2002 Volkswagen New Beetle Review
Pros & Cons
- Cute yet classic styling, excellent crash-test scores, affordably priced, turbo models are fun to drive, available six-speed manual and stability control with Turbo S model.
- Compromised rear seat/cargo capacity compared to Golf.
List Price Estimate
$495 - $1,115
Used New Beetle for SaleSee all for sale
Edmunds' Expert Review
Most helpful consumer reviews
GL 2dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl 4A)
Let me start off by saying that I've owned 2 New beetles, one 1998 and my current is 2002. 4 years and a hundred thousand miles really make a difference. I've always been a huge fan of the shape, but driving one is a great experience. What it lacks in power, it makes up for in handling. The car handles like new, very sturdy, minimal vibrations, smooth over most terrains and has good traction in all weather types (granted, I did put new tires on the car recently). Though engine noise is audible, it is not very bothersome, especially at higher speeds where the car really shines. Going 70 mph and over is very smooth in the car. The interior is made of cheap plastic parts that break often, but replacements are easily found online or you can paint the chipping plastic yourself like I have. The seats are extremely comfortable in the front seats, the same cannot be said for the backseats, especially if you are over 5'9. Even though the car has limited room for backseat passengers, the rear seats fold down to create a large amount of cargo space which is very nice. I've also read a lot reliability issues and reviews about this car and similar years, but I have yet to experience any huge problems *knocks on wood.* I have kept up on oil changes and regular maintenance and have found this car to have a very reliable engine. Ive paid for new headlight bulb, new tires, transmission fluid change, brake pads and rotors all around and to have my heater core replace. Mind you this is over the span of about 2 years and about 20,000 miles. I've never had a problem with my car and I will continue to drive it, as it is very eye catching and gets great gas mileage. UPDATE 6/17 - I've now had the car for 3 years and 40,000+ miles. Recently everything started to break so I had to adjust my reliability score. New throttle body, 4 DIFFERENT mass air flow sensors, ignition coil, spark plugs and wires, control arms, ball joints, struts, shocks, alternator, all 3 engine mounts, serpentine belt and tensioner, catalytic converter and full cat-back exhaust system...and I'm sure I'm missing a few. Literally driving me nuts with the repairs, thinking of selling for something a bit newer.
GL 2dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl 5M)
The Beetle is so cheap to operate it makes it worth keeping. I was a car dealer that mostly bought high end European vehicles and they all had issues. Ding, and another message would appear with an expensive issue. After leaving the business, I rented a friend's 2002 Beetle GL with 112,700 miles for $150 a month until I financed a Benz or Bimmer, that never happened. I bought it for $1,000, replaced the timing belt and waterpump. $10 gets 100+ miles, oil changes are $22, tires are $53, I now have 160,000 miles. It's so easy to clean, and the yellow paint is bright and holds up well. Interior plastics break, there's rattles, it's slow, but who cares it gets me everywhere and barely costs me a dime. I baby it to death, wax it, only run chevron but no premium gas and I don't use synthetic but will now cause I want to just keep it going. I recently sold the Beetle at 167,000 miles for $3,000 and got back every penny I spent on it, bought a Jetta. The beetle is still going strong in the West part of Phx. Buy a manual GL!
GLS TDI 2dr Hatchback (1.9L 4cyl Turbodiesel 5M)
At 243K, still going strong. Needed new transmission at 230K but likely because I overuse the 5th gear at low speed to improve mileage and wore it out. My only complaint is the interior parts. Rear seat fell apart in the first week. Center console fell apart shortly after. Surprisingly rotten and cheap parts on such a worthy vehicle. Diesel needs to be treated with anti-gel for 3 months of Northeast winter and I had a pre-heater installed after the glow-plugs cooked and were too rusted in to replace. This diesel car had real trouble starting below -10F with glow plugs working and below 20F after they died so a heater really protects battery, starter and engine. Check engine light has been on for last 100k miles but that’s just something you deal with in the age of science and technology. That crap never functions right for 1/2 the life of a vehicle. Still my primary commuter as it gets 45 mpg.
Bought our 2002 TDI in December for our daughter. Two weeks later we discovered it had a messed up transmission. Counting on fuel savings over the next 5 years, we spent $3500 to have the transmission rebuilt. There were alot of rattles in the interior but we planned to address those after recovering from the trani. expense. Last weekend the brakes failed while parking, proceeded to smoke from the rear then caught on fire! A total loss for us however the salvage yard is scoring a good engine. Apparently firewalls work from both directions. I would not recommend this car!!