2009 Volkswagen Rabbit Hatchback Review | Edmunds.com

2009 Volkswagen Rabbit Hatchback

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Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) is a category of used car. Often late-model vehicles, they have been inspected, refurbished, if necessary, and are under warranty by the manufacturer.
Volkswagen Rabbit Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 2.5 L Inline 5-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 5-speed Manual
  • Horse Power 170 hp @ 5700 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 21/30 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats Yes

Review of the 2009 Volkswagen Rabbit

  • If you're willing to sacrifice some fuel economy and a few bucks, the 2009 Volkswagen Rabbit is a wonderful little car that boasts a polished interior, comfortable ride, solid German engineering and strong power. It's a hoot to drive, too.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Upscale look and feel with top-notch build quality, strong engine, versatile hatchback body style, high standard feature content, comfortable ride.

  • Cons

    Below-average fuel economy, high quality and high feature content leads to a high price.

  • What's New for 2009

    For 2009, the four-door Volkswagen Rabbit comes standard with a six-speed automatic transmission, and all Rabbits get standard stability control.

Full 2009 Volkswagen Rabbit Review

What's New for 2009

For 2009, the four-door Volkswagen Rabbit comes standard with a six-speed automatic transmission, and all Rabbits get standard stability control.


The 2009 Volkswagen Rabbit is like soccer: huge in Europe, not so much in America. Of course, the Rabbit is known as the Golf across the pond, but the fact remains that Europeans have a keener affinity for VW's iconic hatchback, to the tune of making it the second-best-selling car in Europe last year. In America, sedans are king -- sorta like the NFL. Yet supposedly unfashionable hatchbacks like the Rabbit are interesting alternatives for those who recognize the inherent practicality of this design.

VW relaunched the Rabbit name midway through 2006 in an effort to make Americans remember a time when they didn't hate hatchbacks. Sold in the U.S. from 1975-'84, the original Rabbit was cute, nimble and practical, just like its quivering-nosed namesake -- well, except for the practical part, as you can't exactly fit a bicycle inside a small furry creature. This new-generation Rabbit isn't quite as cute or nimble, but as the largest Golf/Rabbit yet, it certainly has the practical bit down. Interior space is impressive for a compact car, with a large backseat and trunk.

For those looking for that certain je ne sais quoi that sets European cars apart from the pack in terms of driving feel and interior quality, the Rabbit has it in spades. A stiff body structure and multilink rear suspension combine to help deliver a commendably compliant ride. Solid handling is also part of the package-- on a twisty road, the Rabbit is quite happy to scamper. With 170 horsepower, this VW is one of the most powerful cars in the class, and feels like it. The cabin is also top-notch, as it offers loads of features and build quality that would put more than a few pricier vehicles to shame.

Of course, the 2009 VW Rabbit isn't alone in the compact hatchback game. Perhaps the vehicle closest in nature is the Saturn Astra, which was designed and built in Europe, although the VW does have a significant power advantage. Another car worthy of consideration is the Mazda 3, which boasts good looks, even better feature content and a decidedly European fun-to-drive character. A slew of traditional compact sedans like the Honda Civic could be considered (especially given their better fuel economy and potentially lower price). But like soccer, the enjoyable little VW Rabbit is definitely worth checking out -- perhaps you'll find something good in what you've been missing.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2009 Volkswagen Rabbit is a compact hatchback available with two or four doors, each with a single trim level (known as S). The two-door Rabbit S comes standard with 15-inch steel wheels, air-conditioning, full power accessories, cruise control, cloth upholstery, a six-way manually adjustable driver seat, a 60/40-split-folding rear seat, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel and a 10-speaker stereo with CD player and auxiliary audio jack. The four-door Rabbit S adds upgraded exterior trim, heated windshield washer nozzles, front and rear center armrests, velour upholstery, an eight-way manually adjustable driver seat with power recline and adjustable lumbar, heated front seats, rear air vents and an upgraded sound system with in-dash six-CD changer and satellite radio.

The heated seats and windshield washer nozzles are optional on the two-door. All Rabbits can be optioned with 16-inch alloy wheels, a sunroof and an iPod adapter.

Powertrains and Performance

The 2009 Volkswagen Rabbit is powered by a 2.5-liter five-cylinder that produces a healthy 170 hp and 177 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual is standard on the Rabbit two-door, with a six-speed automatic optional -- the Rabbit four-door comes only with the auto. Although the engine's ample power is unusual for a compact car, it does have an effect on fuel economy. EPA estimates for an automatic-equipped Rabbit are 21 mpg city/29 mpg highway and 24 mpg combined, which is near the bottom among economy cars. Rabbits bred for California-emissions states are classified as partial-zero-emission vehicles (PZEV).


Both 2009 VW Rabbit body styles come standard with antilock disc brakes, stability control, front-seat side airbags and full-length head curtain airbags. Rear-seat side airbags are optional on the four-door. In government crash tests, the four-door received four out of five stars for frontal crash occupant protection, while it received five stars for front and rear side protection. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash tests, the Rabbit received the best possible rating of "Good" in the frontal-offset and side crash tests.

Interior Design and Special Features

The Rabbit's cabin is a strong selling point, with high-grade soft-touch materials and metallic trim. We're fans of the cool blue lights used for the instruments and radio display, while stereo and climate controls are straightforward and easy to use. The three-spoke steering wheel is perfectly shaped, and multiple adjustments for the front seats plus a tilting and telescoping steering column assure a proper driving position for drivers of different sizes and shapes. Two-door Rabbits have front seats that slide forward for easy rear-seat access, though the four-door is the obvious choice if you plan on regularly carrying more than a couple adults or children. Nevertheless, since both two- and four-door Rabbits have the same wheelbase, interior volume is virtually identical. Cargo volume with the 60/40-split-folding rear seats up is a useful 15 cubic feet and expands to 46 with the seats down.

Driving Impressions

The 2009 Volkswagen Rabbit is one of the most entertaining entries in the economy-car market. It provides a satisfying balance between a comfortable ride and capable handling, which is really no surprise given that the Rabbit serves as the foundation for VW's GTI "hot hatch." The Rabbit is tuned more for comfort, though, so don't expect it to be simply a less powerful GTI. 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.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

Thousands spent for new transmission

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Vehicle: 2009 Volkswagen Rabbit S 2dr Hatchback (2.5L 5cyl 5M)

The fuel economy and quality of the drive train are the biggest downer for me. It has good pep to its step and handles incredibly well. Although with my Transmission failing so early I worry about the power train quality. It looks pretty inside and out, handles very well but doesn't appear to have the longevity dynamic.

Amazing car

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Vehicle: 2009 Volkswagen Rabbit S 2dr Hatchback (2.5L 5cyl 6A)

i got this car a few days ago and its great! i bought it from carmax. It has 2 slight dents in it. Its jet black and is so amazing to drive. The fuel econmy is lower then most cars like the rabbit but its great!

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

Vw could have done better

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Vehicle: 2009 Volkswagen Rabbit S 2dr Hatchback (2.5L 5cyl 5M)

The exterior of this car is quite nice, following the the line of the Golf. The interior is very well designed and finished much better than other cars in the class. The car is much roomier than it seems, the legroom and headroom in the back is great. The seats are poorly designed without proper lumber support that's why I'm rating it low. The ride is very nice, the suspension is just right. Thanks to the multilink suspension in the back, the car corners like no others. The engine is the biggest flaw of this car, it's not powerful enough but the gas millage is not that great. I wonder why they didn't install a better European engine with similar power but better fuel millage.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Love it! so cute!

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Vehicle: 2009 Volkswagen Rabbit S PZEV 2dr Hatchback (2.5L 5cyl 5M)

I am over 6 feet 1 inches tall. Everyone laughed because I am so big in a small car, but there is a ton of room. I sat in the back seat and could easily move around and had leg room! The car is super fun to drive on the highway and great for weaving in and out of traffic. The ride is so smooth and SO quiet, i couldn't believe it. The pick up is great too, very powerful little car. I feel like I am driving around in a nightclub when I got some good music going on.

1 of 4 people found this review helpful

Not suitable for short passengers

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Vehicle: 2009 Volkswagen Rabbit S 4dr Hatchback (2.5L 5cyl 6A)

I am 5'3 and too short to reach the headrest even in its lowest position. According to the User's Manual and a phone call to VW America's head office, a cushion must never be placed on the passenger seat as this interferes with the airbag system's proper functioning. This only becomes clear after the car has been purchased one has read the manual.Therefore I am at risk in case of an accident and VW says that neither they nor I can do anything about it.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Just about perfect!

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Vehicle: 2009 Volkswagen Rabbit S PZEV 2dr Hatchback (2.5L 5cyl 6A)

In my family we own an 09 Rabbit and 08 Mazda 3. They are truly both fantastic cars. Both are equipped pretty much the same and they both cost the same (just about 17K). My wife drives the Mazda and she loves it however I am a good size guy and I find the Rabbit's seat goes back further and has more thigh support (and overall room). The Mazda gets better gas mileage but the Rabbit has better acceleration so in my opinion the lower MPG is a fair trade. Both handle extremely well and are a lot of fun to drive however the Rabbit is a little more quiet overall. The Mazda has one of the nicest stearing wheels I have ever seen on any car.

Talk About The 2009 Rabbit

2009 Volkswagen Rabbit Discussions See all Started By

I did a search for used Rabbits, 2009 only, on the autotrader site and came up with 150 listings nationwide. But pretty much over the $17K mark, some close to $20k....

To my knowledge, all VWs have a spare, and most of them have a full-size spare - my wife had a 2000 Passat GLS wagon, my sister-in-law has a 2009 Rabbit, my brother-in-law had a 2001 GTI GLX and I hav...

Rabbit TDI is coming out in both regular and GT trims. It's coming out in Oct 2009 as an 2010. It will be the US version of the Golf MKVI. The new Rabbit will be more refined and more upmarket. This n...

Gas Mileage


  • 21
  • cty
  • 30
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs
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