room. The biggest shame is that after all of the waiting for VW’s newest minivan, it looks good but nothing like the cool Microbus-like concept shown years ago.

The press release from Volkswagen is below:

European inspired design and driving dynamics highlight new minivan

CHICAGO – Volkswagen of America today unveiled the Routan, an all new seven-passenger minivan. It delivers the best of both worlds: a vehicle that combines European sensibilities in design, fit and finish, and handling characteristics with market relevant features and outstanding value.

The Routan is instantly recognizable as a member of the Volkswagen family, with its stylized front grille and exterior treatments. The interior enhancements create an environment that is visually pleasing, modern, and meticulously detailed. The high quality materials, beautiful textures and rich luxurious colors are combined with exacting tolerances and superb fit and finish. While pleasing and contemporary, the interior also follows the traditional Volkswagen design philosophy that form follows function.

Second row captain’s chairs offer an increased level of luxury and comfort while still providing the convenience of a traditional minivan, with over 32.7 cubic feet available behind the third row seats and a full 83 cubic feet is available behind the second row.

The Routan will come standard with a 3.8L V6, offering 197 hp and 230 lb. ft. of torque when combined with the standard six-speed automatic transmission. A 4.0L V6 will be available rated at 251 hp and 259 lb. ft. of torque. Routan features European tuned suspension and steering optimized for handling and improved driving dynamics. Standard all-season traction control and ESP, brings safety and security to the Routan.

The Routan comes with a host of unique features, including:

• Conversation Mirror
• Rear seat entertainment system with two 9 inch screens for second and third row, wireless headsets, and remote control
• Dual power sliding doors with power windows
• Touch screen navigation with twenty meg hard drive
• Power lift gate with flood lamp
• Thirteen cup holders

Volkswagen delivers a competitively priced entry into this high volume segment with prices starting below $25,000. The Routan will be built in an already existing facility in Windsor, Ontario.

With Routan, Volkswagen dealers add a vehicle that will provide additional, incremental growth in the market. A distinctly designed minivan at an attractive price point will broaden the brand portfolio, while providing a roomy alternative to existing Volkswagen owners.

COPYRIGHT – All Rights Reserved

Author: Chris Haak

Chris is Techshake's Managing Editor. He has a lifelong love of everything automotive, having grown up as the son of a car dealer. A married father of two sons, Chris is also in the process of indoctrinating them into the world of cars and trucks.

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  1. Yeh, much better looking than the Chrysler. If you want a Chrysler minivan, why won’t you just get a better-looking version?

  2. much better looking? There’s absolutely no difference. Inside it’s much worse than Chrysler, at least Chrysler showed some innovation. No stow and go. No removable table. Lighting is boring. It’s a 1990 chrysler minivan with cushier seats. This is the most unexciting thing VW ever offered. Finally, VW shoots itself in the head and makes it easy for previous customers like myself to buy something else. I mean really how can they do worse? They have the worst reliability for any car sold in north america (I have a jetta and it’s literally ranked dead last for reliability out of 30+ cars).

    I was looking forward to the minivan premier for months, I couldn’t be more disappointed. I thought, surely if they have redesigned this for years they must be aiming at something awesome. Ah, so the german group can here this, Es ist ein Stück Scheiße.

  3. A POS, huh, schoonerdog? 🙂

    Were you really surprised about how it looks? I wasn’t expecting a rebadged Chrysler van to look anything like a neo Microbus. There’s only so much they could do with it.

    I don’t know – it doesn’t have the styling personality of an Odyssey, but at least it’s not trying to be something it’s not. It looks like a minivan – not like a truck masquerading as a minivan as the Dodge sort of does (and the T&C looks like a minivan that mated with a 300C).

    I didn’t expect Chrysler to give VW the exclusives like Sirius Backseat TV or Swivel-n-Go seats, at least not in the first year.

    But yeah, it’s not much of a VW. I also wish they would have done the Microbus-like one, but the canvas they were working from was pretty constrained. Plus, would buyers really have wanted a family hauler with quirky styling and less interior space? Once its novelty wore off, I don’t think it would have found many buyers.

    I was amused by the way VW stressed the interior material quality in the press release. Mmm hmm….

  4. Goofy name. What is with VW and their names?

  5. I think I read somewhere that all of VW’s European vans end in “an,” so this name (which I agree is stupid) combines that with “Route.”

    It’s pronounced ROO-tan.

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