by Jay Traugott
The Volkswagen Arteon only went on the sale in the US market last year following some unexpected and unfortunate delays. It was worth the wait. The Arteon is one of the best-looking sedans on sale today and for 2021, it's already receiving some improvements inside and out. Why so soon? Because the Arteon has been on sale in Europe since the 2018 model year. VW's updates apply to all markets.
In general, all mechanical elements remain the same as the 2020 model which isn't a bad thing. VW instead decided to focus on the fastback sedan's interior more than anything else. It's quite impressive just how much has changed for a mid-cycle update.
The Arteon remains a formidable competitor in a segment that's actually shrinking due to increased crossover demand. However, its slick styling could be just the ticket to help reignite sedan popularity.
For 2021, the Arteon's sexy fastback, four-door coupe, styling continues to shine. VW kept changes to a relative minimum. Examples include a tweaked front fascia with chrome bars on the front apron inspired by the new Golf hatchback. The Arteon can now be ordered with an illuminated grille while LED daytime running lights are available in higher trim levels.
The SE trim now comes with two additional air intake openings in front of the wheels, which is in contrast to the more expensive R-Line's larger bottom air intake located above the front spoiler that's surrounded by a body color-painted C-shaped section just ahead of the front wheels.
The rear end features VW's recently redesigned logo. The 'Arteon' lettering has also been redesigned. There are also three new exterior colors on offer: Oryx White, Kings Red Metallic, and Lapiz Blue.
VW decided the Arteon needed a more exclusive interior, but instead of adding some nicer trim elements, designers went above and beyond. The entire dash panel, center console, and top sections of the door trim have been redesigned. There are new leatherette surfaces, aluminum trim even on base models, and a new multifunction steering wheel with digital touch surfaces.
Other new features include optional tri-zone automatic climate control and touch-sensitive surface controls located in the center console for seat heating, windscreen and window defrosting, and air conditioning functions.
A 10.25-inch digital display comes standard, as does an 8.0-inch infotainment system screen, which also houses navigation, voice control, and wireless App-Connect. Another new feature is wireless charging and, for the first time, an optional 12-speaker harmon/kardon premium sound system.
Like last year, the Arteon continues to be powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged TSI four-cylinder totaling 268 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel-drive is optional on the SEL R-Line models and standard on the SEL Premium R-Line.
In Europe, an Arteon Shooting Brake arrives for 2021, along with a new plug-in hybrid option offering a respectable 215 hp. The shooting brake isn't coming to the US, nor is the 315 hp Arteon R performance version.
Drivers will appreciate new assist systems including Dynamic Road Display and Travel Assist which features an updated Adaptive Cruise Control with predictive speed control. There's also Lane Keeping Assist, Forward Collision Monitoring, and an improved rear camera.
Although it's officially classified as a midsize sedan, the refreshed Arteon is definitely much better-looking than some of its competition. A few examples include the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, and Nissan Altima. But if you're shopping on looks alone, a few competitors have taken notice of VW's efforts. Look no further than the Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima, and Mazda6. If you're determined to own a fastback, there's the Kia Stinger, though it comes standard with rear-wheel-drive.
Official pricing hasn't been announced for the 2021 Volkswagen Arteon though that will be announced closer to its on-sale date this November. We don't expect to see a major difference in pricing compared to the 2020 model, which starts from about $36,000.