VW ARETON

The 2019 Volkswagon Areton.

Sedans are suffering in the automotive market but Volkswagen ups the ante for appeal and performance by launching the 2019 four-door Arteon as its flagship sedan to compete with crossovers and SUV’s.

Already gaining sales traction overseas, the Arteon has won a top towing prowess award in Great Britain and a prestigious Golden Steering Award for Europe.

Arteon also boasts good looks with tasteful chrome touches on a striking Euro-sleek fastback profile.

Passenger space can shame some SUVs and interior design and materials make it luxurious enough to compete against some of its big brothers.

VW owns Audi and Areton has many of the same luxury and drive safety aids as higher priced Audi sedans.

Arteon is Volkswagen’s largest sedan and our test drive was the 2.0T SEL Premium with 4MOTION, above S and SEL trims, with no options needed, keeping it price competitive.

Arteons only use a 268-horsepower turbo-charged engine, which doesn’t deliver the quickness of some competitors, even using manual paddles in sport mode – one of five drive choices. It is quicker than the VW CC it replaces.

We enjoyed excellent handling along with a comfortable ride using four-wheel independent suspension on 19-inch wheels wearing all-season tires. Areton uses VW’s MGB global platform.

We averaged 32 mpg on a 360-mile interstate trip, five miles better than EPA’s highway rating. Higher speeds generate minor tire thrum.

Drivers enjoy a heated massaging seat, rain-sensing wipers and top safety aids such as adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring and lane keeping control. Headlights bend when cornering and on steep slopes, hill control prevents slipping backwards.

Cameras produce a 360-degree view and 700 watt 12-speaker audio produces clear sound quality, even from glove compartment’s CD player. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included.

An 8-inch touchscreen responds well to voice commands and navigation prompts tell you early the correct lane well before the next turn. Screen icons easily drill down for specific information.

Seating space is ample and comfortable everywhere and interior ambiance was heightened with canyon-brown Nappa leather seats.

There is a spare tire and extended visors but no overhead grab handles to ease access.

Cargo space increases to the best among competitors, with an easy 60/40-rear seat, not quite flat, fold down.

Areton competes against established sedans such as Acura TLX, Infiniti Q50, Kia Stinger, Nissan Maxima, Buick Regal and Audi A5.

LIKE: Handling, mileage, looks, luxury, towing power, ride

DISLIKE: No grab handles, lacks competitive quickness, tire thrum

BOTTOM LINE: Eye-appeal outside, luxury inside, comfortable ride, competitive price

FACT FILE

VW ARTEON 2.0T SEL PREMIUM

4MOTION

Base price with destination fee: $45,949 (no options)

Curb weight: 3,835 lbs.

Wheelbase: 111.7 inches

Length: 191.4 inches

Width: 73.7 inches

Engine specs: 2.0 liter, 4-cylinder, DOHC, turbo, direct injection

Horsepower: 268 hp at 5,500 rpm

Torque: 258 lbs.-ft. at 1,950 rpm

Transmission: 8-speed automatic/with manual paddles

EPA Rating: 23 mpg city/27 mpg hwy

Range: 17.5-gallon tank, premium

Performance: 0-60 in 6 seconds

Tom Crosby is a former journalist and communications director for AAA Carolinas. He has been reviewing cars since 1996, and has been active in traffic safety issues for more than 30 years.