By Matt Degen
The 2017 Volkswagen CC takes inspiration from high-end "4-door coupes" like the Mercedes-Benz CLS, but it's positioned at a more attainable price. Foundationally, the CC is the Volkswagen Passat's brother. But while that midsize sedan can be thought of as the more mature, dutiful sibling, the CC is the hipper, more youthful one. The VW CC puts design over practicality, as its coupe-like profile cuts into rear-seat passenger space. For 2017, the CC's lineup has been cut to just two main trims, and the former all-wheel-drive V6 model and manual-transmission variants are gone. The CC has some attraction with its style and satisfying manners, but you might find more appeal in the fresher Nissan Maxima or Mercedes-Benz CLA, both of which also have lower starting prices.
If the idea of a sophisticated German sedan with a stylish couple-like profile, turbocharged engine and sporty European driving manners appeals to you, check out the Volkswagen CC. This is also a niche car, which is a plus if you want to stick out from the crowd.
The 2017 CC is now limited to just one engine and transmission choice, while its $35,000-plus starting price puts it in premium territory. For that money, you can get more power and arguably more style in a Nissan Maxima, or the luxury-brand cachet of Mercedes in the smaller CLA.
There's more subtraction than addition for the 2017 VW CC. V6 and manual-transmission variants are gone, and the lineup has been cut to just two main trims: Sport and R-Line Executive. The latter gets safety and driving aids like adaptive cruise control and forward-collision warning/mitigation as standard.
Based on VW's well-regarded Passat platform, it's not surprising the CC has a similar feel as its midsize-sedan sibling, though with livelier flair thanks to a standard sport-tuned suspension. Combined...
... with its lightweight body, the CC serves up engaging yet comfortable driving manners. VW has managed to make the CC’s taut suspension proactive in the curves without being overly reactive to road imperfections, such as expansion joints and potholes. As one would expect from a Volkswagen, the CC’s steering is precise and well balanced, with just the right amount of power assist when needed. Now the only engine offered, the 200-horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder offers good power for initial acceleration and higher-speed passing. We're also fans of the dual-clutch 6-speed automatic transmission that is well-matched to this engine. R-Line Executive models have steering-wheel-mounted paddles that enable you to tick through gears.
VW CAR-NET APP-CONNECT
VW’s newest MIB II audio system with Car-Net allows owners to access select apps from their smartphones directly through the car’s radio. Car-Net services also include advanced safety and security features including Automatic Crash Notification and Stolen Vehicle Location Assistance.
SAFETY AND DRIVING AIDS
The 2017 VW CC is available with active safety and driving aids like lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise control and forward-collision warning along with a system that can automatically apply the brakes if a crash appears imminent. The suite of features comes standard on upper-trim R-Line models.
The 2017 Volkswagen CC's cabin is inviting, at least up front. High-quality materials appear throughout, highlighted by metal trim accents, faux or real leather depending on trim, and sleek, Euro-chic lines. We're especially fond of interiors outfitted with a 2-tone color scheme. The front seats are comfortable, and with 12-way-power adjustment it's easy for the driver and passenger to find a fit. The rear seats, however, are rather cramped. The trade-off for the CC's stylish, swoopy roofline is diminished rear-seat headroom and compromised outward visibility. Unlike initial versions of the CC that had seating for only four, all current models seat five.
One of the CC's best traits is the way it looks on the outside. Though now in its eighth model year, the CC is still striking with its flowing roof, frameless windows, nubbed tail and upward-creasing beltline that runs through the doors. It all conveys a car that's moving even when it's not. All models include bi-xenon headlights and LED taillights and LED daytime running lights. R-Line models offer a sportier take with a body kit, side skirts and 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels.
In base form, the 2017 Volkswagen CC includes faux-leather interior, heated and 12-way power-adjustable front seats, keyless access with push-button start and auto-dimming rearview mirror. Infotainment is brought to you by an 8-speaker AM/FM/CD touch-screen system with USB port, navigation and rearview camera.
If you can swing it, we recommend spending the roughly $3,300 more for the CC R-Line, which includes the suite of safety and driver-assist features mentioned in "Favorite Things." That top model also brings genuine leather interior with the additional choice of 2-tone black and brown, power-folding mirrors, memory driver's seat, 18-inch wheels, and paddle shifters. Additional options and packages are scant.
With the V6 option dropped for 2017, the CC now just has one engine in the offering -- VW's 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder. Thankfully it's still an easy one to like, and it does a nice job of splitting the power/efficiency equation. Still, it's not nearly as potent as the 300-horsepower V6 that's standard on the Nissan Maxima, nor as fuel-efficient as the turbocharged 4-cylinder of the Mercedes-Benz CLA that is rated up to 36 mpg (vs. the CC's 31 mpg), and is more powerful to boot. Also, be aware that VW recommends premium unleaded gasoline for this engine. The CC also now offers only one transmission -- a 6-speed dual-clutch automatic -- and only front-wheel drive.
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4
200 horsepower @ 5,100 rpm
207 lb-ft of torque @ 1,700 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/31 mpg
Note: Due to changes in EPA testing to more effectively reflect real-world conditions, some 2017 models show slightly lower fuel-economy scores than their 2016 versions.
The 2017 Volkswagen CC has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting at $35,340, a nearly $3,000 increase over last year, which featured a less-expensive, manual-transmission base model. The higher trim for 2017, R-Line Executive, starts at $38,685. In addition to a price that starts some $12,000 beyond a Volkswagen Passat, the CC starts slightly higher than coupe-like sedans such as the Nissan Maxima and Mercedes-Benz CLA. In light of this year's thinning of model offerings and a slew of fresher svelte sedans that range from Acura's TLX to Buick's Regal GS, it's getting more difficult for the Volkswagen CC's style statement to justify its premium pricing. Before buying, be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to make sure you're getting the best deal on your new VW. The Volkswagen CC's resale value is another sore spot. This model has routinely had a difficult time holding its value.