There have been enough words typed about Volkswagen’s much-anticipated Microbus revival, the ID Buzz, so I’m just going to cut to the chase. VW unveiled the three-row, long-wheelbase (LWB) version of the ID Buzz in California today — the one that will actually be coming to the US — and it’s exactly what we’ve hoped for.
In addition to offering a lot more space for cargo and passengers, the US-spec Buzz has updated tech and more powerful powertrains without compromising on style. At 192.4 inches in length, the three-row ID Buzz is only 6.9 inches longer than the two-row, short-wheelbase (SWB) European ID Buzz that was 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 large Atlas SUV — its only current three-row offering in America — while offering a longer wheelbase and five more inches of overall height. The SWB Buzz has the same turning radius as the compact Golf hatchback despite being over a foot longer, so the LWB version should still feature similarly great maneuverability.
Aside from the added length, nothing has been changed about the ID Buzz’s styling. It’s 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 end of the American Buzz is illuminated, surely the largest light-up logo on any car. The available panoramic sunroof is new for 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 will only come with 20-inch wheels, though both smaller and bigger wheels could be available as options in the future.
One potential design problem for customers lies in the rear doors. The ID Buzz gets power-sliding doors that can be opened by waving your foot under the sill, along with a power liftgate with the same tech. But unlike basically every minivan since the 2004 Toyota Sienna, the Buzz’s sliding doors don’t have windows that roll down.
Instead, the Buzz has square sections of the window that powerslide backward in the vein of the original Microbus. It’s great that there is 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 big as what you get in other vans or crossovers.
One potential design problem for customers lies in the rear doors
Increasing the wheelbase allowed VW to make some major improvements to the powertrain. The LWB ID Buzz uses a 91kWh battery pack in place of the SWB Buzz’s 82kWh pack. There’s a new electric motor at the rear that’s more powerful, putting out 282 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque to the rear wheels versus 201hp and 229 lb-ft in the Euro Buzz.
That should result in a much quicker zero to 60mph time — the Euro Buzz does the run in about 10 seconds — and top speed has been increased from 90mph to 99mph. Available at launch will be a new dual-motor all-wheel-drive variant that will have around 330hp, though no other details have been given yet. VW also isn’t ready to say what the ID Buzz’s EPA range will be, though the larger battery and more efficient motor 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 seating configurations. As standard, the second row of seats is a three-person bench, giving the van seven seats in total. There is the option for a pair of captain’s chairs for the second row, too. As with the SWB ID Buzz, the seats in the second row can’t be removed, but the new two-person third-row bench can be removed completely.
VW also isn’t ready to say what the ID Buzz’s EPA range will be
Both the second and third rows fold to create a flat surface — though neither set folds into the floor. And there’s an available removable cargo shelf to extend that surface area and provide storage cubbies underneath. The second row can be slid fore and aft, and the seat backs can be adjusted up to 16 degrees or fold forward for easier third-row access. All three rows of seats get their own air vents, too.
Other than the added seats and length, the design of the ID Buzz’s cabin is identical to the Euro version. The large windshield, additional quarter windows, and raised seating position provide a phenomenal view out, and the door panels have great ergonomics and armrests. The dash features a lovely faux wood panel, and each interior color scheme offers a mix of different colors and materials. (Sadly, the orange and white won’t be available in the US; instead, we’ll get a more muted gray and brown motif.)
Like on the Euro Buzz, the center console is removable and features 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 fastener covers.
One major 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 fitted 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 simpler to use and a lot more customizable, plus it finally has illuminated volume and temperature sliders. (The 5.3-inch digital gauge cluster screen looks the same as the Euro car’s.)
It remains to be seen how much better the updated system will actually be in practice, but anything would be an improvement over VW’s existing infotainment. The ID Buzz has eight USB-C ports throughout, including in clever locations like the door panels and the top of the windshield for a dashcam, and there’s a wireless charging pad in the dash.
The ID Buzz will come 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 heated as well. A heated windshield, heated washer nozzles, and heated steering wheel are also included.
The interior is filled with Buzz logos and little Easter eggs like smiley faces on fastener covers
Every ID Buzz will get 30-color ambient interior lighting, keyless entry, automatic climate control, and a suite of active safety tech with hands-on Level 2 highway assist. Options include a 14-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, a head-up display, a 360-degree camera system, and parking assist with remote parking.
Volkswagen hasn’t given an exact release date yet, only saying 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 the equivalent of almost $60,000 in Germany — the American ID Buzz could start at around $70,000.
That’s a lot of cash for sure, but the ID Buzz is truly a league of its own in terms of style and packaging. The Microbus is finally back, and it’s poised to capture the hearts of thousands of people once more.