MSRP
$20,895
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2019 Volkswagen Beetle Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 7.3

The 2019 Volkswagen Beetle isn't the most athletic car in the class, but it gets ample power from its engine, handles reasonably well, and rides comfortably over most road surfaces. The transmission could deliver timelier shifts, however, and the Beetle's mpg estimates are subpar for the class.

  • "The 2019 Volkswagen Beetle Final Edition has premium qualities and is still an economical choice. And although I believe Volkswagen could have done much more with this Final Edition, I forgive them because all in all, the Beetle is a fun car to drive and perfect for a weekend road trip to Baja California." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "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 (2018)

Acceleration and Power

The Beetle comes with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 174 horsepower. A six-speed automatic transmission comes standard as well. The engine has enough power for most driving situations, but some critics say the transmission doesn't shift with any urgency, and that holds the Beetle back and creates the overall impression of a car that isn't as quick as its rivals.

The Beetle gets an EPA-estimated 26 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway. Most class rivals get better fuel economy.

  • "The … Volkswagen Beetle is peppy and plenty powerful but not lightning fast." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "On paper, the output looks competitive, putting it in contention with the turbo Honda Civic and 2.5-liter Mazda3, but it doesn't feel very fast. It keeps up with traffic fine, but floor it and you'll be wishing for more grunt. There were a number of times in hectic Mexican traffic that it felt downright slow. Since the Beetle weighs in at just over 3,000 pounds, right in line with the Mazda and Toyota, it seems the transmission is to blame, which prioritizes smooth power delivery over speed, and tends to shift casually." -- Autoblog
  • What those numbers don't reflect is the sometimes frustrating nature of this engine's power delivery. Although its peak torque of 184 lb-ft is available at only 1500 rpm, the turbo seems to spool up slowly, and when you're on the move, calls for more acceleration are answered lazily. The powertrain feels more energetic when pulling away from a stop. The six-speed may be down on ratios compared to more modern automatics, but we really can't fault its behavior, as it's willing to downshift when prodded and is generally smooth in operation." -- Car and Driver

Handling and Braking

The Volkswagen Beetle is easy and enjoyable to drive, and it rides smoothly over most road surfaces. Its handling is fairly composed, but many class rivals are just as or more athletic than the Beetle. Front-wheel drive comes standard. All-wheel drive is not offered.

  • The car has an easygoing demeanor and its cheery disposition shines through, even on a gray autumn day. There is some turbo lag, and while the car's handling makes for a fun time on canyon roads, the suspension is a little less forgiving when driving over potholes." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The mean streets of greater Puebla feature plenty of rough pavement with potholes that rival some of Detroit's finest. … the Beetle takes the tattered tarmac in stride, shrugging off most bumps without transmitting any harshness to the cabin. Despite the supple suspension, body motions are effectively damped. Responsive, nicely weighted steering is another component of the well-tuned chassis." -- Car and Driver
  • As for ride and handling, it generally feels like a softer version of the sixth-generation Golf with which it shared a platform, not the current seventh-generation. That's not necessarily a bad thing. The ride quality is good. It does a great job soaking up lumps and bumps, great and small. … The problem here is that, while the Beetle's dynamics aren't bad, they aren't exceptional, either. Other compact cars do the same in more practical packages, or offer zippier handling without much if any sacrifice in comfort. The obvious example is the current VW Golf." -- Autoblog
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2019 Volkswagen Beetle

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