Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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April 17, 2014

Beetle marks 65th year since entry into US

(Continued)

Meantime, the base, 2014 Mini Cooper hardtop with 134-horsepower, turbocharged, gasoline, three-cylinder engine and six-speed manual has a starting MSRP, including destination charge, of $20,745.

Note that the 500L has seats for five people, while the Mini Cooper hardtop has seating for four.

The Beetle's first year of U.S. sales in post-World War II 1949 totaled just two cars. But popularity with young Baby Boomers swelled cumulative sales and production beyond that of the Ford Model T, to more than 15 million by the early 1970s.

In its third generation, today's Beetle posts modest numbers. Last year's U.S. sales of 43,134 were on par with U.S. sales of Fiat 500s and 2,000 shy of Mini Cooper car sales.

The 2014 Beetle, classified by the government as a compact, looks larger than expected. At 14 feet in length from bumper to bumper and nearly 6 feet wide, it's slightly longer and wider than the Fiat 500L and Mini Cooper hardtop.

The Beetle can feel surprisingly roomy inside, too, particularly in the front, where VW's supportive and well-shaped seats alleviate fatigue from long travels.

Rear-seat headroom is 37.1 inches, and front-seat headroom tops out at 39.4 inches — a tad less than the minimum 40.5 inches and 40.3 inches in the 500L and Mini Cooper hardtop, respectively. Still, all but the tallest, bulkiest passengers could find a comfortable seat in the test car.

Rear seatbacks split 50/50 and folded down easily in the test Beetle, giving flexible seating and cargo-carrying options. Maximum cargo space is 29.9 cubic feet.

Windows on the Beetle's doors are lengthy and sizable, so front-seat riders don't feel hemmed in on the sides, except for thick metal pillars at the sides of the windshields.

The major adjustment in visibility came via the rear, where the tops of the rear seats clipped off some of the view. And while VW officials announced that during the 2014 model year, top-of-the-line Beetles would get rear camera availability, this feature was not on the test Beetle that had a price tag of $32,330.

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