If you grew up playing “punch buggy” with your friends, I have bad news: the 2019 Volkswagen Beetle will be the last of its kind (unless VW plans a comeback in the future). The Beetle still wears its iconic shape, and it has the personality we miss in so many modern economy cars. An aging platform and downscale interior may dull its shine a bit, but we find the 2019 Beetle endearing nonetheless. Enjoy your ride into the sunset, little Bug.

Best Value

The value of the Beetle isn’t its position as a budget city runabout – the Honda Fit is better there. Nor can it trade on hatchback practicality, where the VW Golf across the showroom will reign supreme. No, the value of the Beetle (this year especially) is nostalgia and character. The Beetle to have is one of the two Final Editions, which celebrate the retro design with design tweaks that elevate the interior and exterior.

Luckily, the Final Edition trims are both reasonably priced. We wouldn’t blame anyone for choosing the Final Edition SE, which includes niceties like heated front seats and dual-zone automatic climate control but still checks in $1,350 cheaper than a regular SE.

But if we’re following our hearts, it’s the Final Edition SEL that we’d have. With retro 18-inch chrome-center wheels, leather seats, premium sound, LED lights, and navigation, it’s a Beetle worthy of a sendoff. The Final Edition SEL is a bargain of its own, costing less than a Beetle SE with the optional Premium package and just a few thousand more than the Final Edition SE.

With everything standard, the Final Edition SEL requires no option selection. We’ll have ours in Stonewashed Blue, please:

  • Model:2019 Volkswagen Beetle Final Edition SEL
  • 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 / 33 Hwy
  • Options:None
  • Base Price: $26,890 (including the $895 destination fee)
  • Best Value Price:$26,890

Performance

Volkswagen Beetle

The 2019 Beetle performs better than expected, starting with the suspension. Compliant tuning soaks up bumps easily, but the balanced handling remains fun in the curves. The steering is direct, and the Beetle has quicker responses than its retro looks would indicate. The automatic transmission is simple but smooth, and it has a manual mode when you want to enjoy yourself a little. At an EPA-estimated 29 miles per gallon combined, fuel economy is decent.

Still, the drive isn't without flaws. The engine has enough oomph to get by, but it feels unrefined at higher speeds. The suspension is well tuned but based on an aging platform, which means that it’s more easily disturbed on imperfect roads. The problem is accentuated in the convertible, which is less stiff than the coupe. We also miss the diesel engine’s thriftiness, but "dieselgate" put an end to those days.

Style

Style and personality are still the main reasons to buy a Beetle. That shape is instantly recognizable on any road, and for 2019 you’ll get to boast about having one of the last. Although the flashier Dune and Coast trims have disappeared, the Beetle’s looks remain as charming as ever.

Inside, retro cues spice up an otherwise straightforward design. The front seats are comfortable and spacious, and the cabin comes with good standard equipment for the price. That includes new safety additions like standard blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, which help the Beetle feel a little more modern. The Beetle’s warranty deserves praise of its own – a six-year/72,000-mile bumper-to-bumper guarantee is about the best you’ll find.

Retro charisma aside, the interior is a low point for the Beetle. Cheap materials are more common than other VW economy cars, with more hard plastics than we’d like. Although simple and versatile, the layout feels dated. Cargo capacity is mediocre, with just 15.4 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 29.2 with seats folded. And speaking of those rear seats, the second row is tight. Leg room is limited, and head room isn’t spectacular (unless you have the convertible’s top down, of course). Thanks to the Beetle’s two-door layout, ingress and egress are limited.

The Best and Worst Things

Volkswagen BeetleRetro style, good value, and an exceptional warranty add up to a likable package, as long as you can overlook an aging interior.

Right For? Wrong For?

The Beetle is right for urban dwellers who like their ride to reflect their personality. The Beetle may not be the most practical option on the market, but we bet it'll get more compliments than your friend’s Toyota Corolla. What it lacks in polish it makes up for in personality, which can be in short supply these days.

The Beetle is wrong for buyers expecting modernity or refinement. This Beetle is the last of a dying breed, and its age shows, especially in the interior. Available tech can’t keep up with the giant infotainment screens dominating most dashboards, and the engine won’t match the sporty fun of a GTI. This is a car for the heart, not one for spreadsheet comparisons.

The Bottom Line

The 2019 VW Beetle isn’t the most appealing car on paper, and its interior is retro in both the good and the bad ways. But for the legendary shape’s final year, it keeps the essentials: decent value, a willing drive, and overflowing personality. Good base features and a stellar warranty don’t hurt, either. Rumors have floated around that the Bug is destined for an all-electric revival. We’ll hope for the best, but until then, we’ll be dreaming of air-cooled engines, dash-mounted vases, and Herbie the Love Bug.