- The 2014 Volkswagen Routan will be a fleet-only vehicle, Volkswagen of America said in an announcement about 2014 model-year changes.
- VW continues to investigate the possibility of bringing its own seven-seater — possibly a version of the Volkswagen CrossBlue Concept — to market in the U.S.
- VW is phasing out the 2.5-liter naturally aspirated five-cylinder engine that currently powers some Jetta, Beetle and Passat models.
HERNDON, Virginia — Volkswagen has announced many changes to its lineup for 2014, including confirmation that production of the Routan minivan will continue, but the vehicle will only be sold to rental-car companies and other fleet operators.
The VW Routan competed against such mainstays in the minivan market as the Chrysler Town & Country, Honda Odyssey, Nissan Quest and Toyota Sienna. The Routan is really a Chrysler Town & Country with revised front-and-rear styling and some interior tweaks.
"Volkswagen and Chrysler came into a purchasing agreement of the Routan minivan in 2007," Mark Gillies, a Volkswagen spokesman told Edmunds. "The original agreement was for five model years starting with 2009. During the life cycle, this was even extended to a sixth model year through 2014. Volkswagen totally acknowledges this agreement and will have model-year 2014 Routans ordered from Chrysler."
He added: "Volkswagen is currently investigating the possibility of bringing its own seven-seater to the market, which makes further cooperation with Chrysler obsolete."
That vehicle could be the CrossBlue SUV. As introduced at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show, the CrossBlue is a seven-passenger plug-in hybrid with diesel assist. Although billed as a concept, the CrossBlue is really a production-ready prototype that could be slotted into the company's lineup relatively quickly.
Meanwhile, Volkswagen apparently feels its spruced-up SUVs will hold more appeal for the American public than did the Routan.
Accordingly, the 2014 Volkswagen Tiguan gets a new R-Line performance and appearance package that includes sport suspension, 19-inch alloy wheels, new exterior trim, leather steering wheel with paddle shifters and stainless steel pedals. The Touareg R-Line will feature sport suspension, 20-inch alloy wheels and similar interior and exterior enhancements.
VW is phasing out the 2.5-liter naturally aspirated five-cylinder engine that currently powers some Jetta, Beetle and Passat models. Taking its place will be a new turbocharged and direct-injection TSI 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 170 horsepower, the same as the 2.5, but with 284 pound-feet of torque, a 4 percent improvement that makes its presence felt lower in the rev range.
Other changes for 2014 include electric power steering for the Jetta, replacing the previous hydraulic setup, as well as new multilink rear suspension in place of the old torsion-beam axle.
Golf and GTI models will only be produced in limited numbers and only in four-door versions for the U.S. market. A limited-edition Volkswagen Beetle GSR will arrive with leather sport seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and other interior upgrades. And Volkswagen is introducing its VW Car-Net connected service, which offers a variety of security and convenience features, most of which can be managed through a smartphone app.
Edmunds says: For now the Routan lives on, if only as a fleet model.