Codename: Four Banger
By day, it's a practical, economical little hatchback. Later that same day, it's a one-car roller coaster (the new kind of coaster with electro-magnetic propulsion that shoots you up the hill, not the old kind with the chain). Available 24/7: Refinement and driving feel that evoke European sport sedans commanding twice the price. Almost 30 years after it first landed in America as a genetically engineered Rabbit, the VW GTI remains a flexible favorite of practical car connoisseurs.
Starting price: Around $24,000
Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder
Output: 200 horsepower, 207 pound-feet of torque
Top speed: 155 mph
0-60 mph: 6.8 seconds
Cargo capacity (behind first/second row): 51.1/15.3 cubic feet