2009 Volkswagen Routan Highline
2009 Volkswagen Routan Highline
2009 Volkswagen Routan Highline. Click image to enlarge

Manufacturer’s web site
Volkswagen Canada

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Review and photos by Michael Clark

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2009 Volkswagen Routan

Inside Story is a review of interior comfort features, cabin controls, storage options, trunk space and under-hood accessibility based on a seven-day evaluation.

Maybe that little black Bug with the old-school microphone is on to something.

Let’s face it: whether the engineering is German or Great Lakes Region, there aren’t too many minivans that beg to be thrown into an off-ramp at anything beyond the posted limit. Trying to be unique in the van market has left behind plenty of carcasses. Remember Toyota vans before they jumped on the Caravan? Volkswagen is still very much in the van business. Head over to global web sites, and you’ll find the Transporter-based Caravelle, the Sharan, and something called the Touran. As cool as it might be to have a six-speed stick at the ready, we’re still dealing with a whole lot of diesel (Sharan and Touran) and a whole lot of, uhm, ‘personality’ (Caravelle). The economics for the Dodge Grand Caravan-based Routan are the ultimate in 101: it has 25 years of just-plain-works under its belt in North America.

2009 Volkswagen Routan Highline
2009 Volkswagen Routan Highline
2009 Volkswagen Routan Highline. Click image to enlarge

The Caravelle, using current conversion rates, would start at about $54,000 Canadian. This week’s tester, a 2009 Routan Highline, settles in at an MSRP of $40,175. (Prices shown do not include freight, taxes, regional or promotional incentives.)

The Cockpit/Centre Stack

A no-nonsense instrument panel greets the pilot, with a tilt column, cruise control stalk at the 4 o’clock position, and audio control tabs on the rear of the nine and three spokes. The dash-mounted, six-speed automatic shift provides a manual gate, for sporting inputs, or the more-likely towing needs. Headlamps include an auto setting. Wiper controls for front and rear swipe are found on the turn signal stalk. The parking brake is a floor-mount pedal, with no snag issues. The six-CD audio head unit is an obvious Mopar piece, with an auxiliary audio input jack. While SIRIUS-ready, the UConnect Bluetooth system doesn’t appear as an available option in the online configurator, though it should be a simple module add-on. It does appear with the Navi head, a $2,800 upgrade on the Highline.

HVAC controls provide Auto climate settings, as well as front passenger tailoring, and rear compartment adjustments with lock-out feature for the second row dials. The Electronic Stability Program key is within easy reach, next to the hazard flashers, slightly above the HVAC controls. The driver’s door pod houses the control pad for the power heated exterior mirrors, with express up/down power window switches for the front panes. The third row panes receive power venting.

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