DaimlerChrysler and Volkswagen teamed up in a joint venture to produce the Volkswagen Routan back in 2005. The reasoning for the partnership was simply that Volkswagen had no minivan on the US and/or Canadian markets. Volkswagen wanted to tap into the lucrative minivan market, especially in the US, and DaimlerChrysler had the experience and connections they needed. The VW Eurovan was discontinued in the US back in 2003. The Routan would serve as a replacement and as Volkswagen's way back into the loot.
Built on a renamed version of the Chrysler RT platform, the VW Routan is a 7-seated minivan with loaded content features, fresh styling and the same suspension tuning specifications as the fifth-generation Dodge Caravan/Chrysler Town & Country. It made its North American debut at the 2008 Chicago International Auto Show and appears to be here to stay for quite some time. It was first made available for sale in the US in September of 2008.
Today, the Volkswagen Routan nameplate is ranked, along with the Chrysler Voyager and the Dodge Caravan, as the 13th best selling worldwide automotive nameplate. More than 12,000,000 units have been sold to date. Sounds like a successful partnership if there ever was one!
The Volkswagen Routan also features a renamed version of the hit audio/navigation hard drive system used by Chrysler. Chrysler calls it the MyGig and VW calls it the JoyBox. However, the Routan does not share the Chrysler Stow'n Go/Swivel'n Go systems which proved to be very popular sell points. In comparison, the VW Routan offers the Easy Out Roller Seat System for the second row of seating.
There are 2 engines available for the Volkswagen Routan. The smaller one is the 3.8L 197hp 230 lb-ft OHV V6 with a 9.6:1 gear ratio. The other is a 4.0L 251hp 259 lb-ft SOHC V6 set at 10.2:1. The 3.8 will take you 16/23 mpg city/highway while the 4.0 will deliver 17/25 mpg. Both of these engines are quite capable and instill high levels of driver and passenger confidence. With either engine selected, the powertrain is completed by a Chrysler 62TE 5-speed automatic gearbox featuring manual shifting and transaxle capabilities.
Volkswagen hoped to take over a minimum of 5% of the US minivan market when they released the Routan. That would amount to 45,000 of the 700,000 minivans to be sold. As of April, 2009, 5,582 Routans had been purchased in the US. Time will tell if they meet their goal. Coincidently, production was ceased in the month of February after 29,000 units of the Volkswagen Routan had already been delivered to US dealers.