- Solid build quality
- Rich interior materials
- Good ride
- Bland exterior
- Unimpressive fuel economy
- Road noise
- Modest passenger and cargo room
The 2009 Volkswagen Rabbit is a high-quality compact vehicle throughout, though it's not particularly sporty or fuel-efficient.
The 2009 Volkswagen Rabbit is the U.S. equivalent of the Golf (its name in Europe). It comes in a two-door style, as well as a four-door hatchback. Outside, it is conservative and boxy—but not unappealing in its own little German way.
Performance enthusiasts will instead want to check out the 2009 Volkswagen GTI, which pairs the Rabbit's hatchback body style with more satisfying hardware and extroverted cues.
The engine in the 2009 Volkswagen Rabbit is responsive and powerful for its size. Gearing of the five-speed manual and the electronic throttle's aggressive programming help the Rabbit jump off the line like a scared, well, rabbit, and the 150-horsepower 2.5-liter inline five-cylinder engine delivers 170 pound-feet of torque. Yet the Rabbit's fuel economy—often what counts for small-car buyers—is near the back of the pack, with automatic cars rated at 20 mpg city, 29 highway and the manual gearbox adding just 1 mpg.
Unlike so many budget-minded cars using numbing electric power-assisted steering, the Rabbit's steering is actually communicative and downright lively. The ride from the 2009 Volkswagen Rabbit is taut but never jarring. The front struts and independent rear suspension absorb big bumps with nary a crash or bang. Steering feels precise with a good on-center feel.
Inside, the Rabbit's front seats give great support. The driver's seat helps you get comfortable with plenty of adjustability, but the controls are in three different locations: fore/aft at the right-front corner of the seat, a lever on the left side that raises and lowers the bottom cushion, and a big knob to change the backrest angle at the left rear of the seat. The quality of the materials is high. The view out is good, but the base of the windshield is rather high, a result of European pedestrian collision standards.
The Rabbit four-door has achieved four-star ratings for frontal impact and five-star ratings for side impact from the federal government, but it's a Top Safety Pick from the IIHS, with all "good" scores.