The Volkswagen Arteon mixes practicality and pleasure in a unique package. Although SUVs may dominate discussions of sensibility, the Arteon offers another solution: a well-appointed hatchback with sporty handling, generous cargo room, and a sleek, sedan-like exterior profile.
The Arteon can be ordered with either front- or all-wheel-drive, and it’s powered by a 268-hp, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that’s paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. That combination makes for quick acceleration and a ride that blends agility with comfort. The Arteon we purchased had no trouble taking sharp corners at high speeds on our test track, and our testers found its firm ride to be pleasant even on rough roads. Fuel economy for the all-wheel drive model is 24 mpg overall.
That mix of functionality and distinctiveness carries on inside, where the front seats are well bolstered, and the impeccably finished interior proves user-friendly. A responsive touch screen sits at the center of the dash, and the climate and audio systems are controlled with physical buttons and knobs.
In many ways the Arteon feels like a crisper, more stylish Volkswagen Passat, or even a budget Audi. We think it gives some true luxury cars a run for their money. But its closest competitors are the Kia Stinger, which is sportier yet less comfortable for everyday driving; and the Buick Regal Sportback, which lacks the Arteon’s luxurious interior.
The Arteon’s low roofline makes the car a bit of a challenge to get in and out of, but our biggest complaint about the Arteon was that engine noise fills the cabin whenever the driver mashes the gas pedal.
Despite its low-slung looks, the Arteon is versatile. Underneath the heavy hatchback there’s a long, wide cargo area with a low loading floor. With the seats folded down. it can swallow a surprising amount of stuff.
Every Arteon gets forward collision warning (FCW), automatic emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection, and blind spot warning (BSW).