2009 Volkswagen CC Review

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The Car Connection
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The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Trevor Wild Trevor Wild Author
May 28, 2009

The 2009 Volkswagen CC is not the safest, most practical, or sportiest sedan in its segment, but its interior and exterior styling are matched only by vehicles costing significantly more.

TheCarConnection.com consulted what the most authoritative auto critics have written about the new Volkswagen CC to produce this conclusive review of the new Volkswagen CC. TheCarConnection.com editors also drove the CC in order to interweave our expert opinion and help you make the right decision on a new car.

The 2009 Volkswagen CC marks the People's Car Company's second attempt at the luxury sedan market. VW learned plenty of lessons—the hard way—with its stratosphericallypriced Phaeton, which never saw much in the way of sales. This time, the company looks within it own stable for a front-drive sedan upon which to build a sybaritic—and quite stunning—four-door coupe along the lines of Mercedes' CLS.

Whether or not you take offense to anything with four doors calling itself a coupe, VW has successfully produced a very elegant overall design, with the exception of rather long overhangs (especially in the front). The interior is especially stunning, with typical VW attention detail taken to new heights and options such as contrasting color leather seats with exquisite stitching.

The excellent VW/Audi 2.0T four-cylinder engine, making 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque, is the base for the 2009 Volkswagen Passat CC. The base Sport comes standard with a six-speed manual; a six-speed automatic transmission is optional. The direct-injected, turbocharged four-cylinder acts like a six, with copious torque and a generally relaxed demeanor, nearly matching the uplevel V-6's acceleration and ringing in at 31 mpg on the highway. It's a shame VW chooses not to pair this engine with its excellent DSG twin-clutch automatic, as the traditional automatic transmission suffers from sluggish responses and odd surging. The 3.6-liter variant of VW's narrow-angle V-6 (VR6) is optional, but we recommend against it due to its somewhat gruff and vocal nature, less accessible torque curve, and higher fuel consumption. As well, it is available only with the fussy six-speed automatic. Outright power (280 hp, 265 lb-ft torque) in the V-6 is impressive, but accessing that thrust—through the uncooperative automatic transmission—requires dedication that few owners will likely possess.

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The ride in the 2009 Passat CC is generally smooth, but uplevel wheels and tires tax the front-wheel-drive chassis and result in road noise and sharp kicks transmitted to the cabin on less than ideal roads. Handling is capable but unremarkable; the power steering is feather light and lacks any sense of road feel. The CC's brakes surpass strong and land right at touchy, an annoying trait that complicates modulation and smooth stops.

Every inch of this interior feels far more expensive than the base versions' MSRPs (of well under $30,000) suggest. To be sure, the CC is about style, not so much function, and as such the middle rear seat is eschewed for a comfy armrest and built-in cup holders. We find this touch perfectly appropriate for its target market. But the low seating position and poor view out the rear might trouble some drivers. Visibility is nearly as poor as that of some low-slung sportscars; the steeply raked windshield and backlight provide a rather narrow slit through which to view the world. Even taller testers raised the front seats more than usual to avoid feeling like they were sitting on the tarmac.

The Technology Package optional on three of the four models contains a nav system with a hard drive—and more importantly, a rearview camera artfully integrated into the rear VW logo. The camera should be standard, as backing up without it is a nearly blind affair. Another odd form-over-function nod is the admittedly huge Panoramic power vent sunroof, which is standard on three of four models but contains only a vent function as opposed to the full open-air experience. As well, the sunroof's shade is made of a mesh material that allows some solar radiation to pass through even when closed.

The Passat CC—even the base Sport model—comes very well-equipped. It includes single-zone automatic climate control, an alarm system, heated leatherette power seats, and an eight-speaker premium sound system with CD changer. Top VR6 4Motion models, priced more than $12,000 higher, include dual-zone climate control, the Panorama sunroof, a rear sunshade, bi-xenon headlamps, a parking aid, heated mirrors, and rain-sensing wipers, along with the upgraded wheels. Bluetooth remains optional, even at the top of the line.

Overall, the Volkswagen CC scores acceptably but not especially well in NHTSA's crash-testing regimen. It's rated four of five stars in the frontal driver, frontal passenger, and side rear passenger categories. It manages five stars for its side driver crash protection. The IIHS has not yet tested the Volkswagen CC, though the 2009 Passat sedan, upon which the CC is loosely based, scores that agency's top "good" rating and, as such, is named an IIHS Top Safety Pick.

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2009 Volkswagen CC

Styling

From the dash to the grille, it's clear that Volkswagen has placed a very strong emphasis on styling for the debut of the 2009 Volkswagen CC.

The 2009 Volkswagen CC—or Comfort Coupe—is a radical departure from VW's standard design language, but the styling is a runaway hit with reviewers. Expect to turn lots of heads while driving the Volkswagen CC.

The new-for-2009 Volkswagen CC is, according to Edmunds reviewers, "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." Volkswagen's 2009 CC lineup will be available "in Sport, Luxury, VR6 Sport, and VR6 4Motion trim," according to ConsumerGuide, and all feature the alluring new styling elements. MyRide.com reviewers state that they are "certainly not disappointed with the exterior design," which they claim makes the 2009 Volkswagen CC "one of the most striking attractions to race down our streets in a long while." Road and Track reviewers describe one of the hallmark features as a "side character line that runs from the front to rear fenders [and] apes the sheet-metal crease on other vehicles including the Mercedes-Benz C-Class and BMW's 3 Series." Overall, Jalopnik reviewers feel that the Volkswagen CC's exterior is "a hell of a lot less awkward than the CLS or any current BMW," and Car and Driver contends that, "depending on your styling preferences, [it] could even be considered sexy."

The sex appeal of the 2009 Volkswagen CC doesn't end with the exterior styling, as TheCarConnection.com's research uncovers a stunning interior layout for the new Volkswagen 2009 CC. Car and Driver reports that the 2009 Volkswagen CC features a new "instrument luster and an optional touch-screen navigation system" to set it apart from the standard Volkswagen Passat, and Edmunds reviewers praise the "well-laid-out, uncluttered control design." MyRide.com is even more effusive, describing the dashboard as a "combination of a texture, engineering elegance, and artistic elegance"; they add that the "cantilevered dash alone is an exquisite combination of surface contours that might be found on a vehicle costing two or three times the VW CC price." Consumers will also appreciate the intuitive, ergonomic control layout found inside the 2009 Volkswagen CC. ConsumerGuide is pleased to note that the Sport trim's "climate dials are large, clear, and simple to operate," while the Volkswagen CC "Luxury models have dual-zone climate controls that are well-lit and also intuitive to use."

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2009 Volkswagen CC

Performance

While the numb steering feel discourages spirited driving in the 2009 Volkswagen CC, it offers satisfying overall performance.

The graceful, athletic exterior of the new 2009 Volkswagen CC appears to promise sports-car-like performance, but editors at TheCarConnection.com are disappointed with some of the Volkswagen CC's driving characteristics. Other automotive experts point out some flaws with the 2009 Volkswagen CC's handling and steering, but the base models win points for their comfortable ride.

The 2009 Volkswagen CC comes with two available engine options, both of which turn out to be strong and willing performers. On the base Volkswagen 2009 CC models, Road and Track reports that drivers will be working with "VW's impressive 200-bhp, 16-valve 2.0-liter turbo-4" churning out 207 pound-feet of wheel-spinning torque. Autoblog reviewers are impressed with the base engine, finding that it accelerates "with only slight hesitation and almost no hint of turbo lag." The downside to the lack of turbo lag is that there is no explosive burst of speed at higher RPMs, but many drivers will consider it an acceptable trade-off. Moving up to the V-6 trims of the 2009 Volkswagen CC, Edmunds says a "narrow-angle 3.6-liter V6" that "produces 280 horsepower and 265 pound-feet of torque" sits under the hood. This engine is decidedly more powerful, as evidenced by Edmunds performance testing, in which a 2009 Volkswagen CC VR6 4Motion runs "from zero to 60 mph in 6.3 seconds," or approximately "the same as a BMW 328i."

Power-hungry buyers might be tempted to spring for the Volkswagen CC's available V-6 engine, but ConsumerGuide remarks that the base turbo-4 "moves with impressive pep from a stop and delivers decent mid-range and highway-passing power," so don't write off the four-banger simply because it's lacking a pair of cylinders.

Unlike many midsize luxury coupes, the 2009 Volkswagen CC offers a true manual-transmission option. However, Motor Trend cautions that the manual is "available with the 2.0-liter turbo only," while the V-6-powered models get "a six-speed automatic with Tiptronic." Driving enthusiasts will definitely want to look into the manual option, although they might have to look rather hard since MyRide.com predicts "it might reach only 5 percent of overall sales." Still, reviews read by TheCarConnection.com indicate it's a much more compliant transmission, as ConsumerGuide notes the "automatic transmission lacks smoothness compared to most premium-midsize rivals." TheCarConnection.com's editors agree the automatic transmission is a disappointment, but according to Edmunds, the automatic is the only choice for those interested in the "optional all-wheel-drive system that's only available with the VR6 engine."

Highway fuel economy for the 2009 Volkswagen CC is very respectable, but the city numbers leave a bit to be desired. According to the official EPA estimates, a four-cylinder Volkswagen 2009 CC with the manual transmission should return 21 mpg city, 31 highway, while the four-cylinder paired with the automatic gets 19/29 mpg. The 4Motion V-6 variant of the Volkswagen CC gets the lowest fuel economy, at 17/25 mpg.

Despite the sporty appearance that dominates the exterior design language of the 2009 Volkswagen CC, reviews read by TheCarConnection.com don't indicate a high fun-to-drive factor for VW's new coupe. Edmunds admits that the Volkswagen CC "is hardly what we'd describe as a sports sedan," thanks to the fact that "the electric power steering is devoid of feel and doesn't lend a lot of confidence." This complaint is echoed by Road and Track reviewers, who claim that "the electro-mechanical steering felt a little numb." Autoblog adds one more voice to the criticism, noting that the steering "seemed heavy at slow speeds, and light but numb at highway speeds." On the positive side, ConsumerGuide reports that the 2009 Volkswagen CC exhibits "good grip and minimal body lean in turns." Other performance highlights for the Volkswagen 2009 CC include a comfortable overall ride, with Jalopnik declaring that the CC "manages near total isolation without compromising handling ability."

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2009 Volkswagen CC

Comfort & Quality

The 2009 Volkswagen CC goes well above and beyond its price tag to offer a luxurious experience that leaves little to be desired.

In terms of styling, Volkswagen clearly targets its upscale German competitors with the 2009 Volkswagen CC. However, styling alone isn't enough to draw away the luxury-minded, and with that in mind, Volkswagen makes some significant improvements in terms of both passenger comfort and overall quality for the Volkswagen 2009 CC lineup. The results, according to reviews read by TheCarConnection.com, are impressive.

Although Volkswagen bills the 2009 Volkswagen CC as a four-door coupe, the CC boasts more passenger space than you might expect on anything wearing the coupe badge. Up front, ConsumerGuide reports "generous headroom and legroom" for both the passenger and driver, while Road and Track adds that the seats were "very comfortable during our six hours or so of Interstate driving." Indeed, the front seats earn unanimous rave reviews, with Edmunds calling them "some of the finest in this price range, nicely enveloping their occupants without getting pinchy."

The rear seating arrangement also draws a surprising amount of praise, as coupes (even the four-door variety) aren't usually known for their copious rear passenger arrangement. MyRide.com notes total seating capacity is "just four counting the driver," thanks to the fact that "the rear-contoured seats are separated by a versatile center console" holding a variety of small items. Autoblog reviewers find "the back seat is a comfortable place to be," because "leg room is ample and, surprisingly, so was head room despite the low roofline." Car and Driver calls the two-front, two-back seating arrangement "a good compromise between style and practicality," and editors at TheCarConnection.com are inclined to agree.

Speaking of practicality, the 2009 Volkswagen CC offers quite a bit of it, due to what Autoblog calls its "voluminous trunk." Edmunds concurs, pointing out that the Volkswagen CC's "trunk is quite large, although most of its size comes from its depth." If you need more length out of the trunk, ConsumerGuide reports "the 60/40 rear seat folds almost flat with ease." Meanwhile, the interior offers ample opportunity to store small items, and Edmunds notes the availability of "a fair-size center console compartment, smallish door pockets, a center cupholder-bin area and two slide-out shelves located under the air vents."

One of the biggest concerns for Volkswagen when designing the Volkswagen CC was imparting the high-quality appearance that BMW and Mercedes are renowned for. The folks at VW should have nothing to worry about now that the Volkswagen 2009 CC is in production, as Edmunds raves that "materials quality is beyond reproach and certainly befitting a car wearing this price tag." MyRide.com also notices that "the interior fit and finish signal that VW took extra care in the execution of design," while ConsumerGuide is pleased to discover that "padded surfaces abound." All of the luxurious items come together quite well in the Volkswagen CC's cabin, a point made clear by Jalopnik reviewers, who attest that "the fit and finish is top notch," with "every button and lever...well-damped."

Ride quality tends toward the soft side in the 2009 Volkswagen CC. Edmunds offers the most clarity, pointing out that the CC boasts "a solid ride that swallows up bumps with well-damped confidence," but they warn that "those seeking a cushy luxury cruiser will probably find it too firm."

One of the most noticeable factors separating luxury vehicles from overachieving imitators is road noise, and in this regard, the Volkswagen CC earns its luxury stripes. Edmunds feels that "wind noise and road noise are kept nicely in check" from within the 2009 Volkswagen CC, and Road and Track goes so far as to call the cabin "whisper quiet." MyRide.com attributes the silent ride to "the unique design of the outside mirrors and the extensive attention to the window seals on the frameless doors."

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2009 Volkswagen CC

Safety

There are no glaring flaws with the 2009 Volkswagen CC's safety features, but crash-test results aren’t at the front of the pack.

Volkswagen has crafted an impressive alternative to the traditional Mercedes-Benz and BMW sport-luxury coupes, but it can't quite match its competitors in the safety arena. While the Volkswagen 2009 CC's crash-test ratings are respectable, TheCarConnection.com's research shows it doesn't offer the same level of safety features found on other models in the segment.

The 2009 Volkswagen CC fared well in independent crash tests, although there's nothing spectacular about its ratings. In NHTSA tests, the 2009 Volkswagen CC earned four out of five stars in both front-impact categories, as well as a four-star rating for side passenger impacts. In the side driver impact category, the Volkswagen CC garnered a perfect five-star rating from NHTSA. The other major testing authority, the IIHS, has not yet tested the 2009 Volkswagen CC. Stay tuned to TheCarConnection.com for the latest updates on IIHS testing for the new Volkswagen 2009 CC.

In addition to its middle-of-the-road test scores, the 2009 Volkswagen CC lineup offers all the usual safety goodies to keep drivers out of harm's way. Cars.com reports that the Volkswagen CC "is equipped with six standard airbags, including side-impact airbags for the front seats and side curtain airbags." ConsumerGuide also notes the availability of "ABS, traction control, [an] antiskid system" and available "front and rear obstacle detection." Up front, the driver and front passenger both get active front head restraints, while Cars.com reports that "all-disc antilock brakes" and "brake assist" are standard as well. The major optional safety feature for the 2009 Volkswagen CC is a pair of rear-seat side-impact airbags that can be added for a little extra money.

Visibility in the Volkswagen CC can be an issue; it’s nearly as poor as that on some low-slung sports cars. ConsumerGuide reviewers agree, claiming "visibility to the rear is impeded by a raked rear window and thick C-pillars," and the low seating position can make for difficult sightlines around the Volkswagen 2009 CC.

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2009 Volkswagen CC

Features

From Bluetooth to navigation to high-end audio systems, the 2009 Volkswagen CC has it all—but most of it is optional.

Volkswagen is making a very serious push to have the 2009 Volkswagen CC serve as a more affordable alternative to some higher-priced sports coupes, yet it's still managed to keep a long list of standard features on the table. The available options list can also help you add anything that you feel is missing from the basic Volkswagen CC package.

The 2009 Volkswagen CC boasts a fair number of standard features, especially on the VR6 models. According to Road and Track reviewers, the base Volkswagen CC gets "heated front seats, cruise control with steering-wheel controls, 12-way power-adjustable front seats with power lumbar support," and an "8-speaker, in-dash 6-disc CD/MP3 player." Moving up to Volkswagen 2009 CC in 2.0T Luxury trim brings dual-zone climate control and rain-sensing windshield wipers, along with leather upholstery and a panorama sunroof. For those interested in the Volkswagen CC VR6, Edmunds reports that the standard features list grows to include a "superb Dynaudio sound system that pumps out 600 watts of raw musical power through 10 speakers," while Autoblog also notes the inclusion of "18-inch wheels and bi-xenon headlights." The 2009 Volkswagen CC VR6 4Motion is essentially the same as the VR6 Sport, although it does get all-wheel-drive transmission.

The standard versions of the Volkswagen 2009 CC are very functional and appealing in their own right, but Volkswagen acknowledges that some customers will desire a bit more technology. Addressing these customers, Road and Track says Volkswagen will offer "a Technology Package [for the Volkswagen CC] that offers a 20-gigabit hard drive, navigation system and a rear back-up camera." Edmunds reviewers love the navigation and audio interface, "controlled by VW's new touchscreen interface" that they feel is "easy enough to figure out thanks to logical menus and helpful physical buttons that run alongside the screen." Autoblog notes that "the unit offers traffic data" as well, along with "maps in an easier to understand 3D mode." Bluetooth wireless cell phone connectivity is also available on the 2009 Volkswagen CC lineup.

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