2019 Volkswagen Beetle

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2019
The Car Connection
2019
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Andrew Ganz Andrew Ganz Senior Editor
December 26, 2018

Buying tip

If you’re buying a brand new VW Beetle, you’re probably in it for the fun, so why not spring for the convertible?

The 2019 Volkswagen Beetle offers a surprising amount of value and a great warranty.

What was once the top-selling car of all time is now far from it, as the 2019 Volkswagen Beetle lives on for one more year before it is lost to the annals of history (at least for now). Still, we give this fitting tribute to the original peoples’ car  5.6 out of 10 overall for its quality, warranty, and attitude. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

For 2019, the Dune and Coast special edition trims are no more, so all that’s left are the S, SE, and SE with Premium Package trims to keep the nameplate alive, as well as the somewhat ominous Final Edition. The base S model also gets standard blind-spot monitors with rear cross-traffic alerts, but automatic emergency braking is still not available. All trim levels are still available as a coupe or convertible.

The Beetle Final Edition SE and SEL trims include a sunroof and body-color side mirrors as well as heated washer nozzles, while the SEL features LED daytime running lights and taillights. There are also two unique colors, Safari Uni beige and Stonewashed Blue, the latter of which was most recently seen on the 2016 Denim Edition.

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As for powertrains, there’s still only one, so those  looking for a hotter Bug are best suited turning to the used car market. The 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder makes 174 horsepower and is mated with a 6-speed automatic transmission, with no option for a manual.

The Beetle is fun to drive, with quick responses and a suspension that's on the firm side. It's not a sharp corner carver, but it's better-composed than its retro looks suggest.

Inside, the Beetle's retro theme carries over with a dashboard painted to match the exterior and no shortage of vintage kitsch. It's not especially spacious and even the priciest Beetle on the lot has too many econo-car trim bits inside.

Thankfully, a great warranty remains, with 6 years or 72,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper coverage, whichever comes first. The base Beetle S is now better-equipped with its additional safety features, not to mention synthetic leather upholstery, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility as standard, 17-inch wheels, and keyless ignition.

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2019 Volkswagen Beetle

Styling

The 2019 VW Beetle’s iconic shape is endearing.

If you don’t find the 2019 Volkswagen Beetle still a little bit fun, you might want to loosen up. Thanks to its iconic shape, it is an instantly recognizable little runabout, and one that’s got a heaping of character, which is why we’ve awarded 8 out of 10 points. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

While the 2019 VW Beetle is relatively plain in terms of sheet metal, that shape is enough to warrant plenty of looks, even if it’s a bit more business-like than the classic Bug or the ‘90s New Beetle. Without the Dune and Coast trims, however, it’s a bit more boring to look at now.

Inside, the relatively spartan cabin remains untouched, and we still like the straightforward style with a retro approach. Unfortunately, the interior is let down by its last-generation materials, so some harder plastics remain than on more recently redesigned VWs.

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2019 Volkswagen Beetle

Performance

The 2019 VW Beetle is not as fun as it used to be, but it still has pep in its step.

The 2019 Volkswagen Beetle isn’t as sporty as its squat looks suggest. As far as turbocharged four-cylinders go, it’s middle-of-the-road. That’s why we’ve given it 6 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The 2.0-liter turbo-4 engine in all Beetles makes 174 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque and it is mated exclusively to a 6-speed automatic transmission with front-wheel drive. While this engine has decent grunt right off the line, it’s a far cry from the 200-hp, GTI-sourced turbo engine once offered.

The 6-speed automatic delivers smooth shifts and features a manual mode for descending hills and having a little fun.

Coupled with a relatively soft suspension setup, the Beetle is geared for comfort rather than driving fun, however. Its chassis is balanced and its steering is direct enough that drivers have a good time on a twisty back road. Underneath, the Beetle rides on an older platform than VW's other small cars, and it shows in the way it responds to some pavement imperfections.

Convertibles exhibit a hint of flex on bumpy pavement—but if the last Beetle droptop you drove was in 1974, the current model is worlds away.

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2019 Volkswagen Beetle

Comfort & Quality

Though it packs four seats, the 2019 VW Beetle is better suited for two.

Despite its retro cool good looks, the 2019 Volkswagen Beetle doesn’t deliver when you look beyond the surface.

Its tight interior and unimpressive materials warrant a 4 out of 10 rating. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Front seat passengers will be happiest in the 2019 Beetle, with plenty of leg- and headroom, not to mention some decent storage space up front. In back, there’s space for only two passengers, but head- and legroom are tight, and accessibility is limited based on the Beetle providing only two doors. Rear passengers in the convertible should be more comfortable with the roof down thanks to endless headroom.

In terms of cargo capacity, there’s only 15.4 cubic feet to speak of behind the rear seats in the Coupe, with that number increasing to 29.2 cubic feet when folded flat. If you’re looking for practicality out of a small Volkswagen hatchback, a dealer will gladly point you in the direction of one of the many newer, nicer Golf models.

The Beetle’s big drawback in terms of quality, however, is its aging interior and subpar materials. It was hardly Volkswagen’s best effort even when the design was new and hasn’t aged well as the rest of the lineup has since been redesigned and replaced. Plastic surfaces are harder and feel cheaper than in most other VWs.

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2019 Volkswagen Beetle

Safety

The 2019 VW Beetle adds some standard safety features, but still lags the pack.

Largely due to its age, the 2019 Volkswagen Beetle doesn’t pack quite the plethora of safety features many small cars do but does include a few more for the new model year. Without full crash-test ratings from the government, we can’t rate the Beetle for its safety. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Thanks to this year’s addition of rear cross-traffic alerts and blind-spot monitors as standard, every Beetle buyer gets a bit more safety kit. Features such as parking sensors are are optional and there is no available active safety tech such as automatic emergency braking and active lane control.

The IIHS gave the Beetle only a “Marginal” score in the small front overlap test, which simulates impact with a stationary object such as a utility pole

Oddly, the NHTSA hasn’t finished crash-testing the Beetle. In the front crash test, the hardtop earned four stars.

Outward visibility is good in coupe models, but with the top down on the convertible, rear visibility can be obscured.

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2019 Volkswagen Beetle

Features

The 2019 Volkswagen Beetle offers a surprising amount of value and a great warranty, but it lacks safety tech.

The 2019 Volkswagen Beetle has a decent level of standard equipment for a small, inexpensive car.

On our scale, it rates 5 out of 10. .(Read more about how we rate cars.)

Every Beetle—S, SE, and SE Premium, Final Edition SE, and Final Edition SEL—features  a touchscreen for infotainment, Bluetooth connectivity, a rearview camera, and alloy wheels.

The only trims that remain following the demise of the Dune and Coast models are the S, SE, and SE Premium Package, the latter two of which include a 6.3-inch touchscreen for infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability, upgraded alloy wheels, synthetic leather upholstery, and automatic headlights.

Beetle SEs add dual-zone climate control and heated seats, while the Premium Package adds upgraded seats and audio, parking sensors, navigation, and 18-inch wheels.

The Final Edition SE and SEL trims are available in two unique colors, and the SEL version adds LED daytime running lights and taillights, as well as 18-inch wheels. They're the ones we'd buy, even though a loaded model is about $30,000. Hey, it's your last chance, right?

An extensive warranty  with 6 years or 72,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper coverage is standard.

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5

2019 Volkswagen Beetle

Fuel Economy

Droptop or hardtop, the 2019 VW Beetle is rated at 29 mpg combined.

The 2019 Volkswagen Beetle comes in just one relatively efficient flavor.

We’ve given it 5 out of 10 points as such. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Both the coupe and convertible are rated at 26 mpg city, 33 highway, and 29 combined thanks to the single engine and transmission combination—a 2.0-liter turbo-4 and a 6-speed automatic.

Despite its increased weight, the convertible manages exactly the same mileage as the coupe. For a while, the Beetle could be had with a thrifty diesel engine. However, VW was caught cheating on the federal emissions test and the diesel was pulled from the market.

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The Car Connection Consumer Review

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$20,895
MSRP based on Final Edition SE Automatic
 
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5.6
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 8
Performance 6
Comfort & Quality 4
Safety N/A
Features 5
Fuel Economy 5
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2019 Volkswagen Beetle Pricing Insights

  • 2019 Beetle is the final model year & very difficult to find
  • Rebate: Unadvertised discounts + $500 for select customers
  • Finance: From 2.9% APR for 60 months
  • Lease: From $299 per month for 39 months
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