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2018 Volkswagen Beetle: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader December 2017

Well, the 2018 Volkswagen Beetle has made it into another model year. Never mind that most people seem to be buying crossovers, there's a good chance the Beetle might still be in production when flying cars are all the rage.

It could happen. The Beetle is one of the few compact cars with a bit of personality, individuality and charm — and one of the least-expensive ways of owning a brand-new convertible with four seats. It's based on an previous-generation Golf platform, but it has most of that car's fundamental goodness while surrounded in an arguably pleasant wrapping, particularly the convertible.

In the meantime, VW has carried out yet more updates.

What's New for 2018?

A new 2.0-liter engine replaces the old 1.8. The more powerful R-Line engine has been discontinued, so have the Classic and SEL trim levels. A new Coast trim is introduced, along with new options bundles and extra standard equipment for some versions. Volkswagen has also established a new 6-year/72,000-mile bumper-to-bumper limited warranty.

What We Like

Decent engine; distinctive looks; confident highway ride; convertible option

What We Don't

Limited rear headroom; not VW's plushest interior; convertible's awkward trunk; getting left behind in the tech race -- especially in regard to safety features

How Much?

$21,070-$32,940

Fuel Economy

The front-wheel-drive Beetle range has a new 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine (2.0T) making 174 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. A 6-speed automatic transmission comes standard. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates this drivetrain at 26 miles per gallon in the city, 33 mpg on the highway and 29 mpg in combined driving (coupe and convertible). The exception being the Dune models, which achieve 26 mpg city/34 mpg hwy/29 mpg combined (coupe and convertible).

Standard Features & Options

The 2018 Volkswagen Beetle is available as a 2.0T coupe or soft-top convertible. All the convertible versions have a powered fabric roof, a tonneau cover, an insulated glass rear window and a rear spoiler.

Trim levels are S, Coast, SE and Dune.

The 2.0T S coupe ($21,070) and 2.0T S convertible ($26,290) have 16-inch alloy wheels, a leather-wrapped steering wheel/shift knob/parking brake, cloth upholstery (leatherette in the convertible), manual-adjust/heated front seats with height adjustment for the driver, power windows, a self-dimming rearview mirror (optional in the convertible), 50/50 split/folding rear seats, air conditioning, cruise control, heated side mirrors, a rearview camera, Bluetooth, a trip computer and an 8-speaker audio system with a 5-in touchscreen, auxiliary input and a USB port.

S versions are eligible for a new Style & Comfort package that includes keyless entry/ignition, heated front seats, 17-in alloy wheels, automatic headlights, a self-dimming rearview mirror, rain-sensing wipers, satellite radio and a 6.3-in touchscreen.

The 2.0T Coast coupe ($23,970) and 2.0T Coast convertible ($27,690) have a beach theme with cloth upholstery, a sunroof (in the coupe), a "surfboard wood-look dashpad" (which is a grainy plastic covering the dashboard), chunkier mats, and the option of a Deep Sea Teal blue exterior paint color. It also gets keyless entry/ignition, heated front seats, satellite radio and blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert.

Coast models are eligible for a Lighting package consisting of automatic bixenon headlights, LED running lights, LED taillights and a LED rear license plate light.

The 2.0T SE coupe ($24,870) and 2.0T SE convertible ($28,890) add 17-in alloy wheels, keyless entry/ignition, dual-zone automatic climate control and a sunroof for the coupe.

SE versions are eligible for a new Premium package that offers the 6.3-in touchscreen, navigation, parking sensors front and rear, 18-in alloy wheels, a Fender-branded audio system and the contents of the Lighting package mentioned above.

The 2.0T Dune coupe ($27,640) and 2.0T Dune convertible ($32,940) both have a slightly raised ride height in an attempt to evoke the dune buggy versions of the old-school Beetle. They also have 18-in alloy wheels, keyless entry/ignition, dual-zone automatic climate control, a Fender-branded audio system, a rear spoiler, parking sensors front and rear, trim-exclusive bumpers, leatherette upholstery and the contents of the Lighting package. The coupe adds a sunroof.

Safety

The Beetle comes with 4-wheel, anti-lock disc brakes and four airbags (front and full-length side curtain).

In government crash testing, the Beetle coupe received a perfect five stars out of five overall; four stars for frontal impacts, five stars for side impacts. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) awarded the Beetle coupe its top score of Good in all categories except the small-overlap front crash test, where the car received a Marginal rating (second worst).

Behind the Wheel

The 2-person back seat is certainly usable, although headroom in the coupe (or in the convertible when the top is in place) is limited by the sloping rear. Rearward vision is a bit of an issue in the convertible when the roof is down, because it doesn't fold into anywhere; it just sits on the body.

Trunk space for the coupe is a decent 15.4 cu ft.; maximum capacity with the rear seats flipped forward is just 29.9 cu ft. Given that the Beetle isn't particularly small overall, that's not much room. The convertible has a trunk area of 7.1 cu ft.; the size and shape of the aperture makes loading and unloading quite awkward.

There's a certain maturity to the way the Beetle drives that comes as a pleasant surprise. The suspension soaks up bumps with unusual grace for the class (that's the Golf platform making itself felt), while handling is respectable, if not truly athletic. The new 2.0-liter engine is a welcome addition, the evolution of a unit that has powered many VW Group vehicles.

Other Cars to Consider

2018 Fiat 500 -- The turbocharged Abarth version of the 500 has a memorable exhaust note, and the whole car is a chuckle.

2018 Ford Fiesta ST -- For a small car with a lot of personality and a winning front-drive chassis, check this one out.

2018 Mini Hardtop -- Blends acceleration, handling, charm and fuel economy.

2018 Mazda MX-5 Miata -- Another one of those "cars as lifestyle statements" creations, but also great fun and well built.

2018 Subaru BRZ -- Comes as a coupe only, but has a great combination of usable power and excellent rear-drive dynamics.

Used Volkswagen Golf/GTI -- The Golf and GTI have superior cabins in terms of both quality and space. A certified pre-owned (CPO) model could be a great deal.

Autotrader's Advice

Choosing between the hard or soft top is a personal call. A 2.0T SE version has plenty of features for the money.

Find a Volkswagen Beetle for sale

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New 2018 Volkswagen Beetle 2.0T Coupe
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New 2018 Volkswagen Beetle 2.0T Convertible
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New 2018 Volkswagen Beetle 2.0T Convertible
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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2018 Volkswagen Beetle: New Car Review - Autotrader