2009 Volkswagen Routan Minivan Review | Edmunds.com

2009 Volkswagen Routan Minivan

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Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) is a category of used car. Often late-model vehicles, they have been inspected, refurbished, if necessary, and are under warranty by the manufacturer.
Volkswagen Routan Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 3.8 L V 6-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 6-speed Automatic
  • Horse Power 197 hp @ 5200 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 16/23 mpg
  • Bluetooth Yes
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats Yes

Review of the 2009 Volkswagen Routan

  • The 2009 Volkswagen Routan makes improvements on its Chrysler roots. But with rivals like the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna to choose from, we can't recommend this Germanified creation.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Perfect crash-test scores, comfortable seats, powerful optional V6 engine.

  • Cons

    Interior tweaks can't mask ho-hum Chrysler roots, ponderous and inefficient base engine.

  • What's New for 2009

    The 2009 Volkswagen Routan is all-new -- um, except for all the parts it shares with Chrysler's minivans, that is.

Full 2009 Volkswagen Routan Review

What's New for 2009

The 2009 Volkswagen Routan is all-new -- um, except for all the parts it shares with Chrysler's minivans, that is.


Volkswagen has a long history of producing small vans, from the iconic Microbus to the funky Vanagons from the 1980s. However, there hasn't been a minivan in VW's lineup since the EuroVan bowed out in 2003. The 2009 Volkswagen Routan minivan is VW's way of rectifying this situation. For traditional VW buyers, this is good news -- Volkswagen dealers now have something that will meet the needs of large families in search of maximum passenger and cargo space. But there's bad news, too -- the Routan is basically a gussied-up Chrysler Town & Country/Dodge Grand Caravan.

Yep, you read that right. VW wanted a minivan ASAP, Chrysler had excess production capacity at its plant in Windsor, Ontario, thanks to the extinction of the Pacifica, and the Routan is the product of this unlikely marriage. You'd think the VW folks would have learned a lesson from their countrymen at Daimler-Benz, whose dalliance with Chrysler proved costly in terms of both brand image and the bottom line. But Volkswagen believes that its improvements on the Grand Caravan formula will be sufficient to woo would-be Odyssey or Sienna buyers.

The tweaks start with styling. While the Routan's overall shape is pure Dodge, its front end receives Volkswagen's familiar headlight and grille design, and the slick-looking taillights are VW-specific as well. Inside, the dashboard layout has been revised for a more upscale appearance, though the chintzy switchgear is straight out of the Chrysler parts bin. Dodge's innovative Stow 'n Go and Swivel 'n Go second-row seats are unavailable in the Routan, but VW compensates with superior seat comfort, and the third-row seats still fold into the floor for cargo-carrying duty. Underneath it all, the Routan makes do with the same suspension layout as the Chrysler vans, though numerous revisions by VW's engineers aim to produce a more refined driving experience.

The reasonably priced 2009 VW Routan is indeed a better vehicle and probably the best of the three. But that's not saying much. Chrysler's myriad quality issues with its newest minivans don't bode well for the Routan, and even putting these aside, this is not a segment-leading minivan to begin with. It's a competent people mover with a hint of Germanic flair, but rival models like the Honda Odyssey, Hyundai Entourage/Kia Sedona twins and Toyota Sienna will serve the typical minivan buyer better.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2009 Volkswagen Routan seven-passenger minivan is available in three trim levels: S, SE and SEL. Base S models come standard with 16-inch steel wheels, full power accessories, air-conditioning, cruise control, keyless entry, heated side mirrors, a six-speaker CD/MP3 audio system with auxiliary input audio jack, a removable second-row bench seat and a 60/40-split third-row bench that folds into the floor. The SE adds 17-inch alloy wheels, power-sliding rear doors, upgraded cloth upholstery, tri-zone manual climate control, an eight-way power driver seat, removable second-row captain's chairs, rear sunshades and an upgraded audio system with a six-CD changer The top-of-the-line SEL tacks on a larger engine, leather upholstery, power-adjustable pedals, heated seats for the first and second rows, a power liftgate and Bluetooth connectivity.

Optional on all models is an entertainment package. On the S model, this adds a DVD player, second- and third-row flip-down screens, Bluetooth, the upgraded audio system, satellite radio and tri-zone manual air-conditioning. SE and SEL models with this package also get all-row DVD playback, a 30-gigabyte hard-drive-based audio system, a back-up camera and the power liftgate (SE).

Some of the standard features on higher trim levels can be added as options on lower trims. Towing preparation with a load-leveling rear suspension is available on all three trims, while a navigation system that's bundled with the hard-drive-based audio system, satellite radio and the back-up camera is optional on the SE and SEL. The SEL-only Premium package adds xenon headlights, foglamps, auto-dimming exterior mirrors, a sunroof, remote engine start, a nine-speaker, 506-watt audio system, an eight-way power passenger seat, a power-folding third-row seat, a memory function for the driver seat and pedals, a 115-volt AC power outlet and rear park assist.

Powertrains and Performance

The 2009 Volkswagen Routan S and SE models come with a 3.8-liter V6 that produces 197 horsepower and 230 pound-feet of torque. The SEL is outfitted with a more sophisticated 4.0-liter V6 making 253 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque. Both engines come with a six-speed automatic transmission.

Surprisingly, the smaller 3.8-liter engine is rated at just 16 mpg city/23 mpg highway and 18 mpg combined, while the 4.0-liter V6 yields a respectable 17 mpg city/25 mpg highway and 20 mpg combined. The latter also provides superior acceleration from zero to 60 mph -- 8.9 seconds, according to VW's estimates, versus 10.2 for the 3.8-liter mill.


The 2009 Volkswagen Routan comes standard with antilock disc brakes, stability control and full-length side curtain airbags. In government crash tests, the Routan scored a perfect five stars in all frontal and side impact categories. Likewise, in Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing, the Routan scored the best possible rating of "Good" in the frontal offset and side impact crash tests.

Interior Design and Special Features

VW has spruced up the Routan's Dodge-sourced interior with a revised dash layout, including a modified center stack and Volkswagen's trademark red and blue backlighting. However, anyone who has spent time in the Town & Country or Grand Caravan will instantly recognize the cheap-feeling switchgear, dash-mounted shifter and basic overall design as straight outta Motown. The Routan lacks Dodge's innovative Stow 'n Go and Swivel 'n Go second-row seats, but at least its conventional seats are nicely shaped. The third-row bench folds flat into the floor, while the second-row bench or captain's chairs can be removed for serious hauling duty. VW says the Routan can carry up to 144 cubic feet of cargo -- that's about average for a minivan, which is to say, it's gigantic.

Driving Impressions

Volkswagen says the Routan evinces "European ride and handling characteristics." Thing is, Europeans tend to drive vehicles that are half the Routan's size. For such a large conveyance, the Routan acquits itself fairly well on twisty roads while swallowing most bumps and ruts without complaint. However, its driving dynamics remain a step or two behind the segment-leading Honda Odyssey. The interior remains quiet at highway speeds, and the 4.0-liter V6 makes the 2009 VW Routan one of the fleeter minivans around, if you care about that sort of thing. The hoary 3.8-liter V6 is relatively sluggish and thirsty, but you're stuck with it unless you ante up for the SEL.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Please contact vw 1-800-822-8987 about

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Vehicle: 2009 Volkswagen Routan SEL 4dr Minivan w/Rear Seat Entertainment (4.0L 6cyl 6A)

Your Routan is not a lemon. I used to think the same thing until mine shut down while driving...again! VW replaced our control module a couple of years ago, but the van loses power while driving. It's really scary! We had our rotors replaced as well. They still shake. They told us it was from the weight of the vehicle. This van is not safe. I called VW today to start a case. Does a family have to get injured/killed before they resolve this issue? Call VW and start a case so we can have these issues addressed before someone gets hurt.1-800-822-8987

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Consumes oil

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Vehicle: 2009 Volkswagen Routan SE 4dr Minivan (3.8L 6cyl 6A)

This is the first vehicle I have ever owned where I have to put in a quart of oil every 1,000 miles or the oil light will come on and the manufacturer considers that normal. There are other things that seemed minor, like side door catching etc. But all of the sudden after hitting 30,000 miles to have to start putting in a quart of oil every 1,000 miles (now at 45,000 miles) just seems ridiculous to be considered normal. Our other car is a VW Golf that we love ,and the Routan is just an all around disappointment. Wishing we had bought the Honda or Toyata minivan instead.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Up in flames

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Vehicle: 2009 Volkswagen Routan SE 4dr Minivan w/Rear Seat Entertainment (3.8L 6cyl 6A)

My Volkswagon Routan 2009 was serviced back in March 2013 - transmission & power steering. When the service was completed at a VW service center, I picked up the car, drove home the short distance, and parked in my driveway. The next morning while at a traffic light, the car started to go on fire from the engine and eventually burst into flames. Thankfully no one was hurt, but I don't believe it was a coincidence that it happened a few hours since the car was picked up from the service at Legend Audi Volkswagon in Amityville. Aside from that incident, the car had numerous issues throughout the 4 years, i.e. brakes, glitchy doors, glitchy radio, and recalled parts. Terrible car.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

Trouble free

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Vehicle: 2009 Volkswagen Routan SEL CARB 4dr Minivan (4.0L 6cyl 6A)

Bought new June 2009 and now at 33,000 miles we have not had any major malfunctions. We'll own the Routan till the wheels fall off. It's an excellent transportation appliance and if people respect the Routan minivan for what it is, and for what it is not, they'll be satisfied too.

2 of 6 people found this review helpful

2010 routon rel

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Vehicle: 2009 Volkswagen Routan SEL 4dr Minivan w/Rear Seat Entertainment (4.0L 6cyl 6A)

Bought a used (20k miles) one and its nothing but problems. Doesnt start all the time. New battery, new starter...wont start. While in gear and idleing forward it shakes the vehicle. At highway speed it surges like tranny slipping. Rear electric seat stopped working and its rarely used. Sliding door on passenger side makes a horrible noise when opening, was told its fine. Pulls to the right. 2 sets of tires in 40k miles. 3 alignments. I think this vehicle was wrecked and they didnt tell us. Bought one year old from dealer for $29k (less than book value) one year and 20k miles later its worth $19k??? WTF!! still owe $26k. Odyssey is next.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Routan is fun & trouble

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Vehicle: 2009 Volkswagen Routan SEL Premium 4dr Minivan (4.0L 6cyl 6A)

We have enjoyed our VW Routan SEL. Quick acceleration and outstanding handling are feature we are most impressed with. The layout and functionality is family friendly. Power door & lift gate are flawless and convenient.

Talk About The 2009 Routan

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I bought a 2009 VW Routan van thinking it would be good on gas, nope I was wrong. VW/Chrysler needs to really do something about this gas mileage issue. Its a nice van physical appearance, but horribl...

Gas Mileage


  • 16
  • cty
  • 23
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs
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