2019 Volkswagen Arteon

A new hatchback becomes VW’s new top-flight passenger car


Style and luxury often butt heads with practicality in the automobile world, but Volkswagen seems to have blended those traits into the 2019 Arteon.
And it’s a real looker.

The new four-door hatchback becomes the automaker’s prestige vehicle, by virtue of both its content and corresponding upper-range price.

Although similar in length to the Passat sedan and constructed on the same MQB platform (as are many other VW and Audi models), the Arteon follows its own distinctive design path. It also tops the Passat with nearly two inches more width and distance between the front and rear wheels, which increases rear legroom.

The low-slung look is somewhat reminiscent of VW’s CC sedan that was retired after 2017. That model was significantly smaller than the Arteon and had a trunk instead of a liftgate, which limited stowage capacity.

Fortunately, the Arteon’s designers had a larger canvas to literally and figuratively draw upon and have generally succeeded in creating sufficient space — especially headroom — for four adults, or five in a pinch.

Folding the 60:40 split rear seatback nearly flat can also expand the cargo area. Left in the upright position, a pass-through opening allows longer items to fit inside.

The sloping nose and hood add a degree of sportiness that the Passat lacks, while the fastback roofline compares to the Audi A5 Sportback and even the Kia Stinger.

In operational terms, the Arteon’s road holding qualities are assisted by active dampers (shocks) that react in milliseconds to varying road conditions and driver inputs.

The cabin is pretty much a replica of the current Passat’s, especially the control panel and eight-inch touchscreen that are straightforward and easy to comprehend, which is the case with most VW models. The pushbuttons for the ventilation settings located below the touchscreen are on the small side, however.

Also seemingly small for the Arteon’s stature is the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, although it makes a respectable 268 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. The fuel-economy rating is 22 mpg in the city and 31 on the highway. It might seem odd that VW’s 3.6-liter V-6 isn’t on the menu, but it’s also no longer offered for the Passat.

An eight-speed automatic is your sole transmission choice and it directs torque to either the front, or all four wheels if the Arteon is fitted with the optional 4Motion all-wheel-drive system (which is absent on the Passat’s options list).

Arteon pricing begins at $36,850, including destination fees, for the base SE trim. That price gets you trizone climate control, 12-way power front seats, standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality, rain-sensing wipers and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.

The SEL adds a panoramic sunroof, navigation system, leather seating and a 12.3-inch digital gauge and information display that can be configured according to driver preferences.

All-wheel-drive can be added to the SE and SEL for $1,800, but it automatically comes with the SEL Premium. That top trim also has ventilated front seats (with massaging function for the driver’s chair), heated rear seats, 700-watt 12-speaker premium audio system, and 19-inch wheels (18-inch wheels are standard with the lesser trims).

An R-Line package can be added to all three Arteon trims and consists of metal interior pieces, a unique front end with gloss-black accents, a small rear spoiler and 20-inch wheels.
Volkswagen also makes forward-collision warning, autonomous emergency braking and blind-spot warning standard for the base SE, but you’ll need to purchase the SEL Premium to get the full safety gear.

As an upscale hatchback, the Arteon runs the risk of overlapping some Audi offerings (Audi is part of the Volkswagen group), such as the A5 Sportback. On the other hand, the youthful and sporty demeanor should also help convey Volkswagen’s mission of creating a stylish and fun-to-drive larger car that’s also practical.

What you should know: 2019 Volkswagen Arteon

Type: Four-door, front- /all-wheel-drive midsize hatchback

Engine (h.p.): 2.0-liter DOHC I-4, turbocharged (268)

Transmission: Eight-speed automatic

Market position: The Arteon could be viewed as a new and improved version of the late Volkswagen CC, constructed in a larger, more practical format that can more comfortably accommodate adults seated in back.

• Good-looking design avoids the conservative sameness of the automaker’s other sedans
• Non-trendy, straightforward interior with intuitive controls and instrumentation.
• Standard turbocharged four-cylinder posts decent output numbers, but some shoppers will still want a V-6.
• Top trim level butts up against — or could even trip over — some Audi models.

Active safety Blind-spot warning with cross-traffic backup alert (std.); active cruise control (opt.); emergency braking (std.); pedestrian detection (opt.)
MPG (city/hwy) 22/31 (FWD); Base price (incl. destination) $36,850


Kia Stinger
Base price: $34,000
Plenty of poise and punch makes this one a winner. AWD. V-6 available.

Buick GS
Base price: $40,000
Fully loaded Regal hatchback comes with a standard V-6 and AWD. BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe

Base price: $45,750
Luxury hatch is larger than the 3-series sedan. turbo I-6 option makes 320 h.p.