2019 Arteon First Drive Review: CNET
May 07 2019, Antuan Goodwin
Meet Volkswagen's new flagship: the 2019 Arteon. And no, it's not an SUV. It's a sedan... sort of. The spiritual successor to VW's CC features a liftback design -- a la Audi's A5 Sportback. SUVs might occupy a large chunk of the market, but VW believes the Arteon is far more deserving of the flagship title than even its Atlas SUV.
Physically, the Arteon is 2 inches longer than the CC, which went out of production in 2017. However, the new model pushes its wheels closer to its extremes, lengthening the wheelbase by 5 inches, which frees up about 3 more inches of second-row legroom and gives the Arteon a more planted stance on the road. The liftback design opens up a larger aperture for loading cargo and, more importantly, at 22.7 cubic feet, boasts nearly double the cargo space of the old CC's trunk. With the second row folded flat, the Arteon can swallow about 55 cubic feet of bric-a-brac.
From the A-pillar back, the Arteon's design isn't hiding any surprises. It's standard-fare VW design with a CC-esque roofline transitioning into a rear end that stretches Passat-like design elements around Audi A7-like proportions. Up front, however, the Arteon stands apart from the rest of VW's lineup with a massive grille that takes up nearly the entirety of the sedan's fascia, even integrating the standard LED headlamps and fog lights into the sweep of horizontal chrome bars. Just behind that grille is Volkswagen's first clamshell hood, stretching from VW logo to windshield and flowing over the sides where its cutline integrates into the wheel arches.
All About That Boost
Beneath that metal clamshell hood, you'll find the only engine available for the new Arteon: VW's 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 268 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Volkswagen is not offering the Arteon with a V6 option. I don't think most drivers will miss the eight extra ponies and eight additional pound-feet that VW's current 3.6-liter V6 engine would offer, so I'm okay with just the boosted four-banger.
The 2.0T sends power to the front wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters should you feel like choosing your own adventure. Volkswagen's 4Motion all-wheel drive system is optional for all trim levels, and standard on the top-level SEL Premium. Fuel economy for front-driven models is estimated at 22 miles per gallon city, 31 mpg highway and 25 mpg combined. With all-wheel drive, the Arteon steps down to 20 city, 27 highway and 23 combined mpg.
Drivers are able to toggle between Normal, Comfort, Eco and Sport drive modes via a button on the center console. These modes affect the behavior of the responsiveness of the steering and throttle, the effectiveness of the climate control, the swing of the adaptive lighting and, of course, the firmness of the standard Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC) active-damping suspension. A fifth Custom drive mode grants drivers even more fine-tuned control over the active dampers with 15 degrees of firmness adjustment stretching even beyond the defaults for those who might want a ride stiffer than Sport or softer than Comfort...