Used 1997 Volkswagen Cabrio Review




what's new

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.

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.






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.