2009 Volkswagen Routan Reviews and Ratings

Wagon 4D SEL Premium

Consumer Reviews

Own this vehicle? How would you rate it?

My Rating

Braking
Fuel Economy
Interior Comfort
Acceleration
Dependability
Handling
Ride Quality
Overall Rating

My Review

Type your review and click the Submit button
0 of 600 character limit


Customer Review


Be the first to review this 2009 Volkswagen Routan.


Expert Reviews ( 2 )

2009 Volkswagen Routan
Bob Plunkett

Introduction
The new Volkswagen Routan is a minivan, its first in six years. VW's last effort in this market, the EuroVan, was panned in the U.S. This time, Volkswagen has turned to Chrysler. The seven-passenger Routan is basically a Chrysler Town & Country with a different interior, a Volkswagen exterior, and revised suspension settings.

The 2009 Volkswagen Routan lacks the seating features that make Chrysler minivans unique, the Stow 'n Go and the Swivel 'n Go seating arrangements. The reason: The Routan has the underfloor storage areas that come with Stow 'n Go, but Volkswagen opted to make the second-row seats thicker and more comfortable, so they won't fit in the storage bins. The third-row seats fold into the floor, and the second-row seats can be removed to create a flat load floor that is big enough for 4' x 8' sheets of plywood. When the third-row seats are up, there is a handy well behind them that's great for groceries.

The Routan is offered with two engines, the Chrysler 3.8-liter V6 and the Chrysler 4.0-liter V6. The 3.8-liter V6 is adequate for around-town duty, and the 4.0-liter V6 offers decent pickup and passing power.

We found the Routan offers a smooth ride and the driver enjoys a commanding view of the road. Handling, however, is somewhat cumbersome. The ride is pleasant enough, ironing out most bumps, but it can feel a bit top heavy at highway speeds. In short, it is not as pleasant to pilot as the Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna, and Nissan Quest are.

Entertainment features will keep the kids' attention, however. The Routan offers single and dual screen DVD rear-seat entertainment systems. Video game systems can be plugged in, and each screen can show something different, including the front navigation screen. Also offered is VW's JoyBox hard-drive radio. It has a 30-gigabyte hard drive that can hold thousands of song and picture files.

The Routan is priced about a thousand dollars more model for the model than the Chrysler Town & Country. It has a much nicer interior than the Chrysler, but lacks the Chrysler's innovative seating features. Like the Chrysler, the Routan is a great rolling living room for families. Model Lineup
The 2009 Volkswagen Routan is offered in three models, S, SE, and SEL. The S and SE models come with a 197-hp 3.8-liter V6 and a six-speed automatic transmission. The SEL comes with a 253-hp 4.0-liter V6 with six-speed automatic. All models have front-wheel drive.

Routan S ($24,700) comes with cloth upholstery, leather-wrapped tilt steering wheel, four-way manually adjustable front bucket seats, two-passenger reclining second-row bench seat, third-row stowable split folding bench seat, manual side doors, air conditioning, cruise control, conversation mirror, power heated exterior mirrors, power front windows, power door locks, remote keyless entry, six-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo, auxiliary audio input jack, automatic headlights, three years or 36,000 miles of free maintenance, and P225/65R16 tires on steel wheels with wheelcovers. When ordered with the rear-seat entertainment package, the S ($27,300) and includes the DVD entertainment system with a single screen, one year of Sirius satellite radio, a Bluetooth wireless cell phone link, three-zone manual climate control, AM/FM/CD/DVD/MP3 sound system with a six-disc CD changer, automatic headlights, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Also offered for the S model are Trim Pack 1 ($785) with black roof rails and a trailer towing harness, and alloy wheels ($450).

Routan SE ($29,600) adds three-zone manual climate control, six-disc CD changer, eight-way power adjustable driver's seat with lumbar adjustment, lumbar adjustment for front passenger seat, second-row captain's chairs, power side doors, overhead storage system, steering wheel audio controls, second- and third-row sunshades, universal garage door opener, security alarm, and P225/65R17 tires on alloy wheels. The SE with rear-seat entertainment ($32,700) comes with dual DVD entertainment screens for rear-seat passengers, one year of Sirius satellite radio, AM/FM/CD/DVD/MP3 sound system, USB connection, auto-dimming rearview mirror, Bluetooth wireless cell phone link, rearview camera, power liftgate, and automatic headlights. Trim Pack 2 ($1985) includes a sunroof, power adjustable pedals, towing prep, and black roof rails. A Climate Package ($445) adds heated front seats and remote engine starting.

Routan SEL ($33,200) gets leather upholstery, three-zone automatic climate control, interior air filter, power rear liftgate, auto-dimming rearview mirror, heated first and second-row seats, power adjustable pedals, high-line front floor console with adjustable storage, and a Bluetooth hands-free cell phone link. The SEL with rear-seat entertainment ($36,300) includes dual rear-seat DVD entertainment, one year of Sirius satellite radio, a USB port, and a rear backup camera. Two option packages are offered for SEL: Trim Pack 3 ($2325) includes a sunroof, power adjustable pedals, power-folding third-row seat, remote engine starting, towing prep, and black roof rails. The Navigation package ($2475) includes a navigation system with touchscreen, USB connection, JoyBox 30-gigabyte hard-drive, one year of Sirius satellite radio, and a rear backup camera.

Routan SEL Premium ($38,400) includes high-intensity discharge headlights, chrome mirrors and door handles, auto-dimming exterior mirrors, premium driver information center, sunroof, fog lamps, power adjustable pedals, remote engine starting, 506-watt nine-speaker sound system, power folding third-row seats, eight-way power front seats, memory for the driver's seat and pedals, 115-volt power outlet, and rear park assist. The SEL Premium can be ordered with an Entertainment package ($2725) that includes rear DVD entertainment with dual rear screens, JoyBox 30-gigabyte hard drive, one year of Sirius satellite radio, USB port, and a rearview camera. A Navigation package ($2475) adds a navigation system with touchscreen, USB port, JoyBox 30-gigabyte hard-drive, one year of Sirius satellite radio, and a rearview camera. An Entertainment and Navigation package ($4500) combines equipment from both packages. The Towing Prep package ($600) includes a load-leveling suspension.

Safety equipment includes dual-stage front airbags, head-protecting curtain side airbags, tire-pressure monitor, ABS with brake assist, traction control, and electronic stability control. Optional safety features include rear park assist and a rearview camera. Walkaround
Volkswagen Routan uses the same architecture and some of the same body panels as the Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan. It's a large vehicle, but it's about the same size as several competitors, including the Nissan Quest, Honda Odyssey, and Toyota Sienna. Cargo room is comparable.

The boxy main body is the same as the Town & Country's, but the Routan has VW styling from the front pillars forward. The grille is unmistakably Volkswagen, resembling that of the new Tiguan compact SUV. The tailgate is also a VW design, with the main element being the VW logo placed dead center.

Base models have manual sliding doors on both sides while higher line models have power sliding doors. The top-line SEL model has a power rear liftgate. On no model does the rear glass open separately.

Routan comes standard with 16-inch wheels; 17-inch wheels are standard on SE and SEL. Interior
The Routan's greatest advantage over the Town & Country is the quality of the interior materials. The Routan also takes advantage of most of the T&C's thoughtful entertainment features, but lacks the innovative seating options that give the Chrysler a considerable advantage in the minivan class.

Where hard plastic dominates the dash and doors of the Town & Country, the Routan has nicely padded door armrests and a quality soft-touch upper dash. It's not all luxury level, though. The lower dash is hard plastic and the trim piece that bisects the dash is thin plastic. On one model we drove, this piece didn't fit well either. The white-faced gauges with black numbers are sourced from Chrysler. Surrounded by a faux aluminum trim piece, they are not that easy to read in bright sunlight.

The radio is set high on the center of the dash, and VW offers a version of Chrysler's UConnect Tunes and UConnect GPS hard-drive radios called JoyBox. JoyBox is also offered in two versions, one with a navigation system and one without. Both include a touchscreen, and both versions have a 30-gigabyte hard drive that holds music and picture files. Those files can be ripped from a CD or downloaded from a thumb drive plugged into the vehicle's USB outlet. When the navigation system is ordered, the hard drive also holds navigation map information. The navigation system has voice activation, and comes with one year of Sirius satellite radio.

Routan's controls are easy to use, though those on the right of the radio or touchscreen can be a bit of a reach for the driver. The climate controls are located below the radio, and they're self explanatory. The gearshift is mounted between the radio and the instrument panel. It's easy to reach, leaves plenty of room for other controls, and includes an electronic gear readout in the instrument cluster.

Room up front is plentiful. There is plenty of head room, and leg room will only be lacking for the tallest drivers. The front captain's chairs provide an upright driving position with an SUV-like view of the road. A tilt steering wheel and available adjustable pedals should help most drivers tailor a comfortable seating position, but some might prefer a telescoping steering wheel to bring the wheel closer to the driver.

When it comes to storage, the Routan has two glove boxes and some cubbies in the center stack for small items storage. A total of 13 cupholders are found throughout the van. The standard console has four integrated cupholders and a small storage bin. The SEL's premium center console has four cupholders and a small bin on top that slides back to reveal a larger storage bin below it. The lower bin also slides back. With both layers slid back, the top level moves back a total of 21 inches, which allows parents up front to pass drinks and sandwiches to the kids in back. The premium console is also removable to allow easy access to the back seats.

In the far back, the Routan has a deep well behind the third row, which makes hauling groceries easier. Even with all seats up, the Routan has 32.3 cubic feet of cargo room behind the third row. The third-row seat is split 60/40. It folds into that well in one or two sections. Three straps are attached to the back of each seat and they're marked 1, 2, 3. To fold the seats into the floor, first pull strap 1, then pull strap 2. You have to give strap 2 a good yank and help the seat along with your other hand. It can require leverage that some moms might not have. Strap 3 pulls the seats back up. A better option is the power folding third row seat, which can be set to four positions, including what VW calls the tailgating position. In this position, the seatbacks act as seat bottoms and the bottoms act as backs facing the rear of the van.

While Chrysler offers three seating options for the second row, VW offers two options without nearly as much utility. Standard seating in the S model includes a removable, reclining two-passenger second-row bench seat with covered storage bins in front of the seats. The front seats must be moved far forward to allow access to the storage bins. SE and SEL models have two captain's chairs. These seats also recline and the backs can fold flat on top of the bottoms. The seats in both options can be removed, but they're heavy and you need somewhere to store them. With the second-row seats removed and the third-row seats folded, the Routan has a flat load floor, 144.0 cubic feet of cargo volume, and enough space to fit a 4x8-foot sheet of plywood.

Also offered are single and dual rear DVD entertainment options. Both have a nine-inch DVD screen in the second row and the dual system adds one for the third row. When the vehicle is in Park, video can be sent to the front navigation screen. Video game systems can be plugged in, and each row can watch or play something different. Four sets of headphones are provided. Unlike the Chrysler, the Routan does not offer Sirius Backseat TV. Driving Impressions
Aside from styling and interior materials, Volkswagen was able to make this van its own with suspension tweaks. Changes to the springs, dampers, bushings and steering gear resulted. However, without any changes to the suspension geometry, the Routan still handles and rides much like the Town & Country. Volkswagen touts the Routan's European ride and handling, but we sensed little difference between the Routan and the Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Caravan.

Like the Town & Country, the Routan is tall, heavy and long. Those traits make describe a good hauler but they make for cumbersome handling. With a bit quicker steering ratio over that of the Chrysler, the Routan reacts a little quicker to driver inputs. Still, the steering is very light and has lots of play on center. Drive it hard into a turn and it exhibits lots of body roll, leaning in turns. Pushed beyond the grip of the tires, it understeers. In other words, it prefers to keep going straight rather turning in quickly. Granted, most owners will never drive this aggressively, but the Honda, Toyota, and Nissan vans offer tighter, more responsive handling.

What most people want is a smooth ride, and here the Routan delivers. Most bumps are handled without transmitting a jolt to passengers. Sharp ruts can crash through, though. While the Routan does have some of the Town & Country's floaty feel on the highway, it doesn't seem to sway as much and feels slightly better buttoned down. On the whole, the Routan isn't as luxurious as the Toyota Sienna and it isn't as carlike or a as sporty as the Honda Odyssey or Nissan Quest.

The Routan also doesn't compete with the best in class when it comes to engine choices. That's a shame because the Volkswagen 3.6-liter V6 is competitive with any V6 on the market. However, the Routan uses Chrysler engines, which are simply behind the times.

The 3.8-liter V6 is standard in S and SE models. It makes 197 horsepower and 230 pound-feet of torque, and it offers decent pep for daily commutes and most needs. Passing requires some planning and a lot of room. The six-speed automatic transmission sometimes hunts for gears. With a 0-60 mph time of 10.2 seconds and EPA fuel economy ratings of 16/23 mpg city/highway, the 3.8-liter engine is not competitive with the majority of V6s available today.

The 4.0-liter V6 in the SEL is a better option. It delivers 253 horsepower and 252 pound-feet of torque, while getting better fuel mileage at 17/25 mpg City/Highway. The 4.0-liter gets the Routan moving nicely from a stop and teams with a six-speed automatic transmission to provide decent passing response. With a 0-60 time of 8.9 seconds, the 4.0-liter V6 is in the ballpark with the V6s offered by Nissan, Honda and Toyota, though it isn't as responsive or ultimately as quick. Properly equipped, the Town & Country is rated to tow up to 3500 pounds with either engine. We also found the 4.0-liter engine smoother than the 3.8-liter engine.

Tire and wind noise are well controlled in all models. Both engines cruise quietly, but under full throttle the 3.8 can intrude on conversation. Summary
The Volkswagen Routan is a family friendly minivan with a higher quality interior than its parent, the Chrysler Town & Country. However, it lacks some of the best seating and storage features of the Chrysler. It rides smoothly, but handling and power are not as good as that of its competitors. And yet pricing matches the tops in the class, so the Routan may not be the best value in a very competitive market. The one advantage the Routan does have, however, is Volkswagen's three-year, 36,000-mile free maintenance plan.

Kirk Bell filed this report to NewCarTestDrive.com from Chicago.

Model as tested
Volkswagen Routan SEL Premium ($38,400)
Basic Warranty
3 years/36,000 miles
Assembled in
Windsor, Ontario, Canada
Destination charge
690
Gas guzzler tax
N/A
Base Price
24700
Price as tested
44290
Options as tested
Entertainment Package ($2725) includes rear-seat DVD entertainment with dual rear screens, wireless headphones and remote, JoyBox 30-gigabyte hard drive, one year of Sirius satellite radio, USB port; Navigation Package ($2475) includes DVD-based navigation system with touchscreen

Model Line Overview
Model lineup
Volkswagen Routan S ($24,700); SE ($29,600); SEL ($33,200)
Safety equipment (standard)
dual-stage front airbags, head-protecting curtain side airbags, tire-pressure monitor; ABS with brake assist, traction control, electronic stability control
Safety equipment (optional)
N/A
Engines
4.0-liter sohc 24-valve V6
Transmissions
6-speed automatic

Specifications as Tested
leather upholstery; three-zone automatic climate control; interior air filter; leather-wrapped tilt steering wheel with audio controls; 8-way power adjustable front seats with lumbar adjustment; heated first and second-row seats; power adjustable pedals; memory for the driver's seat and pedals; high-line front floor console with adjustable storage; second-row removable captain's chairs; power folding, stowable, split folding third-row bench seat; power side doors; cruise control; conversation mirror; power, heated, auto-dimming exterior mirrors; power first and second-row windows; power door locks; remote keyless entry; remote engine starting; 506-watt, 9-speaker, AM/FM stereo with six-disc CD changer; auxiliary audio input jack; 115-volt power outlet; overhead storage system; premium driver information center; second- and third-row sunshades; universal garage door opener; security alarm; power rear liftgate; automatic high-intensity discharge headlights; auto-dimming rearview mirror; rear park assist; Bluetooth hands-free cell phone link; fog lamps; sunroof; three years or 36,000 miles of free maintenance; P225/65R17 tires on alloy wheels

Engine & Transmission
Engine
4.0-liter sohc 24-valve V6
Drivetrain type
front-wheel drive
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)
253 @ 6000
Transmission
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy
17/25
Torque (lb.-ft. @ rpm)
N/A

Suspension
Brakes, front/rear
disc/disc with ABS and Brake Assist
Suspension, front
independent MacPherson struts with coil springs over shocks and stabilizer bar
Tires
P225/65R17
Suspension, rear
twist beam axle with coil springs, track bar, shocks

Accomodations
Seating capacity
7
Head/hip/leg room, middle
39.7/64.8/36.3
Head/hip/leg room, front
37.2/57.6/40.6
Head/hip/leg room, rear
37.9/48.7/31.8

Measurements
Fuel capacity
N/A
Trunk volume
144.0
Wheelbase
121.2
Length/width/height
202.5/76.9/68.9
Turning circle
38.0
Payload
N/A
Towing capacity
3500
Track, front/rear
65.0/64.8
Ground clearance
6.1
Curb weight
4621

2009 Volkswagen Routan
New Car Test Drive

Introduction
The Toyota Tacoma is arguably the best truck in a field of outstanding midsize pickups. It's certainly the most popular: The Tacoma dominates the market for mid-size pickups. It comes in a wide range of configurations to please a wide range of buyers.

For 2009, all models and trim levels of the Tacoma receive as standard equipment Toyota's Star Safety System, which includes anti-lock brakes (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist, Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) and Traction Control (TC). An Automatic Limited-slip Differential (Auto-LSD), which uses brake intervention in place of a mechanical-type limited-slip to help reduce wheel-spin, is standard on all 2009 Tacoma models with the exception of those fitted with TRD Off-Road packages; those will have a separate locking differential. The Auto-LSD replaces the mechanical limited-slip in all applications where it was previously available. 2009 Access Cab models have a redesigned rear seat for improved comfort, as well as standard power windows and door locks. 2009 Tacoma SR5 models get new seat fabric.

The audio systems have been upgraded for 2009 and all come satellite-radio ready. The optional Premium JBL six-CD system is now Bluetooth-compatible and has an integrated satellite radio system that includes a three-month trial subscription to XM Satellite Radio. And there are numerous interior and exterior trim enhancements and changes for 2009.

For those who drive hard, there is a dealer-installed TRD Big Brake system developed by engineers with the Toyota Technical Center and Toyota Racing Development to provide effective braking performance under sustained heavy use. It improves pedal feel and substantially reduces brake fade from repeated high-speed applications.

The Tacoma offers a comfortable cab, a refined ride, and quality construction. Its on-road handing is responsive, its off-road capability is proven. The Double Cab delivers more rear-seat comfort than most of the competition, with enough room to rival a small sedan. Properly equipped V6 models can to tow up to 6,500 pounds.

Models range from a $15,000 work truck with a four-cylinder and 2WD to a loaded V6 4WD Double Cab Long Bed with all the candy. The base model is among the few regular-cab pickups still available, as the market has moved to extended-cab and crew cab styles; it excels at durability and reliability.

Tacoma PreRunner models can make you feel like Ironman Ivan Stewart practicing for the Baja 1000, while the sporty X-Runner may make you feel like Rod Millen preparing to blast up Pike's Peak.

Compact pickups aren't what they used to be. For one thing, they're no longer compact. Nor are they uncomfortable. They're more comfortable and more capable than ever before. Model Lineup
The Toyota Tacoma is available in 18 different configurations, including Regular Cab, Access Cab (extended cab) and Double Cab (crew cab) body styles. Regular and Access Cabs come with six-foot beds; Double Cab comes with the choice of a shorter five-foot bed or a standard-size six-footer.

The base engine is a 2.7-liter inline-4 mated to a five-speed manual transmission; a four-speed automatic is optional ($900). A 4.0-liter V6 is standard on Double Cabs and optional ($1,555) on 4WD Access Cabs. It is paired with a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic ($880).

The Tacoma 2WD Regular Cab ($15,170) comes standard with cloth upholstery, AM/FM/CD four-speaker sound system, tachometer, digital clock, two 12-volt powerpoints, fuel warning light, tire-pressure monitor, service reminder indicator, dome lamp, rear mudguards, 15-inch steel wheels and a full-size spare tire. Air conditioning is optional.

Access Cab ($19,205) and Double Cab ($25,695) models add more standard features, including air conditioning and functional consoles for the floor and ceiling. Double Cabs come with upgraded seat fabric, plus power windows, mirrors and door locks. Access and Double Cabs also get upgraded six-speaker audio systems, and offer an in-dash six-CD changer ($200); Access Cab and Double Cab models offer a premium JBL system (thatÆs wrapped into other packages) with CD changer and amplified subwoofer. Both audio upgrades feature steering wheel controls.

PreRunner models are 2WD, but feature the high stance and general appearance of a 4WD truck. (Desert racers use this style of truck to scout or pre-run the course before the big race.) Regular Cab PreRunners ($16,065) must make do with four-cylinder power. The V6 is optional ($1,455) on PreRunner Access Cabs ($19,965) and of course standard on Double Cabs ($23,500). Buying a PreRunner is the only way you can get a 2WD Double Cab, as 4WD is standard on base Double Cabs. And all Double Cab PreRunners come with automatic transmission.

X-Runner ($25,585) features unique styling cues and a chassis tuned for on-road performance. Its name refers to the additional X-shaped brace added to stiffen its frame against high cornering loads. X-Runner is offered only in the Access Cab style, and only with the V6 and six-speed manual.

SR5 packages ($1,165-$2,070) bundle styling and comfort features, including color-keyed overfenders and front bumper, chrome grille surround and chrome rear bumper, bucket seats with center console, and other upgraded interior features and trim.

The pavement-oriented TRD Sport Package ($2,405-$3,375) starts with SR5 Package 2 equipment and adds or substitutes P265/65R17 tires, sport-tuned suspension with Bilstein shock absorbers, sport seats, overhead console and power point, plus a hood scoop, lots of body-color trim, and its own graphics package. TRD Sport is available on any Tacoma V6.

The TRD Offroad Package ($2,620-$3,840) starts with SR5 Package 2 equipment and adds or substitutes BF Goodrich P265/70R16 OWL tires, locking rear differential, off-road suspension with Bilstein shock absorbers, engine skidplate, sport seats, overhead console with compass and outside temperature, heavy-duty front tow hook, 115v/400w deck-mounted powerpoint, and unique TRD graphics. TRD Offroad is available only on V6 models, but not on Double Cab Long Beds.

Options for the Tacoma include a tow package ($650) for V6 models that comprises a 130-amp alternator, heavy-duty battery, transmission oil cooler, and a Class IV hitch with seven-pin connector.

Safety features that come on all models include anti-lock brakes (ABS) with Electronic Brake-force Distribution, Brake Assist, Vehicle Stability Control with Traction Control, and the Automatic Limited-slip Differential. Models with automatic transmission also include Hill-start Assist Control, and TRD Offroad models add Downhill Assist Control. In addition, front airbags, front seat side-impact airbags, and side-curtain airbags are standard on all models. Walkaround
The Toyota Tacoma is an attractive truck, more conservatively styled than the stylish Nissan Frontier and Dodge Dakota. Big headlights and a bold grille highlight the Tacoma's front end. Flush rear surface glass and flush surface structures between the bumper sides and body give it a polished look. PreRunner and 4WD models are distinguished by bold overfenders.

Overall length of the Tacoma varies by body style: Regular Cabs are the shortest and most maneuverable, measuring 190.4 inches overall on a 109.4-inch wheelbase. Access Cab and Double Cab short-bed models have a 127.4-inch wheelbase and 208.1-inch overall length. Double Cab long-bed models are quite long at 221.3 inches overall on a 140.6-inch wheelbase. All models have six-foot beds except the Double Cab short-bed, which has a five-foot bed.

How to choose? Regular Cab models pack lots of cargo space in a relatively small package, good for maneuverability in the big city. Regular Cab PreRunners and 4WD models also have the best break-over angle due to their short length, and therefore offer the best capability off road. Access Cabs feature large dual rear auxiliary doors, not good for people but very good for gear. Double Cabs have long, conventionally hinged rear doors that open 80 degrees for ease of entry or loading gear. Double Cabs offer the people-carrying comfort of a sport-utility. Long-bed Double Cabs can carry more stuff but are unwieldy in tight places.

Tacoma comes with a composite inner bed, lighter than steel yet tougher and more durable. The bed features two-tier loading and an integrated deck rail utility system with four adjustable tie-down cleats. The rails are compatible with numerous Genuine Toyota Accessories, including cargo-bed cross bars, a fork-mount bike rack, and other useful items. Interior
All of the latest-generation midsize pickups have decent interiors, but the quality of Toyota's interior materials seems just a little better. The lower dash and console are a lighter color than the main upper dash, brightening the interior. Trim rings surround the three clustered gauges, the cloth upholstery is decent and the seats look nice. The manually adjustable seats include lumbar adjustment but no adjustment for seat height or the angle of the seat bottom. Overall, the Tacoma provides the driver with a good driving position, and big mirrors afford a good view to the rear.

Cup holders are provided in the center console area. On models that don't have sport seats, the front passenger's seatback flips down to form a tray table or to make room for long objects, a handy feature. The switchgear is easy to operate, and everything is where you expect it to be. Big rotary knobs make it easy to adjust cabin temperature even with gloves on; the knobs are electronic, so they're easy to twist. The radio is fully integrated into the upper center stack and it's easy to operate. CDs sound good through the JBL speakers. We aren't thrilled with the pull-out handbrake that comes on models with manual transmissions, as we prefer a lever or footbrake. Models with automatics come with a foot-operated parking brake.

The rear seats in the Tacoma Double Cab are particularly comfortable for the class, offering good legroom and shoulder room and decent headroom. The seatback is angled back slightly, making it more comfortable than the overly upright rear seats in some other compact pickups. In a back-to-back comparison test, we found the back seats of the Tacoma more comfortable than those in the Nissan Frontier. A younger person should be okay to ride across the state back there, and even adults won't complain too much on short trips. The rear windows even go all the way down.

The rear-seat area in the Double Cab is also good for carrying cargo. The seat is split 60/40. Flip the seat bottoms forward and fold the two sections down to form a flat platform for gear. It takes two hands to do this, and you first have to remove the headrests, which is a hassle, though Toyota has at least provided a place to store them. The backs of the seatbacks are hard, and form a sturdy cargo floor. It's not a bad spot for a dog, better than the bumpy floors in the Nissan Frontier and Dodge Dakota, but still a big jump down. Our experience has been that none of the trucks in this class is particularly good for dogs.

The Access Cab has rear seats, but they're pretty hopeless for adult humans. The space back there is best used for small cargo that you don't want to put in the bed. Driving Impressions
The Toyota Tacoma drives well and cruises nicely. It offers plenty of power from the V6. It handles well and feels relatively refined. Off-road models offer better capability over rugged terrain than previous-generation models as well as improved ride comfort.

The 4.0-liter V6 engine uses dual overhead camshafts and variable valve technology (Toyota calls it VVT-i, for Variable Valve Timing with intelligence) to optimize power and torque over a broad range of rpm. In action, the V6 feels refined and delivers responsive performance. It is rated at 236 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque.

Toyota's 4.0-liter V6 works well with the five-speed automatic transmission. And that's our first choice for this truck: the V6 and automatic. The automatic is super smooth and very responsive, quickly downshifting when you mash the throttle, and it offers five ratios to better keep the engine at its most efficient rpm. For its part, the six-speed manual transmission is easy to shift, but first gear is a very low ratio, leaving a broad stretch to second. The automatic even delivers better gas mileage, according to the latest EPA estimates, with 17/20 mpg City/Highway; vs. 15/19 for the V6 and manual with 2WD and 14/19 for the V6/manual 4WD.

The 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine gets better mileage and runs on regular gas. As with the V6, the four-cylinder benefits from VVT-i and dohc, which means it's a modern, sophisticated engine. It is rated at 159 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque, which is about average for the class. EPA estimates are 20/26 mpg with 2WD and the five-speed manual, and 19/25 mpg for 2WD with the four-speed automatic.

Handling is quite good on curvy roads. The Tacoma feels steady in sweeping turns and suffers from surprisingly little body roll, or lean, in hard corners. The Tacoma feels big on the road when compared with older compact pickups and, in fact, it is relatively large. It's wider and longer than previous-generation models. Size can be a detriment when parking, and a long-bed Double Cab can be a challenge in tight parking situations due to the amount of space it requires to turn. The Tacoma Double Cab long bed requires 44 feet to complete a circle, while a Double Cab short bed needs a little over 40 feet. For this reason, we recommend the short bed unless you really need to carry something that won't fit in it. A base Tacoma Regular Cab boasts a turning circle of less than 37 feet.

On pavement, the 4WD and TRD Offroad models seemed smooth and refined. Off-road, a 4WD TRD model is smooth and highly capable. The TRD suspension is excellent on rough, rugged terrain. It handles well on rough dirt trails, something we learned while charging up a ski run at Alyeska. It never bottomed on the rough terrain even when we pushed it well beyond socially acceptable standards. The Tacoma TRD also easily handled an off-road course that featured steep ascents and descents, moguls, and a log step. In short, we'd feel comfortable tackling just about any terrain in a Toyota Tacoma. And it doesn't just get there, it does it in relative comfort. The Tacoma doesn't seem to generate as much head toss as earlier 4WD compact pickups, an important consideration when driving long distances over rugged terrain, because you don't want to arrive to your backcountry camp fatigued from driving.

Switching into 4WD and 4WD Lo is as easy as twisting a rotary knob. It works very well, for the most part, but we tried to confuse it by switching the knob around underway and we succeeded. The low-range lights wouldn't turn off until we stopped, shut it off and restarted, the automotive equivalent of rebooting your computer.

The Tacoma's brakes are smooth and easy to modulate, and they can bring the truck to quick halt without drama. The rear brakes are drums, however, less desirable than the rear disc brakes that come on some of the other pickups in this class. The available TRD Big Brake system uses floating 13 x 1.25-inch directionally vented rotors, forged aluminum four-piston fixed calipers, larger pads with higher coefficients of friction, and braided steel brake lines.

The X-Runner is a lot of fun to drive and handles like a sports car. It corners flat and generates lots of grip in the curves. We pushed it hard up a hill climb and were not able to reach its cornering limits. It tracks well and is very stable in tight corners even when spinning the inside rear tire under full throttle. The ride is firm, but the X-Runner seems to ride better than our recollection of the Ford SVT Lightning. However, we didn't care for the feel of the clutch pedal, the steering was vague on-center, and there was that aforementioned inside rear-wheel spin. Wind noise seems higher in the X-Runner than in the other models. But much of this is nitpicking. This is a tight, sporty truck, and probably the best of the genre. There's no cowl shake. The exhaust sounds cool. If you want a truck that can hang with a sports car, the X-Runner is the ticket. Summary
Toyota Tacoma is among the best of the latest generation of midsize pickups. The Tacoma features a comfortable cab trimmed with quality materials. The 4WD models offer crisp handling, a nicely balanced ride quality, and excellent off-road capability. The TRD Offroad models are terrific trucks for rugged terrain. The X-Runner drives and performs like a sports car.

Model as tested
Toyota Tacoma 4WD V6 Double Cab Long Bed ($27,075)
Basic Warranty
3 years/36,000 miles
Assembled in
Fremont, California
Destination charge
745
Gas guzzler tax
N/A
Base Price
15170
Price as tested
30980
Options as tested
SR5 Package 2 with JBL Audio ($2,070) includes fog lamps, remote keyless entry, cruise control, variable intermittent wipers, chrome grille surround and rear bumper, color-keyed front bumper, sliding rear window with privacy glass, metallic tone instrument panel trim, leather steering wheel and shifter, JBL AM/FM/CD6 with 6 speakers, subwoofer and steering wheel audio controls; Towing Package ($650) including Class IV hitch, transmission oil cooler, heavy-duty battery and 130-amp alternator, 7-pin connector; 16-inch alloy wheels w P245/75R16 tires ($400): daytime running lights ($40)

Model Line Overview
Model lineup
Toyota Tacoma Regular Cab 2.7-liter 5-speed manual ($15,170); with 4-speed automatic ($16,070); Access Cab 5M ($19,205); with 4A ($20,105); PreRunner Regular Cab 5M ($16,055); PreRunner Access Cab 5M ($19,965); PreRunner V6 Access Cab with 6-speed manual ($21,420); with 5-speed automatic ($22,300); PreRunner V6 Double Cab 5A ($23,500); PreRunner Long Bed V6 Double Cab 5A ($24,000); X-Runner Access Cab V6 6M ($25,285); 4WD Regular Cab 2.7-liter 5M ($19,130); 4WD Access Cab 5M ($23,040); 4WD V6 Access Cab 6M ($24,595); 4WD V6 Access Cab 5A ($25,475); 4WD V6 Double Cab 6M ($25,695); 4WD V6 Double Cab 5A ($26,575); 4WD V6 Long Bed Double Cab 5A ($27,075)
Safety equipment (standard)
dual frontal air bags, seatbelt pretensioners and force limiters, anchors for child safety seats; ABS, EBD, Brake Assist, tire pressure monitor, side-curtain airbags, Vehicle Stability Control with Traction Control
Safety equipment (optional)
N/A
Engines
4.0-liter dohc 24-valve V6 with VVT-i
Transmissions
5-speed automatic

Specifications as Tested
air conditioning; cloth bucket seats with passenger-side fold-flat and driver's side lumbar adjustment; adjustable headrests; 60/40 split rear bench with adjustable headrests; power windows, door locks and mirrors; AM/FM/CD6 with 6 speakers; tilt/telescoping steering wheel; 2 power points

Engine & Transmission
Engine
4.0-liter dohc 24-valve V6 with VVT-i
Drivetrain type
four-wheel drive
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)
236 @ 5200
Transmission
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy
16/20
Torque (lb.-ft. @ rpm)
N/A

Suspension
Brakes, front/rear
vented disc/drum with ABS, EBD, Brake Assist
Suspension, front
independent, double wishbones, coil springs, gas-filled shock absorbers, anti-roll bar
Tires
P245/75R16
Suspension, rear
live axle on leaf springs

Accomodations
Seating capacity
5
Head/hip/leg room, middle
N/A
Head/hip/leg room, front
38.5/55.2/32.6
Head/hip/leg room, rear
N/A

Measurements
Fuel capacity
N/A
Trunk volume
Wheelbase
140.9
Length/width/height
221.3/74.6/70.1
Turning circle
44.0
Payload
1260
Towing capacity
6500
Track, front/rear
63.0/63.4
Ground clearance
9.4
Curb weight
4190


Search car listings & find the right car for you
Click here for 2009 Volkswagen Routan Wagon 4D SEL Premium local listings

Vehicle History Report

Get answers to buy with confidence
  • Check for accidents
  • Confirm the reported mileage
  • Purchase multiple reports and save

Car Buying and Selling Resources