Pros: Unique retractable top with built-in sunroof; peppy and refined engine; high-quality interior

Cons: Not sporty; anonymous styling; pricey

The 2012 Volkswagen Eos constitutes compelling evidence that nice guys finish last. Just look at all the things this slow-selling VW has going for it. It has the only retractable hard top on the market that includes a power sunroof in case you don't want to go completely topless. It's powered by Volkswagen's excellent turbocharged 2.0T engine, which punches far above its official 200-horsepower rating. It has a premium interior with plenty of features. So why aren't people buying the Eos in droves?

Our theory is that, like most nice guys, the Eos just isn't that exciting. Sure, the 2.0T is a fine piece of engineering, but it sounds (and accelerates) like a DustBuster compared with the Ford Mustang GT convertible's 5.0-liter V8. Similarly, if you expect athleticism in a convertible, you're barking up the wrong tree with the front-wheel-drive, softly sprung Eos. It doesn't help that the Eos looks kind of like an overgrown Golf, which isn't exactly the stuff automotive dreams are made of. Moreover, the Eos's base price has crept up to about $35,000 for 2012. Whether you're shopping for new or used cars, there are lots of desirable droptops to be had for that kind of coin.

But we've enjoyed our drives in the Eos, and we have no doubt that you'd enjoy owning one. If you're looking for a new hardtop convertible, consider giving VW's nice guy a chance to win your heart.

Comfort & Utility

The 2012 Volkswagen Eos hardtop convertible is available in three trim levels: Komfort, Lux and Executive.

The Komfort starts with 17-inch alloy wheels, a trip computer, a power driver's seat, heated front seats with adjustable lumbar, leatherette upholstery, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control and a touchscreen eight-speaker audio system with iPod/Bluetooth connectivity, an auxiliary input and an SD card reader.

The Lux adds different 17-inch alloys, power folding exterior mirrors, keyless entry with push-button start, wood-grain interior trim, rain-sensing wipers, twin power front seats, leather upholstery, an SD-based navigation system and parking sensors.

The new-for-2012 Executive trim adds 18-inch alloys, xenon headlights with washers, a sport-tuned suspension, an upgraded trip computer, a hard-drive-based navigation system with digital music storage and a 600-watt Dynaudio sound system.

The Lux model can be equipped with a Tech package that adds xenon headlights and an upgraded trip computer.

The big story with the Eos is its power-retractable hard top, which lowers in 25 seconds and features an integrated power sunroof that both tilts and slides independent of the rest of the roof. It's a remarkable engineering achievement, especially given that the sunroof is one of the largest sliding panels in the business at 44 inches wide and 22 inches deep. There's even a manual sliding sunshade that lets you block overhead sunlight if you want. We're used to feeling claustrophobic in a convertible when the top's up, but the Eos truly provides the best of both worlds.

Although the Eos's interior can be dressed up in a variety of ways (we're especially partial to the red leather upholstery), the dashboard is still rather conservatively styled for a fun-in-the-sun car. Materials quality is very good, though, and there's a distinct premium vibe in this cabin, from the classy analog gauges to the precision feel of the knobs and levers.

The Eos's front seats provide firm long-distance comfort and surprisingly good lateral support through the corners. The two-passenger back seat is cramped, however, and although we wouldn't ordinarily harp on this in a convertible, the Eos's Golf-like styling had us expecting Golf-like rear accommodations. Trunk capacity measures 10.5 cubic feet with the top up and 6.6 cubic feet al fresco, which is about average for a hardtop convertible, but there's also a lockable pass-through for longer items integrated into the rear seats.

Technology

No one will ever accuse Volkswagen of underequipping the Eos. The base Komfort model has all the technology most people will ever need, including dual-zone climate control, iPod/Bluetooth connectivity and a touchscreen stereo with an auxiliary audio jack and SD card compatibility. A USB port isn't offered, though, so if you're used to carrying your MP3s around on a flash drive, you'll have to load them onto an SD card instead.

It's too bad that the 600-watt Dynaudio sound system and the hard-drive-based navigation system are only offered on the nearly $40,000 Executive model. They'd make for a compelling options package on lower trims. A consolation prize for Lux buyers is the entry-level navigation system, which works well enough but uses SD cards for its maps, so there's no digital music storage as on the hard-drive-based unit.

Performance & Fuel Economy

The Eos is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4 rated at 200 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed dual-clutch automated manual is the only available transmission. The 2.0T is featured in seemingly every car VW makes these days, and for good reason-it's a pleasantly refined little engine that packs a consistent punch across the rev range. We think it suits the laid-back nature of the Eos. The dual-clutch automatic delivers prompt and mostly smooth shifts, though we find it a bit odd that shift paddles aren't even offered.

Fuel economy for the Eos is EPA rated at 22 mpg city/30 mpg highway.

Safety

The 2012 Volkswagen Eos comes with standard stability control, four-wheel ABS, four airbags (front and front side), and a rear-passenger rollover protection system that deploys aluminum posts from behind the rear seats if an imminent rollover is detected.

The government has not crash tested the Eos recently, but the independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the Eos its highest rating of Good in every tested category.

Driving Impressions

Thanks in part to that huge glass sunroof, the Eos has an airy, relaxed character at speed. Noise suppression from the insulated hard top is very good, and the cabin remains turbulence free at reasonable velocities with the top down. The Eos's soft underpinnings make it a suboptimal choice for enthusiastic cornering, even with the Executive model's sport-tuned suspension. But if you simply intend to cruise around and soak up the rays, the easy-riding Eos will be a great companion.

Other Cars to Consider

Ford Mustang convertible - You can get the sizzling V8-powered Mustang GT softtop convertible for the same price as an Eos, but the Mustang V6 also outperforms the VW for thousands less.

BMW 128i convertible - The convertible 1 Series is chunky enough that its slight power advantage over the Eos isn't that noticeable, but we prefer the BMW's rear-wheel-drive dynamics.

Mini Cooper S convertible - The Cooper's back seat is definitely tighter than even the Eos's cramped rear quarters, but if you'd like extra style and attitude, the spunky Mini is a pleasantly affordable Eos alternative.

AutoTrader Recommends

Since we're not entirely sold on the Eos's elevated price point, we'd be inclined to stick with the base Komfort model. It's well equipped, and we find the Eos considerably more appealing at $35,000 than at $40,000.

author photo

Josh Sadlier is an automotive journalist based in Los Angeles and has contributed to such publications as Edmunds.com and DriverSide.com. He holds arguably the most unexpected degree in his profession: a master's in Theological Studies.

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