Sometimes you just want a car that's fun to drive and fun to own. That car would be the 2017 VW Beetle Dune. Throw away your concerns about practicality and forget the harsh lessons of last month's snowstorms. The Beetle Dune is a little slice of summer that you can enjoy year-round.
The Dune is powered by VW's long-serving 1.8-liter turbocharged gas engine, mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. The engine is good for 170 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. With the Dune's curb weight at nearly 3,100 pounds, it's not a tremendously fast car, but the engine and drivetrain are well-matched to the car's lighthearted purpose.
Compared to the basic convertible Beetle, the Dune sits a little higher because of its taller and softer suspension, and it's a little wider courtesy of some fender flares. The Dune also comes with model-specific 18-inch alloy wheels. Apart from those physical differences, the Dune is a trim package that includes the best of VW's navigation, infotainment, and driver comfort features. Choosing the Dune adds about $4,500 to the cost of a comparable convertible Beetle.
Technology enthusiasts will like the 6.3-inch touchscreen infotainment and control center. You'll get satellite radio, navigation, and VW's Car Net smart phone integration system, plus support for both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
One feature to mention on the Dune convertible is the top. Volkswagen has a long history of making their convertibles as warm and comfortable as the hardtops, with multiple insulating layers and sturdy canvas. The Dune's top is completely automatic. You can raise and lower the top in seconds with the push of a button. That's nice for Portland drivers because we can enjoy a spring sun break without worrying about getting drenched.
If you buy the Dune, you also get a really good exterior appearance package. The bumpers and air intake areas are unique to the model, as is the black rear spoiler and the LED tail lights. Inside you get special upholstery and contrast stitching. To top it all off, you get the nifty "DUNE" decals on the side.
If you want to carry cargo, the Dune is less practical. The trunk is sized for a couple of carry-on bags, but anything more will have to go in the rear seat. However, the Dune provides comfortable heated first-row seats that you will enjoy on a quick run out to the coast, or for a longer summertime ride to Ashland or Seattle. The Dune rides smoothly courtesy of that taller suspension, but turns eagerly and instills confidence.
Taken all together, the Dune is a very enjoyable driver's car.
2017 Volkswagen Beetle Dune
Base price: $30,215
Price as tested: $30,215
Engine: 1.8-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder (170 hp, 184 lbs-ft)
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
EPA estimated mileage: 24/31
Overall length: 168.4 inches
Curb weight: 3,093 pounds
Final assembly: Puebla, Mexico