Motor Trend|August 2019
VW's new flagship is gorgeous, but it's no Audi.
The 2019 Arteon’s best design detail is that it’s not immediately identifiable as a Volkswagen. The brand has produced some very safe designs lately, so it’s satisfying to see a sexier shape slink out of the design studios.
The Arteon won’t inspire envy from Audi A5 Sportback owners, but this Volkswagen is a far more pleasing shape than the Nissan Maxima, Toyota Avalon, or Acura TLX. As the brand’s flagship four-door sedan straddles the full-size mainstream and entry-level luxury segments, however, styling can’t assure success on its own.
Let’s be clear: This is no bargain Audi. Materials inside the $36,840–$47,705 Arteon are hit or miss, from the center console’s hard plastic to the unacceptably cheap “Is this a Jetta?” feel of the HVAC knobs. Then again, the Nappa leather feels great, there’s a three-zone climate control, and the side of the center stack is squishy where your knee will rest at red lights.
The truth is that most sub-$50,000 luxury-branded four-doors (like the A5, which starts at $45,195) will hide cheap materials in their cabins somewhere. The difference is that this mainstream-branded car has more to prove, and others (like the Avalon) have more soft-touch surfaces inside. Experiencing the Avalon’s interior, however, requires walking past its cartoonish front grille, not a compromise you make with the Arteon.
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