Really, there's nothing wrong with the CrossBlue 7-seat SUV VW's going to build. It seems capable, well-engineered, and handsome. But it's just another big SUV, and who gives a shit? There's no reason for that. If VW wants a 7-seat vehicle, there's one they could build that would cause many shits to be donated. A microbus.
In his write-up, Raph said VW is being "big and brash," but I don't think they're being nearly big and brash enough, and as a result, I 'm pretty sure they'll be leaving money on the table. The CrossBlue will be going head to head with other large SUVs like the Highlander or maybe the Santa Fe or the Durango, and I'm sure it'll be competitive, but that's it. It won't be really changing anything. A new, modern-platform Microbus-inspired vehicle could be something that actually stood out, actually mix things up a bit.
What's baffling is that VW has clearly been considering resurrecting the old Type 2 for quite a while. They've had very well-received concepts back in 2001 and again in 2010 with the smaller Bulli concept. It's not like they aren't aware how much interest and excitement is generated whenever they decide to trot one of these out. So, when VW decided they needed a 7-seat vehicle, why was a modernized Bus not the solution?
Minivans are, on the whole, boring. VW's rebadged amnesia-box, the Routan, was a prime example of why people don't normally get excited about people-movers. As a child owner/operator, I encounter other child-havers who end up considering minivans all the time, and then decide to go for heavy, tall SUVs or Crossovers solely because they need the room but can't bear the crushing ennui of most minivans. A new Microbus would change this equation dramatically.
Done right, a new 7-seat capable bus would be polarizing. Some folks would hate it, but I suspect that, in America especially, the old bus has so much recognition and large groups with positive connotations that there would be a good-sized niche very willing to buy one, even if they didn't even need the space.
If VW really applied their engineering and design muscle, as we've seen hinted in their Microbus concepts, they could come up with a novel, highly-useful vehicle that would be appealing to people even beyond the old nostalgic reasons. I wouldn't even demand it be cab-over or rear-engined or anything like that — a slightly retro, one-big-box design would offer all sorts of seating, cargo, and overall utility options no matter what.
Seriously, why are they making another SUV that'll get lost in any boring parking lot when they have an actually interesting option just waiting there? People who need minivans deserve an option that doesn't feel like you've given up joy as an unattainable dream.
So, come on, VW. Time to grow a pair of testes or ovaries, or hell, both, and make a high-capacity vehicle that is worth actually getting excited about. A new Microbus.