2019 Volkswagen Arteon SEL Premium 4MOTION new car reviews

In a time when most auto manufacturers are abandoning anything sedan-eqsue in droves for more-profitable C/X/SUVs, Volkswagen has mostly resisted by not only continuing to offer cars, but by developing a new one to reside in a niche segment occupied by much more expensive models. That new car? The Volkswagen Arteon.

Seen as a replacement for the handsome and long-discontinued Passat CC, the Arteon continues the coupe-like styling while offering four doors. Regardless of the anorak’s thoughts on a four-door being called a coupe, the Areton pulls off the look effortlessly. The Arteon comes standard with full LED lighting regardless of trim level, a welcomed change and hopefully a decision more automakers adopt. The LED lighting on the front end of the Areton is especially trick, and its integration with the grille is a striking design that makes the Areton feel as though it’s punching above its weight as a near-luxury car. It's also a hatch, which gives loads of space for whatever you may want to haul.

Like most of Volkswagen’s current lineup, the Arteon is based on the MQB platform. In short, this means that the wheelbase of the Arteon is five inches longer than the CC, with an overall length of about 191 inches. Passengers have plenty of room.

All Arteons come equipped with a 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder, which makes 268 horsepower. Sending that power to either the front wheels or all four is an eight-speed automatic standard across the entire range. 

Our tester was an SEL Premium, which comes standard with Volkswagen’s 4MOTION. The SEL Premium starts at $44,945, with ours coming in at $45,940 courtesy of the destination charge.

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Tim Suddard
Tim Suddard

The Arteon just shocked me. First, it is a big, sleek and just plain beautiful car. The looks are more stunning than anything in its class, and most other classes for that matter. From the near perfectly proportioned turbine-style, 19-inch allow wheels to the low roofline to the stunning flanks, this car is just beautiful. No awkward angles, no stupid-looking, gaping-mouth front end like its Audi brethren and other luxury cars from the Far East. This is, hands down, the most beautiful four-door sedan available today.

Stepping inside does not shatter the illusion that you are in a premium sedan. The Canyon Brown leather was well executed, extremely comfortable, and ergonomically palatable.

Until we looked at the sticker, we just assumed the car had a V6 or even V8 engine. We were shocked to find a 2.0-liter, direct injected, turbocharged inline four-cylinder under the hood. Coupled to an eight-speed automatic transmission with what VW calls 4Motion all-wheel-drive, power delivery is silky smooth; all this technology belies the engine’s small dimensions.

Out on the road, the Arteon is probably the smoothest and quietest car I have driven in a long, long time. Despite this car being perhaps too soft and plush or my tastes, I could easily get use to this kind of ride and performance. Driving the Arteon for nearly a week made me instantly put VW back on my list of must-have vehicles and made me start to think about relooking at tidier sized and less expensive Golf GTIs, or even Jettas as my next car. I guess this is exactly what a halo car is supposed to do.

As for price, this loaded Arteon stickered at a rather modest, for what you get, $44,945. You will need a lot more money if you want to shop Audis, Mercedes or BMW 5 Series cars.

All in all, the new Arteon should be a total homerun for Volkswagen and it is perhaps my favorite new car of anything I have driven in the last few years.

Jordan Rimpela
Jordan Rimpela

After being disappointed with the Atlas, I was not sure what to expect with the Arteon. On looks alone though, the Areton is a handsome car, especially in blue with the light brown leather seats. It’s a looker, but it doesn’t look substantial. The Phaeton suffered from the same issue, too. Don’t get me wrong, the front grille/headlight treatment is pretty sleek, but its profile doesn’t stand out. And maybe that’s a good thing—if anything, it doesn’t come off as over-styled.

No matter. From the driver’s seat it feels substantial, and that’s paramount in this segment. The infotainment is well thought-out, and the capacitive touch feature is pretty cool. The camera system too is well-executed and makes backing up much easier; rearward visibility is pretty meh given the coupe body style. Style points go to the pillarless door frames. That’ll never get old. Well the seals will, but that’s not my problem.

The engine was pretty decent and the car was plenty quick with a transmission that complemented the power well enough. Surprised that no VR6 is offered, though.

It’s nice to see Volkswagen fly in the face of reason and continue to produce more cars than utility vehicles, though I’m not sure how long this will be the case. The Arteon is an enjoyable car in a day when utility vehicles of the crossing over and sport variety rule the day.

Marjorie Suddard
Marjorie Suddard
General Manager

I did not expect to like the Arteon as much as I did, and I’ll go right ahead and admit that this was due in large part to the name.

What in actual hell is an Arteon? I’m even afraid to ask that question, knowing as I do that Tiguan is a mash-up of the German words for “tiger” and “iguana.” Really, VW, go straight for Liger and make us all respect you once again.

Or, fine, produce a really lovely sedan that turns heads, performs smoothly, and makes even a jaded veteran of the automotive media think, “I could really live with this. Too bad it’s going to be badly depreciated and sporting electrical issues after a couple of years.”

Prove me wrong, VW, and I’ll not only consider buying one, I’ll let you call it whatever you want. Which, clearly, you are already doing.

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View comments on the GRM forums
JesseWolfe New Reader
10/17/19 11:48 a.m.

Having had a first generation CC, pre-facelift, the body lines on this car are too busy.  It's gone from subtly classy to over-the-top sporty.  It still catches my eye when I see one in the wild, but it's too much hard edged styling for me.  My 13 year old son was instantly drawn to it when we were in the VW dealerships earlier this year though.

nderwater UltimaDork
10/17/19 12:40 p.m.

VW has sold about 1,500 of these in the US market so far. Not sure what the business case was for this vehicle.

MadScientistMatt PowerDork
10/17/19 2:35 p.m.

It's nice to see somebody has realized that current fastback bodies should be full sized hatchbacks instead of going for micro-trunk openings.

nutherjrfan UberDork
10/18/19 8:01 p.m.

Arteon.  Sounds like some posh British actress' name.

Good looking car.  The CC was also a great looking car.  smiley

TR7 Reader
10/21/19 9:43 a.m.
MadScientistMatt said:

It's nice to see somebody has realized that current fastback bodies should be full sized hatchbacks instead of going for micro-trunk openings.

Agreed. I have been mildly annoyed that things like the new mustang arent a liftback. 

Vigo MegaDork
10/21/19 2:51 p.m.

I'm glad the CC has a name now but I also think it has lost some of its overt specialness. I think VW's main struggle with this car will be getting people next to, inside, or driving it in the first place. It's probably fairly good but outside of a 'blind taste test' type of scenario I don't know how you get someone who isn't actively seeking it out to even give it a shot. 

Dave M
Dave M Reader
10/21/19 8:14 p.m.
nderwater said:

VW has sold about 1,500 of these in the US market so far. Not sure what the business case was for this vehicle.

Two words:





It's just gravy if they sell any here. The US market is Tiguan, Atlas and GTI (and Audi and Porsche).

nderwater UltimaDork
10/21/19 8:38 p.m.

FWIW, it doesn’t look like this car is sold in China frown

Jordan Rimpela
Jordan Rimpela GRM+ Memberand Digital Editor
10/21/19 8:54 p.m.

This could be a hell of a bargain in 5 years. 

irish44j MegaDork
10/21/19 9:02 p.m.

A shame it's automatic-only. I'm the demographic for a car like this (and yes, I've actually bought my last two cars brand new), and I'd  certainly consider it with a manual. It's really a nice-looking car with some great features (like the true liftback). Since I imagine the FWD version is basically the same drivetrain as the GTI, it wouldn't be a stretch to make some available with the GTI's lovely 6MT. But such is life. I'll stick with my GTI. 


Jordan Rimpela
Jordan Rimpela GRM+ Memberand Dork
4/26/21 6:49 a.m.
Jordan Rimpela said:

This could be a hell of a bargain in 5 years. 

Well, not yet. Also, I rarely--if ever--see these.

paddygarcia GRM+ Memberand Reader
4/26/21 8:01 a.m.

Sold in China as the CC.  

Apparently closer to 5k sold here since launch but in a good month they sell almost that many in China...

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