The car that has put a smile on more faces than any other is leaving us this year, but maybe it won’t be forever.
Volkswagen’s Beetle arrived in the United States in 1949, became the beloved Bug of the 1960s, went away for a while and then returned in the late 1990s for 12 years as the New Beetle. After a brief intermission it came back in 2012 named just the Beetle again.
Production of the current Volkswagen Beetle is ending this year, but in VW tradition it’s not happening without some fanfare.
The 2019 Volkswagen Beetle Final Edition model is available in two exclusive colors: Safari Uni beige and Stonewashed Blue. The word “Beetle” replaces “Turbo” as the tailgate badge, and the glovebox is a classic Beetle bin with an upward folding lid rather than the standard downward style.
There are four trim levels of the 2019 VW Beetle: S, SE, Final Edition SE, and Final Edition SEL. Pricing starts at $21,790 including an $895 destination charge. All versions have a 174-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a six-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy ratings are 26 mpg city, 33 mpg highway, and 29 mpg combined.
To maximize enjoyment, all 2019 Beetle trims are also available as a convertible, which Volkswagen views as a separate model.
Blind spot monitoring and rear traffic alert are now standard on all Beetle models, and VW has an impressive six-year or 72,000-mile bumper to bumper warranty.
Both Final Edition trims include a sunroof, body-color side mirrors, and heated washer nozzles. The SEL also includes LED daytime running lights and taillights.
My tester was a Final Edition SE, whose heated cloth seats have rhombus stitching and leatherette inserts. Their construction places more emphasis on comfort than the sport seats used on the SEL trim.
Other standard amenities on the Final Edition SE include 17-inch alloy wheels, three-color ambient lighting, a rearview camera, multifunction steering wheel, and keyless access with push button start.
In spite of its subcompact size, Beetle’s rounded design provides a huge amount of headroom even the unusually tall will find generous. Along with big windows, the interior alleviates the claustrophobic effect of other small cars.
With some hard surfaces including a dashboard painted the same color as the car’s body, Beetle’s interior could legitimately be called unsophisticated, but only by those not in love with the Beetle in general. For Beetle fans, the trademark vintage interior is irresistible.
There’s nothing antique about the Final Edition SE’s infotainment technology. Car-Net App-Connect smartphone integration is standard. So is an excellent eight-speaker audio system with six-inch touchscreen, HD radio, voice control, CD player, Bluetooth and satellite radio.
The 2019 VW Beetle has good power, travels smoothly and handles tight turns well. It can’t claim sports-car cred, but the fun factor is off the charts, just like Beetle’s always has been.
Auf Wiedersehen, dear Beetle. Thanks for the memories and do come again someday so another generation can love you too.
2019 VOLKSWAGEN BEETLE FINAL EDITION SE
Base price, including destination charge: $23,045
Price as driven: $23,940
Mary Lowry is an independent automotive writer who lives in Snohomish County. She is a member of the Motor Press Guild, and a member and past president of the Northwest Automotive Press Association. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturers as a one-week loan for review purposes only. In no way do the manufacturers control the content of the reviews.