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.

Best Value

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

Performance

Volkswagen Beetle

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?

Volkswagen Beetle

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.