In a world where sedan offerings are dwindling, it becomes even more important to stand out in the field that remains. And I’d say the refreshed VW Arteon - equipped with some cool new tech features for 2021 - does that.
The 2021 Volkswagen Arteon, the brand’s halo sedan with more than a few hints of Audi’s minimalist design, receives some new design and style for 2021 along with an updated interior and some enhanced technology features.
The lineup offers three trims and my test vehicle is the base SE model, slotting below the SEL R-Line, and SEL Premium R-Line.
A 2.0L turbo 4-cylinder engine delivers 268-horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. It’s mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission. Acceleration in the front-wheel drive version felt strong, providing for confident driving and merging. VW’s start/stop technology is one of the more pronounced I’ve experienced, but if it bothers you, you can turn it off. I never did.
The Arteon is an attractive hatchback-styled sedan, sleek, wide and low to the ground, though I’d prefer it in the new for 2021 Lapiz Blue Metallic available on the R-Line models. It’s great to see the base model get the full LED lighting treatment, for the headlights, daytime running lights and taillights. Step up a trim to get adaptive headlights. The 2021 SE trim adds two new separate air intake openings ahead of the newly designed 18-inch wheels. Designers also added a thin chrome line integrated above the front spoiler. The tail end sports a redesigned VW badge and lettering. The sides are home to heated, foldable and power adjustable side mirrors with integrated turn signals.
A note about a unique, hidden, safety aspect to Arteon’s hood. VW says it’s reactive - meaning it can raise via its hinges before impact. The goal is to help reduce the severity of injuries in the event of a collision with a pedestrian at speeds between 15-34 mph.
The Arteon’s redesigned cabin is in a word - spacious. It’s wide which creates a feeling of openness with a mix of soft touch materials and plastic. The dash is redesigned along with the center console and top sections of the door trims that feel and look nice. Designers added new aluminum trim for 2021. There is plenty of legroom in the front, even with a wide center, minimalistic, center console. You’ll find 2 USB-C ports there as well as cup holders hidden by a sliding cover. There you also find push-button start, a leather-wrapped gear shifter, your drive mode button and controls for the automatic start/stop and electronic parking brake.
The SE’s features V-Tex leatherette seating, (step up a trim for Nappa leather). The leatherette seems softer and more comfortable than the leatherette I experienced recently in the Atlas Cross Sport. The front seats are heated and both offer terrific 12-way power adjustability.
New for 2021, the Arteon gets new touch-sensitive controls which I really like. An all-new three-zone Climatronic Touch touch-sensitive climate control system is standard across the range. You control the temp using a touch slider system, which I thought works great. I also liked the new touch-sensitive controls for the heated, windshield and defrost functions on the center console.
The second row is roomy as well, and passengers get their own air vents. The 60/40 rear split folding seats have a dropdown center console with cup holders. There is also drop down cubby hole space to access the trunk or for longer items. There is 27.2 cubic feet of trunk storage with the seats up. It increases to 56.2 cubic-feet when down.
Though missing a wireless charger, the Arteon SE’s technology shines overall thanks to some upgrades for 2021.
VW’s 10-inch digital driver’s cockpit is fantastic, with 21 viewing options. It's now standard across the Arteon lineup.
The Arteon shares an 8-inch multimedia screen with the lineup. It uses a capacitive-touch sensor to operate, like you’d find on a tablet. It’s responsive, easy to use and you can swipe and pinch and zoom.
The Arteon has VW’s latest MIB3 Infotainment system with nice graphics, updated navigation maps and more. You can connect to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto using VW App Connect. The screen houses a backup camera with good resolution. Other tech includes Bluetooth, voice control, and notably SiriusXM with 360L with a three month trial subscription. The SE is equipped with an 8-speaker sound system with a premium Hardan Kardon available in the top trim.
Ride and Drive
The Arteon’s driving dynamics are classic Volkswagen - comfortable, fairly quiet and smooth, all-in-all pleasant, but they aren’t geared toward a driving enthusiast. While sport mode sharpens the driving dynamics, it would be great to get a truly-sporty version.
The Arteon SE comes with standard Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Monitoring, Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Traffic Alert along with Cruise Control. You’ll have to upgrade to the top trim for other safety like high beams, road sign display and lane assist. I’d love for those features to be extended to the SE.
The VW Arteon is a well-designed, tech-filled sedan with some notable updates for 2021 for the price point that make it worth a look in the shrinking sedan market.
2021 VW Arteon 2.0 SE Review
- What I liked most: Looks, Technology.
- What I would change: Add standard wireless charging and Lane Keep Assist for the SE.
- MSRP: Base price $35,995. As Equipped: $38,190.
- Fuel Economy: 22 mpg city/32 mpg highway, 25 mpg combined.
- Official Color: Urano Gray with moonrock Gray and Black Leatherette Interior.
- Odometer reading when tested: Unknown.
- FWD, RWD or AWD: FWD. 4MOTION AWD models available.
- Weight: 3,686 pounds.
- Spare Tire: Full-size spare.
- Length-Width-Height: 191.6” long/73.7” wide/56.9” high.
- Towing Capacity: N.A.
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 18.2 gallons with filler on the passenger side. Premium fuel.
- 2021 VW Arteon SE in a few words: A surprisingly well-equipped base model sedan with some great tech features for its under $40K price point.
- Final Assembly Location: Emden, Germany.
- Manufacturers website: Volkswagen
- Warranty: 4-year, 50,000 miles New Vehicle Limited Warranty; 7-year, 100,000 miles Corrosion Perforation Warranty, 2-year, 20,000 miles Carefree Maintenance Program.