The 2020 Volkswagen Arteon is one of the best-looking new vehicles on the market today, and offers some compelling features in a bold hatchback design. That said, things in the auto industry are different now compared to 10 years ago, when VW found success with the Arteon’s successor, the CC. At the time, Volkswagen was a first-mover in a trend toward curvy, coupe-like sedans, and automakers from Audi to Ford to Honda would soon follow suit. Today, things are different, and the market for midsize sedans is drying up in favor of sport utility vehicles. Despite this, last year Volkswagen rolled out the Arteon as the CC’s replacement. Does the market demand another semi-premium midsize sedan? Time will tell. But one thing’s for sure: The Arteon is certainly a head-turner.
What’s New for 2020?
After being introduced as an all-new model for 2019, not a lot changes with the 2020 Volkswagen Arteon. SEL models now come standard with 19-in wheels, while SEL Premium models come standard with 20-in wheels. See the 2020 Volkswagen Arteon models for sale near you
What We Like
- Gorgeous styling
- Modern technology
- Practical yet subtle hatchback design
- Decent 4-year/50,000-mile warranty
What We Don’t
- 2019 models came with a 6-year/72,000-mile warranty
- Underwhelming fuel economy
- Lacks a premium powertrain
- VW has a track record for poor reliability
- The VW lineup needs more SUVs, not more sedans
Under the hood of every 2020 Volkswagen Arteon is a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine putting out 268 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque and paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission. These are respectable figures for a mainstream midsize sedan, but given the Arteon’s upscale positioning (not to mention upscale pricing), we’d like to see more power. With front-wheel drive (FWD), the new Arteon receives Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fuel economy ratings of 22 miles per gallon in the city, 31 mpg on the highway and 25 mpg in combined driving. With VW’s optional all-wheel drive (AWD) system, the Arteon returns just 20 mpg city/27 mpg hwy/23 mpg combined. We can’t help but be underwhelmed by these figures in an era where most midsize sedans consistently return combined fuel economy in the high 20s.
The Arteon comes with a comprehensive array of available active safety features, although many are reserved for upper trims. Blind spot monitoring and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection are standard, while adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, lane-keeping assist, a 360-degree camera with park assist and front and rear parking sensors, and rear cross-traffic monitoring with rear cross-traffic braking are all introduced on upper trims. Since numerous economy cars from other automakers offer these features as standard, we think more should be available on the Arteon’s lower trims.
While it earns scores of "Good" in all crashworthiness test, the Arteon earns a "Poor" in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) headlight test, and thus misses out on any kind of award.
Standard Features & Options
While the Arteon technically comes in just two trim levels — SE and SEL — VW breaks the range out into five different models on the Arteon’s online configurator. Only the base SE model is available with FWD — all other trims come standard with AWD.
SE — $36,840
The Base Arteon comes with FWD, along with LED lighting, rain-sensing windshield wipers, access to VW’s CarNet app connect system and selectable drive modes along with a dynamic chassis control system, which allows you to adjust the firmness of the shock absorbers. 18-in wheels come standard, as do heated front seats and an 8-in infotainment screen.
SE 4Motion — $38,640
The SE 4Motion adds AWD to the base SE trim at a premium of $1,800.
SEL 4Motion — $42,790
SEL models come with 19-in wheels, leather seating, navigation, a digital gauge cluster, a sunroof, adaptive cruise control, ambient interior lighting and more.
SEL R-Line 4Motion — $45,555
R-Line models gain a unique front bumper and wheels along with ‘R-Line’ badging.
SEL Premium R-Line 4Motion — $47,205
At the top of the lineup sits the SEL Premium R-Line model. In addition to everything offered on lesser trims, the Arteon SEL Premium comes with unique 20-in wheels, a Dynaudio-branded premium sound system, a massaging driver’s seat, ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel and heated rear seats.
Behind the Wheel
The Arteon is designed to be a more premium vehicle than a comparably equipped Jetta or Passat, and this is evident from behind the wheel. Both a higher end design and higher end materials are found throughout its cabin than in those of the lesser sedans in Volkswagen’s lineup. VW’s infotainment system is good and offers Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility. While early examples of its predecessor came with seating for only four, the Arteon offers seating for five, and despite its sharply sloping rear roofline, space is good. In terms of size, the Arteon offers more rear legroom than the Passat, and falls right in between the VW Group’s other two 4-door coupe offerings, the Audi A5 and A7, in terms of overall size.
Steering is dialed in, eliciting comparisons to VW’s handling darling, the Golf GTI. With a 0-to-60 mph time of 5.9 seconds, the Arteon isn’t slow, but it isn’t particularly quick either, at least not by present-day standards.
While the old CC had a traditional trunk lid, the Arteon ups its game by offering a hatchback. The rear hatch allows for a massive rear cargo opening, making it easier to load and unload large items.
Other Cars to Consider
2020 Volkswagen GLI — Like the Arteon, the GLI was all-new for 2019. While it’s FWD only, the GLI comes in at a much lower price than the Arteon, and offers dialed-in driving dynamics shared with its hatchback counterpart, the GTI.
2020 Audi A4 — No, the Arteon isn’t just a rebadged A4, but the two vehicles come from the same parent company and utilize similar powertrains. Additionally, both are available with AWD. While the Arteon is a premium car wearing an economy car badge, the A4 actually wears a luxury car emblem, which is likely to give it broader appeal. The A4 starts at about $40,000 and tops out at around $55,000.
2020 Honda Accord — Staying away from a German car altogether might be a good idea, given the maintenance issues that can arise once the miles start to add up. The Accord offers industry-leading resale value, good driving dynamics and a sleek, modern design.
2020 Hyundai Sonata — All-new for 2020, the Sonata wears coupe-like styling, just like the Arteon. It also costs significantly less than the VW. Hyundai’s interiors have gotten quite good in the past few years, and combined with the company’s knack for offering potent turbocharged powertrains and an incredible warranty, expect the Sonata to offer considerably more value than the Arteon.
If you’ve resisted the push toward SUVs, and are willing to pay a premium for a stylish, upscale sedan with a VW badge on the hood, then the Volkswagen Arteon is worth a look. When it comes down to it, though, as buyers demand more space, practicality and capability from their vehicles, the market for sedans is dwindling, and the market for upscale sedans from mainstream manufacturers is likely to be the first casualty. Additionally, while it was all-new in the U.S. just last year, the Arteon has now been in production in other markets for about three years, so it isn’t as "new" as you might think. Given all this combined with its steep price, unremarkable powertrain and VW’s reputation for poor long-term reliability, the Arteon isn’t an easy sell. Still, it’s among the best looking vehicles on the market and comes with an above average warranty. We just don’t expect it to be a big seller here in the States. For some buyers though, that might make it even more appealing. Find a Volkswagen Arteon for sale