James Riswick, New and Used Car Editor
This wasn't the 2009 Volkswagen CC we wanted. This fully stocked edition with the VR6 engine, 4Motion all-wheel drive and all the bells and whistles costs a whopping $42,630. For the same amount of dough you can pick up a similarly equipped BMW 3 Series or Mercedes C-Class. We like the CC, but not that much.
Instead, we wanted a VW CC with the turbocharged four-cylinder that returns 29 mpg on the highway, while only being marginally slower than the big V6. Together with a more modest, yet still impressive features list, that version of this sleek Volkswagen sedan makes a lot more sense as an alternative to family sedans like the Honda Accord.
Alas, VW couldn't furnish us with the more sensible, cheaper model, but the basics are the same. The CC was created by taking a Passat — same wheelbase, same powertrain, same basic interior — and lowering its roof line by 2 inches while radically changing the styling. With apologies to the Karmann Ghia Owners Club of America, the result is the finest-looking automobile Volkswagen has ever created. It is sleek and elegant and, like the Mercedes CLS it's often confused for, was designed to be a sedan with a coupelike roof line (hence the name CC, for "Comfort Coupe"). As expected, this design element does impinge upon rear-seat headroom, but it's not as bad as you'd think — the lack of a middle seat is the bigger problem.
While the 2009 VW CC is a lovely car, our initial impressions were confirmed — a Volkswagen, no matter how beautiful and competent, is just not as appealing as a similarly equipped and priced Audi, BMW or Mercedes. However, with $10,000 off the sticker and a more efficient engine, the CC 2.0T is a different story.
The 2009 VW CC VR6 4Motion is powered by a narrow-angle 3.6-liter V6, which produces 280 horsepower and 265 pound-feet of torque. A wonderfully smooth six-speed automatic is the lone transmission choice and includes a Sport mode and paddle shifters for manual gearchanges that are accomplished with reasonable quickness. The 4Motion bit refers to the CC's optional all-wheel-drive system that's only available with the VR6 engine. Even with the heavy 4Motion components, our CC test car went from zero to 60 mph in 6.3 seconds during performance testing — about the same as a BMW 328i. No surprise that it feels plenty strong around town and on the highway.
Unfortunately, that VR6's added oomph and 4Motion's added weight result in so-so fuel economy. EPA estimates are 17 mpg city/25 mpg highway and 20 mpg combined. Under our lead-footed care, the CC managed only 18 mpg. Both the 2.0T and VR6 cars with front-wheel drive are more frugal.
The 2009 Volkswagen CC is hardly what we'd describe as a sport sedan. Although its chassis felt capable enough when pushed on our favorite mountain roads, with minimal body roll and a surprisingly tossable feel, the electric power steering is devoid of feel and doesn't lend a lot of confidence. It weights up OK in such high-speed driving situations, but is generally on the too-loose side and noticeably numb on-center, particularly on the highway. Parking is at least easy on your arms.
In typical German fashion, the VW CC offers a solid ride that swallows up bumps with well-damped confidence. However, those seeking a cushy luxury cruiser will probably find it too firm. Wind noise and road noise are kept nicely in check — even at 80-plus mph. In fact, such speeds are this car's forte, which is no surprise given its Autobahn-tuned roots.
The CC's beautifully sculpted bucket seats are some of the finest in this price range, nicely enveloping their occupants without getting pinchy. Adjustments for the driver seat and tilt-telescoping steering wheel are generous, clearly designed with a tall person in mind (although shorter drivers were just as comfortable).
The two rear bucket seats are nearly as well-sculpted and comfortable. Legroom is also excellent, with our tallest editor capable of sitting behind his own fully pushed-back front seat. Because of the sloped roof line, headroom is a different matter. That same tall editor had to slouch down a bit in order for his head not to touch the headliner, but it's actually not much worse than many competitor midsize sedans.
The bigger concern is the lack of a center position in the backseat — a bin and cupholder take its place.
The 2009 Volkswagen CC features a well-laid-out, uncluttered control design. Climate controls are easy to figure out, with a single button or knob controlling a single function. Our fully loaded CC VR6 test car came with the Technology package, which adds a navigation system, digital music storage and a back-up camera. Both the nav and audio systems are controlled by VW's new touchscreen interface, which is easy enough to figure out thanks to logical menus and helpful physical buttons that run alongside the screen. Particularly welcome are the four banks of preset buttons (24 in total) that you can mix and match among AM, FM and satellite radio stations.
Included on the VR6 (but optional on the 2.0T Luxury) is the superb Dynaudio sound system that pumps out 600 watts of raw musical power through 10 speakers. Even an iPod played through the typically mediocre-sounding aux jack produces a crisp, strong sound. When listening to a CD, you're likely to hear things you've never heard before in your favorite songs.
Interior storage is about on par for a midsize luxury sedan, with a fair-size center console compartment, smallish door pockets, a center cupholder-bin area and two slide-out shelves located under the air vents. The CC's trunk is quite large, although most of its size comes from its depth. A set of golf clubs will not fit widthwise, meaning you have to either angle them or place them through the center pass-through. When we tried the latter, there was tons of space left over for a large suitcase and a baby stroller.
A front-facing child seat fits easily in the backseat's buckets. You obviously can't mount a rear-facing seat in the nonexistent center position, which could be a safety concern for some parents and makes mounting it a problem, since you have to scoot up the front passenger seat.
Design/Fit and Finish
Other than its slinky exterior styling, the VW CC's cabin is arguably its most appealing attribute. Materials quality is beyond reproach and certainly befitting a car wearing this price tag. Our test car's snazzy two-tone leather interior drew raves from everyone who sat in it, although after only 1,200 miles, the soft leather was starting to show signs of staining. We'd therefore stick with the black leather option, or the high-quality leatherette upholstery standard on the 2.0T that's less likely to stain, easier to clean and still available in two-tone.
Who should consider this vehicle
Someone who wants a stylish luxury sedan without the stigma of a luxury badge. Lower trim levels (like the significantly cheaper 2.0T) should appeal to those who want to own something sleeker and more upscale than the usual family sedan.
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.
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