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1999 Volkswagen EuroVan REVIEW

Edmunds.com logo Edmunds.com 4/6/2017

Con: High price, handles like a delivery van around corners, lots of wind noise on highway, awkward driving position, outdated cabin ergonomics, rear seats are hard to fold, no driver-side sliding door.

Pro: Roomy second- and third-row seats, lots of headroom inside the cabin, responsive steering, capable brakes, MV model's flexible cabin arrangements.

What’s New: After a five-year hiatus, the EuroVan passenger van returns to the U.S. with a six-cylinder engine, structural improvements and new safety features.

Review: Despite, or perhaps because of, myriad shortcomings, the Volkswagen Vanagon and its successor, the EuroVan, became people-mover cult favorites. Last marketed to Americans in non-RV guise in 1993, the EuroVan returns for 1999 with several improvements designed to make the oddball entry more palatable to American tastes.

The most obvious change to the 1999 model is the inclusion of a 140-horsepower VR6 six-cylinder engine. This motor, making 177 foot-pounds of torque at 3,200, allows the EuroVan to get out of its own way, finally! Charged with motivating more than two tons of steel, plastic and glass, the new EuroVan is still no drag strip performer, but we'll take what we can get. This engine requires premium fuel and is rated at just 15 mpg in the city and 20 on the highway, but we were consoled by the knowledge that the EuroVan can handle up to a 4,500-pound trailer or nearly 1,000 pounds of cargo, not to mention several passengers in the spacious rear seats. Engineers have also strengthened the EuroVan's body, reinforced the floor panels and stiffened the B and C pillars. Additional sound insulation cuts unwanted road and engine noise from filtering into the cabin.

Although the EuroVan is one of the few minivans with an independent rear suspension, this does not result in the car-like handling buyers in this segment have come to expect. Despite a smooth highway ride, the van's body rolls heavily when cornering. On the positive side, this VW does have responsive steering and strong brakes -- these attributes, combined with its quasi-counter-culture appeal, may be enough to offset its old-school handling characteristics for some buyers.

Two trim levels are available: GLS and Multivan (MV). Order a GLS, and you get seating for seven forward-facing passengers, 15-inch alloy wheels, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, dual-zone (front/rear) automatic climate control, six-speaker cassette stereo, cruise control, heated washer nozzles, a full-size spare tire and power windows, locks and mirrors. Options include seat heaters and a sunroof.

The MV includes all of the GLS features and also seats seven, but two riders are looking out the back window and the third-row bench converts into a bed. Besides the above options, the MV can be fitted with the Weekender Package, which includes a pop-up roof, a two-person bed, a small refrigerator (housed in the base of a rear-facing second-row chair), swiveling captain's chairs, sliding windows with screens and curtains, and an additional battery. Note that getting the Weekender deletes certain conveniences -- for example, you get manual climate controls (for the front only), rather than the automatic system.

All EuroVans include dual front airbags and seatbelt pretensioners for front occupants, but side airbags are not available. There are headrests in all seating positions, ALR/ELR three-point seatbelts for forward-facing outboard passengers and child-seat anchor points in the second and third rows of the GLS (second row only in the MV). Neither NHTSA nor the IIHS has crash-tested this vehicle.

EuroVans are covered by a 5-year/50,000-mile powertrain warranty, and all scheduled maintenance for the first two years is free. Pull the seats out and the GLS is capable of moving 150 cubic feet of cargo. Buy an MV with the Weekender package, and you've got a full-fledged camper that still fits in the garage. Though unique and full of personality, the EuroVan is nonetheless battling it out in a highly competitive market where long-time stalwarts like the Dodge Grand Caravan and impressive upstarts like the Honda Odyssey offer superior cargo space, performance and refinement at a lower price.

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