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New Car/Review


1999 Volkswagen EuroVan MV

by John Heilig

Volkswagen Full Line Video Footage (7:25) 28.8, 56k or 200k


MODEL: Volkswagen EuroVan MV
ENGINE: 2.8-liter V-6
HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 140 hp @ rpm/ 177 lb-ft @ rpm
TRANSMISSION: Four-speed automatic
FUEL ECONOMY: 15 mpg city, 20 mpg highway, 14.8 mpg test
WHEELBASE: 115.0 in.
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT: 188.5 x 72.4 x 76.4 in.
CURB WEIGHT: 4220 lbs.
FUEL CAPACITY: 21.1 gal.
TIRES: P205/65R15
INSTRUMENTS: Speedometer, tachometer, fuel gauge, water temperature, digital clock.
EQUIPMENT: Power windows, power door locks, power mirrors, power seats, power sunroof, cruise control, air conditioner, AM-FM stereo radio with in-dash cassette player, anti-lock four-wheel disc brakes, dual front air bags.
STICKER PRICE: $26,000 (est.)

Volkswagen can honestly claim that it invented the minivan. A lot of the advances in the minivan market, though, have passed Volkswagen by. Some have not.

Our tester this week is the Volkswagen EuroVan MV. It has a few interesting features that make it attractive. It has some unattractive features as well, but then there are very few perfect cars in the world.

One of the nice features of the EuroVan is that itís powered by Volkswagenís 2.8-liter V-6 engine that develops 140 horsepower. Itís one of the nicest V-6 engines in the business and it regularly wins Top Ten engine of the year from industry publications. Its performance is great. Even in a non-aerodynamic vehicle such as the EuroVan, the VW V-6 has the power to deliver all the performance youíd want and it delivers it smoothly and efficiently.

This engine drives the front wheels through a four-speed automatic gearbox with a floor-mounted shifter. This is one of the things I didnít like. For one, you have to reach over and bend down to shift whenever you want. Other manufacturers make do with column-mounted shifters. Having the unit on the floor, While it brings back memories of the original VW minivan, is really not necessary and could be moved to the column for better efficiency.

As with most minivans, the two front seats are individual buckets with a pass-through to the rear. The second row of seats were mounted backwards, facing the rear. The third row was a front-facing bench. So the rear passengers could have a little soiree back there. They could put a card table and have dinner and wine while the driver and front passenger chug along.

I liked this seating arrangement. It gave a new application for minivan. You could actually create an office back there for the "executive on the go."

Behind the rear seat is a decent cargo area. One minor area was the three individual headrests on the bench seat that did block the driverís view out the rear window through the mirror, but this was a minor problem. That rear bench also converted to a bed for quick naps or for tired children.

The exterior side mirrors are asymmetric. The one on the driverís side is horizontal rectangular, while the one on the passengerís side is vertical rectangular. The first time you look in them and youíre looking for a vehicle or a spot to move over, youíre taken back a bit, but itís efficient and probably saves a tenth of a gallon of fuel.

Instruments are a speedometer, tachometer, fuel and water gauges. There was a nice heating/air conditioning system that worked. We used both during our test. We had a power sunroof and no sliding (or hinged) rear door on the driverís side. This is one area where VW hasnít caught up with the competition.

I also thought the styling was a bit dated. VWís first generation minivan forced the drive rto sit over the front wheels with the engine in the wheels. It was uncomfortable to drive, even though it was popular with the Woodstock/Grateful Dead generation. The second generation VW van moved the seat back. This version is very tall and square looking and is far more van-like than car-like. Minivans popularity is based on the fact that they drive like cars. This one drives like a truck. Youíre sitting in a more vertical siting position with your legs straight down.

So while the VW EuroVan has a lot of interesting features that endear it to a lot of people, itís still too far off the main stream to make it attractive.