SEE ALSO: Volkswagen Buyer's Guide
SPECIFICATIONS Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price $ 31,300 Price As Tested $ 33,750 Engine Type SOHC 12-valve 2.8 Liter V6 w/SMFI* Engine Size 170 cid/2792 cc Horsepower 140 @ 4500 RPM Torque (lb-ft) 177 @ 3400 RPM Wheelbase/Width/Length 115.0"/72.4"/188.5" Transmission Four-speed automatic Curb Weight 4253 pounds Fuel Capacity 21.1 gallons Tires (F/R) P205/65R15 all-season Brakes (F/R) Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS) Drive Train Front-engine/front-wheel-drive Vehicle Type Seven-passenger/four-door Domestic Content N/A Coefficient of Drag (Cd.) 0.36 PERFORMANCE EPA Economy, miles per gallon city/highway/average 15/20/18 0-60 MPH 12.0 seconds Passenger volume 191 cubic feet Maximum payload capacity 1380 pounds * Sequential multi-port fuel injection
(Bob Hagin and the VW microbus go back to the '62 model he drove for several years. Matt Hagin only remembers that it was big, blue and very noisy.)
BOB - Volkswagen doesn't call it the "Microbus" any more and for good reason. The EuroVan is as big as some downtown New York City apartments and tall enough to present a panoramic view to all those seated inside. When the designers over at Volkswagen conjured up this minivan, they didn't have the mainstream American soccer-mom in mind. It's European through and through, and its sales in this country are very low. VW jazzed it up a bit last year when it jettisoned the overworked and underpowered five cylinder engine that the vehicle had struggled along with for many years and installed the VR6 narrow-angle V6 that is found in several of the VW sedans. It would be wrong, though, to say that the engine was "detuned" for the EuroVan. In reality, the engine was "retuned" with over 30 less ponies but increase in torque. Extra torque means extra pulling power, which is what this relatively heavy people-mover needed.
MATT - Actually, it's incorrect to put the EuroVan in the same category with our domestic and Asian minivans. While the mainstream minivans have become more streamlined each year and acquired definite sedan-like driving and handling characteristics, the EuroVan has remained true to its original perception of being a no-nonsense people carrier. For EuroVan buyers who are devoted to the outdoors and "roughing it," the slightly upscale MV model can be had with an optional Weekender Package. This includes a seven-foot tall "pop-top" with bug netting, a rear-facing second row seat with a refrigerator underneath and the ability to be transformed into rolling cabin-in-the-woods. In this guise it can haul a couple to a "woodsy" concert area, carry enough extra clothes and groceries for a couple of days, offer a fairly comfortable bed for Saturday night and still provide go-to-work transportation during the following week. It even has sliding inside window curtains for added privacy. For EuroVan buyers who are even more devoted to the outdoors, The EuroVan can also be had as a Camper Model that has a slightly longer wheelbase along with a butane two-burner stove which makes it suitable for longer camping trips.
BOB - Those "outdoorsy" folks would have to plan their trips to include stops at RV camps in order to freshen-up occasionally. I'm somewhat past that phase myself but if a trip like that is planned carefully, a vehicle like the EuroVan camper is a suitable, if somewhat cramped alternative to the gargantuan RV that is the favorite of folks my age. Winnebago goes one step further and upgrades the VW EuroVan MV with even more amenities to increase camping comfort. I understand that these are popular as rentals to European tourists who come here for an extended touring holiday. That way they get to see the country and don't have to mortgage their farms back home to pay American hotel rates.
MATT - With all that extra stuff, those campers can't be in much of a hurry. That 140-horse 2.8-liter V6 produces 177-pound/feet of torque and it had a tough enough time pulling our standard 4300-pound GLS model to highway speeds. The four-speed automatic transmission does a good job of matching the available torque to its shifting points, so its performance is adequate if not spritely. Its handling is actually a bit above average in the minivan field although it could do with more "assertive" tires. It has disc brakes all around as well as a low-speed traction control system that helps it get through mud, snow and ice. Standards include an electronically-controlled air conditioning system which has a pollen and dust filter for incoming ventilation air, along with a power-operated moon roof. Heated mirrors and front seats come at an extra cost of $400.
BOB - The new EuroVan isn't for every minivan buyer, but for those aging Flower Children of the '60s who want to recapture some of that free spirit but want to do it in reasonable comfort, the newest version of the venerated Microbus of 40 years ago may be just the right vehicle.