2012 Volkswagen Beetle Review

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Edmunds' Expert Review

  • Unique styling
  • powerful and efficient turbo engine
  • high-class interior
  • capable handling and comfortable ride
  • well-equipped
  • more space than kitschy competitors.
  • Inefficient and unrefined base engine
  • less space than more sensible competitors.

The completely redesigned 2012 Volkswagen Beetle is a little less cute, a lot more functional, but still unmistakably a Beetle.

Vehicle overview

The last "new" Volkswagen Beetle pioneered the automotive retro trend when it debuted way back for 1998. Thanks to distinctive styling and little touches like a flower vase on the dash, the New Beetle was an immediate hit with younger buyers and Baby Boomers alike. But that homage to the 1960s lasted so long without any changes that it eventually became an homage to the 1990s. In a way, the New Beetle has been a retro version of itself in its waning years. So it's with welcome relief that Volkswagen has introduced the redesigned 2012 Volkswagen Beetle.

An entirely new model based on the most recent mechanical underpinnings from the redesigned VW Golf, the 2012 Beetle is a car that's a little less cute but a lot more functional. At first glance, it resembles a New Beetle that's been squashed from above. (And, yes, the word "New" has been exorcised, so you won't be reading about the new New Beetle). Indeed, the redesigned car is longer, wider, lower and has more upright A-pillars. This not only gives the Beetle more classic proportions, but also provides more legroom, a bigger trunk and a more natural driving position that dispenses with the previous car's massive dash top and awkward sight lines around the windshield pillars.

The interior design has been redone as well to be modern without losing the Beetle heritage. The upright dashboard has an available drop-down glovebox (dubbed kaeferfach, or "Beetle bin," in homage to the original), and it is color-keyed to the exterior to add a welcome splash of personality. The design might not be as retro as the Mini Cooper, but then neither are its interior controls, and this is definitely a good thing. In fact, the Beetle gets the same sensible electronics features and control interface that you see elsewhere in the VW lineup, including Bluetooth, iPod and a navigation system.

Mechanically, the 2012 VW Beetle is mostly comprised of bits and pieces from the Golf. The unrefined and inefficient five-cylinder base engine is an unfortunate hand-me-down, while the Beetle Turbo's spirited and efficient four-cylinder is a genetic blessing from the Golf GTI. The Turbo also features a suspension setup similar to the GTI, a calibration that gives it a good balance between slick handling and a refined ride (although it's not as capable nor fun to drive as the GTI). The base Beetle's suspension is borrowed from the VW Jetta and is less sophisticated, but it gets the job done.

In total, the redesigned 2012 Volkswagen Beetle feels like the welcome return of an old friend. It has the traditional look that will appeal to the Beetle faithful, but sports a visual modernity that should attract new buyers into the Beetle fold (or at least recapture those who lost interest during the New Beetle's lengthy reign). It still isn't as functional as otherwise upscale small cars like the Ford Focus or the Volkswagen Golf, but compared to other high-fashion compacts like the Mini Cooper and Fiat 500, the Beetle boasts an actually usable backseat and trunk. So the Beetle is back, and yes, it's better than ever.

2012 Volkswagen Beetle models

The 2012 Volkswagen Beetle is a two-door, four-passenger hatchback available in Beetle, 2.5L Beetle and Beetle Turbo trim levels.

The base Beetle comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, heated mirrors, full power accessories, air-conditioning, cruise control, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, cloth upholstery, a trip computer and an eight-speaker sound system with a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack. The 2.5L Beetle adds heated windshield washer nozzles, heated and height-adjustable front seats (with lumbar adjustment), leatherette premium vinyl upholstery, a second glovebox, floor mats, Bluetooth and an iPod interface.

The Sunroof package adds a panoramic sunroof, keyless ignition/entry, a multifunction steering wheel, a front center armrest, an upgraded trip computer, satellite radio, a touchscreen audio interface and a six-CD changer. The Sunroof, Sound & Navigation package adds the above package plus 18-inch wheels, a navigation system integrated into the touchscreen interface and a premium Fender audio system with a subwoofer.

The Beetle Turbo additions to the 2.5L Beetle's equipment include 18-inch wheels, foglights, a rear spoiler, sport seats, Turbo-specific cloth upholstery and alloy pedals. The Sunroof and Sound package adds the same items as the 2.5L's Sunroof package along with the Fender audio system and shift paddles (when equipped with the DSG transmission). The Turbo's Sunroof, Sound and Navigation System adds a navigation system to the above package along with leather upholstery. Bi-xenon headlamps and 19-inch wheels can be added to this package. A sport-tuned suspension is optional on all Turbo models. VW will also be offering an array of customizing dealer-sourced accessories, such as exterior graphics, themed badges and special retro wheels.

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2012 Highlights

The Volkswagen Beetle has been completely redesigned for 2012, and ditches the "New" from its name despite actually being new for the first time in a decade. For now, it is available in a coupe body style only.

Performance & mpg

Standard on the base and 2.5L Beetle models is a 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine that produces 170 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque. Every Beetle is front-wheel drive. A five-speed manual transmission is standard, while a six-speed automatic transmission is optional on all but the base model. In Edmunds testing, this engine with the automatic went from zero to 60 mph in 9 seconds, which is about average for a compact with an automatic. Estimated EPA fuel economy is 22 mpg city/29 mpg highway and 25 mpg combined with the automatic (22/31/25 with the manual), which is mediocre for a car this size.

The 2012 VW Beetle Turbo gets a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that produces 200 hp and 207 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual is standard and a six-speed automated manual (known as DSG) is optional. In Edmunds performance testing, the Beetle Turbo with DSG went from zero to 60 mph in a quick 6.6 seconds. Fuel economy is actually better than the base five-cylinder at 22/30/25 with the automatic and 22/30/24 with the manual. That's quite good considering the added performance, though a Mini Cooper S is still about 5 mpg better. Both Beetle models can be partial-zero-emissions vehicles (PZEV) certified in states with California emissions standards.

Safety

Every 2012 Volkswagen Beetle comes standard with traction and stability control, antilock disc brakes, front side airbags and side curtain airbags. In Edmunds brake testing, a Beetle Turbo with 18-inch wheels came to a stop in 129 feet -- disappointing for a sporty small car. Surprisingly, a regular 2.5 model stopped in 122 feet, which is a bit better than average.

In government crash tests, the Beetle received four out of five stars for overall crash protection, with four stars awarded for overall frontal protection and five stars for overall side-impact protection.

Driving

How the 2012 Volkswagen Beetle drives largely depends on the engine you choose. The base five-cylinder is respectably powerful, but it sounds unrefined and gets disappointing fuel economy. Despite its less sophisticated underpinnings, handling of the non-Turbo Beetle is quite good, with crisp turn-in and minimal body roll in quick transitions. As a result, enthusiasts will likely be happy about that but wish for stronger performance.

The Beetle Turbo, on the other hand, has plenty of punch, sounds great and gets better mileage than the disappointing base engine. The six-speed manual is quite possibly the most easily shifted do-it-yourself transmission around, while the sophisticated DSG gearbox is a nice compromise for those who want the simplicity of an automatic with the performance and control of a manual. Handling surprisingly isn't really better than the regular Beetle, with its overall abilities and steering response that are well short of what you'll get from a GTI or a Mini Cooper S.

Interior

The 2012 VW Beetle has a cabin that draws design inspiration from the original flower-power model, yet includes the same features, controls and construction of modern Volkswagens. The cutesy flower vase, expansive dash and cramped backseat of the '90s-era New Beetle are things of the past, yet this next-generation Beetle still has plenty of character. The trim that runs across the dash and doors can be painted the same color as the exterior, while the Turbo gets secondary dash-top gauges and available two-tone seats.

It's a pretty cool passenger environment, and unlike a Mini Cooper, it doesn't suffer for its coolness with head-scratching and/or frustrating ergonomics. The optional navigation system is easy to use, though its small screen limits usefulness. The premium Fender sound system, on the other hand, is well worth the extra price and provides impressive sound quality.

Despite its lower roof line, the 2012 Beetle still provides plenty of room for both the heads and legs of even tall drivers. The backseat is also significantly more spacious, though it's certainly not as roomy as the related Volkswagen Golf. The 15.4-cubic-foot trunk is actually bigger than the Golf's with the 50/50 split-folding seats raised, though if you lower them, the Beetle only provides 29.9 cubes of maximum space versus the Golf's 46 cubes.


Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 2012 Volkswagen Beetle.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

4.38 out of 5 stars
Great compromise Car
htree11,03/20/2012
2.5L PZEV 2dr Hatchback (2.5L 5cyl 6A)
Had this car 5 days will update later. 105 miles with approximately 5 gals used. I have been using it as a commuter car 20 miles average per day. 1/2 interstate the other Blvd/city driving. There is a driver side window issue. will not come up all the way all the time. It will work afar several attempts. Plan to take it back to the Dealer. Dealer was asked about the problem prior to purchased. However vaguely acknowledged it existed. The only problem...Yes. The 2.5L is a blast to drive good exceleration, large cabin for two, equipment works fine. I have bluetooth (easy to setup), iPod connectivity (works without instructions) and the radio sounds great (no Fender).
3.25 out of 5 stars
VW Knew about the Window problems
bink11,08/14/2012
2.5L PZEV 2dr Hatchback w/Sunroof, Sound, Navigation (2.5L 5cyl 5M)
VW knew about the window problems, because the Convertible Bug had been plagued with them the entire run of the line. I traded in my 2004 Convertible Beetle for the new one because it seemed like the only way to fix the window problem once and for all. Now, here I am day one and I don't have my new car because it is back at the Dealership being "fixed". I'm lucky apparently because the Dealership I use has a great staff who really do their best to solve problems, but when the problem is the manufacturer... All I can say is avoid VW's. If anyone stops to ask me about the car, it isn't going to go well for the company.
2 out of 5 stars
Unbulllllyvable !!!
Labbaga,07/23/2015
2.0T Turbo PZEV 2dr Hatchback w/Sunroof, Sound, Navigation (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M)
Today I was so close to tears with my Red VW Turbo Beetle. I had all the problems stated from the reviews below... from the windows having a mind of their own the moment I got them from the dealership... up to injection fuel pump issues and being stuck only to have the same problem all over again in a week, after it's supposed to have been fixed... and some loose screw coming out of nowhere under the hood... Too many problems, if you ask me, from a supposedly brand new car. CRY !!! It's almost like being bullied by all these issues...by my own car. I head to leave my car in the dealership for a whole month (or more)... and this was with the car being less than 3 years. Also, my car has this odd stink coming from the vent... could it be me ? I dare not admit. Even the media jack inside the glove compartment had issues right from the beginning. This is my second VW Beetle and I am switching to another brand. The only thing that I enjoyed was the Fender sound system...
4.63 out of 5 stars
Black Turbo Launch
2012beetle,12/27/2011
2.0T Black Turbo Launch Edition PZEV 2dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM)
My 2012 Beetle is a blast to drive. It feels great in the curves and shoots out of them with a force. It very comfortable and the arrangment inside makes since and everything is handy for use. BIG PROBLEM - The drivers door automatic window does not function correctly. From day one it does not close all the way and takes 5-6 attempts to get it to go all the way up. It has been rained in two times already because of this. I took it to the dealer and they say there is no problem and if there is it's because of the window tint. I explained it has had a problem since day one and that there are numerous complaints across the internet regarding the same problem.

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

4 out of 5 stars
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    Overall4 / 5
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    Overall4 / 5
  • Side Barrier Rating
    Overall5 / 5
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front Seat5 / 5
    Back Seat5 / 5
  • Rollover
    Rollover4 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of Rollover10.5%

More about the 2012 Volkswagen Beetle
More About This Model

Back in 1998, some two decades after the last air-cooled, rear-engined VW Beetle buzzed out of a U.S. showroom, it came back. Sort of. Reincarnated as the New Beetle, this new car looked similar to the original but otherwise was a completely different bug. It was basically a Golf platform with a modernized Beetle body atop it. But some things about the New Beetle bugged us, such as the half acre of dash top, the awkward sight lines around the windshield pillars and the skimpy rear passenger/cargo space. Then there was the name itself, which has made for some oxymoronic episodes disguised as used car ads. The 2012 Volkswagen Beetle puts what is now the old New Beetle behind it, and the result is a car that gets more respect from us.

Although we've previously sampled the 2012 Volkswagen Beetle Turbo, this time we drove the Beetle 2.5, which should be the volume seller. Though it won't raise the pulse rate of pure-bred car enthusiasts, this is not to say the five-banger Beetle isn't pleasant to drive. It handles itself well on serpentine stretches of asphalt, and provided you select the Sport mode for the automatic transmission, there's ample performance punch. A user-friendly cabin with comfortable seats and a supple ride round out its appeal as a daily driver.

Although the newest Beetle boasts some key improvements that broaden its appeal, we're not about to turn a blind eye to its similarly retro-styled rivals. Those looking for a more engaging drive would be better served by the Mini Cooper Clubman while those looking for maximum space efficiency should check out the Fiat 500, which offers similar rear legroom and maximum cargo space but in a package that's 30 inches shorter. They'll also provide considerably better fuel economy, an advantage of no small consequence these days.

Used 2012 Volkswagen Beetle Overview

The Used 2012 Volkswagen Beetle is offered in the following submodels: Beetle Hatchback. Available styles include 2.5L PZEV 2dr Hatchback (2.5L 5cyl 6A), 2.5L 2dr Hatchback w/Sound, Navigation (2.5L 5cyl 6A), 2.5L 2dr Hatchback (2.5L 5cyl 6A), 2.5L PZEV 2dr Hatchback (2.5L 5cyl 5M), 2.5L PZEV 2dr Hatchback w/Sunroof (2.5L 5cyl 6A), 2.5L PZEV 2dr Hatchback w/Sunroof, Sound, Navigation (2.5L 5cyl 6A), 2.0T Turbo 2dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM), 2.0T Turbo PZEV 2dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M), 2.0T Turbo PZEV 2dr Hatchback w/Sunroof, Sound (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM), 2.0T Turbo PZEV 2dr Hatchback w/Sunroof, Sound, Navigation (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM), 2.0T Turbo PZEV 2dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM), 2.5L 2dr Hatchback w/Sunroof, Sound, Navigation (2.5L 5cyl 6A), 2.0T Turbo 2dr Hatchback w/Sound, Nav (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM), 2.0T Turbo 2dr Hatchback w/Sunroof, Sound (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM), 2.0T Turbo 2dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M), 2.5L 2dr Hatchback (2.5L 5cyl 5M), 2.0T Turbo 2dr Hatchback w/Sunroof, Sound, Navigation (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM), PZEV 2dr Hatchback (2.5L 5cyl 5M), 2.5L PZEV 2dr Hatchback w/Sunroof (2.5L 5cyl 5M), 2.5L 2dr Hatchback w/Sunroof (2.5L 5cyl 6A), 2.0T Turbo PZEV 2dr Hatchback w/Sunroof, Sound, Navigation (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M), 2.0T Turbo 2dr Hatchback w/Sunroof, Sound (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M), 2.0T Turbo 2dr Hatchback w/Sunroof, Sound, Navigation (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M), 2.0T Turbo PZEV 2dr Hatchback w/Sunroof, Sound (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M), 2dr Hatchback (2.5L 5cyl 5M), 2.5L 2dr Hatchback w/Sunroof (2.5L 5cyl 5M), 2.0T Black Turbo Launch Edition PZEV 2dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM), 2.5L PZEV 2dr Hatchback w/Sunroof, Sound, Navigation (2.5L 5cyl 5M), 2.0T Black Turbo Launch Edition 2dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM), 2.0T White Turbo Launch Edition PZEV 2dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM), 2.5L 2dr Hatchback w/Sunroof, Sound, Navigation (2.5L 5cyl 5M), and 2.0T White Turbo Launch Edition 2dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM). Pre-owned Volkswagen Beetle models are available with a 2.5 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 170 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 2012 Volkswagen Beetle comes with front wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 6-speed automatic. The Used 2012 Volkswagen Beetle comes with a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. basic warranty, a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. roadside warranty, and a 5 yr./ 60000 mi. powertrain warranty.

What's a good price on a Used 2012 Volkswagen Beetle?

Price comparisons for Used 2012 Volkswagen Beetle trim styles:

  • The Used 2012 Volkswagen Beetle 2.5L is priced between $9,990 and$11,995 with odometer readings between 105058 and111461 miles.
  • The Used 2012 Volkswagen Beetle 2.5L PZEV is priced between $10,446 and$12,995 with odometer readings between 76304 and117359 miles.
  • The Used 2012 Volkswagen Beetle 2.0T Turbo is priced between $11,999 and$11,999 with odometer readings between 93878 and93878 miles.
  • The Used 2012 Volkswagen Beetle 2.0T Turbo PZEV is priced between $13,995 and$13,995 with odometer readings between 80585 and80585 miles.

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Which used 2012 Volkswagen Beetles are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2012 Volkswagen Beetle for sale near. There are currently 6 used and CPO 2012 Beetles listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $9,990 and mileage as low as 76304 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2012 Volkswagen Beetle.

Can't find a used 2012 Volkswagen Beetles you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Volkswagen Beetle for sale - 8 great deals out of 15 listings starting at $17,745.

Find a used Volkswagen for sale - 6 great deals out of 10 listings starting at $16,434.

Find a used certified pre-owned Volkswagen Beetle for sale - 5 great deals out of 17 listings starting at $24,549.

Find a used certified pre-owned Volkswagen for sale - 12 great deals out of 14 listings starting at $12,334.

Should I lease or buy a 2012 Volkswagen Beetle?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

Check out Volkswagen lease specials
Check out Volkswagen Beetle lease specials