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2019 Volkswagen Beetle Review

Think of the 2019 Volkswagen Beetle as a fond farewell. This will be its last year of production and Volkswagen is sending it off in some kind of style, the details of which we’ll go into below.

While many compact cars lean heavily on the utilitarian, the Beetle has never been afraid to ditch some practicality in exchange for a bit of personality, individuality and charm. Available as a coupe or a convertible, its retro styling simultaneously evokes the classic VW Beetle while asserting a character of its own.

The contemporary Beetle is based on a previous-generation Golf platform, but it has most of that car’s fundamental goodness. This is also one of the least expensive ways of owning a brand-new convertible with four seats.

What’s New for 2019?

The faux-buggy Dune version has been discontinued and Volkswagen has arranged trim levels into S, SE, Final Edition SE and Final Edition SEL. As a result, there’s a redistribution of equipment and options across these four trims. The new Final Edition versions include a lot of standard equipment for their prices. See the 2019 Volkswagen Beetle models for sale near you

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.

How Much?

$21,790-$30,890

Fuel Economy

The front-wheel-drive Beetle range uses a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine (2.0T) making 174 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. A 6-speed automatic transmission comes as 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).

Standard Features & Options

The 2019 Volkswagen Beetle is available as a coupe or a soft-top convertible. All the convertible versions have a powered fabric roof, tonneau cover, insulated glass rear window and a rear spoiler.

The S coupe ($21,790) and S convertible ($26,890) have 16-in alloy wheels, leather-wrapped steering wheel/shift knob/parking brake lever, cloth upholstery, manually adjustable front seats (heated in the convertible) with height adjustment for the driver, power windows, 50/50 split/folding rear seats, air conditioning, cruise control, heated side mirrors, a rearview camera, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, Bluetooth, a trip computer, and an 8-speaker audio system with a 5-in touchscreen, AM/FM radio, a CD player, an auxiliary input and a USB port.

The SE coupe ($25,290) and the SE convertible ($29,290) are fitted with 17-in alloy wheels, rain-sensing wipers, heated washer nozzles, a powered tilt/slide sunroof (coupe only), comfier front seats (heated in both the coupe and convertible), keyless entry/ignition, a self-dimming rearview mirror, simulated leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, ambient cabin lighting, a 6.3-in infotainment touchscreen and satellite/HD radio.

SE versions are eligible for a Premium Package ($2,500) that brings 18-in alloy wheels, parking sensors front and rear, navigation, a Fender-branded audio system upgrade, fog lights, bi-xenon headlights and LED daytime running lights/taillights/license plate lights.

Final Edition SE coupe ($24,040) and Final Edition SE convertible ($28,190) versions come with cloth/simulated leather upholstery and stainless steel-covered pedals. These cars are less expensive than their non-Final Edition SE counterparts, but have virtually the same sets of features.

Final Edition SEL coupe ($26,890) and Final Edition SEL convertible ($30,890) models have the contents of the Premium Package as standard, along with real leather seating surfaces.

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, including four stars for frontal impacts and 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 frontal-impact 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, just sits on the body. It’s a good thing that blind spot monitoring is now standard throughout that range.

Trunk space for the coupe is a decent 15.4 cu ft., while 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., but 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.

Other Cars to Consider

2019 Fiat 500 — The turbocharged Abarth version of the 500 has a memorable exhaust note and the whole car is a chuckle.

2019 Ford Fiesta ST — For a small car with a lot of personality and a winning FWD chassis, check this one out.

2019 Mini Hardtop — Blends acceleration, handling, charm and fuel economy.

2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata — Another one of those "car as lifestyle statement" creations, but also great fun and well built.

2019 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 the 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

It seems that a Final Edition SE is a no-brainer. Or a Final Edition SEL is still cheaper than a regular SE with the Premium Package. Each buyer will have an idea on whether or not a fixed roof is the preferred choice. Find a Volkswagen Beetle for sale

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