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The new midsize hatchback competes well against similar models from more expensive German manufacturers

VOLKSWAGEN OF AMERICA - The 2019 Volkswagen Arteon drives even better than it looks, and it looks great for an affordable family car.

The 2019 Volkswagen Arteon is the latest — and one of the best — competitors in the emerging luxury bargain car category.

If that sounds like a contradiction, you haven't been keeping up with the recent wave of upscale products from affordable vehicle manufacturers. This is different than the Japanese automakers launching their own luxury brands. Luxury bargain cars are upscale vehicles still sold by the likes of Hyundai, Kia, Nissan and Toyota.

Volkswagen has tried this before with the CC and Phaeton. Both were impressive sedans that competed well against German luxury cars that cost nearly twice as much. But neither caught on.

VOLKSWAGEN OF AMERICA - The interior of the 2019 Volkswagen Arteon is smartly designed, with clearn lines, a well-integrated infotainment screen, and a surprising amount of interiour room for a midsize car.

Undeterred, VW is taking another shot with the 2019 Arteon, and anyone looking for a sophisticated ride at a reasonable cost should pay attention. Put simply, the Arteon is a strikingly good looking car with a refined interior that delivers sport sedan performance and is available with all-wheel-drive — all for much less than you would expect.

At first glance, the Arteon looks more like a Tesla S than any other Volkswagen, thanks to the swelling rear end and fastback roofline, which conceals its large hatch. The front end is more conventional for the German manufacturer, although much blunter and aggressive than any other model.

VOLKSWAGEN OF AMERICA - The rear seat of the 2019 Volkswagen Arteon has enough room to carry three adults in comfort (SEL Premium model shown).

The interior is more conventionally Volkswagen, with form following function, but is enhanced by a surprising amount of interior space for a midsize sedan. The materials are all high quality, rivaling those of the company's upscale Audi line. The rear seat provides enough room for three adults, but also features a convenient fold-down center console when only two passengers are back there.

All trim levels of the Arteon are powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four cylinder engine that produces 268 horsepower and 250 foot pounds of torque. Although that does not actually sounds like much these days, it produces impressive acceleration through the standard eight-speed automatic transmission, which has a manual shift mode for drivers who want more control. The combination is more than enough for any kind of day-to-day driving situations, and surprisingly fun when the road opens up, especially in the Sport mode.

VOLKSWAGEN OF AMERICA - The fastback styling of the 2019 Volkswagen Arteon conceals the large rear hatch that opens to reveal a huge amount of storage space.

Our test ride was an SE model with 4MOTION, VW's excellent AWD system. Although the entry trim level , it still came with a leather interior, a large but well-integrated infotainment display screen, and all the bells and whistles buyers would expect in a genuine German luxury car — but all for under $38,000. In case you don't know, that's a bargain.

It's easy to question why Volkswagen is even introducing a new sedan these days. Consumers have reportedly turned against them and minivans, preferring crossovers, SUVs and trucks instead. That may be the big picture right now, but there is still a market for a good, reasonably-priced car with a lot going for it. The 2019 Volkswagen Arteon fits that bill at a good price.

VOLKSWAGE OF AMERICA - Simple lines and easy to operate controls are a trademark of all Volkswagen models, inlcuding the 2019 Arteon.

2019 Volkswagen Arteon SE 4MOTION

Base price:$37,645

Price as tested: $38,640

Type: Midsize sedan

Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder (268 hp, 250 lbs-ft)

Transmission: 8-speed automatic with manual shift mode

Modes: Eco, Comfort, Sport, Custom

EPA estimated mileage: 20/27

Overall length: 191.4 inches

Curb weight: 3,835 pounds

Final assembly: Emden, Germany


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