Road Test: VW Rabbit

VW's cheapie Rabbit is proof positive that throwing money at a car won't make it any more fun. This five-door's Euro looks; decent zip; soft, tactile controls; stylish gadgetry, and lithe handling point to something much more pricey. There's even a handy overhead sunglass case tossed in just to be nice. A ride in the Rabbit is as satisfying as going to Target's shoe department and finding a sprightly pair of Pucci sandals hidden among the klunkers. Score. Though you might think this Rabbit is a kid's car, it isn't. Well, it could be, but who cares? Steering is decidedly German, i.e., sharp and responsive. The hatchback trunk makes for easy loading and retrieval of cargo, and the sport-textured cloth seats are easy to clean. This five-seater is surprisingly tall inside, with ample headroom for me and my tall friends.

And there are plenty of other grown-up features, like CFC-free air conditioning with a pollen and odor filter, power windows with pinch protection so that little fingers don't get squished and a telescoping steering column, which allowed my short-armed, longer-legged body to get perfectly positioned in the seat. There's one more bonus item not listed on the window sticker. Its youthful ride just might make you feel like a teen again. Double-score.

Tip: For added safety, spring for the Electronic Stabilization Program ($450) for better traction control.