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2020 Volkswagen Arteon Review

LIKES
  • Shapely bod
  • Spacious cargo hold
  • Strong engine
  • Long warranty
DISLIKES
  • Not a great value
  • Thirsty turbo-4
  • Could be more engaging
  • Interior not up to par
BUYING TIP
  • Stick with the 2020 VW Arteon SEL as the best balance of value and luxury.
The 2020 Volkswagen Arteon is a spacious, stylish choice, though its price is high.

For those turned off by the idea of a crossover SUV, the 2020 Volkswagen Arteon stands at the ready. The stylish, sporty hatchback boasts a spacious cargo hold, upmarket features, and impressive handling. All of that comes at a price, though: starting at around $37,000, the 2020 Arteon must fend off fierce competitors and swanky luxury-brand cars, not to mention crossover SUVs. 

Overall, we rate the 2020 Arteon at 6.4 out of 10.

Available in SE, and SEL trim levels, the 2020 Arteon is a European-style five-door hatchback with more cargo room and a plusher interior than the automaker’s comparatively pedestrian Passat. Though reworked for 2020, the Passat has been pushed downscale to make room for the aspirational Arteon.

A 268-horsepower version of VW’s 2.0-liter turbo-4 shuttles power through an 8-speed automatic transmission to either the front wheels or all four wheels for about $1,800 more. Fuel economy is a low point, especially the 23-mpg combined all-wheel-drive version. A standard adaptive suspension helps give the Arteon a controlled, stable ride that can be firmed up at the touch of a button for jaunts down a winding road. 

The Arteon has a subtly sporty feel inside to go with its dashing, low-roof style. It seats five passengers, and while head room is acceptable, the low doors can make climbing aboard a challenge for taller passengers. Synthetic leather is standard while soft nappa leather is optional, and range-topping versions even have a massaging driver’s seat to reduce road-trip fatigue. The Arteon’s pert tail opens to reveal a large cargo hold capable of swallowing an SUV-rivaling 55 cubic feet of luggage with the rear seat folded. 

There’s no crash-test data yet, but automatic emergency braking is standard. The standard 8.0-inch touchscreen features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility and can include navigation on high-spec models. A wi-fi hotspot is standard, though using the service requires paying a subscription charge.

Styling
The 2020 Volkswagen Arteon is a stylish choice with great attention to detail outside, even if its interior is a letdown.

The 2020 Volkswagen Arteon grabs attention wherever it goes. With its low roof, sloping rear window, and intricate details, it’s a subtly extroverted sedan that looks a cut above anything else in the VW stable.

We rate the 2020 Arteon at 7 out of 10 points, awarding it a pair of points above average for its attractive exterior.

Other automakers have tried the sloped-roof sedan shape before, including VW with its own CC, and yet the Arteon was worth the wait. Its grille cuts well into the front bumper, giving way up top to a clamshell-style hood that drapes into the front bumpers. The low roofline is what grabs attention first, and yet our favorite element might be the taut, pinched taillights at the rear. Optional 19-inch wheels help fill the Arteon’s big wheel wells, even though they’re shod in pricey tires. We’d skip the costly R-Line appearance package optional on the Arteon SEL and its 20-inch wheels, though they look fantastic on the road. 
Inside, the Arteon has more in common with the VW Passat than we think a car priced at around $40,000 should. The plainly styled dash has little of the exterior’s flair, and even the available interior hues and trim panels don’t shout the way the rest of the Arteon does.

Performance
The refined 2020 Volkswagen Arteon is short on thrills but high on refinement.

As a long-distance cruiser, the 2020 VW Arteon excels. It’s a sedate, refined car well suited to the open road. We rate it at 7 out of 10 on account of its good acceleration and the comfortable ride delivered by its adaptive suspension. 

A 2.0-liter turbo-4 shuttles power to either the front or all four wheels in the 2020 Arteon through an 8-speed automatic transmission. With 268 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, the turbo-4 provides good acceleration, despite a nearly 3,900-pound curb weight on the most plush versions. Optional paddle shifters provide good control, though we’re surprised they’re not fitted as standard. 

The stiff structure pairs well with the standard adaptive suspension, which can be softened or firmed up through a menu buried in the infotainment screen. A sport drive mode increases steering heft, though the Arteon never feels especially nimble on a winding road. The multi-link rear suspension and 111.7-inch wheelbase are instead better suited to soaking up big bumps, though the newly standard 19-inch wheels provide a firmer ride than last year’s standard 18-inchers. Where the Arteon works best is with the optional adaptive cruise control engaged and a long ribbon of blacktop splayed out ahead. 

Comfort & Quality
A spacious cargo hold elevates the 2020 VW Arteon above the mid-size sedan norm.

It may not be as practical as a conventional wagon, but the 2020 VW Arteon has a useful hatchback that opens wide to reveal a luggage-swallowing cargo bay.

We wind up at a 6 out of 10, with a point above average for utility and another for front-seat comfort. Low door openings mean we dock the Arteon a point, however.

The Arteon’s seats are draped in hard-wearing synthetic leather or soft nappa hides depending on the trim level. The 12-way power-adjustable front seats offer an unusual amount of adjustment, and a massaging driver’s seat is on the options list. Sorry, passengers. The rear seat has space for three in a pinch.
Head room may be a challenge for taller riders no matter the seat: Up front, there is 37.7 inches, while rear-seat riders have just 37 inches of top-hat space. For cargo, VW provides 27.2 cubic feet of space—or 55 cubic feet when the rear seats are folded down.

VW positions the Arteon as an entry-level luxury car, and yet its interior lacks the special trims and hues found in so many rivals. Even a dash of fake wood trim would spruce things up, at least a little.

Safety
The 2020 VW Arteon has not been crash-tested.

The 2020 Volkswagen Arteon boasts a full complement of collision-avoidance technologies, but its pretty face has met neither the NHTSA’s nor the IIHS’ walls. Until it’s tested, we’ll have to hold off assigning a score. 

Standard fare across the lineup includes automatic emergency braking, cross-traffic alerts, and blind-spot monitors as well as a system that locks up the brakes if it detects a collision to prevent the car from rolling into another vehicle. Uniquely, the Arteon’s hood can pop up to lessen the blow if the car makes impact with a pedestrian.

The Arteon SEL trim level adds adaptive cruise control, while active lane control, automatic high-beam headlights, and a surround-view camera system are relegated to the SEL Premium only.

Features
As its high price suggests, the 2020 VW Arteon is well-equipped.

Starting at around $37,000, the 2020 Volkswagen Arteon splits the difference between mainstream rivals such as the Honda Accord and higher-end luxury competitors including the Mercedes-Benz C-Class. The 2020 Arteon rates 8 out of 10 points on our scale for its wide array of standard equipment, its warranty, and its quality infotainment system.

The base Arteon SE includes synthetic leather-upholstered seats that are heated and power-adjustable up front, keyless ignition, and an 8.0-inch touchscreen fitted with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. All-wheel drive costs about $1,800 extra. 

The Arteon SEL makes more sense to us with its leather upholstery, power moonroof, and 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster. Look to spend about $41,000 and it’s a compelling alternative to similarly priced luxury rivals. We’re less thrilled with the $47,000 VW charges for the Arteon SEL Premium with the mandatory R-Line appearance package and all-wheel drive, though the cooled front seats and massaging driver’s seat may tempt high-mile drivers.
No matter the trim level, all Arteons are covered by a 4-year, 50,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty that includes two years of free maintenance. That’s down from 6 years and 72,000 miles last year.

Fuel Economy
The 2020 VW Arteon has a slippery shape that doesn’t translate into a fuel-saver.

Most 2020 Volkswagen Arteons are sold with all-wheel drive, which makes them unimpressively thirsty sedans. We rate the Arteon at just 4 out of 10 accordingly.

The all-wheel-drive Arteon is rated at 20 mpg city, 27 highway, 23 combined, while front-drive versions are rated at a comparatively miserly 22/31/25 mpg. A hybrid Arteon would make a lot of sense, but VW has no plans to build one.

Competitors with similar power outputs such as the Mazda 6 and Honda Accord are rated as high as 27 mpg combined.

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