Enough words have been written about Volkswagen̵[ads1]7;s long-awaited Microbus revival, the ID Buzz, so I’ll just cut to the chase. VW unveiled the three-row, long-wheelbase (LWB) version of the ID Buzz in California today — the one that’s actually coming to the U.S. — and it’s exactly what we’ve been hoping for.
As well as offering much more space for cargo and passengers, the US-spec Buzz has updated technology and more powerful powertrains without compromising on style. At 192.4 inches long, the three-row ID Buzz is only 6.9 inches longer than the short-wheelbase (SWB) two-row European ID Buzz revealed last year, but its 127.5-inch wheelbase is 9.9 inches longer.
That means the LWB ID Buzz is shorter in length than VW’s big Atlas SUV—its only current three-row offering in America—while offering a longer wheelbase and five inches more overall height. The SWB Buzz has the same turning radius as the compact Golf wagon despite being over a foot longer, so the LWB version should still have similarly good maneuverability.
Aside from the added length, nothing has been changed about the ID Buzz’s styling. It is a perfect example of retro-futuristic design and easily the best execution of VW’s current design language.
Unlike on the Euro Buzz we just spent two weeks with, the VW emblem on the front of the American Buzz is illuminated, arguably the largest illuminated logo on any car. The available panoramic sunroof is new to the ID Buzz and is the largest in the VW group, and it has an electrochromic tint that turns the glass from transparent to opaque.
There are also some new colors and two-tone paint options, like the cabana blue you see in these photos. VW says the ID Buzz only comes with 20-inch wheels, although both smaller and larger wheels may be available as options in the future.
A potential design problem for customers lies in the back doors. The ID Buzz gets electric sliding doors that can be opened by waving your foot under the threshold, along with an electric tailgate with the same technology. But unlike pretty much every minivan since the 2004 Toyota Sienna, the Buzz’s sliding doors don’t have roll-down windows.
Instead, the Buzz has square sections of the window that can be pushed back in the same direction as the original Microbus. It’s great that there’s some amount of window opening — the rear windows in the SWB Buzz don’t open at all — but the area that opens isn’t nearly as large as what you get in other vans or crossovers.
A potential design problem for customers lies in the back doors
By increasing the wheelbase, VW was able to make some major improvements to the powertrain. The LWB ID Buzz uses a 91kWh battery pack instead of the SWB Buzz’s 82kWh pack. There’s a new rear electric motor that’s more powerful, putting 282 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque to the rear wheels versus 201 hp and 229 lb-ft in the Euro Buzz.
That should result in a much quicker zero-to-60mph time – the Euro Buzz runs in about 10 seconds – and top speed has been increased from 90mph to 99mph. Available at launch will be a new twin-motor all-wheel-drive variant that will have around 330bhp, although no other details have been given yet. VW isn’t ready to say what the ID Buzz’s EPA range will be either, though the larger battery and more efficient engine could give it a longer range than the 260-mile WLTP estimate of the SWB Buzz.
The ID Buzz will be offered with two different seat configurations. As standard, the second row of seats is a three-person bench, giving the van a total of seven seats. There is also the option of a couple of captain’s chairs for the second row. As with the SWB ID Buzz, the second-row seats cannot be removed, but the new third-row two-person bench can be removed entirely.
VW isn’t ready to say what ID Buzz’s EPA range will be either
Both the second and third rows fold to create a flat surface – but neither set folds into the floor. And there’s a removable cargo shelf that can extend the surface and provide storage underneath. The second row can be pushed forwards and backwards, and the seatbacks can be adjusted up to 16 degrees or folded forwards for easier access to the third row. All three rows of seats also get their own air vents.
Apart from the extra seats and length, the design of the ID Buzz cabin is identical to the Euro version. The large windscreen, extra quarter windows and the raised seating position give a phenomenal view out, and the door panels have good ergonomics and armrests. The instrument panel has a lovely faux wood panel and each interior color option offers a mix of different colors and materials. (Unfortunately, orange and white won’t be available in the US; instead, we’ll get a more muted gray and brown motif.)
As on the Euro Buzz, the center console is removable and has movable dividers that double as a bottle opener and ice scraper. The interior is filled with Buzz logos and little Easter eggs like smiley faces on attachment covers.
A big improvement over the Euro-spec ID Buzz is the infotainment system. While the Buzz gets either a 10-inch or 12-inch touchscreen across the pond, in the US, it’s equipped with a new 12.9-inch screen as standard that’s shared with the ID.7 sedan. This new screen has an overhauled operating system that’s easier to use and much more customizable, plus it finally has illuminated volume and temperature sliders. (The 5.3-inch digital cluster screen looks like the Euro car’s.)
It remains to be seen how much better the updated system will actually be in practice, but everything will be an improvement over VW’s existing infotainment. The ID Buzz has eight USB-C ports everywhere, including in clever places like the door panels and the top of the windscreen for a dashcam, and there’s a wireless charging pad in the dash.
ID Buzz comes with a long list of standard features. The 12-way power front seats are heated, ventilated and have a massage function, and the second-row outboard seats are also heated. A heated windscreen, heated washer jets and heated steering wheel are also included.
The interior is filled with Buzz logos and little Easter eggs like smiley faces on attachment covers
Every ID Buzz will get 30-colour ambient interior lighting, keyless entry, automatic climate control and a host of active safety technology with practical Level 2 highway assist. Options include a 14-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, a head-up display, a 360-degree camera system and park assist with remote parking.
Volkswagen hasn’t given an exact release date yet, but says only that the three-row ID Buzz will go on sale in the US in 2024. Pricing hasn’t been announced either, but given the amount of standard equipment and the Euro Buzz’s already high price – it starts at around $60,000 in Germany – the US ID Buzz can start at around $70,000.
It’s certainly a lot of money, but the ID Buzz is truly in a league of its own when it comes to style and packaging. The minibus is finally back and it is ready to capture the hearts of thousands of people once again.