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In a world of increasingly similar minivans, each striving to be more car-like than the other, the Volkswagen EuroVan is decidedly different. It's shaped like a box where others are round and sleek. It has a significantly higher driving position, and it lacks a left-side sliding door. It also offers unique options, such as rear-facing second-row seats and a camper body.
Volkswagen's V6 is very smooth and delivers on its promise of torque. Snap the throttle open and the front end rises slightly while the EuroVan accelerates. A number of minivans can easily show their heels to the VW, but it's a much closer race than it was with earlier EuroVans. There is more than enough power for day-to-day operation. The V6-powered EuroVan easily cruises at or above any posted limit in the U.S. The cruise control works very well, maintaining a constant speed on Interstate grades.
"Tomb-like" would not describe the EuroVan on the Interstate. Even with improved noise insulation, wind and road and engine noise all raise the interior sound level, though not objectionably so.
Despite its big flat sides, the EuroVan tracks like a bullet on the Interstates, even with crosswinds. It responds to the steering wheel with immediacy and precision. The natural expectation for this tall vehicle is for oodles of lean in hard cornering, but not so with the EuroVan. There is little tilt and no sway. It is remarkably confidence building, with a steady dose of understeer and feedback. You won't see any EuroVans at the local sports car races -- other than the one in the parking lot. But driving a EuroVan won't consign you to being a slow-moving roadblock on winding roads. Volkswagen has strengthened the body and the increased rigidity allows the fully independent suspension to do its job well. The 38.4-foot turning radius wasn't a problem in tight parking lots.
We found the EuroVan excellent in traffic in the city of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. When our speeds were reduced to a walking pace, the nicely tuned throttle response enabled us to do the stop-and-go smoothly enough to enjoy a scalding cup of coffee without worries. Yet we were able to move quickly when we had the chance. These opportunities were easily anticipated from our lofty perch in the driver's seat, giving us an uninterrupted view of the traffic jam extending off to the horizon. The brakes were easily up to the part in the harder stops.
The EuroVan is not inexpensive. Our MV added up to just under $33,000. That puts it into competition with some luxurious domestic minivans that offer a more car-like feel. The EuroVan, however, will appeal to the individual, someone who wants to be different. Volkswagen's EuroVan isn't like anything else on the market, and nothing on the market is like the EuroVan.
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