2011 Volkswagen Routan SE vs. Stinky Baby

VW Routan 11 TFL1 

TFLCar.com’s staff has a variety of ages of passengers available to test passenger vehicles. The youngest of these test subjects is a rather large toddler we call “Stinky Baby.” We recently used Stinky Baby to test a 2011 Volkswagen Routan SE.

Here are Stinky Baby’s impressions:

  • Stinky Baby doesn’t care if the 2011 Volkswagen Routan is a Dodge/Chrysler minivan with unique body panels and interior. Just as long as Stinky Baby has a comfortable perch to scream its soliloquy in the comfort of comfortable fake leather (“leatherette” in VW speak). 
  • Stinky Baby does not like to loiter in a car when an easy to load minivan is available.
  • Seeing dad uncomfortable driving the Volkswagen Routan was great fun for Stinky Baby, especially when he said something rude about leg room. Whatever word he yelled, it was bad enough for mom to reach over and smack the back of his head as she said, “Not in front of the baby!”  

  • It doesn’t matter what the parents want – just as long as Stinky Baby is happy. That means a pricy rear seating entertainment system is essential. 
    Stinky Baby gets mad when obnoxious “La-la-lala” music is not played (La-la-lala is not a trademarked sound via Disney or Nickelodeon – yet). So, a good stereo is imperative.  VW Routan 11 TFL2
  • As a mild amusement, Stinky Baby enjoyed watching dad struggle to figure out the Stow ‘n Go seating and marveled how flat the floor was when the seat folded fully. This made for a delightful place to extend a changing pad and watch daddy make faces at a VERY poopie diaper.
  • Stinky Baby liked that, in the midst of a cold month, daddy did not have to stop often for fill-ups. Averaging 22 mpg, the Volkswagen Routan’s new engine has proven to have plenty of pep while returning competitive mileage.
  • The brakes feel kind of mushy. It’s not like stepping on a diaper full of old poop – it’s just not as strong as I would like.       
  • Comfortable in a poopie diaper for only a half an hour, Stinky Baby needs to get to its destination ASAP. So, Stinky Baby likes a powerful 283 horsepower 3.6-liter V6 that makes 260 lbs-feet of torque. The six-speed shifts smoothly enough to allow Stinky Baby to catch 20-winks without the herky-jerky feel of inferior transmissions.
  • Stinky baby is not interested in price, even if the as tested price of the 2011 Volkswagen Routan SE is $35,570.
  • Stinky Baby was pleased with the overall package of the Volkswagen Routan, but struggled to find enough differences between the Routan and its Dodge/Chrysler counterparts to truly call it a Volkswagen. Even it’s slightly stiffer “European” suspension still felt like a Chrysler Group LLC product. Well, if Brooke Shields likes it then…VW Routan 11 TFL3

    Unfortunately, Brooke is not as (ahem) large as I am. I had real issues with leg room and seat height. It was a pain to find a good position without leaning the driver’s seat back uncomfortably. There were no complaints from the passengers. Even Stinky Baby was pleased with the comfort.  

    There is one other issue that I struggled with – I believe even Stinky Baby would agree with this. At its $35,570 as tested price, this Volkswagen with its optional rear entertainment system is about the same dough as a Toyota Sienna SE with a rear entertainment system. Over the past year, the Toyota Sienna SE has proven to be the most rewarding minivan I’ve driven – that’s saying something.

    The fact of the matter is that for the price, performance and quality, the Toyota Sienna is a far superior vehicle. I’m sorry, but it just is (read the TFLCar.com review of the Toyota Sienna HERE). Well, at least the 2011 Volkswagen Routan is handsome, comfortable for passengers and economical to run.VW Routan 11 TFL4

    Stinky Baby gives it three out of five stinky diapers, I guess I would too.

    Here’s the thing: I’m a bit depressed by the existence of this vehicle. I am fully aware of the Volkswagen Concept Bulli/Microbus/T1 as many of you are (click HERE to see the story) and it is the only hope for people who want some personality injected in their minivan. So, while I drive this decent – if innocuous – van with Stinky Baby, we both long for a better day that only VW can supply in the world of minivans.

     On our TFLcar recommendation scale of:

    – Buy it
    – Lease it
    – Rent it or
    – Forget it

     I’m giving it a… 

    Automotive media, racing, vehicle evaluation, wrecking yards, and car sales are just a part of Nathan Adlen’s vehicular past. He writes out of high octane passion! To read more reviews by Nathan Adlen or just to enjoy more of excellent writing please visit him on at his examiner.com page HERE.

    Here’s the VW Bulli/Microbus/T1 video!   


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