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3/4 Front Glamour 2012 Volkswagen Routan

Expert's Rating

3.4Good

MPG 17 City / 25 Highway
Pros
  • High passenger capacity
  • Many standard safety features
  • Many child-friendly entertainment options
Cons
  • Seating not as configurable as competitors
  • Some sub-par interior pieces
  • Third row seats somewhat uncomfortable
The Volkswagen Routan may share some parts with other vans like the Dodge Caravan, but there is a whole different feel to the vehicle compared to its sister minivans beyond the grille. Take the interior, for example. Volkswagen prides itself on build quality, and it shows both in the design as well as the materials used. All seven passengers will appreciate that, as well as optional leather seats. However, anyone with children will appreciate the numerous cubbyholes and storage options for stowing a day's worth of sports equipment, musical instruments and more.

Introduction

The Routan is also designed for those who need more space, not less feel of the road. Its suspension is better-damped for improved handling. It is helped along by a 283-horsepower V6 that gives good power delivery with 20 MPG in the front-wheel drive van. Of course, things can get out of hand even with a great suspension. In that case, the Routan offers a number of safety features.

Front, side and side curtain airbags protect occupants in all three rows of the Volkswagen van. In addition, there is a driver side knee airbag, and the standard electronic aids like traction and stability control for help during panic stops while driving the Routan. It earned it the highest possible rating from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety as a result.

Volkswagen also offers a significant range of trims for the Routan, with even the base S coming with heated mirrors, climate control of each row, a folding bench seat and keyless entry. However, optional and standard rear seat entertainment options and Bluetooth options may be attractive to parents with rambunctious children, and a power-folding third row seat could be of interest to those used to hauling around lots of groceries or other cargo.

There are other options buyers might consider. The Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey can be roomier in the front and middle rows, but the optional amenities do not really match up with the Volkswagen Routan. The Chrysler Town and Country may share some parts, but it is slightly less expensive at the cost of having a lower quality interior and no available passenger power seats. The Nissan Quest is another spicy competitor, but entertainment and luxury amenities will not be on the menu.

However, there are numerous trim lines offered with the Volkswagen Routan that make it an attractive choice for many types of buyers when considering a minivan.

Which Style To Buy?

2012 Volkswagen Routan
Starting price
$12,992

2012 Volkswagen Routan S

Recommended for: Families who don't want to spend a lot for a great van

Not only does the Routan S come standard with three rows of seating, the second row can be removed and the third row can be folded with a 60/40 split. For music and listening purposes, the CD player can play MP3s or drivers can supply their own music device with the auxiliary port and control it from the steering wheel. For fuel economy, different engine maps can be selected and a tire pressure warning system is standard. The front two rows have folding seat backs, while the third-row comes with removable headrests for increased visibility. Safety features include stability control and four-wheel antilock disc brakes.

2012 Volkswagen Routan
Starting price
$12,992

2012 Volkswagen Routan SE

Recommended for: Cargo options and road trip amenities for sun and music fun

It's pretty easy to tell the Volkswagen Routan SE apart: it has alloy wheels and roof rails, and the side mirrors and door handles match the exterior color. However, the driver will appreciate Bluetooth integration, the power door for easier ingress as well as a more adjustable chair. The other occupants will enjoy the SE's leather-like seats, better speakers, and sun shades for the back. Options include a 2nd-seat video system as well as a power lift gate and a rearview camera for safety purposes. Infotainment is improved thanks to a hard-drive and DVD player as well as satellite radio in optional packages, Even a touchscreen navigation system is available for those who travel a lot to new places.

2012 Volkswagen Routan
Starting price
$12,992

2012 Volkswagen Routan SEL

Recommended for: Heat, power options and more for those who want it all

A man's home may be his castle, but the SEL makes the Routan seem like that for moms, dads and everyone else. Each of the three rows can have their own temperature set automatically, and the third row seats are adjustable. The driver will enjoy the power-adjustable pedals, automatic windshield wipers and headlights and even remote start. Heated seats occupy the front two rows, and the rearview camera is now standard. Options include a 3rd row video screen that can play different DVDs than the middle row in the Volkswagen Routan SEL, as well as a hard-drive-based stereo system with MP3 compatibility.

2012 Volkswagen Routan
Starting price
$12,992

2012 Volkswagen Routan SEL Premium

Recommended for: The finishing touches on a luxurious family vehicle

Safety features start the list of Volkswagen Routan SEL Premium features, including high intensity discharge headlights, rear parking sensors as well as blind spot monitoring. Accents like mirrors and handles are now chrome, and there are memory settings so each driver gets their own personal driving space. On-the-go accessories can be powered via the AC power outlet, and the sound system has been upgraded for premium sound at a cabin-filling 506 watts. From inside, the driver will appreciate the lack of headlight glare from self-dimming side mirrors, and monitoring tire pressure on long trips with the Routine SEL premium.

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