Volkswagen Arteon SEL R-Line 4MOTION Test Drive

 

Trucks and SUVs get so many headlines these days that it's easy to forget that some manufacturers continue to produce sedans. One good thing about the popularity of larger, high-riding vehicles is that it seems to have motivated certain companies to make their traditional cars sportier and more versatile. The last-generation Buick Regal GS was a regular sedan. The newest model has attractive styling, more power, and a useful large rear hatch (that I managed to fit an entire office chair into). It may not be an SUV, but it fits more cargo than a sedan with a standard trunk. And if the Regal GS doesn't offer enough space for you and your stuff, you can get the Regal TourX wagon. And look at Toyota and Lexus. For decades, the Camry and ES were reliable, well-built cars. Now they have eye-catching styling and unprecedented athletic abilities, too. For the first time ever, there's an F Sport version of the ES. Toyota's performance division, TRD, has created more focused and visually aggressive variants of the Camry and Avalon, complete with aggressive body kits, suspension upgrades, and cat-back exhaust systems.

Volkswagen certainly hasn't abandoned sedans. The Jetta is all-new for 2019. So is its high-performance GLI sibling, which has more power than the model it replaces. VW introduced us to the restyled 2020 Passat at this year's North American International Auto Show. And now there's a completely new sedan model in the VW lineup that replaces the CC: the Arteon. VW's four-door features sleek lines and comes standard with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. Trim levels include SE (with front-wheel drive), SE with 4MOTION all-wheel drive, SEL with 4MOTION, SEL R-Line with 4MOTION, and SEL Premium R-Line with 4MOTION. I got the opportunity to learn more about VW's largest sedan behind the wheel of an Arteon SEL R-line.

 

2019 Volkswagen Arteon Exterior

My test car had a sticker price of $44,055. Sitting in my driveway, I was convinced VW could've easily charged another $15,000 for it. It didn't have a bad angle. Its broad, multi-ribbed, chrome grille filled the front end and flowed right into the standard LED headlights.

VW's design team combined elements of sports cars and fastbacks to create the Arteon's graceful and distinctive profile. The roofline slopes down so gracefully that it's hard to tell that the Arteon is effectively a giant hatchback.

The Arteon's sleek LED taillights reminded me of the ones on the Mercedes-Benz E-Class coupe. They pointed toward a prominent VW badge and six chrome letters: A R T E O N. More brightwork surrounded the dual exhaust portals.

The R-Line trim package made the Arteon look even more attractive by adding 19-inch two-tone wheels, a special grille with glossy black air inlets, unique badges, and a subtle lip spoiler on the end of the hatch lid.

  

2019 Volkswagen Arteon Interior

VW certainly did a great job styling the Arteon, but they weren't able to disguise the fact that it was a long car - 16 feet long, to be exact. The Arteon's MQB platform architecture gave it five more inches of wheelbase (111.7) than its CC predecessor. The upside was that the Arteon had plenty of space inside its Nappa leather-lined cabin. My girlfriend and I had no problems getting comfortable in the heated, 12-way power front seats. Legroom was plentiful in the 60:40-split second row. Opening that massive rear hatch exposed 27.2 cubic feet of storage space. I could more than double that to 55 cubic feet by lowering the rear seats.

The R-Line trim package dressed up the interior with stainless steel door sills and pedal covers, a black headliner, contrast stitching on the steering wheel and shift knob, and metallic trim.

 

Helpful and downright cool technology was abundant. Instead of traditional analog gauges, my test car had the Volkswagen Digital Cockpit, a 12.3-inch screen with 1,440X540 pixel resolution that could be configured to show five different readouts. My favorite was Navigation, not only because it was helpful, but also because I enjoyed seeing all of the colorful lines and shapes of the map fill the space between the tachometer and speedometer.

 

Of course, there was another screen in the middle of the dashboard. All Arteons have an 8.0-inch touchscreen; certain trim levels, including the SEL R-Line, come with VW's Discover Media system with 2.5D navigation, three USB ports, Bluetooth, and satellite and HD radio. The App-Connect interface allowed me to connect my iPhone XR to the Arteon through Apple CarPlay (App-Connect is also compatible with Android Auto and MirrorLink).

 

2019 Volkswagen Arteon Performance

A turbocharged and direct-injected 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 268 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque and an eight-speed automatic is standard across the entire Arteon lineup. My test vehicle routed its power through VW's 4MOTION all-wheel drive system. Under light load or while the Arteon was coasting, 4MOTION defaulted to front-wheel drive to help save fuel and contribute to my test car's EPA fuel economy ratings of 20 city, 27 highway, and 23 combined mpg.* If 4MOTION sensed any wheel slip, it would use the center differential to engage the rear wheels and enhance traction. The XDS cross-differential lock setup further enhanced the Arteon's driving dynamics by acting like a limited-slip differential and reducing understeer in turns.

With the push of a hard button or a tap on the touchscreen, I could put the Arteon into its Comfort, Normal, or Sport driving mode. I could kick things up a notch by adjusting a slider to put the car into a Comfort+ or Sport+ setting. I activated the regular Sport setting for a winding nighttime drive from Austin to Dripping Springs, Texas and found the suspension a little too soft for my liking. To me, the Arteon felt more natural in Normal mode, a balance between full-on soft and sporty.

  

2019 Volkswagen Arteon Safety

Many press cars are loaded with optional packages that add a variety of safety features. My Arteon media loaner didn't have any extra bells and whistles on it, but it still managed to provide an extensive array of safety technologies. Those included the modern standards such as a multitude of airbags (eight), tire pressure monitoring, and a rearview camera. Then there were the more advanced ones, which ranged from rain-sensing wipers to headlights that could steer into corners to Forward Collison Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Monitoring. The best bit of safety tech was the Adaptive Cruise Control with stop-and-go functionality for traffic jams because it was not only an additional layer of protection, but an undeniable convenience, too.

 

 

2019 Volkswagen Arteon Overall

Sedan sales numbers may be down, but if you look in the right places, you'll see that sedans are getting better in a variety of ways. The 2019 Volkswagen Arteon is an example of what happens when talented designers and thoughtful engineers decide to build a different kind of four-door car. 

For more information on the Arteon, head to your local AutoNation Volkswagen dealer, or check out our virtual showroom!

*Based on 2019 EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending on specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.

**MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.


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