2013 Volkswagen Eos Review

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Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
October 4, 2012

Get past the understated look of the 2013 Volkswagen Eos, and you'll find its turbo powertrain, smart handling, and refined, roomy interior to be a delightful combination.

What is there between budget rental-car convertibles like the Chrysler 200, more focused drop-top sports cars like the Mazda Miata and Audi TT, and entry luxury convertibles like the BMW 135 convertible or Volvo C70, or muscle ragtops like the Ford Mustang? What lands neatly in that middle ground is the Volkswagen Eos,

While in appearance it's strictly a cruiser, a much more flamboyant personality lurks within—and, in our opinion, the Eos is one of the best-designed (and oft-omitted by shoppers) convertibles on the market.

The 2013 Volkswagen Eos is about as conservative and understated as you can get with a convertible. From the outside it looks designed to offend no one, while it's handsome and straightforward there's nothing all that charming about the design. Inside, the Eos is more charming, with a somewhat swoopier cabin look than other affordable VWs--and better-quality trims and materials.

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Every Eos sports a 200-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder (2.0T), paired with either a notchy six-speed manual gearbox or a dual-clutch gearbox (DSG). The latter gearbox is our pick of the two, because it changes gears smoothly yet very quickly, doubling down on the engine's robust torque curve and bringing out a zippy, responsive feel. Factor in the Eos' light, responsive handling, and it's a lot more fun to drive than it looks.

The Eos is quite comfortable too, if you're a larger adult and if you're sitting in the front seats. The driving position is a bit more laid-back than in the Golf, and the seats feel a bit more plush and better bolstered than in that basic hatchback. While it can carry four adults, the Eos' back seat feels more like the buckets in a cozy 2+2. Trunk space isn't so generous either, though when the roof is raised, a movable trunk liner can be flipped up to carve out a couple more cubic feet of room.

The retractable hardtop arrangement is tight, quick, and nearly flawless. In less than 25 seconds, a total of eight electric motors work in conjunction to unlatch the roof from the windshield header and flip and fold it under the metal trunk lid.

New for 2013 is a Sport trim that lands just above the base Komfort model but priced below the mid-range Lux. It includes a lowered sport suspension, 18-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, front fog lamps, and an eight-speaker touch-screen audio system. It also gets black exterior mirrors, a rear spoiler, brushed stainless-steel pedals, and adaptive front lighting with bi-xenon headlamps. And at the top of the lineup, the Executive includes a rearview camera system, a navigation system, a different 'Kansas' alloy wheel design, and 600-watt Dynaudio premium audio with ten speakers and HD Radio.

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2013 Volkswagen Eos

Styling

The Volkswagen Eos breaks away from convertible styling expectations--with a very conservative look.

The 2013 Volkswagen Eos is about as conservative and understated as you can get with a convertible. From the outside it looks designed to offend no one, while it's handsome and straightforward there's nothing all that charming about the design.

The appeal of the Eos exterior is that it's a little softer than any other drop-top, with a smoothed-over design that's sophisticated and has nice proportions with the top up or down. Whatever its faults, it's still clearly related to the VW Golf that shares some of its architecture, and even with the top up, the design never veers into awkwardness--which is more than we can say about the competitive Chrysler 200.

Inside it's a different story; its interior feels a step above most other Volkswagen models, with a streamlined look and upgraded materials. You won't find 'sexy' as a descriptor that applies here, but the interior layout is a bit more rakish than that of the Golf and GTI, with smoothly contoured interior trim detailed with just the right amount of brightwork.

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2013 Volkswagen Eos

Performance

The VW Eos feels light and quick, with a responsive and refined powertrain.

The 2013 Volkswagen Eos doesn't offer much choice regarding powertrains, but what you get perfectly fits this car's purpose--and helps give it more personality behind the wheel than it has from a few paces away.

Every Eos sports a 200-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder (2.0T), paired with either a notchy six-speed manual gearbox or a dual-clutch gearbox (DSG). The latter gearbox is our pick of the two, because it changes gears smoothly yet very quickly, doubling down on the engine's robust torque curve and bringing out a zippy, responsive feel.

In a class of overweight convertibles, the Eos is one of the lightest, at 3,500 pounds; and it handles that way. The Eos handles with more finesse than its relaxed boulevard-cruiser looks imply. It's firm enough to power through tricky corners, planted in higher-speed sweepers, and remarkably secure-feeling for a front-driver. Dynamically it's no sports car, but with quick steering, strong, reassuring brakes, and the responsive DSG transmission, it feels very eager.

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2013 Volkswagen Eos

Comfort & Quality

The Eos puts practicality on top, with a well-appointed interior usable backseat, and folding hardtop.

If you don't have a luxury budget and you're looking for a four-seat convertible, the Volkswagen Eos is one of your only choices priced below $30,000. The Chrysler 200 and Ford Mustang both offer a usable back seat, and none of these models are that much more than 2+2s, but the Eos is the most comfortable of them all.

The front seats in the Volkswagen Eos are very comfortable; the driving position is just a little more laid-back than in Volkswagen's other cars, and the seats themselves feel a bit better-bolstered than in its lower-priced models like the Golf.

In the back seat, there's enough space to fit medium-sized adults for short trips, but it's still better used as luggage space for those up front. There's not much leg room in back, which forces the driver and front passenger to move their seats up close to the dash.Volkswagen's folding hardtop wins over the Chrysler 200's optional hardtop.

As for the layout and convenience of the convertible layout, it just doesn't get any better than this. In less than 25 seconds, a total of eight electric motors work in conjunction to unlatch the roof from the windshield header and flip and fold it under the metal trunk lid. There's also a setting for opening the front section of it only, as a sunroof. Otherwise, stow the top away and you still have about 6.6 cubic feet--about enough for most carry-ons.

The look and feel of the cabin is top-notch, with a nice premium look and feel to the materials and trims that's rivaled only in the CC sedan and Touareg SUV. There's some road noise, but not any more than you're notice in Ride quality is firm but supple enough to soak up medium-sized potholes. Some road noise is present, but it's actually less than you'll find in a number of sporty coupes--and far better, of course, than other convertibles.

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2013 Volkswagen Eos

Safety

With pop-up roll cars and parking sensors, there's more safety concern here than in the typical convertible.

The 2013 Volkswagen Eos has a relatively strong set of safety credentials, so even those who have a few qualms about convertibles should be happy here.

Anti-lock brakes, stability control, and airbags that protect the head and upper body on front passengers are all among the standard features on the Eos. So is a pop-up roll bar tucked behind the rear seats.

Crash-test results have been good, but they're hardly conclusive because only one of the agencies has tested the Eos, and even in that case it hasn't been run through the entire battery. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) says it's a "good" performer in frontal, side, and rear tests, but because it's a convertible, it doesn't get the roof-strength test and is kept from Top Safety Pick Status. It also hasn't been tested in the new small overlap frontal impact test. The federal government, which tests only a few dozen vehicles a year through its NCAP test program, hasn't tested the Eos.

The Eos does have a couple of especially important features that aren't included in most convertibles. A pop-up head protection system in the Eos, which automatically deploys when the car senses a rollover is imminent, is a standout in this more cost-conscious end of the convertible market—employing a host of sensors to deploy just before it's needed, when a rollover is anticipated. There's also an optional Park Distance Control and a Technology Package that includes upgrades to the lighting system--including an adaptive, swiveling function for the headlights.

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2013 Volkswagen Eos

Features

The equipment list for the 2013 Volkswagen Eos doesn't leave much of a wow factor, but There's not much wow factor in the Eos' options list, but there are no disappointments.

The 2013 VW Eos has an impressive set of standard features, although it lacks some of the latest high-tech features that might be included in entry-luxury models that aren't priced all that much higher. But the addition of a new Sport trim this year gives you an appealing yet affordably priced combination.

Buyers can choose between Komfort, Lux, or Executive versions of the Eos. Even the base Komfort includes standard power features, including power windows, locks, mirrors, and of course, the power-folding hardtop. Bluetooth connectivity is included as well, as is a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls and an LCD touchscreen that controls the stereo system.

New for 2013 is a Sport trim that lands just above the base Komfort model but priced below the mid-range Lux. It includes a lowered sport suspension, 18-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, front fog lamps, and an eight-speaker touch-screen audio system. It also gets black exterior mirrors, a rear spoiler, brushed stainless-steel pedals, and adaptive front lighting with bi-xenon headlamps.

Vinyl upholstery--"leatherette" is the marketing word--is the standard upholstery on Komfort models, but Lux editions have a choice of leather trim and a power driver seat. The Lux also gets a 600-watt, ten-speaker Dynaudio premium surround system, a navigation system with hard-drive music storage, Sirius Satellite radio, and SD memory-car slot, and steering-wheel controls. And at the top of the lineup, the Executive includes a rearview camera system, a navigation system, a different 'Kansas' alloy wheel design, and 600-watt Dynaudio premium audio with ten speakers and HD Radio.

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2013 Volkswagen Eos

Fuel Economy

If miles per gallon are the priority, and you want a convertible with four seats, you won't do any better than the 2013 VW Eos.

The Volkswagen Eos originally offered a choice of a turbocharged four-cylinder or a six, but the latter has been trimmed from the lineup; it's really for the better, too, as the 2.0T engine returns excellent fuel economy considering the Eos' missions of open-air thrills, practicality, and a premium feel.

The four-cylinder produces great EPA ratings for the Eos, one of the few four-seat convertibles that gets fuel economy of more than 30 mpg. The manual-transmission models earn 21/31 mpg, while versions that shift via the automatic transmission have an EPA rating of 22/30 mpg.

Overall, the Eos beats the smaller, lighter Mazda Miata two-seat roadster for fuel economy--and that makes the Eos one of the greenest convertible picks of all.

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