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.
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.
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.