The iconic Volkswagen Beetle provides unique styling, spacious accommodations up front, many standard and available amenities and a fun overall driving experience.
Exterior styling is so distinctive, finding the Beetle in a crowded parking lot is much easier than most other compact cars. Yes, the Beetle (or Bug) is once again about to be squashed, but not without some upgrades for the 2018 model year.
The Beetle, a two-door hatchback with seating for four, is powered by a revised 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that produces a bit more power and improved fuel efficiency. The revised 2.0-L is rated for 174 horsepower and 26/33/29 mpg city/highway/combined.
Unfortunately, VW has dropped the 210-horsepower R-Line engine from the Beetle lineup and there are no optional engines available for the 2018 Beetle. All Beetles come standard with a 6-speed automatic transmission. A manual gearbox is not offered.
For 2018, VW has added a new surfer-themed trim level called Beetle Coast, and they have tweaked some option packages. But the big news is VW’s new 6-year/72,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty that is transferrable to subsequent owners.
A warranty like that should provide peace of mind for years of ownership. Beetle continues to be offered as a coupe or convertible. Either is available in five trim levels: S, S with Style and Comfort, Coast, SE and Dune.
Pricing for the Beetle ranges from about $20,000 – $27,000 for a coupe and about $25,000 – $32,000 for a convertible.
Base S models come nicely equipped and include 16-inch alloy wheels, LED running lights, power windows/locks, rearview camera, 6-way manual adjustable front seats, Bluetooth connectivity, 8-speaker audio system and 5-inch color touchscreen interface.
The sweet spot is likely the Beetle S with Style and Comfort. It adds 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, automatic wipers, keyless access with push-button starting, auto-dimming rearview mirror, heated leatherette front seats with lumbar support, HD and satellite radio, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, VW Car-Net App-Connect and a 6.3-inch color touchscreen interface.
The new Coast trim adds a sunroof, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, unique styling elements and unique upholstery.
The SE adds dual-zone automatic climate control, VW Car-Net’s Security & Service and Guide & Inform technologies.
The line-topping Dune features more aggressive styling, slightly higher ground clearance, 18-inch alloy wheels, bi-xenon headlights, LED taillights and sport seats, but some of the SE’s features like blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert and VW Car-Net’s Security & Service and Guide & Inform technologies are not available in Dune.
I recently tested a 2018 VW Beetle Dune coupe. My wife and I utilized it for a road trip to visit our nephew at the University of Dayton. I was pleasantly surprised with how well my Beetle Dune tester performed on the trip.
As you might expect, the back seat is short on leg room. But the front seats offer copious amounts of head and leg room, even for taller folks.
The 15.4 cu. ft. cargo area offered more than enough room for our bags. When additional space is needed, folding the rear seatbacks improves the cargo area to 29.9 cu. ft.
It was a good thing excursions with our nephew were few and within a couple miles. He is tall and was forced to sit sideways in our Beetle Dune’s back seat, even with the front seats moved farther forward than ideal.
Other than that, our Beetle Dune performed well. The turbo-four 2.0-liter delivers adequate power for accelerating from a stop and for overtaking. The 6-speed automatic provides smooth shifts.
The ride is tuned more for comfort but it exhibits minimal body lean when cornering. Beetle is not agile but it is not clumsy either.
Noticeably missing from the Beetle option list, though, are advanced technologies like adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking.
If you do not require those features, the Beetle is a delightfully stylish compact car with a pleasing ride.