$15,423 - $24,086

2018 Volkswagen Beetle Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 7.5

The 2018 Volkswagen Beetle may not be the most engaging-to-drive subcompact car on the market, but it delivers solid performance. It has a powerful new engine this year, and the car's cushioned and composed handling serve it well on the daily commute. However, the Beetle can feel unsettled when taking turns quickly, and it gets worse gas mileage than most competitors.

  • "There's a certain maturity to the way the Beetle drives that comes as a pleasant surprise. The suspension soaks up bumps with unusual grace for the class (that's the Golf platform making itself felt), while handling is respectable, if not truly athletic." -- Autotrader
  • "The Dune comes with a flat-bottom steering wheel, but that doesn't make its steering particularly sporty. We found its steering to be vague and unsatisfying at moderate speeds." -- Motor Trend (2017)

Acceleration and Power

A turbocharged, 174-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is new for the 2018 model year. A six-speed automatic transmission comes standard. The Beetle gets 26 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway, which is low for the subcompact car class. The four-cylinder is one of the most powerful engines in the class, but the transmission can feel unrefined and sometimes doesn't shift as quickly as you may like.

  • "The new 2.0-liter engine is a welcome addition, the evolution of a unit that has powered many VW Group vehicles." -- Autotrader
  • The six-speed automatic does the job but doesn't stand out in terms of smoothness or response." -- Consumer Reports

Handling and Braking

The Beetle's cushioned ride is well-suited to highway cruising and commuting around town. The steering is properly weighted to feel stable at high speeds without making it too difficult to maneuver at lower speeds. For the most part, this subcompact car has composed handling. It's not as athletic as many competitors, however, as high-speed cornering can unsettle the Beetle. This car is only available with front-wheel drive.

  • "Push it to the limits and the Beetle shows odd and disconcerting behavior. Dive into an unfamiliar corner too quickly and lift your foot off the throttle and the tail threatens to come around. You'd be completely crossing your arms and twirling the wheel with opposite lock before the stability control wakes up and intervenes to calm things down. Due to that wild oversteer the car posted just 51 mph through our avoidance maneuver. Despite the Beetle's inherent appeal, this wouldn't be our first choice for a new teenage driver." -- Consumer Reports
  • "Overall, the Beetle returns a softer ride than the Mini Cooper or Fiat 500, and its interior is quieter and more comfortable. At freeway speeds, the Beetle feels stable and solid, returning the kind of ride and handling more commonly associated with a midsize sedan." -- Kelley Blue Book (2017)
  • "Steering effort is a bit heavier than expected, making the Beetle feel more controllable at highway speeds than its rivals, yet very light when maneuvering at slow speeds." -- Edmunds (2017)

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