The 2014 Volkswagen CC is definitive proof that style and the midsize sedan aren't mutually exclusive. Indeed, the CC isn't just good-looking for this segment; it's a good-looking automobile, period. The 2014 CC has some attractive standard features, too, including 3-across rear seating (the previous-generation CC had two rear buckets), xenon headlights, LED running lights and dual-zone automatic climate control, even on the entry-level Sport model.

But VW isn't throwing this stuff in for free. The CC's base price is now well over $30,000, and that opens up a whole new world of alternatives. For comparison, most midsize sedans start under $25,000. The CC looks great, no doubt, but that's a lot of scratch for what's essentially a reskinned previous-generation Passat.

On the whole, though, the 2014 CC is so well-equipped and refined that it's hard to question VW's pricing strategy. If you appreciate the finer things on the road, you probably won't blink at handing over a few extra grand for an undeniably premium product. The sharp styling is what will catch everyone's eye, but the CC has plenty of substance, too.

What's New for 2014?

VW's Car-Net telematics suite is newly available on the CC, and the 2.0T Executive trim is new, as well. Other changes include a rearview camera for Sport and R-Line trims (late availability) and added features for the V6 Executive (keyless entry/ignition and a foot sensor under the bumper for hands-free trunk operation).

What We Like

Head-turning styling; refined driving dynamics; excellent engines; upscale interior; available all-wheel drive

What We Don't

High price; limited rear headroom; small trunk

How Much?

$32,660-$43,310

Fuel Economy

The CC 2.0T models have front-wheel drive and feature a turbocharged 2-liter inline-4 that generates 200 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque. A 6-speed manual is standard on the Sport and R Line, while a 6-speed dual-clutch automated manual is optional there and standard on the 2.0T Executive.

The V6 engine is offered only on the range-topping Executive 4MOTION trim level, which also comes standard with all-wheel drive. Output checks in at a healthy 280 hp and 265 lb-ft. Unfortunately, you can't get the dual-clutch gearbox with the V6; a 6-speed conventional automatic is the only transmission offered.

Fuel economy for the 2.0T is 21 miles per gallon city/32 mpg highway with the stick shift and 22 mpg city/31 mpg hwy with the automated manual. The V6 drops to 17 mpg city/25 mpg hwy.

Standard Features & Options

The 2014 Volkswagen CC is offered in Sport, R-Line, 2.0T Executive and V6 Executive 4MOTION trim levels.

The base Sport ($32,660) comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, xenon headlights with LED running lights, LED taillights, a trip computer, a dash-mounted analog clock, heated 12-way power front seats, leatherette upholstery, heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, a rearview camera (late availability) and a touchscreen 8-speaker audio system with iPod/Bluetooth connectivity, an auxiliary input, an SD-card reader, a 6-CD changer and a navigation system.

The R-Line ($33,890), which is essentially a sportier Sport, adds 18-in alloys, a subtle body kit, darkened taillights and various sporty interior accents.

The 2.0T Executive ($37,860) starts with the base Sport's equipment roster and adds the dual-clutch automated manual transmission, different 18-in alloys, a sunroof, a hands-free power trunk with a foot sensor, keyless entry with push-button start, leather upholstery, ambient interior lighting, brushed aluminum interior trim and an upgraded navigation system.

Finally, the range-topping V6 Executive 4MOTION ($43,310) adds a V6 engine, all-wheel drive, 18-in alloys of its own, a power rear sunshade, front and rear parking sensors, ventilated front seats with driver massage, a premium color trip computer and a 600-watt Dynaudio sound system.

Trunk capacity in the CC is 13.2 cu ft, which is subpar for the midsize class.

Safety

The 2014 Volkswagen CC comes with standard stability control, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes and six airbags (front, front side and full-length side curtain). Every 2014 CC is offered with VW's Car-Net telematics, which includes security and connectivity features such as crash notification, roadside assistance, remote vehicle access and enhanced point-of-interest (POI) service.

The government has not crash tested the CC, but the independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the CC its highest rating of Good in every category except the new small front overlap test, where the CC received the second-worst rating of Marginal. Note that most cars have been receiving scores in the Marginal range in this new test.

Behind the Wheel

We're familiar with the CC's 2.0T engine from a variety of VW products and, as usual, its hearty mid-range torque is a pleasure to utilize. The availability of VW's excellent dual-clutch automatic is a welcome surprise; we're accustomed to encountering this transmission in either high-performance or diesel-powered VWs.

But the 2.0T model's 200 horses ultimately aren't that memorable, which is why we heartily endorse the narrow-angle VR6 V6, if you can swing the steep entry price. The VR6 turns the CC into a seriously swift car, one that competes rather well with entry-level luxury models like the Audi A4.

The CC may trace its roots back to an old Passat, but it's definitely a driver's car. The hunkered-down, coupelike seating position imparts a sense of control, and the CC is unflappable at speed. While the sport-tuned suspension allows more body roll than you might expect, that's partly why the CC can traverse rough pavement with supple composure. And don't get us wrong, this is still an entertaining car to drive on a winding road.

Other Cars to Consider

Nissan Maxima -- Still marketed as the 4-door sports car, the Maxima is more of a sporty large sedan these days, but it has plenty of power and enough visual flair to woo CC fans.

Kia Optima SX -- The Optima has taken the family-sedan segment by storm with its aggressive shape. The SX version boasts a turbocharged 2-liter inline-4 that trounces the CC's 2.0T with 274 hp and 34 mpg hwy.

Mazda6 -- If you can make do with a little less power, try the cheaper and arguably more athletic Mazda6 on for size. It looks great, handles well and gets better fuel economy to boot.

AutoTrader's Advice

As much as we like the V6, it's not a stellar deal at over $43,000 this year. So we're going to flip the script and simply recommend the base CC Sport with the manual transmission. It's loaded with luxuries right out of the box, and it's one of the best all-around packages available at its price.

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