2013 Volkswagen CC Lux Road Test

Volkswagen's Comfort(able) Coupe is one of these things, but not both.

What It Is
A stylish sedan dressed as a coupe for when the Passat just won't cut it.
Best Thing
Fuel economy figures are stout even with the peppy V-6.
Worst Thing
Leatherette seats in a $36,000 car? No thanks.
Snap Judgment
The CC is quite the looker, but it continues to search for its niche.


About four years ago, Volkswagen started down its road of global automotive domination by promising to make bigger vehicles at an affordable price. At about the same time, Volkswagen introduced the CC, a sleek looking four-door with lines that are supposed to mimic a two-door. Clearly developed before Volkswagen's "bigger and cheaper" philosophy was in full effect, the 2013 Volkswagen CC now soldiers into its fourth year, albeit with some notable updates last year.

During 2012, Volkswagen managed to sell around 20,000 CC sedans, about 10,000 off the 2011 sales pace. So it's clear that Volkswagen isn't relying on the CC to keep its doors open. Where exactly does it fit in though? Despite its limited sales, the Volkswagen CC has a fan base, so we spent a week driving a 2013 Volkswagen CC Lux to find out what they love so much about it.

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What We Drove

When you have a vehicle with a base price of $35,355, you expect to get a lot of features without having to check to many option boxes. The 2013 Volkswagen CC delivers on that expectation...to a point. Our tester showed up with a slew of standard features that included a 200-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed automatic Direct-Shift Gearbox with Tiptronic. Other standard features included electronic stability control, anti-slip regulation, anti-lock brakes, a touchscreen with navigation and Bluetooth audio, bi-xenon headlights, an iPod input, a leather wrapped steering wheel, automatic headlights with a "coming home" feature (a high-beam light angled to the side if you will), rain sensing windshield wipers, a rear seat armrest with a pass-through, and a remote keyless locking system. Our CC tester was dressed in the Lux trim, which rolls on 18-inch alloy wheels.

Standard safety features included driver and front passenger supplemental restraints and side airbags, side curtain airbags, head restraints, and power assisted brakes both up front and in the rear. Other standard safety features include an anti-theft alarm with an immobilizer theft deterrent system, child locks on the rear doors, LATCH points in the rear seat, and a tire pressure monitoring system.

The Driver's Care Package was also included on our tester at no extra charge and included Volkswagen's new vehicle limited warranty which is good for three years or 38,000 miles. A powertrain limited warranty good for five years or 60,000 miles, a limited warranty against corrosion perforation good for 12 years and unlimited mileage, and 24-hour roadside assistance are all included in the Driver's Care Package at no extra cost.

The only additional charge that came with our CC tester was an $820 destination charge which bumps the total price up to $36,175 as it stood before us. But here's where the "mostly" comes in: this $36,000 luxury-ish sedan didn't come with leather seats. It didn't even come with cloth. No, for your troubles, you get leatherette, better known as vinyl. Granted, it's pretty nice vinyl, but still...vinyl?

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The Commute

Despite the leatherette seats, the CC delivers a comfortable ride that wears down an hour-long commute, rather than your lower back. The heated seats up front warm up within a few seconds and are a welcome sign when getting in on a cool morning. With the seat adjusted and warm, the standard touchscreen audio and navigation unit awaits orders in the center stack. The buttons on the left side of the radio make it easy to toggle between the desired radio ban or Bluetooth audio device. It's easy to scroll through the frequencies and the system tells you what song or show is on instead of having to stop and listen every three seconds.

Once you've set the chair and radio up to your liking, it's time to actually get going on your commute to work. During the morning commute, the CC cruised along quietly with road noise being almost completely absent, until we got above 65 mph. At that point, it got harder to ignore. Getting onto the freeway was as effortless as stepping on the accelerator and letting the 2.0-liter TFSI four-cylinder engine do its job. The turbocharged engine is a little slow to react, but when it does, you take off and go. The transmission isn't as easy going though, and has trouble downshifting; in most instances, it opted to wait until the very last millisecond to do so. Bringing the CC and its hefty 4,201 pound frame to a complete stop is also easy, but unlike other Volkswagens we've driven, the brakes don't "bite" very hard, but instead are smooth and progressive.

The Grocery Run

One major change made to the Volkswagen CC last year -- aside from styling tweaks to make it look more like the rest of the Volkswagen lineup -- was the addition of a center position in the rear seats. Until last year, the CC could only accommodate four people, thanks to an over-zealous commitment to the whole "coupe with four doors" thing. After some tweaking and an additional seat belt, the CC can now house three people in the back seat, but it's a tight squeeze, and the CC is still, from a practical standpoint, a four-passenger car. Rear head room checks in at a neck-slouching 36.6-inches, while legroom stretches out to 37.3-inches. Trying to stuff three full-sized adults in the backseat is next to impossible, but a car seat and an adult and/or child or any combination of that will work just fine.

Deciding where to put groceries for the ride home was made easy by Volkswagen when they slapped a cavernous trunk onto the rear-end of the CC. During our testing, we were able to load eight grocery bags and a baby stroller, which laid flat in the trunk before we ran out of real estate. One drawback to the gargantuan trunk is the smaller space your cargo has to pass through to get in. While it's not the smallest opening we've ever run into on a car this size, we were definitely extra careful loading and unloading the stroller and bags so not to scrape up the bumper. The rear seat armrest pass through made it easy to transport a set of fishing poles without having to take one apart individually.

Parking the CC is harder than it looks because of both ends having a steep curve; it makes the vehicle feel bigger than it really is. And it's already pretty big to start with; at 15.7-feet long and just over six-feet wide, it only takes a few seconds to feel how big the CC is. For comparison's sake, the full-bodied Dodge Challenger -- which feels as big to drive as it looks -- is only nine inches longer. Neither of the aforementioned vehicles come equipped with a back-up camera.

For the record, that's probably the only time those two vehicles will ever be mentioned in the same story.

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The Weekend Fun

Without question, a major redeeming quality to the Volkswagen CC is its exterior styling, especially after nightfall. Everywhere we went, at least one person would drop what they were doing to get a look at the CC. One guy was so blatant about it that he stopped in the middle of a major road while crossing to see the CC pass by. While waiting outside of a local favorite eatery for a to-go dinner order, two people came over and asked about the CC saying they'd never seen a Volkswagen with LED daytime running lights. Even after I politely told them that V-Dub's lineup is moving in that direction, they were still intrigued with the CC.

Getting on the open road is one of the best and worst things about the CC. Getting up to speed isn't an issue with a hardy dose of turbo that kicks in shortly after you press down on the accelerator pedal. However, if you overdo it on the acceleration you can quickly find yourself passing traffic around you. Road noise also becomes more prevalent as you gain speed, but unless you crack a window open, wind noise is almost totally absent. The CC's steering was responsive at speeds and didn't feel too hollow or assisted, making it easy to pass other cars in moving traffic. A long road trip can pass by quickly with help from the CC's Bluetooth audio capability which lets you stream songs from your smartphone. Sirius XM radio also helped on an hour ride down south to our other office in Irvine, California. The CC's audio system allows you to scan through channels and see what's on without disrupting what you're currently listening to.

But there were a number of half-measures. For example, even though there was no actual slot for a key, starting the CC required us to push the key fob into a slot and then hold it down to start the car. Not the craziest or dumbest feature on a car ever, but it made us wonder why Volkswagen didn't simply offer a push-button start, or just a regular ol' key for that matter.

Summary

After spending a week with the 2013 Volkswagen CC, our staff was firmly divided into two different sides. One side believed the Volkswagen CC was an elegant and quicker interpretation of the Passat, while the other side had trouble coming up with a target audience for it. One thing everyone agreed upon was that leatherette should never be in a vehicle with the CC's price tag. Everyone also agreed that the 2.0-liter TFSI engine was fun, but the transmission would bog down at the worst times. However, there was no arguing that the CC is one of the best looking -- if not the best looking -- Volkswagen currently sold in North America today.

So, should you take a 2013 Volkswagen CC over an Acura TSX, Infiniti G, or even a Buick Regal? While we think the CC is a stylish vehicle that offers many modern amenities, we'd recommend taking a look at the G lineup before making a final decision. If you wish to stay with Volkswagen and in this particular segment, you may be better served by opting for a different trim level than the one that spent the week with us. While the Lux trim had its positives, other trim levels offer similar features for almost $5,000 less.

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Spec Box

Price-as-tested: $36,175
Fuel Economy
EPA City: 22 mpg
EPA Highway: 31 mpg
EPA Combined: 25 mpg
Estimated Combined Range: 462.5 miles
Intellichoice Cost of Ownership: No Rating

Notebook Quotes "There's virtually no sound from the engine and road noise is suppressed. Wind noise is minimal as well. What's up with the small infotainment screen? While I thought the control system was odd, that screen is embarrassingly small. Get rid of that analog clock and fill the space with a bigger screen."-Joel Arellano, Associate Editor
"This is a very cool looking, sexy car. It's sleek and smooth and sophisticated in a way that other Volkswagens simply are not. I really like the exterior styling. But in my opinion, it fails in just about everything else. This car is filled with half measures."-Keith Buglewicz, News Director
"I think it feels like a premium product as long as your hands don't wander too far from the steering wheel. But it's just not befitting of its high price. At the end of the day, I'm not seeing the value of the CC."-Jacob Brown, Associate Editor

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