By BJ Killeen.
Sedans are the staple of American cars. They can start as low as $12,000, and go skyward to over 10 times that amount. These four-door wonders are popular because they offer good comfort, seating for five, a useable trunk, high fuel economy, stable performance, and an overall pleasant driving experience. For those who want a sedan with a lot of bells and whistles without spending a year’s paycheck, two solid options are the Hyundai Sonata Limited and Volkswagen CC Sport.
Sedans may be practical, most of them are boring to look at. There are a few exceptions: the new Ford Fusion, and these two competitors. The 2013 Volkswagen CC Sport turns heads because of its resemblance to a certain high-end German-born vehicle that costs close to three times as much. It’s sleek, aerodynamic, and definitely looks as if it costs way more than it does. Sharp crease lines, 17-inch wheels and tires, and a shapely rump truly set this sedan at the top of a short list of well-designed four doors.
Love the Sonata’s look as well, as it follows Hyundai’s fluidic sculpture principles of aerodynamic yet defined proportions. The Limited model that we tested has a nice balance of glass to body, the signature Hyundai grille that features a lot of movement, standard body-color everything, and even a standard moonroof. This is a vehicle design that will endure and remain fresh, which is what true design is all about. If we had to choose, we’d give the slightest of edge to the CC, but we also really like the Sonata’s styling.
You step up to the top of the line model like the Sonata Limited, you get all the bells and whistles standard, such as leather seats, pushbutton start with proximity key, woodgrain accents, heated front and rear seats, Bluetooth, tilt/telescoping steering column with redundant audio controls on the steering wheel, and tons more. Our test model came with the Premium Package that added a panoramic sunroof, rearview camera, nav system with touchscreen, and Infinity premium audio for an addition $2,900. Overall appearance and ergonomics are outstanding, as is the fit and finish and quality of materials. The 2013 Hyundai Sonata keeps setting the bar higher, and just possibly might be almost too hard for some competitors to beat them at this game.
Volkswagen CC test vehicle we had cam with the Lighting Package, which added adaptive front headlamps and LED daytime running lamps. The Sport version of the CC also comes to the party fairly well equipped with standard items like HID headlamps, power front seats, rain-sensing wipers, Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control, HD Radio, and remote keyless entry. Unlike the Sonata where you can cherry pick your options, VW forces you to make the choice ahead of time because upgrades come via different trim levels.
Offers the Hyundai Sonata in GLS, SE, and Limited, but also as a turbocharged model or a hybrid. VW sets up the CC with Sport or Sport Plus, R-Line (performance), Lux (luxury) and Executive (VR6 engine with 4Motion). It appears if you want real as opposed to imitation leather seating, you have to step up to the Executive, which is priced in a segment reserved for true luxury brands. No question the interior of the CC is pretty and also high quality, but the difference between the two interiors doesn’t justify the higher price. Hyundai wins this one hands down.
Much power is enough when talking about midsize sedans? The Sonata has one engine option for the regular Sonata: a solid 2.4-liter four-cylinder that makes 198 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque (the SE trim bumps up those numbers by two in both categories). If you simply must have more power, go with the turbo version, for 274 horses and 269 lb-ft, or if fuel economy is your priority, take the Hybrid). In the regular Sonata sedan, the power was just fine, although the four cylinder does make some noise. In all fairness, what four-cylinder engine doesn’t? Our Limited trim level matched a six-speed automatic to that engine, and featured Hyundai’s Shiftronic mode so the driver can row through the gears without needing a clutch. With that setup, the Sonata is rated at 24-mpg city and 35 mpg highway.
Volkswagen CC Sport test model made slightly more power than the Sonata, at 200 horses and 207 lb-feet of torque from the 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four. The CC has quick movement on start up, and the 6-speed DSG transmission performs well. Our biggest complaint on VW sedans belongs to the brakes: they’re just too grabby and take a sensitive foot to modulate correctly. We’re not the only ones who take note of this. Wonder why VW hasn’t addressed this issue yet when every reviewer talks about it. Even though the power is close to the Sonata’s output, fuel economy is rated at 25 city and 31 highway, but all fuel economy numbers are dependent on a multitude of factors. Drive aggressively and you’ll pay more at the pump. It’s as simple as that. If you like a more Teutonic feel to your sedans, you’ll be happy with the VW. But our preference here goes to the Sonata.
for dollar, it’s going to be hard for VW, or any manufacturer for that matter, to beat the deals Hyundai is putting together. For the Sonata Limited with the Premium Package, we are out the door at $29,540 including destination. With the CC Sport with the Lighting Package, $32,065 is the final number. We’re no math experts, but this one’s almost a no brainer.
As much as we liked the CC for its design and handling manners, the Sonata is, in part and parcel, nearly impossible to beat when it comes to having it all.