Built on the Passat platform, the Volkswagen CC is a cooler-looking alternative to its more traditional sedan sibling. Unfortunately, its chic styling takes its toll on practicality. The low roofline makes for greatly reduced rear headroom, and the cabin generally has a less spacious feel all around. Still, for those who don't mind the cozy dimensions, the Volkswagen CC is a sophisticated alternative in a sea of vanilla midsize sedans.
The 2013 Volkswagen CC gets revised front and rear styling, along with a usable rear center seat, which allows the CC to seat five, unlike pre-2013 CC models, which only had room for four. Volkswagen says the old seating arrangement was a top reason many shoppers failed to purchase the CC.
The 2013 Volkswagen CC lineup includes two new trim levels: a 2.0T Sport Plus with 18-inch wheels and navigation and a VR6 Lux model that comes with leather upholstery, navigation with 6.5-inch touchscreen, rearview camera, heated headlight washer system, and memory function for seating and mirrors.
As with most Volkswagens, the CC interior design is stylish, yet simple, with high-quality materials. The cabin feels racy due to the steeply raked windshield and distant dash. It's cozy inside and there isn't as much front legroom as in the Acura TSX, Nissan Maxima or Lexus IS. The rear bucket seats accommodate just two in cozy comfort with decent legroom but limited headroom. Cargo space is small for the class, comparable to that of the Lexus IS.
The Volkswagen CC comes standard with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine rated at 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque. On our test drives, we found it powerful and smooth. It uses front-wheel drive and is available with a choice of 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic Direct Shift Gearbox.
Volkswagen CC VR6 models use a 3.6-liter V6 rated at 280 horsepower and 265 lb-ft of torque, mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. An all-wheel drive version of the VR6 is available, but is pricey.
Volkswagen CC comes standard with front-wheel drive, and 4Motion all-wheel drive is available for slippery conditions.
The 2013 Volkswagen CC walks the line between affordable family sedan and entry-level luxury car. It's a more upscale alternative to traditional four-doors such as the Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata and Volkswagen Passat, yet in the higher trim levels can also go head-to-head with prestige vehicles such as the Audi A4 and Acura TL and Infiniti G Sedan.
The Volkswagen CC 2.0T Sport with Lighting Package ($30,610) includes climate control, faux-leather upholstery, heated 12-way adjustable front seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel with multi-function controls, rear trunk pass-through slot, cruise control, Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity and an eight-speaker sound system with touch screen, HD radio, six-disc CD changer and iPod interface, full power accessories, auto-dimming rearview mirror, bi-xenon adaptive headlamps, LED daytime running lamps and tail lamps, rain-sensing windshield wipers, 17-inch alloy wheels with all- season self-sealing tires. A 6-speed manual comes standard, with a 6-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission optional ($1,100).
Volkswagen CC 2.0T Sport Plus ($32,850) comes with navigation, 18-inch alloy wheels, and the DSG dual-clutch transmission.
Volkswagen CC 2.0T Lux ($35,355) and you'll get everything on the Sport Plus model plus different 18-inch wheels, a power sunroof, dark brushed-aluminum interior trim and ambient lighting.
Volkswagen CC 2.0T R Line features unique 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, lower extended sport bumpers, R-Line door sill plates and darkened taillights. The 6-speed manual and dual-clutch DSG automatic transmissions are available. The R Line goes on sale early in 2013.
Volkswagen CC VR6 Lux ($37,730) is front-wheel drive and uses a 280-hp, 3.6-liter VR6 engine mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. VR6 Lux includes everything on the 2.0T Lux plus different 18-inch wheels, rearview camera, heated headlight washer system, leather upholstery, memory function for seating and mirrors and navigation with 6.5-inch touchscreen.
Volkswagen CC VR6 4Motion Executive ($41,420) adds all-wheel drive and includes everything found on the VR6 Lux plus Park Distance Control with front and rear proximity sensors, power rear sunshade paddle shifters, ventilated front seats, driver's seat with massage function, and an upgraded Dynaudio Premium Sound System.
Safety equipment includes six airbags (frontal, side front and full curtain), advanced stability control with ABS, tire pressure monitoring system. 4Motion can enhance safety in adverse conditions. The optional rearview camera can help the driver spot a child behind the vehicle when backing up.
New headlights are bi-xenon and use integrated LED Daytime Running Lights. Also standard is the Adaptive Front-lighting System (AFS), which turns the headlamps for visibility around corners.
The 2013 Volkswagen CC's rear bumper has increased in volume. New tail lamps and license plate lighting use LED bulbs.
From the side, the CC's C-pillar is wide but barely visible because it flows back, not down. Although it shares its underpinnings with the Passat, the CC is shorter, wider and lower. And the CC's roofline is sleek and swept back as if the car were racing into a 200-mph wind.
The instrument panel feels far away, because it's not very vertical. The multitude of gauges look clean and are easy to read, and the layout of the center stack is not nearly as complicated as other German carmakers like to make it. The analog clock carries over for 2013.
According to Volkswagen, one of the biggest reasons shoppers avoided purchasing the CC was because it could only accommodate two passengers in back. For 2013, the rear middle location has been made into a cushion, which now allows the CC to seat five instead of four. That said, the slightly higher cushion, combined with the steeply raked roofline, means only children and petite, svelte adults make for a good fifth passenger. On the plus side, there's a decent but not sumptuous 37.3 inches of rear legroom.
The leatherette upholstery is soft and supple, and could almost pass for real leather. On cars equipped with two-toned leather interior, the execution is sporty, yet tasteful.
The trunk is on the smaller end of the class but usable. The CC offers 13.2 cubic feet of cargo space, slightly better than the Lexus IS but less than that offered by the Acura TSX (14 cubic feet) or Nissan Maxima (14.2). Behind the armrest is a pass-through hatch to the trunk for skis and such.
The 2.0-liter turbo is rated at 200 hp at 5100 rpm and 207 pound-feet of torque at 1700 rpm. The engine features variable valve timing and direct injection, in addition to the turbocharger and intercooler.
Fuel economy for the 2.0-liter engine is EPA-rated at 21/31 City/Highway, which is what we got with more than 50 percent highway driving, including some rapid two-lane transit. Premium fuel is recommended.
We found the highway ride smooth and solid, firm but not harsh. It isn't a high-performance car, but it's lighter than the Maxima or Lexus IS. The electromechanical steering was easy and comfortable, but wasn't particularly engaging.
One of our biggest complaints was the shifter, which, like other VW models, felt sloppy and slipped into gear a little too lazily. We'd prefer the gates to feel a little more precise, especially on a model called Sport.
Driving the Volkswagen CC around town, up hills, passing on two-lanes, it doesn't feel like a four-cylinder engine. At 90 mph it's not straining one bit; totally smooth, amazingly smooth for a 2-liter four-cylinder.
The suspension can't earn grades like the engine, however, especially not when it's asked to perform at its sport-tuned description. The overall handling is not particularly crisp, but the turn-in is sharp enough. If all you ask for is a solid and smooth highway ride on a firm suspension that doesn't rock or wallow, no worries. The electromechanical power steering makes maneuvering in parking lots easy.
NewCarTestDrive correspondents Laura Burstein and Sam Moses contributed to this report.
Model as tested
Volkswagen CC Sport with Lighting Package ($30,610)
3 years/36,000 miles
Gas guzzler tax:
Price as tested
Options as tested
Model Line Overview
Volkswagen CC Sport 6sp ($30,610), with DSG ($29,615); R-Line ($30,460), w DSG ($31,560); Luxury ($31,420), Luxury Plus ($33,865), Luxury Limited ($34,665); VR6 4Motion ($40,390)
Safety equipment (standard)
dual-stage frontal airbags, side-impact airbags in front, airbag curtains, tire pressure monitor, ABS with EBD and Brake Assist, electronic stability control
Safety equipment (optional)
2.0-liter turbocharged I4
Specifications as Tested
climate control, faux-leather upholstery, heated 12-way adjustable front seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel with multi-function controls, rear trunk pass-through slot, cruise control, full power accessories, Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity, premium audio system with 6-CD changer and iPod connector, bi-xenon adaptive headlamps, LED daytime running lamps, rain-sensing windshield wipers, auto-dimming rearview mirror, 17-inch alloy wheels
Engine & Transmission
2.0-liter turbocharged I4
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)
200 @ 5100
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy
Torque (lb.-ft. @ rpm)
independent, multi-link with coil springs, anti-roll bar
independent, strut-type with lower control arms, coil spring, anti-roll bar
independent, multi-link with coil springs, anti-roll bar
Head/hip/leg room, middle
Head/hip/leg room, front
Head/hip/leg room, rear