2009 Volkswagen Rabbit Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Trevor Wild Trevor Wild Author
July 16, 2009

The 2009 Volkswagen Rabbit is a high-quality compact vehicle throughout, though it's not particularly sporty or fuel-efficient.

Experts at TheCarConnection.com searched far and wide to bring you highlights from some of the most reputable reviews in this conclusive assessment of the 2009 Volkswagen Rabbit. Editors also furnish their driving opinions to this Bottom Line; combined, you'll have all the information you need to make a savvy buying decision.

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.

Review continues below

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.

7

2009 Volkswagen Rabbit

Styling

The 2009 Volkswagen Rabbit looks like a Volkswagen inside and out: clean and conservative.

The 2009 Volkswagen Rabbit 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.

Cars.com praises the 2009 Volkswagen Rabbit's "simple lines and the uncluttered face." According to MyRide.com, the Volkswagen Rabbit 2009 is "refreshing," and its "teardrop-shaped taillights" look "great with the hatch open or closed." Edmunds studies the exterior closely and observes, "Notably, the word 'Rabbit' does not appear anywhere on the car; instead, a small chrome bunny cast mid-hop decorates the hatch of Volkswagen's entry-level compact." "Functional, practical and sporty" are the words Kelley Blue Book uses to describe the 2009 Volkswagen Rabbit; it "wastes no sheet metal or bodywork." Edmunds adds, "although larger and heavier than before, it retains the characteristic boxy but very functional hatchback architecture." In addition, the VW Rabbit's "forward-leaning stance is emphasized by the narrowing side window line and the hatchback rear window," says Kelley Blue Book.

The 2009 VW Rabbit's interior sits just north of somber. MyRide.com notes the clean interior design, which "takes advantage of Volkswagen's long touted cabin-building competence." Car and Driver calls the interior of the VW Rabbit "pleasingly adult and gimmick-free." Cars.com mentions the three-spoke steering wheel and "a high-mounted center stack" putting the Volkswagen Rabbit 2009 right in line with the Jetta and GTI. The dashboard and center console are "designed for compactness and ease of use," remarks Kelley Blue Book.

8

2009 Volkswagen Rabbit

Performance

The 2009 Volkswagen Rabbit offers performance that is acceptable but never stellar; if fuel economy is a priority, you'll need to go elsewhere.  

Reviewers are generally pleased with the 2009 Volkswagen Rabbit's performance. It's not shocking, but it's not completely disappointing either.

Cars.com notes that the VW Rabbit "shares its 2.5-liter inline-five-cylinder engine with the Jetta." MyRide.com says, "The Rabbit's five-cylinder engine is unique in its class, as competitors use four-cylinder motors." Additionally, "thanks to improved airflow and valve-train management," remarks Cars.com, "output in both cars increases to 170 horsepower and 177 pounds-feet of torque, up from 150 hp and 170 pounds-feet last year." MyRide.com states the base Rabbit offers a five-speed manual and a six-speed automatic. The "manual gearbox is tight and guides between gears with little effort," they contend. Edmunds adds that the standard five-speed manual shooting power over to the front wheels and the optional six-speed automatic with manual-shifting capability make "great use of the engine's power band." MyRide.com observes a "somewhat laggard" acceleration time of nine seconds to 60 mph, but Car and Driver reports "torque pours forth from small motions of your right foot."

Edmunds notes that "fuel economy for the 2009 Rabbit is...a bit lower than average for this class of car." Cars.com provides the 2009 Volkswagen Rabbit's fuel economy numbers, saying the car gives you "21 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway" with the manual transmission and 22/29 mpg with the automatic.

Edmunds also notes, "A stiff body structure and multilink rear suspension combine to help deliver comfortably compliant ride and handling." However, real VW lovers will "lament the loss of some steering feel due to the adoption of electric-assisted power steering." Car and Driver appreciates the VW Rabbit's handling, commenting, "The Rabbit rewards high corner-entry speed with a chassis able not only to help you survive the experience but also to facilitate tire-squealing fun." Steering is "Germanic," feeling "hefty and communicative" in the Volkswagen Rabbit 2009.

9

2009 Volkswagen Rabbit

Comfort & Quality

The 2009 Volkswagen Rabbit is comfortable and has a surprising amount of space, though it can be a bit noisy by some accounts.

Reviewers generally like the Rabbit's high-quality build materials and comfortable interior, but some single out road noise as an issue.

MyRide.com explains that the base chairs are rather "comfortable and well bolstered" in the 2009 Volkswagen Rabbit. With its "roomy and upscale cabin" and "comfortable ride," according to Edmunds, the 2009 Volkswagen Rabbit makes for a pleasant ride. On the downside, the front seats have a manual height adjustment that MyRide.com calls "outdated."

The VW Rabbit backseat is surprisingly roomy, notes Cars.com, providing "nearly 2 inches of legroom and more than an inch of headroom over the previous model." Edmunds agrees: "A roomy rear seat offers decent room for a pair of adults."

Cargo capacity is respectable, "thanks to a 60/40-split folding rear seat," allowing the Volkswagen Rabbit 2009 to carry long items like skis with the front seat folded flat, states Cars.com. With the seats raised, there's 15 cubic feet of space. "When flipped down, [it] opens up a massive 43 cubic feet of cargo space," Edmunds reports. Though the Volkswagen Rabbit 2009 sports a large glove box, MyRide.com would have liked to see "more creative stowage in the center console" and "taller cupholders to fully secure many of today's larger drinks."

Fit and finish are impressive for a $15,000 vehicle, and of particular note are the Audi-quality gauges and controls. Other materials, such as the laminated visor and hard plastic door inserts, appear "less than top-drawer." Additionally, Cars.com enjoys the "dashboard quality" of this VW Rabbit model. Car and Driver thinks "the seat fabric looks seriously thrifty," though. Edmunds calls out the "impressive build quality" of the Volkswagen Rabbit 2009. In terms of quality, MyRide.com adds, "A cleanly styled interior takes advantage of Volkswagen's long touted cabin-building competence."

Car and Driver reports that the "tires read road textures loudly into the interior" while driving the 2009 Volkswagen Rabbit. Edmunds, however, calls the interior "refined" and "noise-free."

8

2009 Volkswagen Rabbit

Safety

The 2009 Volkswagen Rabbit gets great crash-test results and offers more safety hardware than some rivals.

The 2009 Volkswagen Rabbit scores well in government crash tests, and it comes with more safety equipment than is customary in this price-conscious class.

When it comes to crash-test ratings, the 2009 Volkswagen Rabbit fares well. In the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) tests, the vehicle snags the best available rating of "good." In the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) crash tests, the VW Rabbit scores four stars for frontal impact and five stars in side-impact tests.

"Four-wheel antilock disc brakes" are standard on the VW 2009 Rabbit, according to Edmunds. MyRide.com observes the Rabbit lineup sports "dual front airbags, front side-impact airbags, and side curtain airbags" as standard equipment. MyRide.com adds that "active front seat head restraints help to properly position passengers during an impact" and the "tilt/telescopic steering wheel maintains the proper distance between the driver and the steering wheel's airbag," which is a vital safety feature. There is also "a brake pad wear indicator" that keeps you in the know.

Cars.com notes optional "rear seat side-impact airbags on four-doors."

All in all, the Volkswagen Rabbit 2009 provides "good visibility throughout and decent outside mirrors," says MyRide.com.

8

2009 Volkswagen Rabbit

Features

You won't need to select too many options boxes; the 2009 Volkswagen Rabbit has plenty of standard features to keep drivers happy.



Reviewers have plenty of features to talk about in the 2009 Volkswagen Rabbit, even though it's bargain-priced.

MyRide.com mentions that standard features for the 2009 VW Rabbit include "a telescopic steering wheel; side impact and side curtain airbags; and four-wheel-disc brakes with ABS, EBD, and brake assist." Edmunds details the available trim levels on the 2009 Volkswagen Rabbit, noting it "comes as a two-door or four-door five passenger hatchback in a single trim level called the S." Standard equipment includes "15-inch wheels, air-conditioning, heated outside mirrors, power windows and locks, remote keyless entry, cruise control and a 60/40 split-folding rear seat." Cars.com adds a "CD stereo with an auxiliary MP3 jack" to the list, as well.

The four-door body style of the Volkswagen Rabbit 2009 also comes with upgraded cloth upholstery, eight-way manually adjustable front seats, heated front seats, heated windshield washer nozzles, rear-passenger ventilation, and a rear center armrest with pass-through.

Edmunds notes the optional sunroof, metallic paint, "sport and ground-effects body kits," and an iPod adapter for your Volkswagen Rabbit 2009. A navigation system is an option on some Rabbits.

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November 5, 2015
For 2009 Volkswagen Rabbit

VW Rabbit (Golf) 2.0 TDI 140 bhp

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This is an excellent car, 55 mpg, plenty of power, good interior space, very flexible in use, good fold down rear seats, digital radio, good road manners, excellent rust resisting bodywork - you really cannot... + More »
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June 9, 2015
For 2009 Volkswagen Rabbit

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I own European version which is called VW Golf MK6. It has 1.4 TSI engine with 122 hp and manual gearbox. 5 doors, Highline package. The car is pretty reliable. The mileage is about 85.000 miles. Oil service... + More »
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April 28, 2015
2009 Volkswagen Rabbit 2-Door HB Automatic S

Best car I've ever owned. Fun to drive and super reliable.

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Awesome driving dynamics, great transmission, good power from the 2.5 liter five cylinder engine. Responds well to bolt on performance upgrades like wider wheels, upgraded suspension, aftermarket exhaust... + More »
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Styling 7.0
Performance 8.0
Comfort & Quality 9.0
Safety 8.0
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