The 2017 Volkswagen Beetle stakes out a pleasant middle ground among the few retro-themed hatchbacks that we consider its competition. It's stylish but also very functional and easy to drive. If you're seeking a fun retromobile in that Goldilocks zone, the VW Beetle should be on your short list.
In comparison, the Mini Cooper has plenty of charm, but it's more expensive than a similarly appointed Beetle. There's also the Fiat 500, which is quite a bit less expensive, but its build quality and performance could lead to disappointment.
This year, the Beetle returns with only a few minor changes. 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 fucshia paint job and quaint plaid interior, the returning Dune harkens back to the Baja Bugs of the 1970s, and the 2.0T R-Line should appeal to more performance-oriented drivers.
Thankfully, the charm and personality of the 2017 Beetle don't mean you need to sacrifice elsewhere. It's plenty capable, comfortable and convenient. The bigger concern may be price — the Beetle does cost a bit more than some of its other retro-themed rivals, but it likely won't be so great as to kill a deal. With seven available trim levels, there's probably one in your budget.
trim levels & features
The 2017 Volkswagen Beetle two-door hatchback is available in seven trim levels, starting with the 1.8T S and then climbing to the 1.8T Classic, 1.8 SE, a new #PinkBeetle limited edition, 1.8T Dune, 1.8 SEL and 2.0T R-Line SEL. The 1.8 models (including the #PinkBeetle) are powered by a turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine (170 horsepower, 184 pound-feet of torque) while the 2.0T R-Line receives a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine (210 hp, 207 lb-ft). A six-speed automatic transmission is standard except on the 2.0T R-Line, which receives a quicker-shifting six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
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. The real outlier is the 2.0T R-Line model that has a greater focus on performance.
Standard feature highlights for the base 1.8T S trim include 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, heated mirrors, a rear spoiler, cruise control, air conditioning, cloth upholstery, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, 50/50-split folding rear seats, a rearview camera, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, 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, lumbar adjustments for the front seats, heated front seats, VW Car-Net smartphone integration, a 6.3-inch touchscreen, a navigation system, and satellite and HD radio. This model does not come with the automatic headlights or the auto-dimming rearview mirror.
Our favorite Beetle is the 1.8T SE. You get the automatic headlights and auto-dimming mirror along with keyless entry and ignition, imitation-leather upholstery and color-adjustable ambient interior lighting. The SE does not include the navigation system, but given the infotainment system's robust smartphone app integration systems, you're unlikely to miss it.
The limited-edition #PinkBeetle is appointed similarly to the 1.8 SE and is only available in a metallic fucshia exterior color. Other additions include xenon headlights, LED running lights and taillights and unique plaid upholstery. The 1.8T Dune model is also similar to the 1.8 SE trim but adds unique exterior styling elements, LED taillights, a slightly raised suspension and cloth/leatherette upholstered sport seats. It does not include the keyless entry/ignition, however.
At the top of the Beetle line is the loaded 1.8 SEL. Compared to the SE, it has 18-inch wheels, a sunroof, 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 Beetle 2.0T R-Line SEL starts with the 1.8T SEL's features and adds 20-inch wheels with summer performance tires, a sport-tuned suspension, xenon headlights, foglights with cornering lights, a sunroof, unique exterior and interior styling treatments, shift paddles mounted to the steering wheel and leather upholstery.
2016 Volkswagen Beetle 1.8T Dune (turbo 1.8L inline-4 | 6-speed automatic | FWD)
NOTE: This test was conducted on the 2016 Volkswagen Beetle 1.8T Dune, which differs from other 1.8T Beetles by the nature of its taller ride height and wider track that will likely affect handling and ride comfort. Our other findings remain broadly applicable to other Beetle models.
noise & vibration
ease of use
getting in/getting out
audio & navigation
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.