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Fantastic with 4 Cylinders

Saving gas doesn't mean you have to suffer with a lesser car

August 21, 2008|By Wheelbase Communications

America, we feel your pain and it doesn’t just have to do with the price at the pumps: it’s the car that goes along with trying to keep gas money in your pocket.

For years, driving a fuel-efficient vehicle was presumed to be solely a money issue. If you were concerned that the price of gas was eating you out of house and home when it was $1 a gallon, then you probably wanted a cheap car, too: just the basics to keep the sticker price down.

Times change and with gas at $4 a gallon, fuel might be eating a lot more people out of house and home: those driving thirsty high-dollar sport-utility vehicles and luxury cars.

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But hold the phone. Why do well-equipped vehicles — even luxury vehicles — have to be thirsty? Why can’t we have all the amenities and technology we’re used to but without the wide-eyed look when the gas pump finally goes “click.”

Actually, we’re gradually heading that way, but it means running with smaller and more fuel-efficient engines. That might seem like a contradiction since we’ve been conditioned to believe that the vehicle with the biggest and baddest engine always comes with the best features. It’s not only outmoded thinking, but that style of marketing actually excludes a growing number of buyers who don’t mind spending the money to buy the vehicle they want, but just don’t want to needlessly spend money on gas to propel it around.

What does the number of cylinders have to do with your amenities? Nothing if you happen to be Volkswagen or Audi, a German automaker that has the fun-with-four-cylinders factor dialed in without skimping on the goodies.

The new front-wheel-drive 2009 VW Passat CC sedan appears to be a great refuge for buyers looking for a big step up in style and cachet without paying the price in fuel dollars.

The base engine for this style statement is a 200-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder with an estimated rating of 21/29 mpg city/highway. You’ll get the usual assortment of power goodies plus air conditioning and access to a plethora of options. You won’t be able to get all-wheel-drive, which is the exclusive domain of the optional V6, but you will have your choice of a six-speed manual transmission or six-speed automatic. The base price is expected to be in the $27,000 range.

The 2.0-liter turbo engine is no slouch, either, with somewhere around 250 pound-feet of torque, that propels the Passat CC to 60 mph in a claimed 7.5 seconds.

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