2016 Volkswagen Passat CC 2.0T R-Line – Road Test Review – By Ken “Hawkeye” Glassman

Volkswagen brought out the CC model in 2009, and it was an immediate hit styling-wise, as it separated itself from the more upright and boxy Passat that it was based on.

And since that first model, the styling hasn’t changed much, which is a good thing, since it is still a striking timeless look.  The long arc of the roofline gives the CC a low, long, sleek look that reminds one of a Mercedes CLS, or Audi A-7.  Like the lines on a true coupe, the frameless doors make interesting visuals, like a four-door-coupe.  And there is enough chrome around the windows, front grill, and midway up the side doors, to highlight the lines.

A mild re-do in 2013 updated front and rear end treatment, adding LED headlights and those bits of visual improvements worked well and still wear well.  Also the original CC was designed with two seat rear cabin accommodations, which now has been changed to allow a middle seat passenger, although that passenger won’t be comfortable for long trips.

The CC offers a choice a two  engines.  Our test car has the 2.0-liter inline-4 sporting 200 horsepower, and 207 ft. lbs. of torque.  The engine is smooth and feels peppy with just a bit of turbo lag.  It may not be impressive power, but it is certainly enough to make driving entertaining and satisfying, and zero to 60 in 7 seconds is no slouch.   The mileage ratings are spot on at 21 City and 32 Highway.

The VR6 Executive 4Motion model sports an aging V-6 with 280 horsepower, but doesn’t add much extra performance since the all-wheel-drive makes the car much heavier.  Also, you’ll spend a lot more time at the gas pump, since the V-6 gulps fuel at the rate of 17 City and 25 Highway.

Our front wheel drive test car came equipped with a six-speed manual gearbox, a feature you can’t find in many other cars in this mid-size near luxury class.  For those who like to row though the gears themselves, the CC’s unit shifts smoothly, with a light clutch pedal effort.  As I get older, and manumatic dual clutch transmissions have gotten so quick and precise, I no longer look forward to driving manual transmissions in anything but true sportscar.  But I must admit that a stick shift in this car added to the sport sedan driving experience and sporting looks.

The CC drives like a “tweener” . . . it’s not a true German sport sedan, but it’s more entertaining than the average mid-size family four-door.  It’s a good balance.  It is capable of standing up to a twisting road, but you’ll feel a bit more body lean than you’d like.  However, you can push it through curves with confidence and its standard 18” wheels and tires helps it holds the road capably, yet it still maintains a comfortable ride quality, especially on the highway.  The brakes are very effective, and the speed sensitive electro-mechanical power steering feels responsive and fairly quick.  The chassis feels composed and sturdy.

Inside, the cabin is very stylish and rich feeling. It is also very quiet, helped by the fact that the coupe-like windows open an inch as the door is opened, and then shut tight to the seals when closed.   Despite the fact that the heated and power operated seats are high grade vinyl, they look and feel like real leather.  Their shape is both comfortable, with good bolstering, and handsomely styled.  Three hours on the highway flew by without the need to fidget around to stay comfortable.  The seating position is fairly low, which adds to the sporty feel, and with the tilt and telescope steering wheel, and the range of motion with the power seats, you’ll find a comfortable position to drive.

The dash is typically well laid out, as most Volkswagens are, and every switch feels good to the touch.  Soft materials on the armrests, center console, and door sills adds to the luxury feel.  It’s a nice touch that there are little cubbies and bins sprinkled throughout.  The center stack has a 6.3” touch screen, and only a few switches for operating the seats, air flow direction, and a 3-dial climate controls. Using the Nav screen and the infotainment system is more user friendly and easier to operate than most.  Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is incorporated into the system.

That rakish roofline means the rear seat passengers will pay a price in headroom. The Audi A-4 cousin, Lincoln MKZ, or Toyota Camry all offer more comfort. Taller folks will have to scrunch down a bit in the CC, but legroom is good.  As we said before, the outboard seating accommodations are comfortable, but the middle seat, not so much.  And with the car’s low roofline, don’t forget to tell your passengers to watch their heads getting in and out of the rear.  The trunk is ample, and the rear seats fold flat for extra cargo capacity.

Several trim levels are available.  Entry level is the Trend, which starts at $31,570, but the VW web site states that it is an “Order Only” model, which means it may be hard to find on dealer showrooms.  The Sport model starts at $34,475.  Three R-Line models, beginning at $34,655 like our tester, and the 2.0 Executive and Executive with carbon fiber start at $37,820.  The VR6 all-wheel-drive model sells for a hefty $44,355.

Our R-Line added no options, but is very well equipped with features like special R-Line bumper trim and door sill scuff plates, Automatic Adaptive Bi-Xenon headlights, LED daytime running lights and tail lights, for lights, heated folding side mirrors, and rain-sensing windshield wipers.

Inside there’s dual zone climate control, tilt / telescope leather steering wheel with multifunction controls, electric 12-way seats with lumbar support.  There’s a rear view camera, keyless entry with push button start, 8-speaker HD radio and CD player, and the smartphone integration interfaces, Bluetooth, cruise control and auto-dimming rearview mirror.

With destination charge, the bottom line is $35,520.  Styling is a key component of the CC, but it’s near luxury interior and standard features continues to make the car appealing.


By Ken “Hawkeye” Glassman