2017 Volkswagen Beetle

2017 Volkswagen Beetle Review

The 2017 VW Beetle combines retro style with modern comfort and convenience.
3.5 star edmunds overall rating
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 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.



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. And yes, the hashtag is part of its official name. Trim levels have also been simplified for the 2017 Beetle.


we recommend

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. The 2.0T R-Line is the sporty one of the bunch, but its price is hard to justify against VW's own GTI.




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.



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.

trim tested

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.

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 & vibration4.5 / 5.0

Interior

4.0 / 5.0

Ease of use4.0 / 5.0
Getting in/getting out3.0 / 5.0
Roominess3.0 / 5.0
Visibility3.0 / 5.0
Quality3.0 / 5.0

Utility

3.0 / 5.0

Small-item storage3.0 / 5.0
Cargo space3.0 / 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

edmunds rating
The 2017 Volkswagen Beetle's engine output numbers may not be all that impressive, but the 1.8-liter has plenty of real-world power. 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

edmunds rating
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. Stopping power is impressive, though. We measured a very good 115-foot distance in our panic-stop test from 60 mph.

steering

edmunds rating
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

edmunds rating
The Dune's raised suspension feels nice around town, but 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. The R-Line is better, but no Beetle is truly engaging.

drivability

edmunds rating
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

edmunds rating
Though Volkswagen plays off the 2017 Beetle's style, this is thankfully still a modern-day small car. 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

edmunds rating
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

edmunds rating
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. Beetle R-Lines ride more firmly.

noise & vibration

edmunds rating
The cabin is insulated from road, tire and wind noise. At highway cruising speeds, the engine is relatively low on the rev range and is fairly quiet. Even when you boot the gas, the Beetle is hushed compared to most rivals.

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. A thoughtful strap helps occupants hoist themselves out of the rear seat. Visibility out the back is hampered by a small window and thick pillars.

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 the 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. Rear passengers have a nifty pillar-mounted grab handle to make getting out of the backseats easier.

roominess

edmunds rating
There's plenty of headroom for those in the front, although two adults are likely to brush elbows. Rear seats are comfortable, but minimal amounts of leg- and headroom diminish their long-distance usefulness.

visibility

edmunds rating
Forward and side visibility are just fine, thanks to the large windshield and windows. Rear visibility is compromised due to the large pillars, rear headrests and small rear window. The standard rearview camera and front and rear parking sensors are appreciated.

quality

edmunds rating
A slight creaking noise came 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

edmunds rating
There isn't a lot of space in the 2017 VW Beetle 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

edmunds rating
The Beetle's hatchback design gives it a decently sized trunk at 15.4 cubic feet. With the 50/50-split folding rear seats stowed, that capacity expands to 30 cubic feet, but it's important to note that these figures represent loading the space to the ceiling.

technology

edmunds rating
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

edmunds rating
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.