2022 Volkswagen Arteon Review Update

Christian Wardlaw, Independent Expert | May 20, 2022

Introduction - Find the best Volkswagen deals!

For people to know about an unsung hero of a car like the 2022 Volkswagen Arteon, they need to see it in advertising, see it on the road, or have a car-loving relative or friend recommend it to them. Otherwise, they can't possibly Google it or ask Siri about it, and that's especially true if they can't say or spell the car's name.

That's why the VW Arteon is unknown to Americans. They don't see the car, so they don't know it exists. And even if they do know it exists, they likely think it's just another sedan when what they want is a vehicle with all-wheel drive and lots of room for their kids and cargo. Y'know, a crossover SUV, like a Volkswagen Atlas.

The secret of the Arteon, aside from how to pronounce the name (Ar-tee-on), is that it has what is known as a sportback body style, or in simpler terms, a hatchback. Lift the large rear hatch, and you'll find a 27.2 cubic-foot trunk. Fold the back seats down, and you've got 56.2 cu-ft of cargo space. Both figures can match some crossover SUVs

Oh, and most Arteons also have VW's 4Motion all-wheel-drive system. So if Volkswagen lifted the suspension, glued on some body cladding, and bolted on some all-terrain tires, it could transform the Arteon into a crossover SUV coupe thingy to sell.

For the 2022 model year, Volkswagen offers the Arteon in SE R-Line, SEL R-Line, and SEL Premium R-Line trim levels, each infused with newfound power and performance. Previously, J.D. Power reviewed the 2019 Volkswagen Arteon during its first year of availability in the U.S. market. This review focuses on the Arteon's updates since that model year and how they potentially impact its overall appeal to consumers.

Here is a summary of the changes since our last VW Arteon review:

Changes to the 2020 Volkswagen Arteon:

Changes to the 2021 Volkswagen Arteon:

  • Updated exterior styling with improved lighting, new wheel designs, and fresh paint colors
  • Revised interior with more premium materials, ambient lighting, and touch-sensing steering wheel and climate controls
  • New Volkswagen Digital Cockpit instrumentation is standard
  • New MIB3 infotainment system is standard and includes wireless smartphone connectivity, improved navigation, and updated Car-Net connected services
  • New Harman Kardon premium audio system is standard for and available only with SEL Premium R-Line trim
  • New IQ Drive collection of advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS) is standard, including Travel Assist and Emergency Assist

Changes to the 2022 Volkswagen Arteon:

  • New, more powerful turbocharged 2.0-liter engine making 300 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque
  • New 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission (DCT)
  • SE trim adds more standard equipment:
    • R-Line Package
    • New 18-inch wheel design
    • Front and rear parking sensors
  • 4Motion all-wheel drive is now standard with SEL R-Line (and continues as standard for the SEL Premium R-Line)

What Owners Say About the Volkswagen Arteon - Find the best Volkswagen deals!

JDP_2022 Volkswagen Arteon SEL R-Line Moonstone Gray Black Wheels Front View

Photo: Christian Wardlaw

According to small sample size data collected from verified owners for the J.D Power 2021 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study, 89% of Volkswagen Arteon owners are male (vs. 65% for the Midsize Premium Car segment), and the median age of an Arteon owner is 57 years (vs. 63).

Owners have ranked the Arteon in 10 primary areas of evaluation. Listed below in descending order, you'll find their preferences, from their favorite thing about the vehicle to their least favorite thing:

  • Exterior styling
  • Driving feel
  • Feeling of safety
  • Interior design
  • Driving comfort
  • Setting up and starting
  • Getting in and out
  • Infotainment
  • Powertrain
  • Fuel economy

In the J.D. Power 2021 APEAL Study, the Arteon did not officially rank in the Midsize Premium Car segment due to a small sample size.

What Our Independent Expert Says About the Volkswagen Arteon - Find the best Volkswagen deals!

In the following sections, our independent expert analyzes a Volkswagen Arteon SEL R-Line in the new Moonstone Gray paint color and black wheels. The test vehicle's price came to $47,340, including the $1,195 destination charge to ship it to your dealership from VW's Emden, Germany, factory.

Artfully Designed, Naturally

2022 Volkswagen Arteon Interior Dashboard SEL R-Line

Photo: Christian Wardlaw

In keeping with its name, the 2022 Volkswagen Arteon is artfully styled. For a car built on a front-drive platform, it has a remarkably short front overhang. That design element, paired with the rakish roofline, tapering side window glass, and longer but not excessive rear overhang, give the Arteon spot-on proportions.

Aside from the expressive and borderline excessive grille, now with a Volkswagen signature light bar running across the middle when the headlights are on, the detailing is clean, adhering to a Volkswagen tradition. Just-right amounts of chrome and ornamentation give the Arteon an appropriately upscale appearance, and all of the alloy wheel choices for 2022 are attractive.

Inside, last year's interior update improved an already appealing cabin. The 10.25-inch Volkswagen Digital Cockpit digital instrumentation gives the car a technologically current vibe, as do the innovative touch-sensing steering wheel and climate controls. However, their gloss black surfaces suffer from glare and reflections, making them more challenging to see and use. Also, you can't use them by touch, so they can cause a distraction while driving.

As for the Arteon's trendy new Moonstone Gray paint and the SEL R-Line's optional black wheels, all I can tell you is that this car turned multiple heads in groups of teenaged boys crossing a street outside of Westlake High School in the upscale Los Angeles suburb of Westlake Village. This region is awash in lookalike Audis, BMWs, Mercedes-Benzes, and Teslas. Enough said.

Power Couple: Arteon's Heart Shared With Golf R

The Volkswagen Arteon has always made adequate power from its turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. But, for the 2022 model year, that changes. Now, it makes plenty of power thanks to a new turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder that supplies 300 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. Those figures represent gains of 32 hp and 37 lb-ft compared to the previous engine.

This new engine is the same one VW uses in the redesigned 2022 Golf R, but it doesn't quite match the hot hatch for output. No matter, because the infusion of motive force is palpable from behind the Arteon's thick, perfectly shaped steering wheel.

With this change, Volkswagen also swaps out the previous 8-speed automatic transmission for a new 7-speed DCT. However, the DCT might prove less pleasing to some Arteon buyers due to its unique characteristics. 

Essentially, a DCT is an automated manual gearbox, so it behaves differently from a traditional automatic with a torque converter. In turn, the DCT's design can produce unusual sensations and responses when it shifts. Learning what a DCT is and how it works makes these traits easier to understand and accept. And if you live in a hilly area, I recommend using the car's Auto Hold function, or the Arteon can roll unexpectedly when you release the brake pedal.

During evaluation on the city, highway, and mountain roads in the Southern California regions of Malibu and Thousand Oaks, the 2022 Arteon proved terrific to drive. The added power is a blessing, especially if you switch from the Eco, Comfort, or Normal driving modes into Sport mode, sharpening throttle and transmission response. 

Additionally, the test vehicle's standard 4Motion all-wheel drive and XDS cross-differential systems help eliminate front-wheel slip under hard acceleration, whether you're blasting out of a curve on undulating pavement or turning onto a fast-moving highway from a side street. Damp, misty, and foggy testing conditions caused slick spots on the mountain roads, and 4Motion undoubtedly added more sure-footedness during portions of the drive.

An adaptive damping suspension is standard, and it does an excellent job of eliminating unwanted body motions and providing a smooth, connected ride quality. In addition, the test car's 20-inch wheels and 245/35 Continental ProContact tires supplied excellent grip, contributing to the Arteon's ability to hustle.

Cool, gray weather meant the car's brakes didn't heat up as much as they might on a hot sunny day, but in these conditions, they proved fade-free. Furthermore, the steering is excellent, from the feel of the wheel in your hands to assist levels and response to input.

Indeed, I found the 2022 Arteon exceptionally enjoyable to drive at all times. The car is quick, comfortable, and quiet on the highway, and considering its limo-sized back seat and SUV-sized cargo area, it's a bargain at its price.

As for the Arteon’s gas mileage, on my testing route, the car returned 24.5 mpg. That's just under the official EPA fuel-economy rating of 25 mpg in combined driving.

Volkswagen Arteon IQ Drive Review

2022 Volkswagen Arteon IQ Drive Steering Wheel Controls

Photo: Christian Wardlaw

Last year, Volkswagen added its IQ Drive collection of driver assistance and collision avoidance technologies to the 2021 Arteon. Those carry over for 2022, and you can learn more about IQ Drive here.

Standard equipment includes Front Assist (forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection), blind-spot warning, and rear cross-traffic warning.

When upgrading from the Arteon SE R-Line to the SEL R-Line, IQ Drive adds Light Assist, Lane Assist, Travel Assist, and Emergency Assist.

Here is what each of these features includes:

  • Light Assist is an automatic high-beam headlight control system
  • Lane Assist adds lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assistance to the Arteon
  • Travel Assist adds adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go capability and a lane-centering assistance system for Level 2 semi-autonomous driving with your hands on the steering wheel
  • Emergency Assist detects when the driver's hands are not on the steering wheel, presumes a medical emergency may be happening, and can bring the Arteon to a safe stop while activating the hazard flashers.

During testing on both freeways and coastal highways, Travel Assist worked well. It doesn't allow you to let go of the steering wheel for long before making increasingly urgent requests to put your hands back on the steering wheel. If you don't, Travel Assist will engage Emergency Assist, which sharply brakes the car to get the driver's attention and then starts to slow the vehicle.

For some reason, I struggle with Travel Assist. First, it's important to note that VW provides two cruise control buttons on the steering wheel. The upper button is for regular cruise control. The bottom one is for adaptive cruise control with Travel Assist. Therefore, it's essential to use the correct button.

Then, you need to make sure that you get the Travel Assist activation message in the digital instrumentation display. Unless the Lane Assist technology has identified the lane markings necessary for Travel Assist to work, you won't see it. Also, based on my testing in the Arteon, Travel Assist can disengage after you brake the car and come to a stop at a traffic light. If that happens, you need to re-engage the system.

It would be helpful if Volkswagen provided a green steering wheel icon within the instrumentation to indicate when Travel Assist is active and when it is not. That visual icon is common in other vehicles with this type of technology.

Additional safety features on the 2022 Arteon include an automatic post-collision braking system, which brings the car to a stop as soon as possible following a crash to avoid secondary impacts after the airbags have already deployed and deflated.

The test car also had front and rear parking sensors and an automatic reverse braking system. My entire family discovered this feature as we slowly exited our driveway to attend my daughter's all-district strings concert. The Arteon's rear parking sensors identified the street behind the car as an obstacle, and when I ignored the audible warnings, the car slammed on its brakes, suddenly and without any input from me. 

Unfortunately, this is a common problem at our house. But you can turn the feature off through the Arteon's infotainment system by choosing the menu related to parking systems.

Volkswagen Arteon MIB Infotainment System Review

Last year also brought a new third-generation (MIB3) infotainment system to the Arteon. It carries over for 2022 and includes:

  • 8-inch touchscreen
  • Bluetooth smartphone connectivity
  • Car-Net connected services (Remote Access, Safe & Secure, Hotspot service plans)
  • Wireless App Connect (Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Mirror Link)
  • SiriusXM 360L satellite radio (3-month trial subscription)
  • Wireless smartphone charging
  • Navigation system
  • Eight stereo speakers

Though MIB3 is new to the Arteon, its 8-inch touchscreen is increasingly small for a modern, technologically advanced automobile. It is a proximity-sensing display that opens secondary menu selections as you bring your hand toward the screen. Knobs flank the display, one for system power and stereo volume and the other for stereo tuning and navigation map zooming. Primary menu selections line each side of the screen to call up MIB3 main features and settings.

The Arteon's MIB3 has a voice recognition system, but it is limited in its capabilities based on my testing. To get natural speech recognition, you'll need to activate the Car-Net Hotspot service and then add Plus Speech service, and that gets expensive, fast. 

Perhaps rightly, Volkswagen points out that most people will wirelessly connect their smartphone and just use Siri or Google Assistant if they want directions. However, you cannot use those features to control, for example, the climate system. And if you're driving in an area without cell service, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto won't be very helpful.

In any case, when the test car couldn't interpret "Find the nearest Starbucks" or "Directions to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington D.C." I gave up trying.

Independent Expert Opinion - Find the best Volkswagen deals!

2022 Volkswagen Arteon SEL R-Line Moonstone Gray Black Wheels Rear View

Photo: Christian Wardlaw

Overall, the 2022 Volkswagen Arteon is a terrific car. It looks like nothing else on the road, and not simply because VW sells so few of them. Moreover, it offers many of the features people claim they need from a crossover SUV, such as all-wheel drive, a roomy back seat, and a big cargo area. Plus, the Arteon provides better driving dynamics than any Volkswagen SUV can, not to mention most of the cars that might compete with it.

What might those be? J.D. Power classifies the Arteon as a Midsize Premium Car, a segment that includes the Acura TLX, Cadillac CT5, Kia Stinger, and Lexus ES. Of this quartet, only the Stinger offers a similar sportback configuration.

Looking beyond these vehicles, the Arteon might also be a worthy alternative to the Audi A5 Sportback and the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe. You could also consider it a rival of actual crossover SUVs in coupe formats, such as the Audi Q5 Sportback, BMW X4, Infiniti QX55, and Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe. 

Of course, compared to the SUVs, the VeeDub won't offer similar levels of ground clearance, but you weren't planning on off-roading anyway, were you?

Christian Wardlaw is a veteran digital automotive journalist with nearly 30 years of experience in test-driving vehicles. He has held editorial leadership roles with Edmunds, J.D. Power, the New York Daily News, and others. In addition to JDPower.com, his work has appeared in numerous new- and used-car buying guides, newspapers, and automotive industry trade journals, including Autotrader, Capital One Auto Navigator, CarGurus, Kelley Blue Book, WardsAuto, and more.

The opinions expressed in this review are the author’s own, not J.D. Power’s.

No portion of these reviews may be reproduced, distributed, publicly displayed, or used for a derivative work without J.D. Power’s written permission. © 2022 J.D. Power

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