2012 Volkswagen Beetle
- Starting price: $19,795
- What's retro: Unique styling
- What's modern: Electric, diesel versions in the works
VW Beetle prototypes were hitting roads in Germany in the 1930s. The first official export of the VW Beetle to the U.S. came in 1949. It grew in popularity as part of the counterculture of the 1960s and was the star of the movie, "The Love Bug" in 1968. It shipped until 1977, when it began a 21-year hiatus.
VW introduced the so-called New Beetle to the U.S. in 1998, ending a 21-year hiatus.
With this retro car update, the Beetle is lower, longer and wider than the model it replaces. It has actual legroom in the back seat for passengers, addressing one of the biggest criticisms of the "old" New Beetle.
In addition to fuel-efficient gasoline models, VW has announced a battery-powered concept car, the E-Bugster, plus a diesel-powered version that's expected to get 39 mpg on the highway that could go on sale in the 2013 model year. The diesel is a revival in itself. The previous generation had a diesel engine option from 1998 to 2006.
The entry-level VW Beetle for 2012 comes with a 2.5-liter, five-cylinder engine that generates 170 horsepower and gets 22 mpg city and 31 mpg highway, with a five-speed manual transmission. There are five other Bugs available.