Volkswagen rolled out its new Routan vehicle at the 2008 Chicago Auto Show, reinforcing Chrysler's idea that the minivan is alive and well. Frankly, we don't care for the conventional minivan look of the Routan. The minivan segment was pioneered by Volkswagen way back in 1950--with the Type 1 Transporter, or microbus--so we would expect something more interesting looking than the Routan. The Routan offers minivan amenities in the form of three rows of seats, with second row captain's chairs, and 32.7 cubic feet of cargo space. Without the third row seats, there is 83 cubic feet of cargo space.
The Routan is designed for the U.S., with a 3.8-liter V-6 engine standard, and an optional 4-liter V-6. It also boasts 13 cup holders. The only reason we are remotely interested in the Routan is that it uses Volkswagen's new hard drive-based navigation system, which we also saw on the Volkwagen Passat CC at the Detroit Auto Show. Other tech features are fairly standard, such as optional rear seat DVD entertainment and power sliding doors. We did notice a phone button on the navigation system, which could denote Bluetooth cell phone integration. But, as we've seen on other Volkswagen models, that phone button could be inoperable. What we really want to see on the Routan is a split windshield and eight small windows around the roof.