Can we buy a new VW van in the US?
November 20, 2005 9:54 PM   Subscribe

We'd like to buy a new VW van. Our family is growing and we need to upsize (damn baby-seat requirements)...only problem is, they don't sell new VW vans in the US anymore. (Coincidentally enough, if we lived in the UK, we'd be all over their new model, the "California.") Any tips?
posted by diastematic to Travel & Transportation (13 answers total)
According to news reports, VW is currently negotiating with the Chrysler Group to sell a version of the Dodge Caravan/Chrysler Town & Country in the US. It will be differentiated from those models somehow ... I imagine they're hammering that out now. So you could get ahead of the curve and just buy a Caravan/T&C.

I realize this is not the answer you wanted, but I thought it was relevant enough to chime in.

Or maybe find a used one? Or do they sell them in Canada?
posted by pmurray63 at 10:03 PM on November 20, 2005

My understanding is to import a vehicle it has to either meet current US crash specs (at least for that year) or be older than 25 years. So you can't import that VW van as it doesn't meet current crash specs and/or was never tested to current specs.
posted by 6550 at 10:20 PM on November 20, 2005

Is it a poptop camper-van you want? You can buy those built off of Ford/GM/Dodge base vans from a variety of makers. Look at RV places.

If you just want something bigger than whatever you have now, some of the Japanese minivans (Sienna and Odyssey) can be pretty big. Or a middle-sized sport ute like the Escape or Highlander; both of those even come in hybrids.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:56 PM on November 20, 2005

The deal with Chrysler is mostly conjecture, and absolutely not confirmed by anyone official. The same article mentions some points of interest: a conventional VW minivan will be on the market some time in the next couple of years (which probably doesn't help you), and that Eurovans were sold in the States up to 2003 (though in limited quantities), meaning you might be able to track down a fairly decent used model. VW's certified pre-owned site has a nifty dealer search. Unfortunately, because the Eurovan has always had a small but devoted audience, prices are still very high. $40k for a 2002 minivan seems quite steep, and possibly more than the original MSRP. (A used car increasing in value is rare when the nameplate is something other than Ferrari, Lamborghini or Porsche.)
posted by chrominance at 4:29 AM on November 21, 2005

You might want to reconsider a VW van. For the most part, Volkswagen is making pretty terrible cars these days. My folks have a Honda Odyssey and they love it. It gets around 30 mpg, the rear seats are removeable or fold down, so there's plenty of room for either their kayaks, tandem bike or both.
posted by electroboy at 6:22 AM on November 21, 2005

While it's not a done deal, the Chrysler-VW is more than "mostly conjecture"; both sides have confirmed the talks. VW is run by the guy who was #2 at Chrysler, and his former boss is moving up to run DaimlerChrysler. And from Autoblog:
German Auto Motor und Sport is reporting (via translation from the German Car Blog) that VW and DaimlerChrysler are close to finalizing their deal to produce a VW-badged Chrysler Voyager minivan. The announcement could come as soon the Detroit auto show in January.
I do agree with chrominance that coughing up $40k for a used VW minivan doesn't sound wise. (And frankly, electroboy is right that VW's products are not very good these days, but I didn't want to take such a combative approach.) All of which is a roundabout way of suggesting that you try and find another minivan that appeals to you. Critics and the marketplace would suggest you start with the offerings from Chrysler/Dodge, Honda and Toyota.
posted by pmurray63 at 7:11 AM on November 21, 2005

$40k for a 2002 minivan seems quite steep,

Just out of curiousity I ran a search on the Eurovan using that VW Flash module, and all the returns ('02s and '03s) were in the $18K to $20K range, so that might make the decision a bit more sane...
posted by jalexei at 7:20 AM on November 21, 2005

For the most part, Volkswagen is making pretty terrible cars these days

Hey now! I gotta stand up for my (made in Germany) Passat here. It has been rock-solid and reliable for over 50,000 miles so far.

On the other hand, a friend's (made in Mexico) Jetta has been an absurdly fragile money pit.

But I believe Eurovan has always been assembled in Europe, so I wouldn't sweat it.
posted by Tubes at 9:03 AM on November 21, 2005

Given the link to the "California" the question is pretty vague. A campmobile will only hold two car seats, so to say you have a growing family but want a campmobile means you have only two kids and could get by with a decent wagon or larger sedan. (Although maybe you have more than one husband/wife?) On the other hand, I am a big supporter of the campmobile experience and believe they are the most useful vehicles ever made. I don't know if its relevant, but my parents bought their '78 camper through a local VW dealer and picked it up in europe. This was back before the european delivery options that are common with luxury automakers. With safety issues more in the fore these days it might be a stretch but perhaps something like this can be arranged.
posted by Dick Paris at 10:25 AM on November 21, 2005

MY v-dub jetta sux. But it's a jetta made in mexico, so there you go on that. Tubes has it right.
posted by zpousman at 10:27 AM on November 21, 2005

Ditto on the above. I've got a Passat that's been near perfect but the made in Mexico models have a terrible rep. Plus remember, the Passat is about 65% Audi A4, which might be part of the difference (engine, chassis, transmission). I'd go with a Japanese van. They'll run forever. Never, ever, buy a domestic van. They're terrible.
posted by Ber at 11:44 AM on November 21, 2005

Response by poster: Okay, well thanks all.

For the record we have a Subaru Forester right now, but we're looking for a third row of seats -- a car that allows for two adults, two kiddie carseats, the occassional 1-2 guests plus one dog in the way-back.

That puts most SUVs out of the question (even the hybrids, which are the only SUVs we'd consider anyway).

Why a VW van? Because we don't like minivans, we don't want a Chrysler van (egads) and we happen to love the VW vans. Third row of seats is most important, camper version is a nice plus.

In any case it appears we may have to go the used route...thanks, gang, for your recommendations.
posted by diastematic at 6:14 PM on November 21, 2005

The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is rebadged and sold as a Dodge Sprinter in the US. It is a great van and the passenger version certainly has enough passenger and cargo space for your needs. It is a lot bigger and more workman-like than the Eurovan but you would never ever run out of space.
posted by lazy-ville at 10:27 PM on November 21, 2005

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