In this issue we got six Volkswagen vehicles to drive, two sporty cars, two family sedans, and two SUV models. Let's start with the best looker of the group, the Beetle Turbo.
BEETLE R-LINE TURBO
This black beauty has the optional R-Line pack, which is a cosmetic booster. But the best part is those jumbo tires and wheels--not only do they look good, but also improve handling.
Drawback? Well, they also bounce the car around on bumpy roads, but they’re still worth it.
Under the hood is a 2.0 liter turbo putting out 210 horsepower and hooked to a slick 6-speed manual shifter. A 6-speed automatic is offered. Gas mileage is rated at 21/30 mpg. I did mostly expressway cruising, and saw 28 mpg. This car really moves out, and likes to be driven hard. The steering, handling, and brakes performance are top rated. Sort of a poor man’s Porsche.
The interior is well designed, with sturdy materials. Controls are easy to use and the climate knobs are simple to operate. There is good storage space in the rear, but opening the rear hatch is impossible unless you read the owner’s manual first.
I had three complaints. First, the sunroof only has a sliding screen under the glass to block sun rays—which doesn't work well. Worse, the screen is painted black, which attracts more heat. I had to put foil up there to block everything out. Second, this brings us to the black interior and paint, a heat magnet that roasted me alive in the Arizona weather. The Beetle R-Line is also offered in white or red. Take the hint! Third, the rocker panels under the door are too wide, so every time you get out of the vehicle, you get dirt rubbed on your pants in bad weather.
In spite of these gripes, I think this is the best way to spend $28,000. Everything is standard unless the automatic shifter is ordered which is $1,100 more. A real fun car to drive!
For those who don't want to drive so fast, the EOS convertible is worth a look. It has a hard top, but press a button and it disappears into the trunk in about 25 seconds. Building this nice setup isn't cheap, and the EOS will hit your wallet at $37,000. WOW! But about everything is standard. The 2.0 liter 200 horse engine comes with a 6-speed automatic and gets 22/30 mpg.
The handling, steering, braking, and ride is on par with the Beetle, but this one is designed for drivers who want to take a nice Sunday cruise with the top down. Just don't plan on going too far--no room for luggage in the back. With the top up, you get 10 cubic feet, but with all that roof in the trunk, it drops to only 6! An expensive ride, but if you want that roof, there’s not much around that’s cheaper.
Now for buyers who want something more practical, we have the Passat sedan. The top motor is a 3.6 liter V-6 rated at 280 horses, but this model can get expensive at about $35,000. Base price is $20K. Mine was $31K. This included the 1.8 liter turbo at 170 hp connected to the 6-speed automatic. This combo is rated at 24/34 mpg, which is what I got.
I have nothing but praise for this car; it is a great daily sedan. The steering, handling, braking, and ride comfort are top rated. The interior is nothing fancy, but well-made. All controls are easy to operate. I liked the big glove box. The suede material on the seat looked and felt nice, but collects lint like a magnet. DO NOT put pets in the car, or you will be doing LOTS of cleaning!
Just take all the good features I listed about the Passat, and add them to the Jetta and we are done. The only difference here is this car is smaller, cheaper to buy, and has better engine choices. For your $16K, there is the 2.0 115 horse engine rated at 24/34 mpg. How about a turbo diesel at 30/42 mpg for $22K? I had the $26K hybrid with mileage listed at 42/48. This has a combo-electric motor/turbo gas power-plant setup and is a blast to drive. Very fast, yet at 75 mph cruising, we saw 42 mpg, and 32 in the city. This is about the same as the diesel, but the hybrid is far more fun!! All models are worth a look here.
This is the big dollar rig, but it has lots of features. For $42K we get a 280 horse V-6 hooked to an 8-speed automatic gearbox. Gas mileage is rated at 17/23. For $55K the turbo-diesel is available with mileage of 20/29. There’s also a super output hybrid cranking out a whopping 380 horses available in small batches, but I am told it runs about $65K!
I had the diesel. This power-plant really hauls! Also delivered great mileage at 30 on a long freeway trip. Add to this a very comfortable ride, great handling, and this rig performs more like a German sports sedan! Yet it has the ability to go off-road with four wheel traction.
The interior is top rated. Lots of smooth leather, and high grade materials. Very comfortable seats. No complaints here--we can see where the money goes. I didn't care for the auto-dimming mirror system as it does not have an "off" switch. Placing tape over the sensor hole turns it off. A great vehicle. Too bad it costs so much.
If you like the Touareg but have less money to spend, the smaller Tiguan will fit the bill. The engine choice is a 2.0 turbo with 6-speed automatic gearbox. Gas mileage is 21/26. I got 24 overall. The price is right starting at $23K, my loaded-up version was $29K.
In spite of the compact size, a full size spare tire is standard--handy for driving off-road.
And on pavement, this rig drives just as sporty as the other VW vehicles tested here. Very nice even if the styling is a bit boring. This SUV competes with the Mazda CX, Toyota RAV, and Honda CR-V.