What's New for 2000
During its second year back in the U.S., Volkswagen's EuroVan receives remote central locking, dark-tinted glass on the side and rear windows and a brake-wear indicator. The GLS model receives additional reading lights in the rear and captain's chairs instead of a bench seat in the second row.
Despite myriad shortcomings, or perhaps because of them, the Volkswagen Vanagon and its successor, the EuroVan, became people-mover cult favorites. Last marketed to Americans in non-RV guise in 1993, the EuroVan returned in 1999 with several improvements designed to make the oddball entry more palatable to American tastes. The comeback was both successful and a failure, depending on whom you ask.
Those who lamented the disappearance of the van six years ago are happy as clams to have it back. People who have become fond of petite, smooth-riding, affordable minivans, however, may find the chunky EuroVan boorish, unrefined and overpriced. Everyone seems happy about the vehicle's engine, though.
Powered by a 140-horsepower, VR6 six-cylinder engine, this motor makes 177 foot-pounds of torque at 3,200 rpm and allows the EuroVan to finally get out of its own way! Charged with motivating more than 2 tons of steel, plastic and glass, the EuroVan is no drag-strip performer, but we'll take what we can get. This engine requires premium fuel and is rated at just 15 mpg in the city and 20 on the highway, but we were consoled by the knowledge that the EuroVan can handle up to a 4,500-pound trailer or nearly 1,000 pounds of cargo, not to mention several passengers in the spacious rear seats. Engineers also strengthened the EuroVan's body, reinforced the floor panels and stiffened the B- and C-pillars. And, thicker sound insulation cuts unwanted road and engine noise from filtering into the cabin.
Although the EuroVan is one of the few minivans with an independent rear suspension, this does not result in the car-like handling buyers in this segment have come to expect. Despite a smooth highway ride, the van's body rolls heavily when cornering. On the positive side, this VW does have responsive steering and strong brakes -- these attributes, combined with its quasi-counter-culture appeal, may be enough to offset its old-school handling characteristics for some buyers.Two trim levels are available: GLS and Multivan (MV). Order a GLS, and you get seating for seven forward-facing passengers, 15-inch alloy wheels, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, dual-zone (front/rear) automatic climate control, six-speaker cassette stereo, cruise control, heated washer nozzles, a full-size spare tire and power windows, locks and mirrors. Options include seat heaters and a sunroof.
The MV includes all of the GLS features and also seats seven, but two riders are looking out the back window and the third-row bench converts into a bed. Besides the above options, the MV can be fitted with the Weekender Package, which includes a pop-up roof, a two-person bed, a small refrigerator (housed in the base of a rear-facing second-row chair), swiveling captain's chairs, sliding windows with screens and curtains, and an additional battery. Note that getting the Weekender deletes certain conveniences -- for example, you get manual climate controls (for the front only), rather than the automatic system.
Attentive shoppers will notice that side airbags are neither standard nor optional on the EuroVan. There are, however, headrests in all seating positions, ALR/ELR three-point seatbelts for all forward-facing outboard passengers and child-seat anchor points in the second and third rows of the GLS (second row only in the MV). Neither NHTSA nor the IIHS has crash-tested this vehicle.
EuroVans are covered by a 5-year/50,000-mile powertrain warranty, and all scheduled maintenance for the first two years is free. Pull the seats out and the GLS is capable of moving 150 cubic feet of cargo. Buy an MV with the Weekender package, and you've got a full-fledged camper that still fits in the garage. Though unique and full of personality, the EuroVan is nonetheless battling it out in a highly competitive market where long-time stalwarts like the Dodge Grand Caravan and impressive upstarts like the Honda Odyssey offer superior cargo space, performance and refinement at a lower price.