The Beloved Volkswagen Beetle is Back!

Special to Informer | 7/19/2012, 10:10 p.m.

The test car came with a dual-overhead-cam, 20-valve, 2.5-liter inline five-cylinder engine that makes 170 horsepower and 177 lb-ft of torque. When outfitted with the six-speed automatic transmission, the EPA estimated fuel economy rating is 22 mpg city and 29 mpg highway.

The Beetle's safety armory includes Electronic Stability Control [ESC] as standard equipment, as are driver and front passenger airbags and Side Curtain Protection airbags in front and rear. The Beetle includes Volkswagen's advanced Intelligent Crash Response System that shuts off the fuel pump, unlocks the doors, and switches on the hazard lights if the car is involved in certain types of collision.

Amid all these refinements, I have a few nits to pick with this VW. The Beetle still seats only four. Passengers in the two rear seats are at the mercy of the driver or front passenger when it comes to getting out of the vehicle and the backseat is still very tight for adults, despite the increased passenger space. Storage spaces inside the cabin are still minimal - designers passed up door pockets in favor of a large elastic band that can sort of hold a water bottle.

The backseat passengers have access to tiny storage bins in the side panels, but they are barely large enough to fit anything your passenger may need on a longer trip. For the driver, the Beetle's two cup holders are barely adequate, making it impossible to get a drink in or out without first tipping the cup far enough sideways to spill the contents.

The Beetle has a starting MSRP of $19,795 and comes standard with 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels and Bluetooth connectivity. A six-speed automatic transmission is an $1100 option.