2016 Volkswagen CC

The Basics:

With more luxury features and a less practical passenger package, the 2016 Volkswagen CC has rivals in vehicles like the Nissan Maxima, the Lincoln MKZ, the Volvo S60, and the Acura TLX—even the Audi A4, another four-door offering from the vast VW empire.

Though it started life as a Passat, the Volkswagen CC has taken a different path as it has pursued more style-conscious shoppers. While the Passat moved to America a got a little bigger and plainer, the CC transformed the last Passat’s underpinnings by applying a sleeker, more dramatic shape. VW even called it a “four-door coupe” when it was new, to distinguish it—or disguise it—from its roots.

New in 2009 and updated for 2013, the VW CC hasn’t altered its winning shape much over its lifetime. It’s a sedan, but if you step back and view this model’s side profile, it’s easy to see why it gets the coupe-like description. It has proportions that hint “rear-wheel-drive sport sedan” to some (and nod to the Mercedes-Benz CLS and Audi A7, among others), even though it’s a front-driver. As an added touch, the door windows are frameless, like on most true coupes.

While the CC might look like a serious sport sedan—or one with serious luxury credentials—it doesn’t quite deliver to that impression. What it does deliver, however, is better performance than what you might expect considering the CC’s base price of about $30,000. It essentially drives much like the last-generation Passat in its more luxurious guises, with refinement clearly taking the priority over edginess or all-out performance.

Although two powertrains are offered, we remain convinced that there’s only one way to get the CC: with the turbocharged 200-horsepower, 2.0-liter inline-4. Models with it feel lighter and more nimble than their top-of-the-line VR6 4Motion, all-wheel-drive counterpart. The four churns out plenty of low- and mid-range torque with only a slight delay if revs are at the low end, while the narrow-angle V-6 is spirited, but seems to take a moment longer to build steam.

For 2013, Volkswagen gave the CC a mid-cycle refresh that kept its distinct profile but redrew some of the details in front and in back (adding LED lamps, among other upscale touches). Other noteworthy changes then included a three-person back seat to replace the stylish but less practical two-person setup from previous model years, as well as upgraded materials for the dash and cabin.

It’s not all that surprising that you lose a little practicality in moving from a more upright design like that of the Passat to the CC’s swoopier package. Front head room is a bit tight, and you’ll either love or hate the somewhat low driving position. The three-passenger back seat is comfortable but short on head room, and the curvy roofline makes entry and exit difficult even for adults of average height. But the interior trims look and feel luxury-grade, the ride is absorbent and controlled, and the trunk is huge.

The Volkswagen CC is offered in Trend, Sport, Executive, and R-Line trims equipped with the 2.0T, as well as in the VR6 Executive 4Motion model. Updates for 2016 include the addition of the Trend model; a new infotainment system with a USB port; and forward-collision warnings, automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warnings, and adaptive cruise control on V-6 models.

With the turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a manual transmission, the CC is rated by the EPA at 21 mpg city, 32 highway, 25 combined. The same engine coupled to a dual-clutch transmission is rated at 22/31/25 mpg.

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