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- Relative value among small cars
- Superlative warranty
- Smooth ride
- Good outward visibility
- Iconic style
- Style isn’t for everyone
- Chintzy interior materials
- No more R-Line engine
- Lacking advanced safety systems
The 2018 Volkswagen Beetle is a competent small car that’s showing its age. The same could be said for every other Beetle on the road and that hasn’t stopped it yet, has it?
The 2018 Volkswagen Beetle lives where culture and cars collide—always has.
This year, the Beetle follows that ethos with a simplified powertrain lineup and a special edition that probably couldn’t afford the royalty nut to the Beach Boys, so they call it “Coast.”
This Beetle is getting on in its years and it shows. We give it a 6.5 overall, with a hat tip to three virtues: its style, its warranty, and its fuel-efficiency. It won’t be comfortable for anyone in the back seat, and performance takes a back seat to the back seat. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
This year’s Beetle is offered in S, Coast, SE, and Dune trim levels with the last stop being a taller-riding version but still front-wheel drive. The Dune model is its own animal, one that we’re not sure we completely understand, if we’re honest. All trim levels are available as a coupe or convertible.
VW has done the thinking for you when considering powertrains: there’s only one. An updated 2.0-liter turbo-4 and smooth shifting 6-speed automatic is the only option; last year’s higher-zoot R-Line engine is gone. We haven’t driven the latest 2.0-liter turbo-4, but considering the engine’s close relationship with the outgoing 1.8-liter turbo-4 (same block, longer stroke) and its nearly identical power output we can predict that the new Beetle will feel much like the old new Beetle.
The Coast version smothers the Beetle in a new blue, adds a surfboard-themed dash, and rugged floor mats to get around, round, round.
There are good vibrations (all right, we’ll stop) for Volkswagen’s new warranty. The automaker covers the 2018 VW Beetle bumper-to-bumper for six years or 72,000 miles, whichever comes first.
No Beetle is poorly equipped, but a lack of advanced safety features is starting to catch up to the automaker. For roughly $22,500 the Beetle S with a popular equipment package comes with synthetic leather upholstery, a 6.3-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto capability, a rearview camera, 17-inch wheels, and keyless ignition. That’s a relative value among small cars, and few have the Volkswagen Beetle’s style. Perhaps other automakers could learn something from that—wouldn’t it be nice?