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In today’s SUV-dominated landscape, the 2020 Volkswagen Arteon is an unexpected but pleasant surprise. “Unexpected” is meant very literally in this case, because the Arteon just sort of appeared with no fanfare whatsoever in April 2019.

Now in its second year of existence, the sporty Volkswagen has made quite a name for itself as handling exceptionally well, having a generous amount of interior space, and giving some big-name luxury cars a run for their money.

Consumer Reports raved about the 2020 Volkswagen Arteon in its comprehensive review and road test, writing, “In many ways the Arteon feels like a crisper, more stylish Volkswagen Passat, or even a budget Audi.” What’s responsible for the glowing review? 

The artfully-crafted Volkswagen Arteon

The 2020 Volkswagen Arteon distinguishes itself from the crowd so well that it’s almost difficult to categorize it. Technically the Arteon is a small sedan, but it could almost be mistaken for a crossover, particularly inside. 

It seamlessly blends aggressive sporty styling, SUV-like functionality thanks to the hatchback-style rear, and a plush cabin with a smooth ride and loads of the best-available technology. 

VW gave the 2020 Arteon just one engine, but it’s a good one, a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 268 hp that can also be configured with all-wheel drive. The Arteon gets decent fuel economy, averaging 22 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway. All-wheel drive decreases city mpg to 20. 

Inside, extra attention given to little details continues to set the 2020 Volkswagen Arteon apart. Door pockets and storage cubbies are lined, and contrast stitching and piping are used to give a more premium look.

Heated front seats are standard, and available options include a massaging driver’s seat and heated rear seats, relatively rare add-ons outside of high-end BMWs and other pure luxury brands.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration also come standard, along with an 8″ touchscreen and tri-zone automatic climate control.

Consumer Reports was especially impressed with the Arteon’s cargo capacity. Behind the rear seats, it has 27.2 cubic feet of cargo space. With the seats folded, that expands to an impressive 55 cubic feet, substantially more than some crossover SUVs, including both the Hyundai Kona and Nissan Kicks. 

Standard driver-assist features in the 2020 Volkswagen Arteon include a rearview camera, rain-sensing windshield wipers, blind-spot monitoring, forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking, and rear cross-traffic alert. 

No one is perfect

For all of the things Consumer Reports loved about the 2020 Volkswagen Arteon, there were a couple of drawbacks they noted. Its low-slung, sloping roofline makes it slightly difficult to get in and out of, especially for taller rear-seat passengers. 

The fastback’s cabin is also a bit noisy, particularly when the driver is accelerating. U.S. News and World Report also pointed this out in its review of the 2020 Arteon, saying “the engine sounds rather coarse under heavy throttle.” Still, these are minor annoyances rather than big issues. 

Real luxury inside and out

The 2020 Volkswagen Arteon is often compared to the much more expensive Audi A5. It’s easy to understand why, particularly when you look at the options included with the top-of-the-line Arteon SEL Premium R-Line.

In this model, drivers get ultra-premium features such as hands-free parking assist, a surround-view parking camera system, 20-inch wheels, a power trunk lid, and a heated, massaging driver’s seat. 

While the Audi does have a considerably nicer cabin and comes with more configuration choices (coupe, convertible, and hatchback), it also comes with a substantially higher starting MSRP: $42,000.

By comparison, a base-model Arteon SE will set you back $35,845. Even a fully-loaded 2020 Arteon SEL Premium R-Line tops out at $46,200, making it an incredible value in this segment.

According to Car and Driver, the Arteon will become even more competitive in the luxury class when it receives some major upgrades for 2021. Among them are a futuristic touchscreen dashboard display and a super-sleek wagon version for the Europe and China markets.


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