2014 Volkswagen CC Review

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Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
August 12, 2014

The 2014 Volkswagen CC eschews a little practicality in the name of fashion; but even some who need to use it as a sedan will find it a worthwhile compromise.

The Volkswagen CC originally entered the market as the Passat CC; but it's for the better that the name was shortened; while VW has gained an even more laser-like focus on the American family-sedan market with its latest Passat, the CC is its "four-door coupe" and has served a completely different role in the lineup. There's way more intrigue, fashion sense, and visual interest in the CC--as well as a few more luxury items and trims--and it locks into the German automaker's lineup a notch above the Passat, while keeping the price (at least for most versions) relatively affordable.

Just last year Volkswagen gave the CC a mid-cycle refresh that kept its distinct profile but redrew some of the details in front and in back (adding LED lamps, among other upscale touches). Other noteworthy changes then included a rejiggered three-person back seat (in earlier model years you'll find a stylish but less practical two-person setup), and upgraded materials for the dash and cabin.

Even with the demise of the bucket-seat setup in back, VW still calls the CC a four-door coupe, and while up close it might look decidedly like a sedan, if you step back and view this model's side profile, it's easy to see why. it has proportions that hint 'rear-wheel-drive sport sedan' to some (and nod to the Mercedes-Benz CLS and Audi A7, among others), even though it's a front-driver.

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While the CC might look like a serious sport sedan--or one with serious luxury credentials--it doesn't quite deliver to that impression. On the other hand what it does deliver, performance-wise, is better than what you might expect considering the 2013 CC's $31k base price: It essentially drives just much like the Passat in its more luxurious guises, with refinement clearly taking the priority over edginess or all-out performance.

We remain convinced that there's only one way to get the CC: with the 200-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (2.0T). Models with it feel lighter and more nimble than their top-of-the-line VR6 and 4Motion counterparts. The four churns out plenty of low- and mid-rev torque with only a slight delay if revs are at the low end, while the narrow-angle VR6 is spirited but seems to take a moment more to build steam.

It's not all that surprising that you lose a little practicality in moving from a more upright design like that of the Passat to the CC's swoopier package. Headroom is a bit tight, and you'll either love or hate the somewhat 'scooped up' driving position. The three-passenger back seat is comfortable, but headroom is tight and the curvy roofline makes entry and exit tougher than you might think. But the interior trims look and feel luxury-grade, the ride is absorbent and controlled, and the trunk is huge.

The 2014 Volkswagen CC is now offered in Sport, R-Line, 2.0T Executive, and VR6 Executive models. Now for 2014, the big news is that you no longer have to get the V6 in order to enjoy the top Executive trim--allowing you to pair the more fuel-efficient engine with some of the top features like premium sound, massage seats, and leather upholstery. The VR6 model remains the only one in the lineup to get all-wheel drive. New for 2014, the Executive 2.0T steps up to those features plus navigation with Sirius XM Traffic, an 'Easy Open' motion-activated trunk opener, Keyless Access with push-button start, and a new 18-inch alloy wheel design. Sport models now get LED daytime running lamps, Adaptive Front Lighting, navigation, and a rearview camera.

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2014 Volkswagen CC

Styling

With a true luxury-caliber cabin, plus the profile of a coupe and sport sedan together in one, the 2014 Volkswagen CC has a lot of design charm.

The Volkswagen CC is particularly rakish for a sedan--so much that Volkswagen was calling it a four-door coupe when it first introduced the model a number of years back. While the design holds its own even today, and it still looks more rakish than the conservative Passat mid-size sedan, it's no longer one of the most daring four-door designs.

While up close it might look decidedly like a sedan, if you step back and view this model's side profile, it's easy to see why. it has proportions that hint 'rear-wheel-drive sport sedan' to some (and nod to the Mercedes-Benz CLS and Audi A7, among others), even though it's a front-driver. Frameless doors are among a few details that still give this model some design conversation points.

Volkswagen just last year gave the CC a mid-cycle refresh that kept its distinct profile but redrew some of the details in front and in back (adding LED lamps, among other upscale touches). Other noteworthy changes then included a rejiggered three-person back seat (in earlier model years you'll find a stylish but less practical two-person setup), and upgraded materials for the dash and cabin.

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2014 Volkswagen CC

Performance

Refinement gets the priority over performance in the 2014 Volkswagen CC--although it's athletic enough for most.

There's only one way to get the CC, in our opinion: with the 200-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (2.0T). Models with it feel lighter and more nimble than their top-of-the-line VR6 4Motion counterparts. The four churns out plenty of low- and mid-rev torque with only a slight delay if revs are at the low end, while the narrow-angle VR6 is spirited but seems to take a moment more to build steam.

Parsing it out by price, the even the base $31,795 CC essentially drives just much like the Passat in one of its more luxurious guises--with refinement clearly taking the priority over edginess or all-out performance.

With direct injection and turbocharging, the four makes 200 hp and 207 pound-feet of torque. There's only the slightest delay in response at low revs; it really feels like a larger engine, and the DSG dual-clutch automatic helps make the most of it with clap-quick shifts. A six-speed manual is standard on the Sport, though, if that's the way you like it.

As for how the CC handles, the best way to put it is that if you expect the obsessively tweaked and tuned chassis of a German sport sedan, you're likely to be a little bit disappointed; on the other hand, if you're comparing the CC to mass-market,comfort-oriented mid-size sedans, the CC stands out as quite athletic and graceful. There's plenty of body lean near the limit, but the CC doesn't at all feel out of its element on a curvy road, and the steering loads and unloads nicely.

The steering feel itself is a little too light for our tastes in ordinary, around-town driving, although there's just enough weighting on center to give it a relaxed demeanor on the highway. Brakes remain strong and capable.

The VR6 requires a different value calculation entirely. If you're willing to pay many thousands more, you can upgrade this model and its narrow-angle V-6 engine that in this application displaces 3.6 liters and makes 280 horsepower. With its included 4Motion all-wheel drive, you might get a little more all-weather traction but it doesn't feel much if any perkier than the four. It has a different character entirely, too—rather gruff and vocal, and needing to be revved to extract its torque. The engine functions pretty well with its six-speed automatic (not the DSG), but upshifts can be lumpy and downshifts hesitant.
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2014 Volkswagen CC

Comfort & Quality

Seating in the VW CC is idiosyncratic; but the quiet, supple ride, excellent trims, and spacious trunk help outweigh some of those impressions.

Take the swoopy roofline, the more coupe-like appearance, and the sport-sedan proportions, and you might suspect that you're giving up some interior space and practicality with the 2014 Volkswagen CC, compared to other more staid sedans. Rightly so.

Realistically, though, unless you frequently carry taller adults in the backseat, the CC's fashion-forward nature, you really don't sacrifice that much space—and we see the CC working just fine for all but those who plan on frequently carrying taller adults in the backseat.

There are definitely some things to be critical about with respect to the packaging, though. Headroom is a bit tight, and you'll either love or hate the somewhat 'scooped up' driving position. The three-passenger back seat is comfortable, but headroom is tight and the curvy roofline makes entry and exit tougher than you might think.

On the other hand, there's a lot to love--again provided you don't plan to cram adults in the back seat. The rear seatbacks flip forward to expand cargo space when needed; there's also a well-placed pass-through at the armrest; and there are some useful cubbies and bins. Interior trims look and feel luxury-grade, the ride is absorbent and controlled, and the trunk is huge.

Ride quality in the CC is also excellent—firm but supple enough to soak up minor potholes, and quiet. The frameless door system, which uses the power-window system to lock them tight after you close the doors, is also effective in really minimizing wind noise.

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2014 Volkswagen CC

Safety

The safety feature set in the 2014 CC remains good, and a rearview camera system improves visibility for 2014.

The 2014 Volkswagen CC is a reasonably safe pick, although a few issues keep us from declaring it to be one of the safest larger sedans.

One of them is that the CC has only earned a 'marginal' score in the new Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) small overlap frontal impact test. And the other is that outward visibility is downright poor--nearly as much so as in low-slung sports cars--with the steeply raked windshield and backlight producing a narrow slit to look out through when making lane changes.

Parking wise, Volkswagen has remedied the visibility issue, with a rearview camera system for most of the lineup for 2014. And otherwise, the safety-feature set is great--including side and side-curtain airbags, electronic stability control, and anti-lock brakes are all standard in the CC, and rear side bags, a feature not always offered in this class, are optional. Front and rear parking aids are offered in the CC, but they're still the exclusive domain of the top VR6 4Motion Executive.

Back to occupant protection, the Volkswagen CC hasn't changed structurally in many years; it's based on the previous-generation Passat family. There are no current federal ratings for the CC, but despite the worrisome rating from the IIHS it does well in the Institute's other crash tests--achieving Top Safety Pick status.

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2014 Volkswagen CC

Features

The CC is essentially VW's luxury sedan--and you no longer need to get the V-6 to have some of the top features.

The 2014 Volkswagen CC is now offered in Sport, R-Line, 2.0T Executive, and VR6 Executive models. Now for 2014, the big news is that you no longer have to get the V6 in order to enjoy the top Executive trim--allowing you to pair the more fuel-efficient engine with some of the top features like premium sound, massage seats, and leather upholstery.

Power windows, locks and mirrors; air conditioning; cruise control; power front seats; and heated front seats are all standard on VW CC models. VW-Tex vinyl ("leatherette" is the word, we believe) is now the base upholstery in the CC, while true leather is reserved for top-of-the-line VR6 Lux and VR6 Executive 4Motion models. You also get USB and auxiliary-in ports, with Bluetooth hands-free connectivity.

Executive models command a price much, much higher, in part because they bundle in many more features and feel up to the part of a luxury car. Ventilated front seats with massage; Park Distance Control; front and rear proximity sensors; premium sound; and a power rear sunshade are among the Executive extras.

The VR6 model remains the only one in the lineup to get all-wheel drive. New for 2014, the Executive 2.0T steps up to those features plus navigation with Sirius XM Traffic, an 'Easy Open' motion-activated trunk opener, Keyless Access with push-button start, and a new 18-inch alloy wheel design. Sport models now get LED daytime running lamps, Adaptive Front Lighting, navigation, and a rearview camera. VW's Car-Net telematics system is also a new addition. allowing more infotainment options and more menu options to control vehicle settings.

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2014 Volkswagen CC

Fuel Economy

Get the 2014 Volkswagen CC in its far more fuel-efficient 2.0T form if gas mileage matters.

If you opt for one of the 2014 Volkswagen CC models with the 2.0T engine, what you're getting is a reasonably fuel-efficient sedan that is about par among rival models--if not a bit better--at an EPA-rated 21 or 22 in the city and 31 or 32 on the highway.

Go with the VR6, and you'll find its just as thirsty as some SUVs, at 17 mpg city, 25 highway; to us, that model's additional performance doesn't nearly justify its much greater consumption.

We've found the dual-clutch automatic transmission (DSG) to be very efficient and responsive in real-world driving, and it doesn't cut gas mileage like some conventional automatic transmissions.

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