2019 Volkswagen Arteon

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Andrew Ganz Andrew Ganz Senior Editor
May 1, 2019

Buying tip

The 2019 Volkswagen Arteon SEL balances luxury and value best.

features & specs

20 city / 27 hwy
22 city / 31 hwy
20 city / 27 hwy

The 2019 Volkswagen Arteon is a style statement with an added dose of practicality.

The 2019 VW Arteon is a mid-size sedan that straddles the line between mainstream and luxury, with a stylish body that disguises its impressive utility.

We rate the 2019 Arteon at 6.4 out of 10, a figure that could climb once it’s crash-tested. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

With the Arteon, VW upgrades a Passat-sized sedan with more power, and with high-tech features such as a digital instrument cluster and a massaging driver’s seat as the lineup climbs from SE to SEL, and SEL Premium trim levels.

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The Arteon replaces the slow-selling VW CC and plugs a hole in the automaker’s lineup that probably didn’t need to be filled. At least it’s pretty, with a gaping grille, a dashing roof line, and a pert tail that’s actually a hatchback, not a conventional trunk. Inside, the Arteon has a clean, functional look that’s best with the leather upholstery and wood-style trim found in SEL trims.

Like nearly every other car in VW’s lineup, the Arteon is powered by a 2.0-liter turbo-4. Here, it’s paired to an 8-speed automatic transmission and its 268 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque goes to either the front or all four wheels. The Arteon accelerates briskly, though its ride is soft in most of its adaptive suspension’s modes. It handles adeptly, but with most of its personality filtered out of its thick-rimmed steering wheel. With all-wheel drive, it’s only marginally more fuel-efficient than some crossover SUVs, however.

Inside, the new Arteon has a comfortable, spacious interior that can handle four passengers, and the low roofline doesn’t cut too much into rear head room, though the door openings are small. As a hatchback, the Arteon has unusually good cargo utility. Fold its rear seats and it’ll swallow 55 cubic feet of luggage, which isn’t far off of some SUVs.  

Its looks may put shoppers in the driver’s seat more than its value. Starting at around $36,700, the Arteon is expensive for a sedan with synthetic leather upholstery, though it does have a crisp 8.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment and standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Adding all-wheel drive pushes the price to $38,800. Shoppers will need to fork over about $41,000 for nappa leather, a power moonroof, adaptive cruise control, and a digital instrument cluster. Those are luxury car features—for luxury car money, unfortunately.


2019 Volkswagen Arteon


The 2019 VW Arteon is prettier than most mid-size sedans thanks to its fine detailing and evocative fastback shape.

In a sea of mid-size sedans that are no longer dull, the 2019 VW Arteon stands out for its cohesive styling.

Overall, we rate the 2019 Arteon at 7 out of 10, with two points awarded for its good-looking exterior. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The Arteon is hardly the first sedan with a sloping roofline and a wide front grille, though it’s not technically a sedan. Honda, Ford, and Hyundai helped make svelte standard for the masses, but their four-doors lack the utilitarian hatchback of the Arteon. Wide, pinched taillights wrap from its rear fenders into its hatchback lid, which features an integrated spoiler and will likely fool those unaware that it opens to reveal a spacious cargo hold. Up front, the Arteon charts a different course, with a grille that digs deep into the front bumper. Its big hood dives deep into the fenders to create what designers call a “clamshell.”

The chrome grille’s bars give the illusion of width and we like how they integrate into the LED running lamps. From the side, the Arteon has an elongated bod that reminds us it’s reasonably well-suited for passengers in the back seat, unlike the cramped CC.

A $1,265 R-Line appearance package adds a fussy body kit. Upgrading to 20-inchers costs $500 more, but we’d save our money and stick with the standard wheels since they fill out the wheel wells just fine and have taller sidewalls that absorb bumps better.

The Arteon is a letdown when it comes to its interior, which lacks the special feel we’d expect from a car VW bills as its flagship sedan. The dashboard is ordinary, with controls arrayed conveniently around and below the 8.0-inch touchscreen. Base Arteon SE models have plain gauges with a small LCD screen that would look average on a car half its price, but the digital instrument cluster fitted to the SEL trim looks far richer.

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2019 Volkswagen Arteon


Don’t look to the 2019 VW Arteon for pulse-raising performance.

The 2019 VW Arteon isn’t sure what it wants to be when it grows up. It’s comfortable and plush, but also reasonably fast and quick-witted. Though VW’s new sedan is light on emotional appeal, it will satisfy most drivers with its refinement.

Overall, we’re conflicted, and our 7 out of 10 rating reflects extra points for its strong acceleration and the highly adjustable ride provided by its adaptive dampers. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Just one engine is offered in the 2019 Arteon, and it’ll be familiar to anyone who’s visited a VW showroom recently. The 2.0-liter turbo-4 belts out 268 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque through a slick-shifting 8-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is a $2,000 option on SE and SEL trims. AWD is standard on the Arteon SEL.

Underneath, the Arteon shares VW’s modular architecture used in nearly everything from its little Golf hatchback to its bulky Atlas SUV (although the similarly sized Passat sedan rides on an older platform). VW’s new sedan weighs a relatively lithe 3,655 pounds in front-wheel-drive guise. Adding all-wheel drive bulks it up by about 200 pounds.

There’s breadth and depth to the way its multi-link suspension and stiff structure take on the road. The Arteon drives like a VW, which is to say that it’s immensely capable and competent, if short on emotional appeal. Its engine provides brisk, nearly silent scoot and is aided by the quick reflexes of the 8-speed automatic transmission. Oddly, paddle shifters are relegated to the SEL Premium and the R-Line appearance package.

Bend the Arteon through a twisty road, as we did on an initial preview drive near Santa Barbara, California, and it feels unflappably confident if short on entertaining. VW builds zip into this platform in its GTI, but the Arteon’s adaptive dampers would rather smother expansion joints than hold a corner. Those dampers offer an unusual degree of customization via a “soft” to “firm” slider buried in the infotainment screen. On soft, the car takes big bumps in stride. Move the slider all the way to firm, and it’s sports-car stiff, perhaps too much so for our taste. Still, it’s nice to have the option.

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The Arteon excels on the open road as it settles into a quiet, comfortable cruiser. If only adaptive cruise control was standard fare on the base Arteon SE.

2019 Volkswagen Arteon

Comfort & Quality

The 2019 VW Arteon is exceptionally spacious, though its low roofline trims interior space.

Hatchbacks tend to be more practical than sedans. The 2019 VW Arteon does not disappoint.

We arrive at a 6 out of 10 for its interior accommodations, which isn’t a great score for a flagship sedan. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Front-seat passengers have good space and are treated to 12-way power-adjustable seats. Cargo has room to stretch out, too. With the rear seats upright, the Arteon can swallow nearly 23 cubic feet of luggage. Fold the rear seats and that figure grows to a hefty 55 cubes.

Rear-seat passengers have good space once they’ve ducked their heads and climbed aboard. There’s plenty of leg room—40.2 inches, per VW’s tape measures—but the door opening is small and the short side windows make outward vision for back-seat riders a gun-slit affair.

As a range-topping, design-driven model, the Arteon should earn a point for its interior finish. It’s surprisingly ordinary inside and devoid of leather-wrapped, French-stitched, synthetic suede, and open-pore wood flourishes that make rivals feel special.

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2019 Volkswagen Arteon


The 2019 VW Arteon has not been crash-tested.

Until federal and independent testers see fit to smack the pretty new 2019 VW Arteon into a wall, we’ll have to hold off on a rating for its safety. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

All versions of the 2019 Arteon come standard with the basics—at least the basics we expect for $37,800. Automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitors, and rear cross-traffic alerts complement eight airbags and a post-collision system that holds the brakes to prevent the sedan from rolling into another vehicle after an impact.

Arteon SELs add adaptive cruise control and adaptive headlights, while the SEL Premium tosses in active lane control, automatic high-beam headlights, and a surround-view camera system.

Should the Arteon sense a collision with a pedestrian, the hood’s hinges can automatically push upward two inches at the rear to help reduce the risk of injuries.


2019 Volkswagen Arteon


The 2019 Volkswagen Arteon is well equipped, as it should be at these prices.

The 2019 VW Arteon is available in three trim levels that range from about $36,700 to nearly $48,000 with every option selected. That pricing puts the car in a gray zone between mainstream competitors such as the Honda Accord and luxury sedans such as the Audi A4.

Overall, we rate the 2019 Arteon at 8 out of 10, giving it points above average for its generous standard fare, its good infotainment system, and its generous warranty. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The Arteon SE anchors the lineup with some active safety features, synthetic leather upholstery, power-adjustable and heated front seats, keyless ignition, and an 8.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. It’s not spartan, but a Honda Accord Touring costs less and delivers more—except for the warranty. The Arteon comes with a 6-year, 72,000-mile coverage that earns it a point on our scale.

We’d put our money on the Arteon SEL. It costs about $40,900 and adds nappa leather upholstery, a power moonroof, navigation, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, adaptive cruise control, and remote start.

The SEL Premium tops the lineup at a hefty $45,900 with cooled front seats, a heated steering wheel, a massaging driver’s seat, and a few other extravagances we’d skip in favor of similarly priced luxury sedans. Passing on the $1,300 R-Line appearance package with its overwrought bumpers is also a smart call.

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2019 Volkswagen Arteon

Fuel Economy

The 2019 Volkswagen Arteon is shapely, but not frugal.

Select all-wheel drive, as Volkswagen expects most buyers will do, and the 2019 VW Arteon is surprisingly thirsty. We rate the lineup at 4 out of 10 based on its 20 mpg city, 27 highway, 23 combined ratings using the EPA’s test. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

That’s not very good. The 22/31/25 mpg promised by the front-wheel-drive Arteon is better, but not good. Concerningly, all versions of the Arteon are tested using premium unleaded, although VW says the cars can be run on regular unleaded in a pinch.  

Don’t look for electrification here, either. VW said not to expect a hybrid Arteon.

Competitors are universally thriftier. With their turbo engines, the front-wheel-drive Mazda 6 and Honda Accord sedans are rated as high as 26 mpg and 27 mpg combined. Even more powerful rivals such as the Acura TLX and Volvo S60 also best the Arteon in the EPA’s testing.

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