2011 Volkswagen Routan Minivan Review | Edmunds.com

2011 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 3.6 L V 6-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 6-speed Automatic
  • Horse Power 283 hp @ 6350 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 17/25 mpg
  • Bluetooth Yes
  • Navigation Yes
  • Heated Seats Yes

Review of the 2011 Volkswagen Routan

  • While it has certain advantages over the Chrysler minivans upon which it is based, the 2011 Volkswagen Routan still doesn't stack up to the best-in-class models.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Powerful engine; comfortable seats; slightly nicer cabin than Chrysler siblings.

  • Cons

    Lacks second-row seat versatility; limited driver legroom; Chrysler mechanicals serviced by Volkswagen mechanics.

  • What's New for 2011

    For 2011, the Volkswagen Routan gets the new, more powerful and efficient 3.6-liter V6 that now powers its Dodge and Chrysler minivan siblings. Other gifts from the family include expanded trip computer functionality and a cheaper navigation system option, which is sourced from Garmin but integrated into the stereo's touchscreen interface.

Full 2011 Volkswagen Routan Review

What's New for 2011

For 2011, the Volkswagen Routan gets the new, more powerful and efficient 3.6-liter V6 that now powers its Dodge and Chrysler minivan siblings. Other gifts from the family include expanded trip computer functionality and a cheaper navigation system option, which is sourced from Garmin but integrated into the stereo's touchscreen interface.


Somewhere a hippie is weeping. Elsewhere a camping enthusiast is wondering where he'll be sleeping next. For decades, Volkswagen vans have been the go-to vehicles for these two groups -- not to mention surfers and High Times subscribers. So while the 2011 Volkswagen Routan is indeed a van with a VW in its grille, the fact that it's a mainstream minivan intended for families (and thus substantially more people) is sure to leave a few Deadheads crying into their pints of Cherry Garcia.

They might find some solace in the fact that the Routan is really a Volkswagen in name only. Behind its unique front fascia and underneath its slightly higher-quality interior is a Dodge Grand Caravan. You thought it looked familiar, didn't you? This heritage brings with it a number of advantages and disadvantages.

To kick things off in a positive way, the 2011 VW Routan inherits the Dodge's (and Chrysler Town & Country's) new 3.6-liter V6 that produces more power and gets better fuel economy than both Chrysler-sourced V6s found in the Routan last year. Beyond this, the Routan continues to provide the sort of interior layout and space expected by American minivan customers, while also offering family-friendly features like power sliding doors, a DVD entertainment system, heated rear seats and an iPod interface. A new integrated Garmin-sourced navigation system is now available for those who want route guidance for less money than the premium navigation system with its real-time traffic and other advanced features.

However, all of that also applies to the 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan and the 2011 Chrysler Town & Country. Last year, we would've told you that the Routan stood out with better driving dynamics and a substantially nicer cabin. But for 2011, the Chrysler vans have closed the gap considerably (if not completely). Plus, the Chryslers still include Stow 'n Go seats and a few other features not available in the VW. And from a long-term ownership standpoint, you have to wonder how vested VW is in the Routan or what the service experience of a Chrysler vehicle at a VW dealership might be.

As such, it's hard to think of a significant reason why someone would opt for a 2011 Volkswagen Routan rather than one of its American siblings. But it's also important to note that the Chrysler minivans are far from class leaders. The 2011 Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna would be our picks and we highly suggest looking at those models first. The new 2011 Nissan Quest is also worth considering, as its unique interior layout and styling might be appealing to those looking for something different than the typical minivan. They certainly won't be getting it from the 2011 VW Routan.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2011 Volkswagen Routan is a minivan available in S, SE, SEL and SEL Premium trim levels. The base S comes standard with 16-inch steel wheels, heated mirrors, power rear vent windows, cruise control, a tilt-only steering wheel, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, rear air-conditioning controls, second-row captain's chairs, and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack.

The SE gains 17-inch alloy wheels, a roof rack, upgraded exterior trim, power sliding doors, power-adjustable pedals, an eight-way power driver seat with lumbar adjustment, heated front seats, leatherette premium vinyl upholstery, second- and third-row sunshades, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, an overhead storage console, a trip computer, Bluetooth and a six-CD changer. When equipped with the Rear Seat Entertainment (RSE) package, the Routan SE gains a power tailgate, a rearview camera, a Chrysler-sourced touchscreen audio interface, a single-CD player (in place of the six-disc), digital music storage, satellite radio and video screens for the second and third rows. A Garmin navigation system can be integrated into the touchscreen audio interface included with the RSE package.

The SEL adds to the SE's equipment automatic headlamps, a sunroof, a remote ignition, a rearview camera, automatic three-zone climate control, leather upholstery, heated second-row seats, a power-folding third-row seat, the touchscreen audio interface, a Chrysler-sourced navigation system, real-time traffic, voice controls, digital music storage, satellite radio and an iPod interface. The rear-seat DVD entertainment features are optional on the SEL. The SEL Premium gets xenon headlamps, foglamps, keyless ignition/entry, auto-dimming exterior mirrors, additional chrome exterior trim, driver memory functions, an eight-way power passenger seat, interior wood trim, an advanced trip computer and a nine-speaker sound system.

Powertrains and Performance

The 2011 VW Routan is powered by a 3.6-liter V6 that produces 283 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. In Edmunds testing of the mechanically identical Dodge Grand Caravan, this powertrain/minivan combo went from zero to 60 mph in 8.3 seconds, which is about a half-second slower than the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna.


The 2011 Volkswagen Routan comes standard with traction and stability control, antilock disc brakes and brake assist, front side airbags, a driver knee airbag and side curtain airbags. A rearview camera is available.

The Routan has not been rated using the government's new, more strenuous 2011 crash-testing procedures. However, its 2010 ratings (which aren't comparable to 2011 tests) were a perfect five stars in front and side crashes. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Routan the highest possible rating of "Good" in the frontal-offset and side crash tests.

Interior Design and Special Features

Now that the interiors of the Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan are much improved for 2011, the Routan's advantage over its siblings has shrunk considerably. The dash covering, seat upholstery, steering wheel and several bits of switchgear continue to be nicer than what you find in this van when it carries an American label, but there's still too much Chrysler content here (especially the audio interfaces) to put the Routan on par with Volkswagen's typical offerings.

The Routan lacks the Caravan's Stow 'n Go seats that allow you to drop the second-row captain's chairs into the floor, not to mention the removable middle seats found in the Odyssey and Sienna. But at least they're more comfortable than those in the Chrysler. The Routan's third-row seat still folds into the floor, but its severe rearward tilt that creates legroom for taller passengers may be a bit strange for shorter folks or kids.

Speaking of taller folks, those of even average height may find that the driver seat and pedals are placed too close together -- even when both power-adjustable features are set at their farthest apart. In typical minivan form, the Routan can hold an immense amount of cargo with the second-row seats removed -- 144 feet, to be precise.

Driving Impressions

For such a large conveyance, the 2011 Volkswagen Routan still acquits itself fairly well around corners while also swallowing most bumps and ruts without complaint. Its driving dynamics still remain a step or two behind the segment-leading Honda Odyssey, however.

The new-for-2011 V6 engine is a big improvement, as it's more powerful and fuel-efficient than what VW offered last year. Still, this engine lacks the refinement (specifically in regard to sound) found in the Odyssey and Sienna -- not to mention Volkswagen's actual engine lineup. On the upside, the six-speed automatic does an admirable job of keeping power on tap.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

Still going strong

by on
Vehicle: 2011 Volkswagen Routan SE 4dr Minivan w/Rear Seat Ent (3.6L 6cyl 6A)

We have over 61k miles with no major issues. Only problem is the brakes. My dealer replaced them at 26k miles no charge then I had to replace them at 55k miles with aftermarket cause oem rotors are crap. Other than the brakes I'm happy with my purchase. I guess I'm one of the lucky ones.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Electrical and service nightmare

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Vehicle: 2011 Volkswagen Routan SE 4dr Minivan (3.6L 6cyl 6A)

Purchased from Ken Garff VW in Orem in November of 2011. Within less than a month we were at the service dep. getting things fixed. First it was the paint and weather stripping around all the windows chipping and pealing and discolored. Then it was several trips for a shifting problem. They said it was electrical and they said they fixed it. But we were back 5 times and 2 so called recall updates to the electrical before finally another location replaced something I the engine. That seemed to help. But then the motor for the AC and heater broke. Then the electrical went crazy and my car shut off mid driving. Now it's in the shop and I am ready to call it a lemon and get a new car.

Cannot stand this van

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Vehicle: 2011 Volkswagen Routan S 4dr Minivan (3.6L 6cyl 6A)

This is my first minivan and I bought it used to save some bucks. However, I completely regret my purchase. My main complaint on this thing is interior quality. It seems like everything is taped together. Both front seats creak, creaks in the pillars, rattle in the dash and right sliding door rattles. Not to mention the windows rattle when they are down. The suspension on this thing is definitely stiffer which is fine but when the interior is built so poorly it easily shows. The worst part is the Caravan seems better by a small margin. I am ditching this thing for an Odyssey and willing to lose some cash on my trade in. That's just how much I hate it.

Great gas milage

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Vehicle: 2011 Volkswagen Routan SE 4dr Minivan w/Rear Seat Ent (3.6L 6cyl 6A)

I have owned this vehicle since August of 2011. I have put only 8600 miles on the vehicle, and have made to extended trips, one of over 500 miles. On that trip I filled up at start and drove 276 miles. I drove between 65-70 mph, made one stop, and got over 30 miles per gallon actual. I had issues with the vehicle's cruise control. Sometimes it will work, sometimes not. Has been to dealer twice and whatever they did, cruise still not working properly. Also have noticed a jerking feeling frquently when backing. Dealership said they know of problem but to date they have not fixed it. I like the car overall. Drives well, fairly quiet on road. The free oilchanges for 36 months a plus.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Not bad...could be better.

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Vehicle: 2011 Volkswagen Routan SE 4dr Minivan (3.6L 6cyl 6A)

The 2011 VW Routan is a drastic improvement over the previous year due to design refreshes and a more potent powertrain featuring a six speed transmission, the new Penstar 3.6L 283 HP Six cylinder engine, and euro sport tune suspension. The build quality of the Routan's interior is very good with excellent materials. Exterior styling is nice and not overly done and boxy like the Dodge/Chrysler models. Its sleek sloping lines are just right. Storage is abundant and replaces the stow n go found in the Routan's cousin. The Routan is an excellent choice over Chrysler, but considering quality and refinement... Honda and Toyota may be a better choice.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

12,000 miles and going strong

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Vehicle: 2011 Volkswagen Routan SE 4dr Minivan w/Rear Seat Ent, Nav (3.6L 6cyl 6A)

We purchased the 2011 Routan for our summer driving season. This van has been great for us. The navigation and ent. system are very easy to use. It is also nice to have the various electronic access points in the rear seats. We drove the van 12,000 this summer and cannot be disappointed.

Talk About The 2011 Routan

2011 Volkswagen Routan Discussions See all Started By

And now the price of Routan 2011 is even lower: up to $11,200 off MSRP. A dealer at MO...why MO again ? :) Hope I live there.....

Seems that what we are told about how we drive really does affect our mileage tremendously. We just purchased a new 2011 Routan SE with the 3.8 L V6. I don't think that I could be happier....

Hi mghane. Volkswagen Credit's March buy rate lease money factor and residual value for a 36 month lease of a 2011 Routan SE with 15,000 miles per year are .00079 and 42%, respectively for consumers ...

Gas Mileage


  • 17
  • cty
  • 25
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs
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