2017 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible

2017 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible Review

The Iconic VW Beetle combines retro style with modern comfort and convenience.
3.5 star edmunds overall rating
author
by Mark Takahashi
Edmunds Editor

The 2017 Volkswagen Beetle stakes out a pleasant middle ground among the few retro-themed convertibles that we consider its competition. It's stylish but also very functional and easy to drive. If you're seeking a fun retromobile, the VW Beetle should be on your short list.

We're now well into the second generation of the Beetle's revival and the lineup is just as strong as it's ever been. The more typical trim levels remain, bolstered by a few models to keep things interesting. The new #PinkBeetle (not associated with breast cancer awareness organizations) brings a funky fuchsia paint job and quaint plaid interior and the returning Dune harkens back to the Baja Bugs of the 1970s.

Thankfully, the charm and personality of the Beetle don't mean you need to sacrifice elsewhere. It's plenty capable, comfortable and convenient. The bigger concern may be price, as the Beetle does cost a bit more than some of its other nouveau-retro rivals, but it likely won't be so great as to kill a deal. With six available trim levels, there's probably one in your budget.



what's new

For 2017, the Volkswagen Beetle receives a slight styling update for the front and rear bumpers as well as a new limited-edition #PinkBeetle. Trim levels have also been simplified.

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The VW Beetle in 1.8T SE trim strikes a favorable middle ground between the base S and range-topping SEL models. You get all of the personality and charm that come with a Beetle, as well as a few niceties to make you feel special. There are plenty of smartphone apps to fill the navigation and entertainment gaps between this and the higher trims.

trim levels & features

The 2017 Volkswagen Beetle is a two-door convertible that is available in six trim levels, starting with the 1.8T S and climbing to the 1.8 SE, 1.8 SEL, 1.8T Classic, 1.8T Dune and a new #PinkBeetle limited edition. All of these models are powered by a turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine (170 horsepower, 184 pound-feet of torque) paired with a six-speed automatic transmission that sends power to the front wheels.

For the most part, successive trim levels add more comfort and technology features, but even the base 1.8T S comes with a solid list of standard items.

Standard feature highlights for the base 1.8T S trim include 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, heated mirrors, a power-folding fabric top with a glass rear window, a rear spoiler, keyless remote entry, cruise control, air-conditioning, imitation-leather upholstery, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, heated front seats, 50/50-split folding rear seats, a rearview camera, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, color-adjustable ambient interior lighting, a 5-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth phone and streaming audio, and an eight-speaker CD player with auxiliary and USB input.

The 1.8T Classic adds 17-inch wheels, cloth and imitation-leather upholstery, VW Car-Net smartphone integration, a 6.3-inch touchscreen, a navigation system, and HD and satellite radio. This model does not come with the ambient lighting.

The 1.8T SE includes the ambient lighting, keyless entry and ignition and full imitation-leather upholstery, but it does not include the navigation system. The 1.8 SEL trim adds 18-inch wheels, front and rear parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, dual-zone automatic climate control, the navigation system and a Fender premium audio system.

The limited edition #PinkBeetle is appointed similarly to the 1.8 SE and is only available in a metallic fuchsia exterior color. Other additions include 18-inch wheels xenon headlights, LED running lights and taillights, and unique plaid upholstery. The auto-dimming mirror is not included. The 1.8T Dune model is also similar to the 1.8 SE trim but adds 18-inch wheels, unique exterior styling elements, LED taillights, front and rear parking sensors, a slightly raised suspension, and cloth- and imitation-leather-upholstered sport seats. It does not include the keyless entry and ignition, however.

Some features are available as options on supporting trim levels.

trim tested

2016 Volkswagen Beetle 1.8T Dune (turbo 1.8L inline-4 | 6-speed automatic | FWD)

NOTE: This review utilizes information and impressions of a 2016 Volkswagen Beetle 1.8T Dune hatchback and a 2014 Beetle Convertible R-Line (which is no longer available). Differences between these test vehicles and the typical 1.8T Beetle convertible are likely related to handling and ride comfort, but our other findings remain broadly applicable.

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall3.5 / 5.0

Driving

3.5 / 5.0

Acceleration4.0 / 5.0
Braking3.0 / 5.0
Steering3.0 / 5.0
Handling3.0 / 5.0
Drivability3.5 / 5.0

Comfort

4.0 / 5.0

Seat comfort3.5 / 5.0
Ride comfort4.5 / 5.0
Noise & vibration3.0 / 5.0

Interior

3.0 / 5.0

Ease of use4.0 / 5.0
Getting in/getting out3.0 / 5.0
Roominess3.0 / 5.0
Visibility2.0 / 5.0
Quality3.0 / 5.0

Utility

3.0 / 5.0

Small-item storage3.0 / 5.0
Cargo space2.0 / 5.0

Technology

3.0 / 5.0

Audio & navigation3.0 / 5.0

driving

edmunds rating
Acceleration is good whether you're pulling away from a stoplight or looking to overtake a semi on the freeway, but braking effort is higher than anticipated because the brakes aren't quick to respond. The Dune's raised ride height and comfort-oriented suspension tuning come at the cost of handling.

acceleration

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The engine output numbers may not be all that impressive, but the 1.8-liter has plenty of power nonetheless. You don't have to floor the pedal to force a downshift, and its 0-60 mph time of 7.5 seconds is quick for the class.

braking

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There's a lack of initial braking force that makes it difficult to slow the Beetle smoothly. There's also a lot of pedal travel, so stops require more force than you might expect. Still, you can't argue with the excellent stopping distance from 60 mph of 115 feet.

steering

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Steering effort is a bit heavier than expected, making the Beetle feel more controllable at highway speeds than its rivals, yet very light when maneuvering at slow speeds. The thin-rimmed steering wheel feels a little flimsy, though.

handling

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The Dune's raised suspension feels nice around town, controlling the Beetle well at low speeds. On longer sweeps or around tight corners, there's a noticeable amount of body roll. This might sap your confidence to drive the Beetle quickly when the road gets twisty.

drivability

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The Beetle does most things right and is easy to drive. Its small footprint and the Dune's standard rearview camera and front and rear sensors make it extremely easy to maneuver in tight spaces.

comfort

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Though Volkswagen would like you to think of this as a modern-day Baja Bug, the Beetle Dune is really about comfort. The seats hug you without being oppressive, and the suspension dispatches road imperfections without transmitting any harshness to the driver. Exterior noise is limited.

seat comfort

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The seat bottom isn't long enough to provide taller drivers with outstanding thigh support. Otherwise, the seats feel supportive and comfortable, and the cloth inserts offer good cushioning. Adjustable lumbar support isn't standard in this class, so we're happy the Beetle offers it.

ride comfort

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Even though the Dune's raised suspension doesn't do much for handling, it certainly seems to make this Beetle ride well. Impacts are well-controlled, and the Beetle never feels jittery. This would be a great road-trip car.

noise & vibration

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At highway cruising speeds, the engine is relatively low on the rev range and is fairly quiet, and road noise is pleasantly muted. We detected significant amounts of wind noise around the fabric top, however.

interior

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The Beetle feels airy and bright thanks to the large windows, and the roof is high enough for a pair of tall adults in the front. Visibility out the back is hampered by a small window surrounded by the convertible top.

ease of use

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Controls are logically placed, clearly labeled and within reach of front seat occupants. Climate controls are simple, and steering wheel buttons are easy to operate without having to change your grip much.

getting in/getting out

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The fairly large doors make getting into and out of the Beetle easy, but their size can limit how far they can be opened in a parking lot.

roominess

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There's plenty of headroom for those in the front, although two adults are likely to brush elbows. The rear seats are comfortable, but minimal amounts of leg- and headroom diminish their long-distance usefulness. Shoulder room is also narrowed by the convertible top.

visibility

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Visibility forward and out the side glass is good. The view over your shoulder, however, is blocked by the soft top's thick rear roof pillar and relatively small rear window. Fortunately, a rearview camera is standard.

quality

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There was a slight creaking noise coming from the dash in our tester, but otherwise build quality was solid. Interior materials looked and felt fine but weren't class-leading. Its hard, body-colored plastic trim was an acquired taste.

utility

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There isn't a lot of space for your personal items in the cabin, but the cargo space should be able to accommodate plenty of your larger items. Overall, the Beetle is about average in this category.

small-item storage

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Gimmicky door nets are a poor substitute for actual cubbies, and the armrest bin doesn't hold much. But there's a good amount of space under the center stack.

cargo space

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The small 7.1-cubic-foot trunk has a small, upright opening suitable for a couple of bags but little else. Unfortunately, the top-hinged trunk hatch makes loading awkward. A very narrow pass-through behind the rear seats will help with longer items.

technology

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As far as infotainment systems go, the VW Beetle's isn't cutting-edge, but it is relatively easy to use and the screen resolution is sharp enough to read at a quick glance.

audio & navigation

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The touchscreen utilizes a nice mix of physical and digital controls. It's easy to use, but it's a couple inches too small by contemporary standards.

edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.