• May 11th 2008 at 1:33PM
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If Consumer Reports is right, Volkswagen is well on its way to attaining its dream of outselling Toyota by 2015. In the magazine's June 2008 issue, CR threw a handful of hatchbacks into the ring and the VW Rabbit hopped out the winner. The magazine cited the Rabbit's "very well finished" interior for its class, agility, braking and transmission as reasons to choose it over a growing field of small hatchbacks. CR also expects the Rabbit to have an "above average" reliability record.

The biggest negative the staff found in the VW was "mediocre" fuel economy for a car its size, though many SUV drivers looking to downsize will love seeing its 24 mpg figure. Staffers also complained about the large C-pillars blocking their view and engine lag after stops.

Consumer Reports has routinely praised the Mazda3 as one of its favorite hatches, but in overall scoring, the car now comes in third, slightly behind the Toyota Prius Touring. Rounding out the top five are the Subaru Impreza Outback Sport and the newly redesigned Toyota Matrix/Pontiac Vibe twins. At the bottom of the list are the Dodge Caliber and the Chevrolet HHR.

[Source: Consumer Reports]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      I'm surprised CR didn't test the other new German hatch on the market, the Saturn Astra. It would have been interesting to see how it fared.

      I've driven a few Rabbits and they are excellent cars so I'm not surprised it handily beat the competition. It feels quite a bit more substantial, better finished and better engineered than the other cars in it's class including the Japanese offerings.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Yeah Chase...the current Euro Focus feels miles better than the crap car Focus I once owned. I have a Rabbit and it has been nothing but great. Yes I think the Mazda 3 is a bit sportier... but my Rabbit swallowed a 46" Flatscreen TV and still was ready for more... and I average around 28mpg and I drive hwy and city combined. Maybe they should drive it in manual mode.... I found I get slightly better mileage when shifting myself than in auto mode.
      • 7 Years Ago
      24 mpg? That's frightening. I get almost that in city-suburban driving, and 30 or more on the road with a twin-cam V6.
        • 7 Years Ago
        First off, it has a 2.5L 170 hp I5. For comparison sake, it would be helpful to know the displacement and power of the motor you're comparing. Second off, its conservative-driving-mode mpg numbers (which I'm guessing you are using to compare with) are 25/31.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Well VW is getting back on their feet, so good for them.
        • 7 Years Ago
        The easiest way for VW to actually get customers would be to pull a Hyundai: drop a 10-year/100,000-mile warranty on all their cars and put up enough cash to make sure that VWUSA and the dealer network doesn't try to screw people out of money should their newer cars break.

        If the new models are reliable... then VW will save money... and if they aren't... they won't piss off legions of former VW lovers by having dealers try and tell them that some chintzy latch breaking or electronic hassles was their fault and they need to pay $700 to fix it.

        In the meantime, the rabbit will be a great compact...

        ... as soon as they actually start shipping the TDI ones.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I wish VW well, but I can't believe they can make a car reliable enough to outsell Toyota. I owned a 1961 Beetle and 1985 Jetta, both of which were extremely unreliable. My son had a similar experience with a turbocharged Passat wagon. Reliability aside, the Jetta and Passat were wonderful vehicles to drive. That's what frustrates me as I look to replace my 2001 Acura 3.2TL. I like the Passat sedan better than any car in my price range, but I can't bring myself to risk another VW debacle. My intension was to buy a 2008 Honda Accord V6, but I don't care for the 3-4-6-cylinder firing pattern of the engine and the fact that the new Accord has been supersized. I checked out the Toyota Camry and came away thinking, "Buick." Arrrrgggghhhhh!
      • 7 Years Ago
      wow, sorry for the crappy format, i don't know where theose breaks came in from
      • 7 Years Ago
      Oh please, get off your high horse about the 2.5L iron block engine offered. VW sold a V5 in Europe for years. A V5. Do the math, that's an idiotic engine too. And it sold just fine in Europe.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Oh please... does anyone really care what CR has to say about anything anymore?

      They lost me after it was clear that they worshipped the Camry like a god for 12+ years. It wasn't worthy!

      Other dumbness:

      - Hyundai had ZERO chance of any praise from them (refused to even test them) until the Santa Fe, and then "suddenly", they're great. It took them 7 years to test the Tiburon (i.e. for 7 years, it said "too little date to predict". 7 years is too little?

      - MINI was rated poorly until 2005, when suddenly, it's now a "recommended" model. This, when it was basically the same car! 2005-build was superior, but still...

      They have major, suspicious biases. How could they recommend any GM cars otherwise?

      Speaking of the MINI, where is it in the list?

      Lastly, how can you rank a Prius next to a Rabbit? Just because the Prius has a hatch? Ever SUV is a hatch too, if you think about it! The Prius is a large car. No prospective Rabbit buyer would also have a Prius on the list (based on price alone, but on several other factors too).

      CR is so clueless at times. I don't pay any attention to them anymore.
      • 7 Years Ago
      "Myself and my friends have never had any serious issues....I did have both the coil pack and window regulator recall completed and neither has resurfaced..."

      Well, considering it was VW/Audi's corporate culture that led them to deceive large numbers of owners by witholding the facts on coil failure, the only surprise to me is that VW management were not charged criminally. Needless to say, in the face of such behavior, anectodal stories about "myself and my friends" doesn't have much impact on me...not statistically meaningful anyway...unless you have a lot of friends!

      • 7 Years Ago
      "Rabbit" is such a stupid name. why can't they just call it the "Golf" like everywhere else?
        • 7 Years Ago
        stupid people in marketing who make unneeded changes in order to feel important
        • 7 Years Ago
        Ditto that. I would never buy a car with such a ridiculously stupid name.
      • 7 Years Ago
      What leads CR to think this will have an "above average" repair record? Simply that it's imported?

      The most charitable think I can say is VW is just recovering from a period of poor reliability. Not sure how that leads to this prediction.

      24mpg (presumably combined) isn't too bad, if you consider the sportiness. It is odd VW doesn't offer a more fuel efficient version though. All their competitors offer more options on the spectrum between sporty and economical.

      I think I'd take any of the other cars listed over the Rabbit. The Impreza is kinda iffy, since it also gets mediocre fuel economy. Imprezas are great if you need AWD, but if you don't, it's just wasted fuel.
        • 7 Years Ago
        The Rabbit has no "sportiness" of which you speak. The GTI does, though.
        • 7 Years Ago
        22/29 (manual)
        24 combined on regular gas

        22/29 (automatic)
        25 combined on premium gas

        Sounds like the GTI has a lot of problems making 27 on the combined. Also, fueleconomy.gov is completely screwed for these cars, it shows 21/29 for the GTI until you click, then it says 22/29.

        So the GTI uses perhaps 4% less fuel, but the gas for it costs about 7% more per gallon. Doesn't sound like the economy model to me.
        • 7 Years Ago
        I have a chipped GTI and even with aggressive acceleration (man, I love me that boost...) I average a touch over 27mpg combined. If I do almost all highway driving, I get closer to 30-32mpg. The GTI does much better in the real world than the EPA numbers would lead you to believe.
        • 7 Years Ago
        I also find Rabbit's fuel economy unsatisfactory. And VW's predicted reliability being above average is difficult for me to believe, being a current owner of a VW and seeing many of my friends owning anything from Rabbit to Passat and their reliability track record. And VW's parts price is ... overpriced for its quality. Of course CR has its own reasons to believe so, be it logical or not.

        Overall my pick would be still Mazda 3 or Astra for a hatchback. Maybe even Matribe.

        • 7 Years Ago
        I have a Rabbit and a GTI. -- Conservative highway driving gets me 31 mpg in the Rabbit and 35 in the GTI. City conservative driving is 26 GTI, 23 Rabbit. Spirited combined is 20 Rabbit, 22 GTI.

        Fuel efficiency is not the reason to pick a GTI over a Rabbit, but considering all the other benefits of the GTI, its nice the fuel costs break about even with a Rabbit. -- Oh, and coming from an owner of both, don't let the power figures fool you. The GTI is much faster, much more fun, and incredibly awesome-er to drive than the Rabbit. But if you just need a nice utilitarian car, the Rabbit is a real winner.
        • 7 Years Ago
        yup, like razor, i actually own the gti and have 35,000 miles of mileage logs which ping the average at 27ish mpg.
        • 7 Years Ago
        I've had weird history with the Subie's Legacy's.

        One, a manual - 2004, was averaging aroung 27-29 mostly highway. 4cyl model

        Second, auto - 2006, averaged 17-19 mostly highway and again 4cyl model.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Probably leads to this because it has been out now since 2006, so it is on its 3rd year and has had an impeccable reliability so far.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Yes, that's pretty much my point. VW had horrible quality through the earliest part of the 2000s. Ask Jetta owners about windows falling into doors and coil packs.

        By many accounts, the 5th generation Jetta has been better than the 4th gen. But then again, it's only 2-3 years old right now (in the US) and that's right when the previous Jetta really started to show its problems.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Careful drivers do better than the new EPA numbers on all cars, not just the GTI and Rabbit.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Whats up with CR hatting on the Vibe/Matrix? versatile car, yes the platform is a little old but the 1.8L is fun. The car is great when it comes to space ( a lot of hidden storage space) and I've taken mine from CA to FL 3 days 2 night and never had an issue.
        • 7 Years Ago
        The old Vibe/Matrix was more fun than the new one. The '09's combination of gummy electric steering, high cowl, and small windows makes it feel like a much bigger, heavier, less tossable car than the '03-'08 version. And there hasn't been any significant improvement in ride, noise, or materials quality to balance it out.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I think the reason that a lot of VWs in the US have had reliability issues has to do with where they're assembled, and I don't think many people consider this. Many VWs that have been sold in the US in the late 80s through 2005 or so have been assembled in Brazil and Mexico.

      I bought a 2006 VW Rabbit new, and one of their advertising points then was the fact that many VWs they had were being assembled in Germany. The salesperson told me that VW's Mexico plant was having some quality control problems. They're supposed to inspect the cars and approve them off before shipping them, and the Mexico plant wasn't actually inspecting them. Thus, the New Beetles sold in the US - which are all assembled in Mexico - were known to have above-average reliability/quality problems. The Mexico plant manager was fired due to that.

      Before my '06 Rabbit, I had a 2001 GTI that I had bought used, which was assembled in Brazil. The engine had some issues, although upon inspection by VW repair techs, I was told that that GTI had gotten a shoddy repair job (and an engine swap!) after it was in an accident at some point in its past.

      I've heard good reliability ratings about the Passat - and I read somewhere that all the US Passats are assembled in Germany.

      I still see plenty of older VW Rabbits/Golfs and Jettas (from around 1980 and onwards) on the road, as well as older VW Beetles. I think that's a testament to their reliability - at least the older VWs.

      I no longer have the '06 Rabbit due to being in an accident where it was totaled, but I thought it was a good car. I plan on buying a new Rabbit fairly soon.
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