Used 2001 Volkswagen New Beetle Review

The New Beetle offers a unique combination of safety, fun, practicality and value. There's no denying it: It's Beetle-mania all over again.




what's new

Optional 17-inch alloy wheels can be ordered on GLS 1.8T and GLX models. Exterior mirrors are larger, high-intensity discharge headlights and a Monsoon sound system are available, and all New Beetles benefit from redesigned cupholders and a trunk entrapment release button. Rain-sensing wipers and a self-dimming rearview mirror now come on GLX models.

vehicle overview

The New Beetle is a bundle of contradictions. It's a blast from the past and a gateway to the 21st century. It's small but it's safe. It's pretty, but it can also be pretty powerful.

Volkswagen's New Beetle debuted at the 1998 North American International Auto Show in Detroit to classic '60s tunes and daisies dotting the dashboards. As a Volkswagen executive said, "It's the birth of a legend, a love affair continued, a dream come true."

The trademark Beetle body shape is immediately recognizable, though it shares no parts with the old Beetle. It's both larger, with 96.3 cubic feet inside, and more powerful than its predecessor, and the motor is no longer in the back. Three engines are available: a turbocharged 150-horsepower 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine, a 115-horsepower 2.0-liter four-banger, or a high-tech Turbo Direct Injection diesel engine that gets 48 mpg on the highway and has a driving range of 700 miles.

Performance is surprisingly good on all New Beetles, but the 1.8T really shines when pushed to the limit. With 156 foot-pounds of torque available between 2,200 and 4,200 rpm, the New Beetle 1.8T never feels underpowered or overworked. Fun comes both from watching people stare and wave at you and from blasting down the highways or up a canyon road. Steering is responsive, and the little car takes corners without too much fuss, making it easy to rack up speeding tickets, if you're not careful. Like most VWs, the New Beetle is fun to drive, but we'd love to see the company add a stiffer suspension option to go along with the peppy 1.8T engine.

The safety system features energy-absorbing crush zones, pre-tensioning safety belts, daytime running lights, dual airbags, optional side airbags for front-seat passengers and excellent bumper crash-test scores. Other standard features include four beverage holders, a remote locking system, anti-theft alarm, a passenger-assist handle above the glove compartment, driver and passenger height adjusters, mesh pockets on the doors and a bud vase on the dash. Nice touch.

For 2001, the New Beetle gets redesigned cupholders, larger exterior mirrors and a trunk release entrapment button. GLX models now come standard with a Monsoon sound system, rain-sensing wipers and a self-dimming rearview mirror. Optional high-intensity discharge headlights are available on GLS- and GLX-trimmed New Beetles, as are new 17-inch alloy wheels.

The New Beetle offers a unique combination of safety, fun, practicality and value. There's no denying it: It's Beetle-mania all over again.

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.