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The EuroVan is unique among minivans, but it lacks the easy handling and user-friendly design embraced by its peers.
Roomy second- and third-row seats, lots of headroom inside the cabin, responsive steering, capable brakes, MV model's flexible cabin arrangements.
Handles like a delivery van around corners, lots of wind noise on highway, awkward driving position, outdated cabin ergonomics, rear seats are hard to fold, no driver-side sliding door or side airbags.
Available EuroVan Minivan Models
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The EuroVan saw many upgrades for 2001, including a more powerful 201-horsepower V6 engine. This year, VW equips its minivan with a stability control system (ESP) to improve handling in inclement weather and adds Emerald Green, Reflex Silver and Black Magic Pearl exterior color choices on the MV with the Weekender package.
Despite myriad shortcomings, or perhaps because of them, the Volkswagen Vanagon and its successor, the EuroVan, became people-mover cult favorites. Sadly, there weren't enough cult members to sustain sales, and the van went on hiatus while Volkswagen started recruiting. The EuroVan returned in 1999 with several improvements designed to make the oddball entry more palatable to American tastes, and was upgraded yet again for 2001, finally providing enough oomph at the right price to double sales -- to roughly 3,500 units.
Motivated by a 24-valve VR6 engine, this powerplant makes a healthy 201 peak horsepower. Charged with hauling more than two tons of steel, plastic and glass, the EuroVan easily keeps up with traffic, though more powerful vans from Honda and Chrysler still have an advantage here. We enjoy the VR6's broad torque band, which allows the EuroVan to feel quicker than it truly is. A four-speed automatic is standard. Premium-grade fuel is recommended, and fuel economy is rated at 17 mpg city/20 highway. In GLS form, the EuroVan can carry payloads (passengers + cargo) of up to 1,554 lbs.
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. However, this minivan 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. Additionally, Volkswagen has added a stability control system (ESP) for 2002, which should improve the EuroVan's performance on slippery roads. Two trim levels are available: GLS and Multivan (MV). Order a GLS, and you get seating for seven forward-facing passengers, 16-inch alloy wheels, four-wheel antilock brakes, stability 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.
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 Honda Odyssey offer superior cargo space, performance and refinement at a lower price. But if you're looking for something that won't embarrass you at Woodstock '02, don't forget the EuroVan.
Laura's old car was costing her a small fortune every month for gas and repairs. She didn't even want to drive her kids to the park any more. But buying a new Kia Soul changed all that.