Long Term Update 4: 2010 Volkswagen Routan
Them's the Brakes, Kid
The staff has been impressed with the styling of the Volkswagen version of the Town & Country, agreeing that the Routan has a better-looking exterior than its Dodge or Chrysler siblings and also a more elegant-looking interior. Everyone was just as happy with the interior's versatility and amount of storage space. However, editors are torn over how different the suspension is (VW touts it as having European tuning).
Most comments about this minivan, though, surround two issues: first, why Volkswagen, a company that has generated a cult following for its unique, cool vans over the last 40 years, would settle for a badge-engineered van; and second, what is up with those brakes?
The first subject keeps coming up because of quality issues, many of which were seen in the last Town & Country we had: vibrations felt in the steering wheel, cheap-feeling center console, downmarket cabin materials, and the same problematic nav system as in other Chrysler Corp. products. Yes, badge engineering can save money, but that comes at its own cost.
Regarding the brakes: The Routan wears the same discs as the Chrysler vans (including a past Motor Trend long-termer). It has already gone to the dealer for a brake inspection, which revealed that the brake rotors were warped and needed machining. That was about six months ago, and it sounds like the rotors may again need to be machined. Says testing director Kim Reynolds, "The brakes are warped, but during most normal stopping, it isn't a big deal. A slight pulse can be felt now and then. It's probably during more aggressive stopping that it becomes an issue. We noticed the occasional squeal added to the acoustic festivities. Clearly, these brakes are headed in the same direction as the T&C's (which required major attention at around 19,000 miles). A shame VW didn't insist on an improvement in the brakes before allowing its name to be put on this vehicle."
|2010 Volkswagen Routan|
|Months/miles in service||8/16,933|
|Avg econ/CO2||18.2 mpg/1.07 lb/mi|
|Unresolved problems||Recurring front rotor warpage|
|Maintenance cost||$0 (2-oil change, inspection, rotate tires; 1-replace cabin air filter)|
|Repair cost||$0 (machine warped brake rotors)|