So, this is a little awkward, I’m not sure I’ve ever tested a car that I know is about to end production. Volkswagen has confirmed that after eight years of production, 2024 will be the final year of their Arteon sedan. However, this is still 2023, and you still have time to consider whether this midsize sedan is a worthy addition to your driveway. So, with that in mind I set off for a week in this 2023 Arteon 2.0T SEL Premium R-Line 4Motion to see what’s what and give you some valuable consumer advice. Is this end-of-life VW sedan any good? Let’s get at it.
You can have any 2023 Arteon, as long as its an R-Line! You can see some of the major differences below, all iterations have a 300-horsepower turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder paired to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Pricing ranges from just over $43,000 for the SE up to just over $50,000 for the SEL Premium like our tester.
VW added the gorgeous Kingfisher Blue Metallic paint ($395) and as likely remnant of the chip shortage gave a $495 credit for not having a ventilated and massaging driver’s seat or rear seat heating. Which is unfortunate since I absolutely love a massaging seat, but whatever.
Out the door you’re at $50,890 which puts the Arteon SEL Premium in some interesting company. More on that in a little. Let’s get on with the important bits.
Just look at this damn thing, it’s absolutely gorgeous. No, stop and scroll back up again, I’ll wait. God it’s a good looking car, from the sculpted line that runs along the side from headlight to taillight, to the (mercifully) non-black wheels, simple and attractive rear, and reasonable use of chrome bits, its all just so good. It’s almost impossible to find a bad angle on the Arteon.
If I have to get critical on the exterior, and it’s difficult, I guess the front end has a little bit of first generation Ford Fusion going on (see top left), there are a lot of horizontal lines happening there. Still, it’s all nicely integrated and doesn’t look like a Mach-3 razor like the Ford did.
The interior is a little bit of a mixed bag if I’m honest. It does have a series of great details, that pixelated blue panel that spans the right side of the dash actually looks pretty good flanked by (likely faux) carbon fiber bits and metallic accents in particular. The layout is solid as well, with a touchscreen that feels nicely integrated into the dash, especially compared to all those tacked on screens I’ve seen lately. VW has a neat storage area up front, just ahead of the (giant) shift knob for wireless charging. What’s cool about it is that it has a retractable cover, so if you just have to hop out to grab something quick (and can live without your mobile device that long) it will keep your phone away from prying eyes.
Plus, Volkswagen used a few actual buttons to control functions like the audio volume, which is not the case on some of the more recently updated VW products like the Golf R I just drove. It’s all just haptic feedback flat surfaces on new VWs which are impossible to find while driving. However, and this is quite the conundrum, it does make the Arteon feel a bit dated if you were to hop from the latest VW interior directly into this one in the showroom. So, usability is a bit higher, but details like the button layout (and that tall shifter) do make it feel like yesterday’s model. Which I guess it is.
The interior on the window sticker is listed as “Mistral Gray and Raven Leather”, but on the website “Titan Black” is the only option. Whatever you call the interior of this tester, the leather does look a bit wrinkled already, even after a relatively short number of miles. I found a similar result on the Jetta GLI that came shortly after this Arteon left. The black option might have hidden that a bit better.
In the back, legroom is a very reasonable 40.2 inches which was more than enough for my tall teen children on a one-hour drive. Cargo space was pretty solid as well, the hatchback layout delivering a 27.2 cu. ft. of space. The Arteon survived my youngest’s hockey practice, the bag fitting easily, but the stick was a tight fit.
For daily driver duties, the Arteon will likely make easy work of passengers with room for five adults, and a decent sized cargo area for most errands.
So, a 300 horsepower AWD sedan that looks amazing, that’s quite a recipe. Sixty miles-per-hour happens in around six seconds, which is pretty quick. Just like in the Golf R, turbo lag is very prevalent off the line and I didn’t really notice a difference between sport mode and regular mode. As I noted above, the big shifter is strange to see these days when most vehicles have moved to some sort of button or dial, but I understand that the Arteon is going away soon so it’s not surprising.
I’m always a sucker for a flat bottom wheel and VW does it as good as anyone. I love the little nubs built into the wheel to help you keep your grip in tight cornering. Speaking of cornering, the Arteon is solid if not class-leading. The AWD system keeps things moving the right direction without a lot of drama.
The only issue I came across out on the road was when I rolled down the window after a hard rain and some cold water dumped in onto my leg. Might have been a design flaw, or just a perfect storm of water in the wrong place.
The bottom line is that the Arteon would be a fantastic daily driver in most situations. It is reasonably quick, comfortable, and absolutely fantastic to look at. Of course, as I teased earlier, there are a bevy of competitors in the $50K realm that are also very much worth of consideration. The Acura TLX starts at a cheaper MSRP and while the Type S is a couple grand more expensive than this top-spec Arteon, it’s got 55 more horsepower and is more engaging to drive. With other sedan options out there of varying sizes like the Cadillac CT5, Audi A4, and Volvo S60 all in the same price range, it’s not an easy choice.
Still, the Arteon is better looking than all the rest and a worthy consideration if you’re in the market.