2020 Volkswagen Arteon 2.0T SEL Premium R-Line Review

It's an uphill battle for this near-premium sedan


Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief



Positives: Truly attractive exterior design, convenient hatchback utility, huge rear legroom, nimble steering.
Negatives: Pricey for what you get, not exactly quick, somewhat low rent interior, could be another Phaeton.
Bottom Line: The Arteon is a sexy car, but it lacks important premium touches like a fancier interior and more power. In a segment that's becoming less relevant, it's an attractive contender for those who want style, room, and a subtlety premium image. It's not quite a sports sedan in terms of performance, but it's still a driver's car at heart.
For those who lament the impending death of the VW Passat (like us), as well as those sedans that died not that long ago (Ford Fusion, Chevy Malibu), there's a glimmer of hope in the more upscale Arteon. Fancier inside and out, the Arteon was the replacement for the slow-selling CC sedan. Sexier styling, more technology and more interior space than the CC, the Arteon is a fresh face in the lineup. It's also bigger inside and out, and it also carries on the four-door coupe look of the CC, albeit with better lines. It's a move toward premium design in a tough segment right now. We drove the top trim SEL R-Line turbo for a week to see how the Arteon stands out. Read ahead for our full review.
 

Driving Experience

7.3

 

Volkwagen's rarely disappoint when it comes to the driving experience. The Arteon exhibits a lot of the same great steering, handling, and road feel as its stablemates, but it just doesn't feel all that exhilarating in the power department. Just like the VW Passat falls short in its segment and price range, so does the Arteon.

Ride Quality: The Arteon's ride is commensurate with its premium image. The ride is smooth, controlled, and it manages uneven pavement with ease.

Acceleration: 0-60 comes in about six seconds, which isn't particularly quick for the segment. The Genesis G70 will crush it by a second and-a-half. It also feels a bit sluggish off the line.

Braking: The Arteon's brakes are good with solid feel and progression. It never feels grabby or numb.

Steering: Just like the Jetta and the Golf, the steering in the Arteon is crisp and has good effort. We had no trouble placing it into corners and negotiating a good exit line. Turn-in isn't as immediate as the Kia Stinger, but it's still pretty good.

Handling: Handling is good, but the Arteon doesn't instill sports sedan levels of confidence under harder driving. The Adaptive Suspension system is good, but it can't transform the Arteon into a carver.

Technology

8

 

While VW's tech systems aren't as sexy as those from Audi or BMW, they work really well. The layout is simple and easy to navigate. We just wish the infotainment didn't look so basic. The VW Virtual Cockpit is a nice feature that's standard at this trim level. It looks great, operates flawless, and puts key information front and center for the driver.

Infotainment System: The 8-inch touchscreen is a bit on the small side compared to competitors, but it looks crisp and manages sunlight well. It looks a little dated, some of it due to the fact that it sits in the dash versus on top like so many other sedans these days.

Controls: The black frame around the infotainment touchscreen lacks tactile control buttons, but at least there are physical knobs for audio. Climate controls are from other VWs, and they look and feel a bit cheap at this price. They work fine, but they're very plasticky.

Styling

8.8

 

The Arteon is a looker. Although some folks might not be able to tell it apart from a top trim Passat, it does look premium. We especially love the front end and the rakish roofline. It's too bad the interior isn't more a smidge more interesting.

Front: The big and wide six-bar grille with menacing headlights gives the front fascia sophistication and a look of power. It's going to get a bit more blingy in 2021 to further set the Arteon apart from the pack.

Rear: The rear end is clean and attractive, but it's not very distinct. We wish the taillights were a bit larger and more dramatically shaped.

Profile: Big creases over the fenders, a short front overhang, and the steeply angled roofline give the Areteon a handsome shape from the profile view, and those dark turbine wheels are stunning.

Cabin: The interior of the Arteon is cleanly designed, but it's not especially opulent the way the Genesis G70 is. There's still quite a bit of dark plastic and shiny piano black trim strewn about the cabin. The dark seats could've used some bright contrast stitching, at least for this sportier R-Line trim.

Comfort

8.8

 

If it's a roomy sedan you want, the Arteon delivers in spades. There's ample space in front and back, and both rows are comfortable. Many sedans lack rear legroom, but the Arteon is downright cavernous.

Front Seats: Despite the less than premium feel of the Titan Black leather seats, the support and cushioning are very good. There's also an airy feeling in the front row thanks to the thin dash, low center console, and good seating position.

Rear Seats: The back seats are nicely contoured and offer up a whopping 40.2 inches of legroom, which pretty much eclipses the competition. The Stinger has 36.4 inches.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): The Arteon is quiet and well built. Wind noise is also kept to a minimum.

Visibility: Thanks to sizable windows, a sloped hoodling, and good rear shelf height, sightlines in the Arteon are excellent. Only the dramatically sloped C-pillars get in the way.

Climate: Good heated and ventilated front seats complement the solid climate system that's easy to use and quick to fire up.

Safety

8.9

 

The Arteon's safety ratings are excellent, as is the level of standard safety tech. It hasn't been tested by both bodies, but the results are very positive from the IIHS.

IIHS Rating: The 2020 Arteon earned a Top Safety Pick rating with mild demerits with headlights and the LATCH system. Otherwise, it nails the crash tests with scores of "good".

NHTSA Rating: Not tested.

Standard Tech: Our tester came with a slew of standard safety tech, including all-speed Adaptive Cruise Control, Forward Collision Warning & Autonomous Emergency Braking, Blind Spot Monitor & Rear Traffic Alert, and a Lane Keeping System. The standard 4Motion all-wheel drive system for this trim level is great for inclement weather, too.

Optional Tech: None.

Storage/Cargo

8.6

 

Like some sedans are trying to do, the Arteon adds another dimension of practicality with its hatchback approach. It retains sedan lines but opens up more utility and space. The DNA from the CC carries on, and we laud VW for keeping it alive in the Arteon. The interior storage could be improved, however.

Storage Space: The base of the center stack has space for a phone to charge in the Qi-Wireless deck, and it can also accommodate small items. The armrest is midsized (deep but not especially long). Door pockets are decent, as well.

Cargo Room: The Arteon has 27.2 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, which is pretty huge for a sedan. That's a few cubes more than the Kia Stinger. Drop the seats down, and you get a whopping 55 cubic feet.

Fuel Economy

6.3

 

Although the Arteon isn't a standout in this segment when it comes to fuel efficiency, it pretty much matches the Kia Stinger 2.0-liter, as well as the Acura TLX. We drove on mostly local roads in Sport mode, so it did pretty well given the conditions.

Observed: 23.4 mpg.

Distance Driven: 83 miles.

Audio

8.6

 

The Dynaudio premium digital sound system delivers excellent sound, and we enjoyed listening to music at all ranges on our drive. There was no distortion, and the sound was clear. It's a good system that's standard at this trim level.



Final Thoughts

There's a lot to like about the Arteon, but there isn't enough to make it really stand out in the performance department. 268 horses seems potent, but it's fairly heavy. What the car does provide is tons of space, great exterior styling, and excellent safety ratings and features. If you don't care for the premium German brand cache but still want a semi-fancy sedan, the Arteon makes a good choice.
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