|Positives: Noticeably quicker with the power increase, one of the most attractive mainstream sedans on the market, seriously beautiful wheels, ample space for all occupants, good steering, easy infotainment.
|Negatives: Bleeding into premium pricing territory, the interior could be fancier, not long for this world.
|Bottom Line: VW gives the Arteon the most power ever, just before they plan on killing it due to poor sales. It's too bad because the Arteon is potent, roomy, tractable, and safe. Its price toes the line between premium and non-premium, which is its downfall in addition to slowing sedan sales.
Volkwagen's rarely disappoint when it comes to the driving experience. The Arteon is noticeably more fun to drive with the power bump. Combined with the all-wheel drive, the Arteon is now an excellent sedan whose performance matches its looks.
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 jumps about a full second, dropping from six seconds to an even five. That's properly quick, and it can now run with most of its competitors.
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.
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.
The Arteon is one handsome sedan, especially with the turbine-style wheels and the R-Line package that gives it a more aggressive look.
Front: The big and wide six-bar grille with menacing headlights gives the front fascia sophistication and a look of power. The revised front fascia makes it look more sophisticated.
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.
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.
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 2021 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.
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.
Efficiency drops with the added horsepower, but it's not by much. That said, we weren't impressed by the Arteon's efficiency overall, but the AWD option's dropped mileage is part of the reason, a sacrifice we're happy to make for the added traction and off-the-line grip.
Observed: 21 mpg.
Distance Driven: 114 miles.
The Dynaudio premium digital sound system isn't present on the non-Premium trim, so we listened to the stock 8-speaker system. It's more than fine and delivers clear sound without the significant bass and fullness of the premium system.