Babble Best Picks:
2011 Minivans for the Family
Want to know the difference between all the minivans on the market? Babble asked me take each of them out for a spin to figure out which were best for which families. Most minivans got a thorough refresh this year, and many received better interior materials, more power, and higher fuel economy. After cargo capacity, safety is typically a minivan shopper's main concern. These large family haulers tend to do well on crash safety tests, and we included the results from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety's independent crash test results. To find out what others thought, we added the Consumer Reports score and their Customer Satisfaction rating when available as well.
We hope you find this information helpful in your search for a family crossover. Don't see your favorite vehicle on the list? Nominate it here! - Liane Yvkoff
Most stylish minivan | 2011 Volkswagen Routan
FUEL ECONOMY: 17/25
The raison d’etre of the Volkswagen Routan minivan is to give growing families the option of a bigger vehicle with more space than their Jettas or Passats while staying within the VW brand they love. And this year, thanks to the refresh on the 2011 Chrysler Town and Country and Dodge Grand Caravan, there’s very little separating them from the Routan except a stylish finish, which is a big deal for some consumers.
In terms of performance, the 2011 Volkswagen Routan is basically a Chrysler badged as a VW. It offers the same 283-hp 3.6L V6 engine paired with the same 6-speed automatic transmission. In fact, the only German aspect of the Routan is the Volkswagen brand and styling.
Featured prominently on the signature Volkswagen grill is an oversized badge, which lends this boxy family hauler a little bling. Compared to the Dodge and Chrysler cousins, the Routan’s head lamps and tail lights are more sleek, but most of the styling differences are found on the interior.
Compared to the T&C, the simpler and more austere dash and center stack definitely say Fahrvergnüge (“it’s what makes a car a Volkswagen”). The Routan’s interior color palette and simpler styling lends the minivan’s interior design a subtly more European look.
SEATING + STORAGE
The main tradeoff for the VW branding is the lack of Stow ‘n’ Go seats. While the third-row seats fold into the floor, the second-row seats only fold and tilt forward. This configuration opens up a little more floor space but to maximize the cargo capacity you’d have to remove the seats. The upside is that you get full-sized captains seats, but you’ll miss the convenience factor when you’re hauling furniture home from Ikea.
ENTERTAINMENT + NAVIGATION
The Routan’s interior amenities are the same as that of the Chrysler T&C, including the uConnect navigation and DVD entertainment system.