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Midsize sedan review: Everything you need to know about the VW Arteon


The Arteon recently replaced the Volkswagen CC as the company’s flagship sedan. It is larger than the Volkswagen

Passat sedan and has a more powerful engine and more advanced suspension. It shares some interior tech with the Passat, as well as an 8-speed automatic transmission and available 4Motion all-wheel drive. It also features a hatchback vs. a trunk and has a more spacious interior.

The Arteon is built in Germany at VW’s Lower Saxony, Emden facility.

Is the 2020 Volkswagen Arteon reliable?

Although it’s too new to accurately say one way or the other, both the Passat and Jetta seem to be holding up fairly well. VW’s long-term reliability and resale figures have a spotty history, but seem to be doing better as of late. Still, we doubt the Arteon will come anywhere close to the resale and reliability marks found in the Honda Accord or Kia Stinger, but it will probably be on par with the Buick Regal Sportback.

Is the 2020 Volkswagen Arteon a good value?

If you’re a die-hard fan of German cars, the Arteon offers a way to get into something similar to a loaded A5 Sportback or BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe without the big price tag. However, with a price range between $35-45K, you could get more performance, features, and style from a rear-drive Kia Stinger. The Buick Regal Sportback also offers a reasonably priced alternative, as does the Honda Accord Sport, which forgoes the hatchback design and all-wheel-drive option, but can be had with a manual transmission.

KBB editors’ overview

With its premium amenities, artistically sculpted exterior, and clean, modern interior, the 2020 Volkswagen Arteon sits as a viable alternative to the smaller Audi A5 Sportback and more expensive Audi A7. This 5-passenger liftback sedan features an adaptive suspension with various driver modes for Comfort, Normal, and Sport as well as Comfort+ and Sport+ settings.

Also on MarketWatch:8 affordable new cars that get at least 40 mpg

The Arteon’s 268-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged engine is far from slow, but it doesn’t really deliver the kind of performance we’d expect at this price. We’re also not impressed by the fact that the Arteon’s full suite of driver assists is not standard across the line.

Rivals like the Kia Stinger offer the option of a twin-turbocharged V6, while comparably-equipped luxury models such as the Acura TLX and Nissan Maxima undercut the Arteon’ price. Still, if you hold German engineering in high regard, the 2020 VW Arteon is an affordable way to get it without compromising quality, features, safety, or style.

Driving the 2020 Volkswagen Arteon

We drove the Volkswagen Arteon on California’s smooth and sweeping Highway 33, which winds its way through the Los Padres National Forest and felt tailor-made for this VW, whose enviable ride comfort fortunately doesn’t come at the expense of good body control in turns.

Despite the large opening for the rear hatch, the Arteon’s unibody chassis felt tight, and the VW’s ’s turbocharged 2.0-liter engine — which produces 268 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 258 lb-ft of torque at only 1,950 rpm — didn’t feel overwhelmed by the Arteon’s approximately 3,500-pound curb weight. The engine delivered power in a smooth, linear fashion, while the 8-speed automatic transmission got its job done without calling much attention to itself. We liked its smooth shifts and its traditional P-R-N-D-L shift gate, which, unlike today’s raft of confusing electronic shifters, left no doubt as to which gear the Arteon was in.

Moreover, the shift paddles of the SEL Premium R-Line model we drove proved especially handy, particularly when downshifting for a turn and then powering out of said corner. In these deceleration situations, the throttle automatically blipped to smooth the downshifts, making it sound as if you were a driving pro. Then, during the many long corners that Highway 33 throws at you, the Arteon’s automatic torque vectoring would help keep VW’s new fastback sedan on its intended line, totally unbeknown to the driver.

Also see: 8 new luxury SUVs for under $50,000

This helped reduce understeer, while Sport mode — which firms the suspension and steering while also speeding up the sweep of the Arteon’s active LED headlights into corners — kept body roll in check. While it was nice to be driving an SEL Premium with standard 4Motion all-wheel drive — which can send as much as 50% of the power to the rear wheels — its value would have been better appreciated on tighter roads, or ones that are slick or slushy.

Favorite features

Driving Mode Selection-
As part of the 2020 VW Arteon’s standard fare, the Drive Mode Selection system allows the driver to select various performance modes via touchscreen inputs. The system works by modifying settings for suspension stiffness, throttle response and steering feel and operates in Comfort, Normal and Sport mode, which can be amplified by two additional settings: Comfort+ and Sport+.

Volkswagen Digital Cockpit-
The Digital Cockpit is a sight to behold. Standard on SEL and higher trims, the device replaces traditional analog gauges with a 12.3-inch digital display featuring five separate profiles. The screen can mimic an analog speedometer and tach, or fill the screen with the navigation map.

2020 Volkswagen Arteon interior

Riding on a 5-inch-longer wheelbase than the old Volkswagen CC, the 2020 VW Arteon has plenty of space for 6-footers with ample rear-seat legroom. Despite a sharply raked roofline and rear window, the rear seat cushions sit low enough that tall passengers won’t be bumping their heads at the roof’s edge. The Arteon is also wider than either the CC or Passat, so three across the rear seat is doable, even if just for short trips.

The overall feeling inside the cabin is one of reserved luxury, with handsomely styled seats that are also marvelously supportive, although some may find them a bit snug. The Arteon’s dash is hardly revolutionary, however, with lots of standard VW styling and switchgear. We do like the analog clock mounted high on the dash that brings a bit more elegance to the cabin.

Cargo space is also quite generous, thanks in no small part to the Arteon’s rear hatch design. When raised, it reveals 27.2 cubic feet of cargo space. Fold the 60/40-split rear seats flat, and that figure increases to 55 cubic feet. For reference, that’s enough room for two adults to roll out two sleeping bags and spend the night.

2020 Volkswagen Arteon exterior

Most people agree that the 2020 Volkswagen Arteon is a striking automobile, a sporty fastback sedan highlighted by prominent character lines that travel the length of the vehicle and terminate in a slatted grille with a large VW logo. It’s low and wide, the antithesis of a crossover SUV. We also like its sleek coupe-like roofline, its abundant chrome trim, its frameless side doors, and how the clamshell-style hood folds down on each side to meet the front fenders.

All told, this new VW looks refined, with the R-Line trim completing the look nicely with gloss-black bumper trim, badges on the grille and front fenders, a black trunk spoiler and 20-inch wheels.

2020 Volkswagen Arteon standard features

The entry-level Arteon, the SE, is well equipped with an 8-inch infotainment display, standard leatherette seats (heated in front), keyless access with a push-button starter, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto capability, Car-Net, and Wi-Fi hotspot plus 3-zone climate control.

Also standard are LED headlights, rain-sensing windshield wipers, the XDS differential-lock enhancement system, heated side mirrors, and cruise control. Standard safety systems include forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, rear cross-traffic alert, and blind-spot monitoring.

Order an Arteon SEL, and you’ll get the 12.3-inch digital instrument display, a panoramic sunroof, a Nappa leather interior, auto-dimming side mirrors, driver’s seat memory, adaptive headlights, and adaptive cruise control with stop & go feature.

2020 Volkswagen Arteon options

Most options are bundled according to trim. More notable upgrades available on the 2020 Volkswagen Arteon include 4Motion all-wheel drive, 19- or 20-inch wheels, and paddle shifters.

The R-Line includes special R-Line badging on the grille and front fenders, plus gloss-black trim on the bumpers and a black rear spoiler, stainless-steel scuff plates, and pedal caps, 20-inch wheels along with a unique steering wheel that has paddle shifters. Inside, the R-Line’s black headliner is complemented by contrast stitching on the steering wheel and shift knob.

The SEL Premium R-Line includes the R-Line’s features plus 4Motion, Lane Assist, rear park assist, auto high beams, a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, a 360-degree overhead camera system, ventilated front seats with a massaging driver’s seat and the 700-watt Dynaudio sound system. A power hatchback also is standard on the SEL Premium R Line — just swing your foot below the rear bumper and the hatch automatically opens.

2020 Volkswagen Arteon engine

The 2020 Volkswagen Arteon has only one engine, but it’s a good blend of power and fuel economy. The turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder, a direct-injected gasoline powerplant, puts out 268 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 258 lb-ft of torque at only 1,950 rpm, aided by variable intake and exhaust timing, together with variable-exhaust valve lift. Turbocharger boost arrives quickly to create a smooth swell of power. Premium fuel is recommended.

Also see: The 10 best new car models of 2020

Similarly, one transmission is available in the Arteon, an 8-speed automatic. Made by Aisin, this gearbox shifts smoothly and unobtrusively, and it reacts quickly to the shift paddles. The XDS Cross Differential system acts like a limited-slip differential, using the ABS and traction control systems to apply light brake pressure to the inside wheel when traveling at highway speeds. This system helps compensate for understeer during aggressive cornering.

  • 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4

  • 268 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm

  • 258 lb-ft of torque @ 1,950 rpm

  • EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/29 mpg (FWD), 20/29 mpg (AWD)
How much does the 2020 Volkswagen Arteon cost?

The most affordable 2020 Volkswagen Arteon, an SE model that comes with standard active suspension damping, a center differential lock, an 8-inch touchscreen, automatic emergency braking, and a blind-spot monitor, has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $35,995, not including the $1,020 destination charge. AWD, available on all new Arteon models, adds only $1,900.

The VW Arteon SEL, with leather seats, a panoramic sunroof, the digital cockpit, and adaptive cruise control, is priced at $39,995. It represents a lot of car for less than $40,000, which is why it’s the model KBB recommends. The SEL R-Line starts at $41,745 and the top SEL Premium R-Line 4Motion lists for $47,695.

Check the Fair Purchase Price calculator to see what others in your area have paid for their 2020 Arteon. The Arteon’s resale value is on the low side, far below the Kia Stinger, Audi A5 Sportback, and Honda Accord, but on par with the Buick Regal Sportback.

Which model is right for me?

2020 Volkswagen Arteon SE

  • Adaptive dampers

  • Keyless access and push-button start

  • 3-zone climate control
  • Heated 12-way power front seats with 4-way power lumbar

  • Automatic emergency braking

2020 Volkswagen Arteon SEL

  • 12.3-inch digital cockpit

  • Panoramic glass sunroof

  • Nappa leather seating

  • Navigation

  • Adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go feature

2020 Volkswagen Arteon SEL R-Line

  • R-Line front bumper and grille

  • 20-inch alloy wheels

  • R-Line steering wheel with paddle shifters

  • R-Line interior treatment

2020 Volkswagen Arteon SEL Premium R-Line

  • 4Motion all-wheel drive
  • Power rear liftgate

  • Dynaudio sound system

  • Heated rear seats and heated steering wheel

  • Ventilated front seats
2020 Volkswagen Arteon safety technology

Automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection

The Arteon’s standard automatic emergency braking can spot cars and pedestrians that may be at risk of collision and alert the driver. If no action is taken, at certain speeds the system can slow and even stop the vehicle, lessening or avoiding altogether a potential accident.

Also see: These 3 EVs are the lowest cost to own over 5 years

Adaptive cruise control with stop & go

Standard on SEL and higher trims, the adaptive cruise control helps keep a safe distance between the Arteon and the traffic ahead. When engaged, the system will maintain a set distance of your choosing and slow the vehicle as the traffic ahead slows. The system can even bring the Arteon to a full stop then accelerate back to the set speed once the coast is clear.

Lane–keeping assist

Available only on the top-line SEL Premium R-Line, this system uses cameras to track the lane markings and warn the driver if the vehicle is drifting from its lane. It does this with both visual and audible warnings. At speeds over 40 mph, the system will even countersteer to help lessen the drift.

Also see: 8 affordable new cars priced well below $20k

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