The Volkswagen Arteon wears several hats. Its comfortable ride and premium interior makes it VW's entry-level luxury car, but its generous cargo area and hatchback design makes it a functional vehicle for families. For 2022, VW hopes to add "performance car" to the Arteon's list of bona fides, thanks to a new standard turbocharged engine borrowed directly from the Golf R.
As with the Golf R, VW's 2.0-liter turbo I4 (known internally as EA888 Evo 4) produces 300 horsepower at 5,350 rpm and 295 pound-feet of torque at 2,000 rpm -- gains of 32 hp and 37 lb.-ft. over the 2021 Arteon's engine. The 2022 model gets a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, replacing last year's eight-speed automatic, and while base Arteons continue to use front-wheel drive, the rest come standard with VW's 4Motion all-wheel-drive system. (Interestingly, this 4Motion setup is based on the Mk 7 Golf R's Haldex AWD system, not the new Magna one in the Mk 8 Golf R.)
Power delivery is good but not great. Because this 2.0-liter engine relies so heavily on turbocharging to deliver its thrust, there's noticeable lag during acceleration; the Arteon isn't as snappy as, say, a Kia Stinger 2.5T. However, the Arteon is slightly more efficient than its Korean rival, and I find it easy to see the EPA-estimated 22 mpg city, 30 mpg highway and 25 mpg combined in real-world driving.
When the engine is on boil, it offers plenty of punch, but the Arteon's chassis feels less willing to get down and boogie. That's because the Arteon is primarily tuned for comfort above all, and even with its adaptive dampers in their stiffest setting, this sedan doesn't feel especially composed on canyon roads. The light steering and long wheelbase don't help here, either.
But while Golf R power doesn't immediately bring Golf R sportiness, there's still a lot to like about the Arteon. It's super comfortable and would make a great daily driver. Plus, the liftback design means there's 56.2 cubic feet of space if you fold the rear seats flat -- a number that bests some compact and midsize SUVs.
Adding to that comfort, front and rear passengers have 37.7 and 37.0 inches of headroom, respectively, and legroom isn't too bad, either, with 40.2 inches for backseat riders. I'm 6 feet, 4 inches tall, and there's plenty of room for me up front. Even the back isn't too bad -- I'm more comfortable here than I've been in larger luxury cars.
The Arteon's interior doesn't change for 2022, continuing to use a largely button-free layout in favor of haptic touch controls. I don't love these, but apart from that, the Arteon's interior is cleanly designed and nicely appointed. My top-of-the-line SEL R-Line Premium tester has perforated Nappa leather seats that are heated and ventilated up front, but just heated out back. Other niceties include a heated steering wheel and large panoramic sunroof.
VW's MIB3 infotainment system is fine, with standard wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but the multimedia screen itself is a little low-res, and kind of small at 8 inches. Thankfully, VW's Digital Cockpit Pro is standard on every Arteon. Driver-assistance technologies like adaptive cruise control with lane-centering, blind-spot monitoring, automatic emergency braking, automatic high-beam headlights, rain-sensing wipers and parking assist are all standard, too, which is excellent.
Outside, the 2022 Arteon isn't much different than before, since the 2021 model already received a decent overhaul. There's a new Moonstone Gray paint color available (like the one on our long-term Golf GTI), and there's a new design for the base 18-inch wheels. Overall, the Arteon remains a handsome car that hides its hatchback design well.
A base, front-wheel-drive Arteon SE R-Line starts at $41,945 including a $1,195 destination fee. The midlevel SEL R-Line goes up to $46,745 and the top-tier SEL Premium R-Line comes in at $50,745. At those prices, the Arteon is a decent value compared to similarly sized luxury cars, but again, Kia's Stinger is a much more interesting driver and also offers liftback functionality, making it a pretty tough competitor.
The 2022 Arteon offers lots of practicality, comfortable accommodations and a comfortable ride. Don't focus too hard on the more powerful engine and you'll still be left with a very nice car.