- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 6, 2003

The only connection between today’s EuroVan and the legendary Microbus is that both bear the Volkswagen name.

Today’s EuroVan offers a large and versatile package. The Microbus, which probably deserved to be known as the original minivan, was small and woefully underpowered.

Who hasn’t found himself agonizingly creeping up a hill behind a Microbus. This won’t happen if you are behind a EuroVan. It is powered by a four-valve-per-cylinder version of VW’s renowned VR6 engine. It produces 201 horsepower and 181 foot-pounds of peak torque at 2,500 to 5,500 rpm.

It also offers fair fuel economy. The Environmental Protection Agency rates it at 17 miles per gallon city and 20 mpg highway. The test vehicle averaged 19.3 mpg in combined highway/city driving.

After driving it around town and on trips of 150 miles, I am certain it has more than enough power for any normal driving task.

If you like to sit high in the driver’s seat, you’ll love the EuroVan. It is easy to view the traffic ahead. It is one of the few vehicles in its class to handle more than 1,550 pounds of payload capacity with combination fully independent front and rear suspensions.

On smooth roads I found the EuroVan to offer excellent roadability. Throw in bad pavement combined with traffic bumps and the ride become somewhat bouncy. EuroVans are offered in three trim levels, GLS (the test vehicle), MNV and Camper.

Besides its independent suspension, the EuroVan also features an Electronic Stabilization Program (ESP), four-wheel disc brakes with ABS and 16-inch alloy wheels. It is the only van, full-size or mini, to offer ESP as standard equipment. It is a system that uses sophisticated yaw and position sensors to help automatically stabilize the vehicle in the event of a sudden emergency maneuver.

Its performance allows the EuroVan to transport up to seven passengers and large recreational items such as sporting and camping equipment.

Its high stance and spacious interior maximize cargo capacity. The test GLS model provided 178 cubic feet of passenger volume and 20 cubic feet of luggage capacity. The MV model provides 187 cubic feet of passenger volume and 19 cubic feet of luggage capacity.

VW vans have long been known for their ability to be converted to campers. The current EuroVan Camper offers 107 cubic feet of passenger volume and 5 cubic feet of luggage capacity. It can be configured to seat five or six passengers, with either a companion seat or middle-bench seat.

GLS and MV models feature unique seven-passenger seating arrangements. GLS models contain two forward-facing individual seats and a three-passenger rear bench seat. The MV model contains two separate rear-facing seats, positioned back to back, with front passenger seats and a three-passenger rear bench seat.

MV’s multipurpose rear seating also features a bench that converts to a bed or, on the GLS, folds and tumbles.

Standard cargo-area power points and a luggage shelf provide convenience, along with available items such as rear-cabin climate controls, a fold-up table and fluorescent lighting (standard on certain models).

The EuroVan’s high stance and its length do not provide a streamlined appearance but the use of glass, front, side and rear, provide it with an airy look that passengers are sure to enjoy.

EuroVans have a host of comfort and convenience features such as front power windows, with one-touch up/down and pinch protection, central remote locking, cruise control, cup holders, tinted glass and a pollen and dust filter for the ventilation system.

Additional standard equipment includes dual-zone Climatronic electronic climate-control system, power door locks, including side and rear hatch; cruise control; AM/FM stereo cassette with six speakers; programmable intermittent wipers, heated windshield washer nozzles; rear hatch wiper/washer and defroster power, heated exterior mirrors; and a four-speed automatic transmission.

Many comprehensive standard safety features include front air bags, anti-intrusion side door beams; front-seat, height-adjustable three-point safety belts with pretensioners and load limiters plus other safety items.

The EuroVan is not for everyone — but if you want ample seating and luggage space with the ability to quickly turn the vehicle into camper or over-nighter, it is the van for you.

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