Cars

2021 Volkswagen Arteon Fights to Separate from Crossover Pack

DETROIT — It is easy to get lost in a market awash with crossovers. But that seems to be what happened to the Volkswagen Arteon, a very good midsize sedan, when it was introduced as a 2020 model.

The Arteon was low, wide and had the feel of a big sports car. It had a coupe-like silhouette with a sloping roof. Character lines flowed from the grille through the side panels to the rear end of the car. The grille emphasized the width of the car.

The rear of the Arteon borrowed classic sports car styling with its high, broad shoulders, accented by standard LED taillights. Chrome details also flowed from front to back, with lower-door and trunk accents.

The wheelbase was 111.7 inches and was paired with short overhangs for more dynamic proportions. Overall, the Arteon was 191.4 inches long, 73.7 inches wide and 56.5 inches tall. It had a drag coefficient of 3.0 which meant it cut through the air with little resistance.

We had the SEL R-Line trim. Translation: our test car had a CAR-Net telematics system, in-car Wi-Fi, lane assist, 20-inch wheels that meant our test car had adaptive LED headlights, and power-folding side mirrors.

Under the hood was a 2.0-liter turbocharged direct-injection TSI® engine that made 268 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. It was mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission with manual shift capability. Our test vehicle had all-wheel-drive or what Volkswagen has branded 4Motion.

The combination got 20 mpg in the city, 29 mpg on the highway and 23 mpg combined.

This car was smooth, it was quick, and it was very maneuverable. The Arteon had a flat-bottom steering wheel which took us a little time to get comfortable using. There were five drive modes: eco, comfort, normal, sport and custom. There was also a moonroof.

The interior design emphasized width. The vent openings mimicked the grille and stretched across the car. Except for the three-dial layout of the climate controls, everything was digital save the analog clock atop the dash.

We had heated and cooled front seats. It was keyless entry with pushbutton start and stop (these days, a key is almost archaic). The car was comfortable, the sightlines were good, and it was easy to drive.

The Arteon’s width lent to its comfortability. We got into the back seat and found the area spacious. There was plenty of headroom despite the sloping roof. Three people could sit abreast but in this all-wheel-drive configuration, they would be uncomfortable because of the high tunnel.

Our test vehicle was a deep gray, and it had a black interior with magenta stitching. It had heated rear seats and climate controls in the rear.

There was an overview camera, blind-spot alert, lane keep assist, forward collision warning, automatic high beams, remote start, and a power automatic liftgate which is more like a trunk. But technically the Arteon is a hatchback.

Of course, there were the usual creature comforts: satellite radio, voice controls, a navigation system, a premium audio system, Bluetooth, streaming including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and parking assist.

It was a comfortable sedan with a coupe-like silhouette. As tested, our 2020 Arteon had a sticker of $49,100.

Frank S. Washington is editor of AboutThatCar.com

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