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2008 Volkswagen Rabbit

Overview
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2008 Volkswagen Rabbit Review

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Despite a commonly-held belief that Americans don't like hatchbacks, the success of Volkswagen's long-running two- and four-door models—as well as the recent success of the MINI Cooper, Mazda Mazda3 and its own GTI—has prompted Volkswagen to revive the beloved Rabbit hatchback. The 2008 Volkswagen Rabbit (formerly known as the Golf) becomes VW's entry-level economy model, offering a number of upscale safety and convenience features, a frugal new five-cylinder engine and a roomy and versatile interior. Despite its hefty standard content, the Volkswagen Rabbit manages a sticker price that won't leave consumers hopping mad, which should have sales multiplying like, well, Rabbits.

You'll Like This Car If...

Tangible German lineage and an exceptionally high level of interior fit and finish for this price combine to make the Rabbit the most sophisticated $16,000 vehicle on the road. Compact SUV-like versatility provides practical appeal.

You May Not Like This Car If...

While it's very much a German car from behind the wheel, the Rabbit isn't as much fun to drive as some of its competitors, particularly the Mazda Mazda3. The Mazda3 also offers features not available on the Rabbit, such as heated leather seats, on-board navigation and a Bose audio system.

What's Significant About This Car?

A new "S" trim level is added, a tire-pressure monitoring system is made standard on all models and there is 20 additional horsepower, bringing the output to 170.

Driving the Rabbit

Driving Impressions Despite its small size, there's a solid feel to the Rabbit and it delivers overall confidence in difficult driving situations. Nimble in city and country driving, it handles busy street...

corners and curvy rural lanes easily, thanks in part to the new suspension system and the responsive steering. Increased specifically for the U.S. market are ride height and tire sizes. The 2.5-liter, five-cylinder powerplant is well-suited to the American driving style, offers lots of torque off the line and requires less revving than the previous 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine. The five-speed manual transmission has reasonably short throws, in line with its sporty character, and slides effortlessly between gears. The automatic version is just as slick, and both transmissions share the same average highway mileage of 29 miles per gallon. A fair amount of handling firmness reminds you of the Rabbit's German engineering, along with delivering the satisfaction of driving a small-outside, big-inside vehicle.

The Rabbit Logo
Eschewing the traditional nametag, the Rabbit identifies itself only with the once-familiar bounding hare logo.

New Five-cylinder Engine
Shared with the Jetta and developed specifically for American driving styles, the new 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine delivers the quick response worthy of the Rabbit name.

2008 Volkswagen Rabbit Details
Interior

The spacious interior is the surprise here. With far more room than is apparent from the outside, the Rabbit can seat five as well as provide plenty of cargo space. The dash and center console are designed for compactness and ease of use, and nooks and crannies for storage abound. Nifty indicators include one for brake pad wear, and a fuel-cap seal warning to remind impatient drivers to tighten the cap properly. A passenger seat that folds flat and 60/40-split folding rear seats enhance versatility. Adjustable lumbar-support seats (four-door only) hold driver and passenger comfortably on sharp turns. The hatchback has an exceptionally large opening, and the pass-through on the four-door model can accommodate skis.

Exterior

Functional, practical and sporty design cues identify the 2008 Volkswagen Rabbit as a German hatchback that wastes no sheet metal or bodywork. The hood, headlamps and grille are integrated cleanly with the front bumper, the side panels and doors flow together smoothly and the rear couldn't be simpler. The slightly forward-leaning stance is emphasized by the narrowing side window line and the hatchback rear window.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

The 2008 Volkswagen Rabbit's standard equipment list includes cruise control, anti-lock brakes (ABS), traction control, AM/FM stereo with single MP3-compatilbe CD player (six-disc CD changer on four-door models), remote keyless entry, an anti-theft engine immobilizer system and a new high-tech electro-mechanical steering system. Comfort and safety equipment includes heated front seats (four-door only), front and side airbags, Side-Curtain Protection, air conditioning, heated side mirrors and a rear window defroster.

Optional Equipment

Options offered on the two- and four-door models include VW's anti-skid, lateral control Electronic Stabilization Program (ESP) to help curb skids and maximize handling, 16-inch alloy wheels and a six-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic and a Sport mode for manual shifting. For backseat riders in the four-door the addition of rear side-impact airbags is probably reassuring, while the power sunroof with sunshade adds a little style as well as fresh air. Other options include SIRIUS Satellite Radio and an iPod connectivity adapter.

Under the Hood

In place of the previous Golf's anemic 2.0-liter, 115-horsepower four-cylinder engine, the Rabbit gets a 2.5-liter in-line five-cylinder unit developed specifically for the acceleration tastes of American drivers. Its 170 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque are transmitted through a five-speed manual transmission or a new manually-selectable six-speed automatic version with a satisfyingly aggressive Sport mode. The independent rear suspension helps it keep a grip on the road, as do the anti-lock braking and electronic traction control systems. Gone for now, unfortunately, is the popular diesel model.

2.5-liter in-line 5
170 horsepower @ 5700 rpm
177 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/29 (manual), 21/29 (automatic)

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2008 Volkswagen Rabbit Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
9.2
Out of 10

Based on 201 Ratings for the 2006 - 2009 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    9.3/10
    Quality
    9.4/10
  • Reliability
    9.4/10
    Performance
    9.4/10
  • Comfort
    9.1/10
    Styling
    9.3/10

Wolfie and me, still happy 7 years in

By on Sunday, January 18, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 90,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Fun to drive, Nimble, good mpg, comfy, pretty"

Cons: "Seat recliners are manual"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

Wolfie at 1 month old.

"I bought this car in 2008, intending to buy either a used car or a new Versa, Fit, or Yaris. I used to drive 15k+/year for work, and after reading the reviews on safety and handling, went with the Rabbit. I fell in love on the test drive, but had a slight reservation: VW had come off a few years of producing an inferior product and had recently changed production of the vehicles from Brazil to Wolfsburg, and I was worried about reliability. 90k miles and 7 years approaching, I am blissfully happy with my purchase. I've been on 2 600+ mile trips from the East Coast to Michigan each year, through Canada's, on interviews for two grad schools and a medical residency, one fender bender, and babysat my 18 mo old Nephew for a week, toting him in his baby seat strapped in to the back of this two door. This car survived Snowmageddon, Snowpocalypse, hurricanes and flooding with style and grace. I wish I could turn this car into a crossover for kids, I just love it and can't say enough good things about it."

12 people out of 20 found this review helpful

Wolfie at 1 month old.

fun to drive, very reliable

By on Thursday, November 13, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 102,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "fun to drive, great quality, very reliable"

Cons: "high speed fuel economy could be better"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"This car has been in my family since new, and it has had absolutely no issues so far. Rear brake pads wore faster than i would have expected (already gone through 2 sets, and about halfway through a third), but factory front brake pads are still doing fine after over 100k miles. The car is very fun to drive, and has good power. Mileage is ok, not great, and drops off somewhat steeply upwards of 70mph or so. Interior quality is great. After all these miles, there is very little wear on any interior parts. For a point A to point B fun with a little fun in between, it's about as good as it gets. It's a little expensive to drive compared to other cars in its class, due to lower than average fuel economy caused by a larger engine than competitors, and routine maintenance can get a little pricey (It requires over 6qt of synthetic oil, and filters are definitely on the expensive side)."

4 people out of 7 found this review helpful

Love my Rabbit!

By on Wednesday, September 10, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 40,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Has great pick up with the 5 cylinder and sporty."

Cons: "NONE"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"I bought my Rabbit brand new and absolutely LOVE it! I have had 0 problems with it. The Rabbit is a 10 because it is a reliable, great quality car with tons of options. I also LOVE my heated seats and mirrors! I am glad I got the cold weather package. The look is sporty and sleek. My Rabbit is a 2 door and can comfortably seat 5 adults which is amazing! I think from now on I am going to have to own a hatchback because of the ease to get things into the trunk. This is my 2nd VW and will continue buying Volkswagens because of the quality and engineering!"

8 people out of 15 found this review helpful

Buyer beware!

By on Wednesday, September 10, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 72,000

10 2.0
overall rating 2 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
2/10
Value
2/10
Reliability
2/10
Quality
Not Rated
Performance
4/10
Styling
4/10
Comfort
4/10

Pros: "back seat folds down - great storage"

Cons: "the car itself!"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1

"We bought a 2009 Voltzwagen Rabbit and now at 72K miles we need a new engine. We have had some minor issues but nothing like this. This is our very first Voltswagen and we bought it because of consumer reports and people saying how wonderful it is. This car has been a nightmare!! If we want to get it fixed it will cost around 10K. In no way, would we recommend buying a Voltswagen."

7 people out of 27 found this review helpful

A great and reliable vehichle

By on Friday, August 15, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 96,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
8/10

Cons: "The seats could use improvements"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"It has been a joy owning this vehichle. Very little maintence and drives like a go cart with get up."

10 people out of 18 found this review helpful

Fun to drive, moves right along...

By on Sunday, May 25, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 60,000

10 7.0
overall rating 7 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
7/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
7/10
Quality
8/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
7/10
Comfort
7/10

Pros: "CPO = good value/price, yup, picks up and moves"

Cons: "german overengineering"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7

"first time German car owner when you need a key made, chu ching ... spacious backseat, plenty front leg room Yup, moves right along and then some. don't want the issues that come with turbo's, not yet anyway."

12 people out of 24 found this review helpful

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Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

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