Volkswagen Rabbit Review

Some cars are like a good hamburger. Too many add-ons keep you from getting the true flavor.

Volkswagen may or may not have been thinking of that metaphor (I'll bet not) when they re-christened the Golf the Rabbit here in the U.S. and re-positioned it as more basic transportation.

If you have never driven a Rabbit, go to your local dealer now, because this is where a chunk of the automobile business is heading...to cars the Europeans were embracing while we were in our SUV-induced coma.

Ford hasn't brought its Euro-spec Fiesta and Focus to our shores yet, but like GM's import, the Saturn Astra , the Rabbit is all about strong, solid German engineering. Everything, from major maneuvers to subtle switchgear, is precise. Not too soft, not too hard. Exactly right.

VW's press fleet loaned us an example with only four options...a six-speed automatic transmission, electronic stabilization, 16" alloy wheels and an iPod adaptor in the armrest. We'd have passed on the automatic (which would have saved $1075), but even so, the bottom line was only $18,524 (from a base of $15,600). You could easily buy two Rabbits for less than the price of some cars that simply aren't as good.

And though gas prices are easing compared to where they were in July, it's still three bucks a gallon or more...so 21 city and 29 highway miles per gallon is nothing to sneeze at, either.