My colleagues are right: the Rabbit is a lot of car for the money, it's quite good to drive, but its makers reputation for unreliability is pretty frightening.
When I first set eyes on the front end of this particular car in the parking garage, however, I assumed that it was a few-year-old model. But a glance around revealed no other Vee Dubs, so I hit the key-fob unlock button, and sure enough the lights flashed, confirming that this old-looking Rabbit was the 2008 model I'd signed out for the evening.
Inside, though, the Rabbit provides a well-trimmed, comfortable ambiance rarely found in sub-$20,000 cars. The automatic does its job well, but I'd prefer a manual because, as Joe D noted, it would free up some cash to spring for a four-door model. That's crucial to me, because I find that the two-door creates huge blindspots at the B-pillars; merging can be scary if you're not careful. Unfortunately, Volkswagen won't be selling the four-door with a stick for the '09 model year. What are they thinking?!
If it were my money, though, I'd buy a Honda Fit over this Rabbit, purely on the basis of the two brands' opposing reputations for durability. Or Id just save up a bit more money and get a copy of the incredibly fun VW GTI instead.
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor