The Volkswagen Beetle, the classic "people's car" which took VW from niche player to major automaker, remains as iconic as ever. Now in it's third generation, the spunky runabout continues the tradition of being a fun and practical choice for the consumer who wants to park a little pizzazz in their driveway. For 2018, notable updates and trim changes continue to ensure the Beetle's status as America's favorite bug.
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2018 Volkswagen Beetle Overview
What's New for 2018
The biggest news regarding the 2018 Beetle can be found under the hood, where the old 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder has been usurped by a larger and more efficient 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four. This updated engine returns EPA ratings of 26 miles per gallon city, 33 highway, and 29 combined, while also delivering 174 horsepower and 184 pounds-feet of torque. A six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission is the only gearbox available.
Volkswagen has also shuffled the trim levels for 2018, paring down the Beetle lineup by axing the limited-edition #PinkBeetle (yes, the hashtag really was part of its name), the retro-themed Classic, and the sporty R-line. New this year is the Coast, an ocean-inspired trim. Regardless of trim level, all Beetles now come with a six-year, 72,000 mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, offering peace of mind for buyers not wholly convinced of the merits of German engineering.
Choosing Your Volkswagen Beetle
With fewer trim levels on tap than 2017 and only one available engine, VW has made it easier than ever to choose a Beetle.
Both the coupe and convertible offer the same trim levels, but opting to go topless will carry a hefty surcharge over a comparably equipped hardtop. Prices for the cabriolet variant are $26,290 for the S, $27,690 for the Coast, $28,890 for the SE and an eye-watering $32,940 for the Dune. All prices factor in an $850 destination charge.
Even base models come standard with a host of safety features, including Post-Collision Braking (the car will automatically apply the brakes if the airbags deploy) and the Intelligent Crash Response System (the car kills the engine, unlocks the doors, and activates the hazards in the event of an accident). Keeping with the cheap and cheerful theme of the Beetle, a smattering of fun colors are available, including Habanero Orange, Silk Blue and Bottle Green.
For the best bang for your buck, go with the Coast. A pleasing shade of exclusive blue is coupled with a list of standard features well worth the $2,900 upcharge from a base S, and at $23,970 it promises to not break the bank.
2018 Volkswagen Beetle Review
The 2018 Volkswagen Beetle charms with its iconic design, outstanding warranty, and excellent fuel economy. Aside from showing its age, its deficiencies also include a cheaply-trimmed interior, a powertrain short on thrills, and a lack of advanced safety features.
Pricing for the 2018 Beetle starts at $21,070 for an S coupe and, skipping over the Coast and SE models, tops out at $32,940 for a Dune convertible. A 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine fitted with a six-speed automatic with a manual Tiptronic mode is hte only powertrain offering.
Even the S model comes with the usual power features as well as 16-inch alloy wheels, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, a five-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth connectivity, a rearview camera, a rear spoiler, and an impressive six-year/72,000-mile bumper-to-bumper limited warranty. Blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert is standard on Coast and SE trims, and front and rear parking sensors are optional on the SE and standard on the Dune. Showing its age, advanced safety systems like adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, and automatic emergency braking aren't offered on the Beetle.
For ultimate value, we'd pick the base S and toss in the Style & Comfort Package that, in addition to other bits, adds a larger touchscreen and easier-to-maintain leatherette seats that are heated up front. Here's how it'd look:
- Model: 2018 Volkswagen Beetle S
- Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder
- Output: 174 hp / 184 lb-ft
- Transmission: Six-speed automatic
- Drivetrain: Front-wheel drive
- Fuel Economy: 26 City / 34 Hwy
- Options: Style and Comfort Package ($1,475, leatherette seating, keyless push-button start, 6.3-inch touchscreen, satellite radio, Volkswagen Car-Net App-Connect, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability, 17-inch alloy wheels, body-color side sills, door handles and heated door mirrors with integrated turn signals, automatic headlights, auto-dimming rearview mirror, and rain-sensing wipers).
- Base Price: $21,070 (including the $850 destination charge)
- Best Value Price: $22,545
Despite soft spring rates, the Beetle exhibits surprisingly little body roll in modest cornering, while the slightly higher weight of convertibles and taller ride height of Dune models doesn't affect their overall ride quality. The 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine delivers decent acceleration as well as excellent fuel economy. S, Coast, and SE models achieve an EPA-estimated 26 miles per gallon in the city, 33 on the highway, and 29 combined, while the higher-riding Dune adds one mpg to the highway figure.
Despite a shared platform with the last Volkswagen GTI, none of the Beetle's controls – in particular the steering and brakes – offer much in the way of feedback. In fact, those looking for performance in a VW this size would be better served with any Golf model.
Interior and Exterior
Certainly one of the best retro designs, the Beetle's iconic sheetmetal is wrapped around a quirky interior that also does its best to mimic the original. Front seat occupants will find plenty of legroom with wide-bottom seat cushions comfortable enough for long road trips. Cargo capacity of 15.4 cubic feet that expands to 22.9 cubic feet with the back seats folded is above average for the class.
On the other hand, the interior is where the Beetle not only shows its age, but also disappoints the most. Amidst all the nostalgic quirkiness are large expanses of sub-standard, thin-feeling, black plastic trim. Compounding matters is a back seat that – with 31.4 inches of leg room – adults will find tight and is probably suitable only for children, at least for long trips.
The Best and Worst Things
The Beetle's iconic design, smooth ride, and outstanding warranty make it a good value in its class, but its looks aren't for everyone, and a cheap-looking interior and lack of advanced safety features could turn off additional buyers.
Right For? Wrong For?
The Beetle's iconic design, smooth ride, excellent fuel economy, and great warranty should attract value-conscious buyers.
At the same time, a dearth of advanced safety features will surely discourage safety-conscious buyers.
The Bottom Line
Despite its retro appeal, excellent fuel economy, and generous warranty, the Beetle's cheap interior materials and lack of advanced safety features make it a mid-pack pick in its class.