IIHS Top Safety Pick
The more potent - and more expensive - GTI may be more exciting than the run-of-the-litter Rabbit, but the base Rabbit still offers the appeal of "German engineering" in a budget package. Power is decent and handling is sharp.
The interior is much more conservative in design than a Honda Civic's, but it still feels and looks better constructed than most cars at this price.
Volkswagen has a poor reputation for dependability, and VW has been trying hard to get past that. It seems to be working. Predicted reliability for the 2009 is "Very good," according to Consumer Reports.
New versions of the Rabbit and GTI are expected to go on sale in the United States this fall.
NEXT: Ford Focus