1997 Volkswagen Cabrio Review

Used Cabrio for sale
List Price Estimate:$321 - $746
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Volkswagen Cabrio model years
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Edmunds' Expert Review

  • Affordable top down fun
  • No ABS on base car, underpowered engine

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 $18,500 you get a four-seat convertible with simple good looks, reasonably spry performance, and premium sound. 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. A redesigned cylinder head means the Cabrio runs more quietly for 1997. 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 1997, Volkswagen is making a few changes. Two trim levels are available; Base and Highline. Base models are decontented versions of last year's car, eschewing air conditioning, power windows, heated exterior mirrors, cruise control, and antilock brakes to attain a price thousands of dollars lower than the 1996 Cabrio. Highline is a carbon copy of the 1996 model, adding fog lights, alloy wheels, and leather interior trim to the standard equipment roster. Buyers who must have ABS are forced into buying the pricey Highline model, since the system is not available on Base models.

Yes, the Miata is more fun to drive, and Mustangs are more stylish, 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 $18,500, which includes a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, we think this Volkswagen should appeal to those more interested in style than speed.

1997 Highlights

Cabrio comes in two trim levels for 1997: Base and Highline. Base models are decontented versions of last year's car, priced a couple thousand dollars lower to entice young drivers. Highline models have standard alloy wheels, foglights and leather seats. Engines have a redesigned cylinder head resulting in quieter operation.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 1997 Volkswagen Cabrio.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
just got it
Highline 2dr Convertible
Just got the Cabrio 97 convertable for the wife, at 125K miles, she loves it. I'm already doing work on it, and seen records of work from previous owner, which concerns me and the costs(online purchases are the way to go.) The side trims have come off, the cloth top is torn (heard the cloth is prone to that)..so got viynl online, which I heard takes awhile to install..10hours? For a 4 cylinder, it runs nice and tight. I'm getting around 30mpg, more than the 24 stated. I have to get used to the reverse being in the same spot as 1st. Nice seats, but have problems with the back seat folding down completely..would be better for a dog and storage. High dash with low front seats. Fun to drive!
2.38 out of 5 stars
Fahrvegnugen, but....
2dr Convertible
Bought it used. Super fun to drive, but will never buy a VW again. Parts are incredibly expensive! Taken to the same VW ind. service dude who's been in business servicing VW's for 30 years. HE says they are great to 50K miles, then dump them--they break and are too expensive to service (but that's been good for him he admits!). Sage advice. I keep my cars a long time, and thus will never buy a Cabrio (or any VW) again. Purchase at your peril.
2.5 out of 5 stars
Do not recommend
2dr Convertible
From the day I drove it off the lot...lots of problems. I immediately had to replace the soft-top. Had an anti-freeze leak. The side panels have fallen off and glue will no longer keep them on! I have replaced the hubcaps so many times. The reflector light keeps falling off and I have to replace it for inspection. The driver's side interior door handle is busted. The rubber around the antenna and windows is dry-rotting. The exhaust system has rusted out and I have to replace it this week. The muffler is hanging off! I bought this car used, but come on. I thought I was buying a high quality vehicle. I would never buy VW again.
2.75 out of 5 stars
And I used to be a big VW fan....
Steve Gilbert,08/29/2002
2dr Convertible
I've had nothing but problems with it. The car is now 5 years old, and has 43,000 miles on it. Problems so far have been: 1) The door moldings continuously fall off. VW will reattach new ones at about 70 dollars per, but you'll need it done every 6-8 months. 2) Cruise control failed. Had to have a new one installed. 3) Power Steering fluid reservoir had to be replaced. 4) Transmission linkage broke, had to be replaced. 5) Air conditioner failed completely, had to be replaced. 7) The driver's side seat fell apart, had to be replaced. There's more that I can't fit in this box.


IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 1997 Volkswagen Cabrio

Used 1997 Volkswagen Cabrio Overview

The Used 1997 Volkswagen Cabrio is offered in the following submodels: Cabrio Convertible. Available styles include 2dr Convertible, and Highline 2dr Convertible. The Used 1997 Volkswagen Cabrio comes with front wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 5-speed manual.

What's a good price on a Used 1997 Volkswagen Cabrio?

Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.

Which used 1997 Volkswagen Cabrios 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) 1997 Volkswagen Cabrio for sale near. 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 1997 Volkswagen Cabrio.

Can't find a used 1997 Volkswagen Cabrios you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Volkswagen Cabrio for sale - 2 great deals out of 23 listings starting at $7,349.

Find a used Volkswagen for sale - 6 great deals out of 13 listings starting at $22,365.

Find a used certified pre-owned Volkswagen Cabrio for sale - 8 great deals out of 15 listings starting at $23,163.

Find a used certified pre-owned Volkswagen for sale - 10 great deals out of 10 listings starting at $22,737.

Should I lease or buy a 1997 Volkswagen Cabrio?

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.

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Check out Volkswagen Cabrio lease specials