Junkyard Find: 2009 Volkswagen Routan

Badge engineering! Always near the top of my search list when poking through car graveyards, obscure examples of marketing-inspired rebadgitude will jump right out from the ho-hum ranks of Elantras and LaCrosses in any yard. I haven’t managed to find a discarded Suzuki Equator yet, sad to say, but I have documented such rarities as a Mitsubishi-badged Hyundai Excel, an Isuzu-badged Chevy Colorado, and a Dodge-badged Renault 25. Today we’ll visit one of the most puzzling examples of badge-engineering history in the North American automotive marketplace: the Volkswagen Routan.

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Rare Rides: The 1986 Chrysler Town & Country Wagon - Adventures in Vinyl

Rare Rides previously featured the last rear-drive Town & Country wagon, a model closely related to the sturdy and reliable M-body Dodge Diplomat. Today’s wagon is a sign of its times: It’s front-drive, efficient, and based on the K-car platform (like 98 percent of Chrysler’s offerings for the years 1981 through 1995).

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

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QOTD: Can You Build an Ideal Crapwagon Garage? (Part VII: Vans)

In last week’s Crapwagon Garage QOTD, we combined truck and station wagon to create an SUV, picking five winners. In part VII of the series, we’ll combine truck and station wagon a bit differently and end up with a van.

That’s right, it’s time for some #vanlife (ugh). Car-based minivans also apply, so we’re not limited to things like the sweet Safari GT above.

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Picture Time: Vintage American Luxury From Keeneland Concours

The other weekend, I traveled down to the rolling green acres of Kentucky for the annual Keeneland Concours event. There was a wide selection of vehicles at the show, and I love taking pictures.

Read on if you’re ready for some vintage American luxury.

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NAIAS 2016: 2017 Chrysler Pacifica - This Is (All of) It, a Caravan for Town & Country

Persistent rumors of the Chrysler Town & Country’s demise have proven true. Going further, the House of Marchionne has dug through its list of historical nameplates to pick a moniker for the minivan’s successor

Chrysler is resurrecting the Pacifica name to affix to the derriere of the next-generation people hauler, a name we last saw on the short lived three-row crossover from 2004 to 2008. Thankfully, the new Pacifica shares nothing with its earlier namesake, and only the good stuff with its Chrysler and Dodge predecessors.

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Doug Drives: Is Old-School Rebadging Dead?

So I got up behind a Dodge Grand Caravan the other day and I started thinking about my youth. This is because, in my youth, the Dodge Grand Caravan was an acceptable vehicle to drive, and not something you were stuck with when Enterprise ran out of full-size sedans.

There are two reasons for this: 1. Back in the day, the Dodge Caravan didn’t really have any competitors, so we didn’t really know that there were better options out there. Honda had the hinged-door Odyssey. Toyota had the weird-ass Previa. It was a mess; more importantly, 2. There were so many different versions of the Dodge Caravan that you were pretty much stuck buying a Dodge Caravan even if you actively avoided buying a Dodge Caravan.

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Chrysler Minivan Plant Hiring, Outsiders Need Not Apply

Chrysler will hire 60 workers at its Windsor, Ontario minivan plant, but only candidates referred by current union workers will be considered for the jobs.

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Chrysler Vans Sitting Idle As Oil Boom Robs Rail Capacity

Several hundred Chrysler minivans are stuck indefinitely on a piece of prime Detroit real estate, unable to be transported across America. The reason? The fossil fuel boom in Canada and the United States is hogging much of the available rail capacity needed to transport the vans.

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Next-Gen Chrysler Minivans To Get 9-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive

Much of the news surrounding the next-generation Chrysler minivans has involved the location of their assembly, with Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne looking to secure government funds for the new vans. The latest report from Automotive News manages to dredge up some product details on the vans themselves.

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Chrysler Minivan Replacements Still In Flux: Marchionne

The long awaited replacements for the Chrysler minivan twins are still at least 21 months away, according to Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne.

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Piston Slap: Come and Dance With…who???

Chris writes:

Dear Sajeev,

Love the website and love your reading your column. My question is I am looking to get a minivan within the next 6 months to a year. I am only looking to spend around 8 grand on one. I am leaning heavily towards Chrysler’s vans, and found some really great deals on older ones with low miles. But then I read your article about how it’s not always good to go with older, low mile automobiles. So would I be better to get say, a 2002 model Town and Country, with a little over 100 hundred thousand miles? Or should I not even bother with Chrysler at all? I was leaning towards a Windstar as well, but then there’s that whole rear axle breaking thing, and I quite enjoy living. In your personal opinion what is the best minivan for my budget.

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New or Used: His and Hers Rides?

(www.americanfamily.com)

Sokhom writes:

Sajeev and Steve,

I’m almost done with my tour here in Korea and it’s time to return to “America-land.” That means it’s car shoppin’ time! So if you’ll remember, I still have my S2000 that my father-in-law’s taken care of but I don’t want to use it as a DD. And my wife wants a car of her own as well. We’re going to Ft. Huachuca, AZ and lots of road trips to TN and other lands are in our future. I want a spacious (read: wagon and AT) highway cruiser for the wife and something cheap and cheerful (read: MT) that I won’t mind baking in the AZ sun.

So here’s the ROE (rules of engagement):
Wife’s car: $30K-$40K, wagon-y, AT, luxo-ish
My DD: $10K max, MT, beater-ish

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  • Islander800 That is the best 20-year-on update of the Honda Element that I've ever seen. Strip out the extraneous modern electronic crap that adds tens of thousands to the price and the completely unnecessary 400 pd/ft torque and horse power, and you have a 2022 Honda Element - right down to the neoprene interior "elements" of the Element - minus the very useful rear-hinged rear doors. The proportions and dimensions are identical.Call me biased, but I still drive my west coast 2004 Element, at 65K miles. Properly maintained, it will last another 20 years....Great job, Range Rover!
  • Dennis Howerton Nice article, Corey. Makes me wish I had bought Festivas when they were being produced. Kia made them until the line was discontinued, but Kia evidently used some of the technology to make the Rio. Pictures of the interior look a lot like my Rio's interior, and the 1.5 liter engine is from Mazda while Ford made the automatic transmission in the used 2002 Rio I've been driving since 2006. I might add the Rio is also an excellent subcompact people mover.
  • Sgeffe Bronco looks with JLR “reliability!”What’s not to like?!
  • FreedMike Back in the '70s, the one thing keeping consumers from buying more Datsuns was styling - these guys were bringing over some of the ugliest product imaginable. Remember the F10? As hard as I try to blot that rolling aberration from my memory, it comes back. So the name change to Nissan made sense, and happened right as they started bringing over good-looking product (like the Maxima that will be featured in this series). They made a pretty clean break.
  • Flowerplough Liability - Autonomous vehicles must be programmed to make life-ending decisions, and who wants to risk that? Hit the moose or dive into the steep grassy ditch? Ram the sudden pile up that is occurring mere feet in front of the bumper or scan the oncoming lane and swing left? Ram the rogue machine that suddenly swung into my lane, head on, or hop up onto the sidewalk and maybe bump a pedestrian? With no driver involved, Ford/Volkswagen or GM or whomever will bear full responsibility and, in America, be ambulance-chaser sued into bankruptcy and extinction in well under a decade. Or maybe the yuge corporations will get special, good-faith, immunity laws, nation-wide? Yeah, that's the ticket.