Used 1996 Volkswagen Cabrio Review

Edmunds expert review

What's new for 1996

Daytime running lights and new body-color side moldings alter the exterior appearance of the 1996 Cabrio. A new color scheme also livens things up. Central locking and unlocking switch is dash-mounted.

Vehicle overview

Volkswagen replaced the venerable Cabriolet with this Golf-based convertible in 1995. The difference between the Cabriolet and the Cabrio was enormous and welcome. The old Rabbit-based car hasn't been missed.

The Cabrio is good fun. For $22,000 you get a four-seat convertible with simple good looks, reasonably spry performance, air conditioning and sharp seven-spoke alloy wheels. Road feel is superb, and the thick four-spoke steering wheel falls readily to hand.

While the 2.0-liter motor is no barnstormer, it moves the Cabrio quick enough to squirt through traffic. At speed, the VW feels solid and sure; this is a car that will get you speeding tickets if you're not careful.

Handling is excellent, in the Volkswagen tradition. The chassis and suspension communicate clearly with the driver, and the Cabrio's seats are comfortable and multi-adjustable.

The basket handle rollbar remains intact on the Cabrio, but the top stows much more neatly than it ever did on the Cabriolet. And a stout top it is, sporting six layers and latching tightly to the windshield header. The glass rear window is thoughtfully equipped with a defroster, making the Cabrio a true four seasons car.

For 1996, Volkswagen is making few changes. Daytime running lights have been added, and side moldings are now body color. Central locking and unlocking is accomplished via a dash-mounted switch. A new color scheme, Cinnabar Metallic with Kiesel top and Kiesel leather, is now available. (What the heck is Kiesel?)

Yes, the Miata is more fun to drive, and Mustangs are more stylish (depending on your sense of style), but the Cabrio is no longer the Barbie car it once was. It imparts a sense of class and sophistication, and at a starting price of $20,000, which includes a 10 year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty, we think Volkswagen's got a winner.

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.