Wednesday, 21 February 2024

2023 Volkswagen Arteon fills a unique space among full-size sedans Featured

Posted On Saturday, 23 September 2023 22:11 Written by
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The 2023 Volkswagen Arteon is one of few remaining full-size sedans in the non-luxury market. The 2023 Volkswagen Arteon is one of few remaining full-size sedans in the non-luxury market. Photo courtesy of Volkswagen

The current state of the full-size sedan is a curious one.

The status symbol everyone wanted in past generations, over time it has been relegated to the backburner as SUVs became the dominant force in the auto industry.

While luxury brands still offer high-end full-size sedans at astronomical prices, non-luxury brands are slowly bowing out of the full-size sedan market. One exception, for the short term, is Volkswagen, which still has the Volkswagen Arteon available (at least until 2024, which has been announced as the final model year).

I tested the 2023 Volkswagen Arteon, specifically a SEL Premium R-Line model, and I’m back with a full report on what this unicorn of a vehicle has to offer to car buyers still in the sedan market, who are resisting the move to SUVs.

LOOKS

The 2023 Volkswagen Arteon features a classy, but not flashy, exterior design that’s different from most vehicles on the roadways. It also includes an attractive use of lines up front in the grille design, and a distinct sloping roofline.

My test vehicle featured a Moonstone Gray Metallic paint job, and 20-inch alloy wheels with a sharp rim design. LED headlights and taillights are included, along with dynamic cornering lights and poor weather lighting to improve visibility.

Side mirrors are power-folding and heated, and include position memory, rain-sensing wipers are included, as well as a panoramic sunroof to let the rays in.

The R-Line design package comes on all Arteon models, and includes a spoiler, interior contrast stitching, black headliner, and above-mentioned stylish wheels. The end result is a vehicle that looks both sporty and upscale.

Moving inside the Arteon, you’ll immediately see why interior design is an area of excellence for the vehicle. The size of a full-size sedan like the Arteon is something to appreciate, offering tremendous amounts of legroom and headroom for all passengers, no matter their height.

Trunk space is also huge due to a hatchback design, allowing for 27.2 cubic feet of cargo space. Rear seats fold down to expand that number to 56.2 cubic feet.

Time spent in the Arteon is quite comfortable — with seating not at luxury levels, but still high-end with leather seating available. The leather-wrapped steering wheel is also heated, and driver and front passenger seats are both heated and ventilated. Outboard rear seats are also heated.

A three-zone climate control system lets everyone stay at their own chosen temperature, and rear passengers can adjust their own climate controls. You can even enable ambient lighting inside the vehicle.

Based off interior design, it’s easy to understand why the Arteon has such a unique place in the market — competing just as much with sedans from Lexus and Audi as it does with offerings from Toyota and Nissan.


HOW’S THE RIDE?

Powered by a turbocharged, 2.0 liter, four-cylinder engine, the 2023 Arteon claims 300 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. This is all tied to a 7-speed automatic transmission, and the Arteon is offered with FWD (base model only) or AWD (standard on remaining trims). Buyers in winter climates will appreciate the AWD option.

The Arteon features a four-wheel independent suspension and offers a very respectable ride quality that will have you looking forward to driving it. It’s not a powerhouse, but gets you moving and can step up the speed when you need it, on the highway or city streets. 

Zero-to-60 time is impressive at under 5 seconds. At times, you’ll be tempted to call the ride sporty. Drive modes can be adjusted between Eco, Comfort, Normal, Sport and Custom — via a button in the center console.

Overall handling and response to driver input is impressive for a vehicle of this size, and there’s a likable gruff sound quality from the turbo engine.


TECHNOLOGY, SAFETY

The technology in the 2023 Volkswagen Arteon has its highs and lows.

Overall, it’s a respectable infotainment setup that’s easy to use, but it’s often too clever for itself. For example, it relies too heavily on touch-sensitive controls that are not always user-friendly. Often these controls would have been much better served by a traditional button or knob.

Some of the climate controls were also poorly placed and hard to reach, and the 8-inch touchscreen was smaller than most of today’s vehicle screens. On the plus side, a wireless phone charger is offered.

In front of the driver is VW’s helpful and customizable 10.25-inch digital gauge cluster, and voice commands can be used if you’d prefer to avoid the touch controls. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are also available for phone mirroring.

Other helpful tech features include a navigation system and satellite radio, multiple USB ports, and an optional Harman/Kardon audio system.

There are also helpful reminders from the vehicle when you turn it off, reminding you to check the vehicle for any belongings or back seat passengers. Remote vehicle unlocking is also available.

Moving on to the safety features on the Arteon, the vehicle is a top safety pick, and features a wide variety of safety features that work effectively. 

VW’s IQ.DRIVE system features Travel Assist, which gives the Arteon basic self-driving capacity. It also includes Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Keeping System, Emergency Assist (offers assistance in a medical emergency), Forward Collision Warning, Autonomous Emergency Braking, and Blind Spot Monitor.

This array of systems does its job well, without being overly aggressive or getting in the way.

You’re also protected by eight airbags, an Electronic Stability Control system, rearview camera system with overhead view, tire pressure monitoring system, and more.


MPG

Miles per gallon on the AWD version of the 2023 Arteon rates at 22 city/31 highway/25 combined. With FWD models, official numbers are 25 city/33 highway.

Total range per tank can top over 450 miles, which is solid. In my testing, I averaged roughly 24 miles per gallon in the Arteon, a respectable amount for a sedan this large and powerful.

PRICE

The base SE R-Line model of the 2023 Volkswagen Arteon starts around $43K. Moving up to the SEL R-Line will cost you around $47K, and it’s around $50K for the SEL Premium R-Line that I tested.

This price is not inexpensive, and somewhat straddles between lower-priced nonluxury competitors and higher-end options from Audi and other luxury brands. But that makes sense since the Arteon is quite upscale in its own way, and could accurately be called luxury-light. Someone who doesn’t want to spend $70K on an Audi sedan but get a similar feel might want to consider the Arteon and save $20K.

Warranty coverage is about average, with overall and powertrain warranties offered for four years/50,000 miles. Two years of maintenance is also included, along with three years of roadside assistance.


BOTTOM LINE

The 2023 Volkswagen Arteon has a unique position in the market, competing in some ways with both luxury and nonluxury sedan models. It’s an attractive and extra-roomy large sedan that offers a high-quality ride, something few vehicles in its price range can say.

Despite its segment’s woes, the Arteon is a sharp-looking and sharp-performing ride that is still worth a look for sedan lovers.

The Arteon will deliver the type of experience you would normally get from a luxury ride, but at a much lower price. And since it’s going away after the 2024 model year, time is running out to pick up a new Arteon.

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Additional Info

  • Vehicle: 2023 Volkswagen Arteon
  • Price as tested: $50,495 (starts at $43K)
  • Best feature: Roomy interior, drive quality, classy design
  • Rating: 4 out of five stars   
  • Who will want this vehicle?: Buyers who still prefer a legit full-size sedan over SUVs
Matt M. Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.

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