2009 Volkswagen Rabbit Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2009 Volkswagen Rabbit was new.


Performance: 8.1

There's no doubt the Rabbit motors with its strong five-cylindere engine, and its standard anti-lock brakes and traction control ensure added stability that other affordable small cars do not provide. But cost-conscious shoppers should note that the Rabbit's energetic performance compromises its fuel economy. 

  • "Precise steering and brisk responses make the Rabbit a pleasurable daily driver." -- Car and Driver
  • "Rabbit owners we heard from loved the ride quality and performance of the platform, with many admitting they took the long way home to take advantage of the car's spirited drive character." -- AutoWeek

Acceleration and Power

With 170 horsepower from a five-cylinder engine, the Rabbit is one of the most powerful subcompacts on the market, and test drivers love the pep and agility that the meaty engine provides. But it almost goes without saying that the car's fuel economy takes a hit compared to other tiny economy cars. The EPA rates the VW Rabbit at 21/30 mpg city/highway with a five-speed manual transmission, and at 20/29 mpg with the automatic.

  • "With 170 horsepower, this VW is one of the most powerful cars in the class, and feels like it." -- Edmunds
  • "It delivers 170 pound-feet of torque, which is the power that gets a car moving frm a standing start. Significant is the fact that 90 percent of maximum torque is available from 1750 to 5125 rpm. This not only makes the Rabbit feel quick and nimble, but means that it has good drivability across a wide power band." -- New Car Test Drive
  • "More than adequate for most situations. The automatic transmission is smooth and responsive but can sometimes be reluctant to downshift for more power. Its useful manual-shift gate is an unexpected surprise in this price class." -- Consumer Guide

Handling and Braking

The 2009 Rabbit's road composure is impressive. The car comes standard with advanced anti-lock brakes and traction control, plus an optional Electronic Stability Program.

  • "Rabbit is fun to drive, albeit less sporty than the related GTI. Steering has good feedback. The brakes have solid pedal feel and excellent stopping control." -- Consumer Guide
  • "On the highway, the Rabbit offers rock-solid stability and a surprisingly noise-free ride. The steering doesn't offer as much feedback as we'd like, but it's direct and nicely weighted. All in all, the Rabbit's taut construction and driving dynamics are worthy of its European heritage." -- Edmunds
  • "The well-damped suspension acts to pour this car down the road in one liquid motion. The ride has a short memory for disturbances; hit once and forget each one." -- Car and Driver

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