2019 Arteon: Volkswagen releases sedan packed with luxury features
Last time Volkswagen tried to entice American motorists with a full-blown luxury car, it didn’t go well. The Phaeton managed to find about 3,300 U.S. buyers between 2003 and 2007. It was a better car than that, but it was priced at a decidedly un-Volkswagen-like $70,000-plus. Wealthy American drivers may have been able to justify spending that much on a European luxury car, but not on a Volkswagen.
Twelve years after the Phaeton departed the scene, Volkswagen is trying again, though with more modest prices and objectives. New to the U.S. market is the Arteon, a 4-door sedan/hatchback. People who are considering buying a midsize-to-large Audi, BMW, Acura, Lexus or Infiniti may find the Arteon’s packaging appealing.
The Arteon is a big, roomy, near-luxury sedan-hatchback — more on that later — that is priced from $35,845. Our 2019 Arteon Premium R-Line test car with all-wheel drive was priced at $47,705.
We had the privilege of taking a pair of three-hour drives in the Arteon, and quickly learned two things about it. First, it delivers considerably more than its rated 27 mpg on the highway, though it also requires premium unleaded gasoline. Second, it provides a restful environment that leaves drivers and passengers feeling refreshed after a long cruise.
It’s also a highly functional vehicle that happens to look stunning, too. It has one of the roomiest back seats we’ve seen in some time. Then there’s that “sedan-hatchback” design. Essentially, the Arteon looks like a sedan with a short trunk lid, but pop it open by flipping the VW badge and the large, steeply raked rear window rises with it. The trunk deck is long, has a wide opening, and can be extended by lowering the back seat. The Arteon’s luggage capacity is 27 cubic feet; its maximum cargo capacity, 55 cubic feet. Those are big numbers for a luxury car.
Built in Emden, Germany, of mostly German and Hungarian components, the Arteon is loaded with standard luxury features in its higher-end incarnations. Its many desirable features include three-zone automatic climate control, heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, heated outboard rear seats, Nappa leather upholstery, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, lane keeping system, remote engine start, 8-inch touchscreen display, navigation system, and power tilting and sliding panoramic sunroof.
The infotainment system includes satellite radio, voice control, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Bluetooth connectivity.
2019 Volkswagen 2.0T SEL Premium R-Line with 4Motion
Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged inline Four, 268 horsepower, 258 lb-ft. torque
Transmission: 8-speed shiftable automatic
Weight: 3,854 lb.
Suspension: MacPherson strut front, independent with wishbone and steering arm rear
Wheels: 20-in. alloy
Tires: P245/35R20 all-season
Seating capacity: 5
Luggage capacity: 27.2 cu. ft.
Maximum cargo capacity: 55 cu. ft.
Fuel capacity: 17.4 gallons
Fuel economy: 20 mpg city, 27 mpg highway
Fuel type: Premium unleaded gasoline
Top-drawer versions of the Arteon come with 20-inch, low-profile tires that add to the car’s good looks but may detract from its ride, handling and interior noise level. Somewhat to our surprise, we didn’t find ourselves wishing for the 18- or 19-inch tires that come standard on base or mid-range models. Still, comparative test drives are advisable. We did hit one bump that proved jarring — just one — and wondered whether the 20-inch tires were a factor.
Steven Macoy (email@example.com) is a longtime car enthusiast and full-time editor who lives in Bethel.