2010 Volkswagen CC Review

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The Car Connection
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The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
January 5, 2010

You give up quite a bit of functionality in the name of style with the 2010 Volkswagen CC, but it offers a premium look and feel at an affordable price.

To help you make the right decision on the 2010 Volkswagen CC, TheCarConnection.com has looked at what some of the most reputable auto critics have said about the CC, picking highlights for a full review. TheCarConnection.com's editors have also driven VW CC and bring you firsthand observations and expert comparisons in this Bottom Line.

The 2010 Volkswagen CC looks like a more expensive vehicle than it is—no doubt a good thing for most shoppers. As Volkswagen's second attempt at a luxury sedan, the CC takes a more conservative approach in the market than the former Phaeton flagship. Instead of being built on an entirely new, exclusive platform, the CC is constructed with familiar underpinnings shared with the Passat—and in the case of VR6 and 4Motion all-wheel-drive variants, it effectively replaces the Passat.

All this modesty isn't readily apparent at first glance. The 2010 Volkswagen CC follows a stunning, coupe-like silhouette similar to that of the Mercedes CLS, with frameless windows and a long, flowing design. 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). Inside, the CC is especially stunning, with contrast stitching, contrasting-color leather seats, and upscale trim that you'll likely be surprised to see in a vehicle that costs less than $30,000.

The base engine for the 2010 Volkswagen Passat CC is the excellent VW/Audi 2.0T four-cylinder, making 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque. The base Sport model comes standard with a six-speed manual, while a six-speed automatic transmission is optional. Though few buyers will probably opt for it, the manual transmission is nice in the CC, with a notchy linkage but pleasant clutch. The automatic isn't nearly as great; rather than the excellent twin-clutch DSG system used in smaller cars, the CC gets a conventional automatic that doesn't do so well with the four-cylinder. It's marginally better with the V-6, but upshifts can be lumpy and downshifts hesitant. Overall, the turbocharged, direct-injected four-cylinder is the clear choice over the V-6, 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. 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. The VW CC handles well, but overall it's unremarkable due to overboosted, feather-light steering that lacks any sense of road feel. Brakes are also a disappointment—they're too touchy and tough to modulate, though they are strong and capable.

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Style takes priority over function in the 2010 Volkswagen CC, and a rather odd seating arrangement and a slightly cramped backseat are the consequences. There's only space for two in back, with the middle rear seat eschewed for a comfy armrest and built-in cup holders. Headroom in back is tight for taller occupants, while in front, occupants might raise their seats more than usual to counter the low position and poor view outward. But every inch of the interior feels far more lavish and expensive than the base versions' price of well under $30,000 would indicate. Materials and trims feel luxury-car-caliber, and the interior is serene. The ride in the 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.

Overall, the Volkswagen CC scores quite well—though not perfectly—according to major crash-test results. In NHTSA's crash-testing regimen, it rates four of five stars in the frontal driver, frontal passenger, and side rear passenger categories, while it manages five stars for its side driver crash protection. The IIHS gives the CC its top "good" rating in frontal and side tests. All the expected safety features are included—side and side-curtain airbags, electronic stability control, and anti-lock brakes—and rear side bags, a feature not always offered in this class, are optional. Visibility in the CC is downright poor—nearly as much as in some low-slung sports cars—and the steeply raked windshield and backlight provide a rather narrow slit through which to view the world.

The 2010 Passat CC—even the base Sport model—comes very well-equipped. Single-zone automatic climate control, an alarm system, heated leatherette power seats, and an eight-speaker premium sound system with CD changer are all on the standard-equipment list, while top VR6 4Motion models, priced more than $12,000 higher, get 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. Major options on the rest of the line include a Technology Package with rearview camera and a power sunroof. Bluetooth remains optional, even on the top model.

10

2010 Volkswagen CC

Styling

Expect to turn lots of heads while driving the 2010 Volkswagen CC. It looks great from inside, too.

The 2010 Volkswagen CC follows a stunning, coupe-like silhouette similar to that of the Mercedes CLS, with frameless windows and a long, flowing design. 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).

Whether you opt for the Sport, Luxury, or VR6 Sport or 4Motion trims, the 2010 Volkswagen CC flaunts the same curvy silhouette, with only wheels and trims to note as different. In any case, Edmunds reviewers report, the Passat CC is "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." Road & 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." 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." Overall, the Volkswagen CC's exterior is "a hell of a lot less awkward than the CLS or any current BMW," according to Jalopnik, and Car and Driver contends that, "depending on your styling preferences, [it] could even be considered sexy."

Inside, the CC is especially stunning, with contrast stitching, contrasting-color leather seats, and upscale trim that you'll likely be surprised to see in a vehicle that costs less than $30,000. MyRide.com says that the interior has 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." Car and Driver notes that the 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."

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7

2010 Volkswagen CC

Performance

The 2010 Volkswagen CC doesn't offer the steering of a sport sedan, but a manual transmission brings perky straight-line performance with good fuel efficiency.

The athletic, sleek look of the 2010 Volkswagen CC hints at performance, but don't get your hopes too high. While straight-line performance is good enough, the CC doesn't handle with the verve of a sport sedan, though it does win points for a comfortable ride.

The base engine for the 2010 Volkswagen Passat CC is the excellent VW/Audi 2.0T four-cylinder, making 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque. The base Sport model comes standard with a six-speed manual, while a six-speed automatic transmission is optional. Though few buyers will probably opt for it, the manual transmission is nice in the CC, with a notchy linkage but pleasant clutch. The automatic isn't nearly as great; rather than the excellent twin-clutch DSG system used in smaller cars, the CC gets a conventional automatic that doesn't do so well with the four-cylinder. It's marginally better with the V-6, but upshifts can be lumpy and downshifts hesitant. Overall, the turbocharged, direct-injected four-cylinder is the clear choice over the V-6, 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. 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.

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. Power-hungry buyers might be tempted to spring for the available V-6, 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 lacks a pair of cylinders. The VR6 model's engine is decidedly more powerful, as evidenced by Edmunds performance testing. They say that a Volkswagen CC VR6 4Motion runs "from zero to 60 mph in 6.3 seconds"—a good time for any vehicle that doesn't lay track.

The 2010 Volkswagen CC offers a manual transmission with the four-cylinder, which is unusual in a mid-size car—especially one with luxury overtones. 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." A range of reviewers, along with the editors of TheCarConnection.com, recommends the manual gearbox. ConsumerGuide notes the "automatic transmission lacks smoothness compared to most premium-midsize rivals." The automatic transmission is a disappointment with the V-6, but it's your only choice with that engine and for the available 4Motion all-wheel-drive system.

For a vehicle the size of the CC, fuel economy numbers are quite good. 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.

The VW CC handles well, but overall it's unremarkable due to overboosted, feather-light steering that lacks any sense of road feel. Brakes are also a disappointment—they're too touchy and tough to modulate, though they are strong and capable.

Despite the sporty appearance that dominates the exterior design language of the 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 & Track reviewers, who claim that "the electro-mechanical steering felt a little numb." Autoblog adds that the steering "seemed heavy at slow speeds, and light but numb at highway speeds"—the opposite of what most drivers would want. Overall, Jalopnik likes the suspension, declaring that the CC "manages near total isolation without compromising handling ability." ConsumerGuide also notes that the Volkswagen CC exhibits "good grip and minimal body lean in turns."

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2010 Volkswagen CC

Comfort & Quality

The 2010 Volkswagen CC offers a luxury-car experience, with materials that will wow cost-conscious shoppers. The only issue might be its slight lack of rear headroom.

Style takes priority over function in the 2010 Volkswagen CC, and a rather odd seating arrangement and a slightly cramped backseat are the consequences. There's only space for two in back, with the middle rear seat eschewed for a comfy armrest and built-in cup holders. Headroom in back is tight for taller occupants, while in front, occupants might raise their seats more than usual to counter the low position and poor view outward. But every inch of the interior feels far more lavish and expensive than the base versions' price of well under $30,000 would indicate. Materials and trims feel luxury-car-caliber, and the interior is serene. The ride in the 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.

Although Volkswagen bills the 2010 Volkswagen CC as a four-door coupe, the CC boasts more passenger space than you might expect on anything wearing the coupe badge. ConsumerGuide says that the front occupants get "generous headroom and legroom." The front seats themselves earn a number of positive comments, with Edmunds calling them "some of the finest in this price range, nicely enveloping their occupants without getting pinchy," and Road & Track asserting that the front seats were "very comfortable during our six hours or so of Interstate driving."

Depending on your expectations for the back, you'll either be pleasantly surprised or a little disappointed. MyRide.com explains that total seating capacity is "just four counting the driver," because "the rear-contoured seats are separated by a versatile center console." Car and Driver calls the two-front, two-back seating arrangement "a good compromise between style and practicality," while 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." TheCarConnection.com finds that the flopping roofline does not allow enough headroom for taller occupants, however.

There's quite a bit of cargo space, too. Autoblog mentions the "voluminous trunk," and Edmunds describes it at "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."

Inside, 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."

The intuitive, ergonomic control layout inside the CC is also a positive selling point. 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."

Materials quality is another pleasant surprise in the 2010 VW CC. The cabin materials feel like those in much more expensive luxury-brand vehicles and, as Edmunds raves, "materials quality is beyond reproach and certainly befitting a car wearing this price tag." MyRide.com notes 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." Jalopnik declares that "the fit and finish is top notch," with "every button and lever...well-damped."

Ride quality tends toward the soft side in the 2010 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. 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."
Edmunds feels that "wind noise and road noise are kept nicely in check" from within the CC, and Road & Track goes so far as to call the cabin "whisper quiet."

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7

2010 Volkswagen CC

Safety

Visibility is an issue in the 2010 Volkswagen CC, but otherwise this big sedan offers impressive safety.

Overall, the Volkswagen CC scores quite well—though not perfectly—according to major crash-test results and offers a few more safety features than is typical.

In NHTSA's crash-testing regimen, it rates four of five stars in the frontal driver, frontal passenger, and side rear passenger categories, while it manages five stars for its side driver crash protection. The IIHS gives the CC its top "good" rating in frontal and side tests. All the expected safety features are included—side and side-curtain airbags, electronic stability control, and anti-lock brakes—and rear side bags, a feature not always offered in this class, are optional.

In addition to very good but not quite perfect test scores, the 2010 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 "front and rear obstacle detection." Up front, the driver and front passenger both get active front head restraints, while Cars.com states that "all-disc antilock brakes" and "brake assist" are standard as well.

Visibility in the Volkswagen CC can be an issue; it’s nearly as poor as that of some low-slung sports cars, and it can be an issue whether parking or just trying to change lanes on the highway. ConsumerGuide agrees that "visibility to the rear is impeded by a raked rear window and thick C-pillars."

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7

2010 Volkswagen CC

Features

The 2010 Volkswagen CC comes quite well equipped, but most of the oft-desired tech features are optional.

The 2010 Passat CC—even the base Sport model—comes very well-equipped. Single-zone automatic climate control, an alarm system, heated leatherette power seats, and an eight-speaker premium sound system with CD changer are all on the standard-equipment list, while top VR6 4Motion models, priced more than $12,000 higher, get 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.

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.

Major options on the rest of the line include a Technology Package with rearview camera and a power sunroof. Bluetooth remains optional, even at the top of the class. Road & Track says that the Tech Package 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."

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