NEW FOR 2009:

– All-new model

An all-new model for 2009, the Volkswagen Routan marks the automaker’s first foray into the modern minivan market, and is the newest addition to that segment overall.

Built in Canada by Chrysler, with final quality inspection by on-site Volkswagen employees, the Routan is based on the Chrysler Town & Country. Only the roof, doors and driveline are shared with Chrysler; front and rear styling, interior design and suspension tuning are unique to Volkswagen.

The Routan uses a 4.0-litre V6 engine, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode. Trim lines are the Trendline, Comfortline, Highline and Execline.

Features on the Trendline include 16-inch steel wheels, manual three-zone climate control, heated mirrors, variable intermittent wipers, intermittent rear wiper, cruise control, digital compass, floor mats, power locks with keyless entry, conversation mirror, CD/MP3 stereo with auxiliary input, tire pressure monitoring system, second-row fold-flat bench seat, 60/40 split-folding third-row bench seat, leather-wrapped tilt wheel, dual glove box with lockable bottom box, cloth seats, power first- and second-row windows, and power third-row rear quarter windows.

The Comfortline adds 16-inch alloy wheels, dual power sliding doors, body-colour door handles, black roof rails, anti-theft alarm, trip computer, six-CD/MP3 stereo with wheel-mounted audio controls, Sirius satellite radio, eight-way power driver’s seat, second-row captain’s chairs, garage door opener, and second- and third-row manual sunshades.

The Highline adds automatic three-zone climate control, automatic headlamps, fog lamps, power sunroof, sliding and removable centre console, LED reading lamps, auto-dimming rearview mirror, heated first- and second-row seats, leather upholstery, power liftgate, and brushed aluminum trim.

The Execline adds 17-inch alloy wheels, chrome door handles, auto-levelling Xenon headlamps, heated mirrors with integrated turn signals, silver roof rails, chrome window surrounds, multifunction trip computer, remote starter, 115-volt power outlet, navigation system with 30GB hard drive, rearview camera, UConnect hands-free telephone system, premium audio surround sound system, twin-screen rear entertainment system with two DVD players, eight-way power passenger seat, driver’s side memory, and power-adjustable pedals.

Each model has various options, and all models can be ordered with a rear-seat DVD entertainment system; one available system includes two players and screens that can play two separate movies at the same time.

Based on a well-done van, the Routan adds high-quality interior materials, supportive seats and a range of options. Chrysler’s Stow ‘n Go seating is not available, and the second-row seats must be removed to obtain a flat floor, but they are more comfortable than the folding seats, and since the floor pans are shared, the Routan has the covered storage bins that normally hold the Stow ‘n Go seats, and which can be used to increase small-item storage. The Swivel ‘n Go option of rear-facing seats and table is not available either. Overall, this is a good choice in the minivan market and while it can get pricey in its upper levels, the models are in line with their Japanese, Korean and domestic rivals.

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