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2021 Volkswagen Arteon vs. 2021 Toyota Avalon: Which Is Better?

Full-size sedans are becoming rare, but as the 2021 Volkswagen Arteon and 2021 Toyota Avalon show, there are compelling reasons to buy. Here’s a closer look at Which is Better?

2021 Volkswagen Arteon

2021 Volkswagen Arteon

Base Price: $38,000 (est.) / Read our 2021 Volkswagen Arteon Review

What we like:  Practical liftback body style, Euro-inspired handling; standard adaptive suspension, sleek design 

What we would change: Add a V6 engine option, make active cruise control standard

Overview: Volkswagen’s flagship sedan offers a slightly different take on the genre by coming in a liftback body style. The hatch allows for greater utility and flexibility, just what the doctor ordered for those looking to transition back to a sedan from a crossover SUV. While the Arteon comes with only one engine choice, a 268-horsepower turbo 2.0-liter 4-cylinder, it does off all-wheel drive with the 4Motion option. We wish it would offer a V6. The styling is crisp, clean, and European, which is carried over into its excellent road manners. Contributing to that responsiveness is the standard adaptive suspension.

What’s new for 2021: The Arteon has a slightly tweaked exterior and a revised interior that boasts higher-grade materials and trims. Three new shades of white, red, and blue have been added to the palette. The 2021 Arteon goes on sale in November.

Features and technology: Volkswagen has streamlined the 2021 Arteon lineup to include just three trim levels, SE, SEL R-Line, and SEL Premium R-Line. The SE is available only with front-wheel drive, while the SEL R-Line has optional 4Motion and the SEL Prime R-Line has standard 4Motion.

Among the standard features on the base SE are active suspension damping, 12.3-inch digital gauges, an 8-inch infotainment display, leatherette seats, and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. The Arteon SEL R-Line and Arteon SEL Prime R-Line both get a Nappa leather interior and a panoramic sunroof along with adaptive headlights and adaptive cruise control. A hand’s free power hatchback also is standard on the SEL Premium R Line.

What does the future hold: Following this minor, Volkswagen has no major changes scheduled for the Arteon over the next two model years. See 2021 Volkswagen Arteon models for sale near you

2021 Toyota Avalon

2021 Toyota Avalon

Base Price: $36,930 / Read our 2021 Toyota Avalon Review

What we like: A wide range of engines including V6 and hybrid, available AWD, sporty TRD trim, Toyota reliability, and resale

What we would change: Less edginess to the styling, offer a plug-in version

Overview: As Toyota’s largest sedan, Avalon has plenty of room, standard V6 power, and AWD for the first time. Avalon also marks a break with Toyota’s history of building cars with so-so styling and handling. The exterior is crisply tailored, although some may criticize the nose as a bit overstyled. The chassis is improved to deliver handling almost on part with the Arteon. Further enhancing the product range are available AWD and a 44-mpg hybrid powertrain. The only knock on the AWD is that it comes with a 205-horsepower 2.5-liter 4-cylinder instead of the V6. In addition to a sport-tuned TRD version, Avalon offers a slick Nighshade Edition with blacked-out wheels and trim.

What’s new for 2021: The 2021 Avalon offers an AWD option for the first time on XLE and Limited trims and comes with a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine. Android Auto is now standard, joining the existing Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa integration. There’s also a Nightshade Edition with blacked-out wheels and trim.

Features and technology: There are four basic trim levels, XLE, XSE, Limited and Touring with TRD and Nightshade Edition packages. All models come with LED lighting, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, 17-in painted alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, 8-way adjustable front heated seats, as well as a 7-in digital instrument and 9-in infotainment displays.

Also standard is Toyota Safety Sense with a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane-departure alert with steering assist, automatic high beams and full-speed range adaptive cruise control. Available options include a power moonroof package with Qi wireless charging and an upgraded 14-speaker JBL audio system.

What does the future hold: With the addition last year of AWD and the TRD trim, we expect Toyota to stand pat on the current Camry lineup for the foreseeable future.  See 2021 Toyota Avalon models for sale near you

Arteon vs Avalon: Strengths comparison

Volkswagen Arteon Benefits: Flexible liftback body style, standard adaptive suspension

Toyota Camry Benefits: Standard V6, AWD and hybrid options, good resale value

Arteon vs Avalon: Which is better?

The Volkswagen Arteon has a generous cabin and the liftback only adds to the utility. However, the Toyota Avalon offers a wider range of powertrain choices including an efficient hybrid. We also think the Toyota is better on pricing, quality and resale value.

Find a Volkswagen Arteon for sale or Find a Toyota Avalon for sale

2021 VW Arteon 2021 Toyota Avalon
Popular Powertrains
Engine 2.0-liter turbo I4 3.5-liter V6
Horsepower 268 hp @ 5,500 rpm 301 hp @ 6,600 rpm
Torque 258 lb-ft @ 1,950 rpm 267 lb-ft @ 4,700 rpm
Transmission 8-spd automatic 8-spd automatic
Fuel Economy 25 mpg (22 city/29 hwy) 26 mpg (22 city/32 hwy)
Also Available AWD 2.5-liter 4-cylinder; Hybrid; AWD
Warranty 4 years/50,000 miles 3 years/36,000 miles
NHTSA Overall Safety Rating n/a 5 stars
Max Seating Capacity 5 5
Wheelbase 111.7 inches 113.0 inches
Overall Length 191.4 inches 195.9 inches
Width 73.7 inches 72.8 inches
Height 56.5 inches 56.5 inches
Turning Diameter 39.0 feet 37.7 feet
Headroom, Front 37.7 inches 38.5 inches
Headroom, Rear 37.0 inches 37.9 inches
Legroom, Front 41.2 inches 42.1 inches
Legroom, Rear 40.2 inches 40.3 inches
Shoulder Room, Front 56.5 inches 58.3 inches
Shoulder Room, Rear 54.7 inches 57.1 inches
EPA Passenger Volume 96.2 cu. ft. 104.3 cu. ft.
EPA Cargo Volume 27.2 cu. ft. 16.1 cu. ft.

Matt DeLorenzo
Matt DeLorenzo
Matt DeLorenzo is an author who specializes in writing news, advice, and car reviews. A member of the North American Car of the Year jury, he has spent more than four decades covering the auto industry and has held key posts at industry and consumer publications including Automotive News, AutoWeek, and Road & Track. He is also an author of automotive books including Modern Chrysler Concept... Read More about Matt DeLorenzo

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