Behind the Wheel

2019 Volkswagen Arteon Review: VW phones it in with its latest sedan

The Volkswagen Arteon is the automaker's new premium sedan.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Look at the 2019 Volkswagen Arteon and you have an idea of what it is. Driving it, your suspicions are confirmed. The Arteon is just another Volkswagen sedan. Nothing about it creates a visceral reaction for the driver nor does it excite. The Arteon simply exists.

Taking a look at the sales numbers, Volkswagen customers don't seem too thrilled with the new addition to the VW lineup. It's selling only marginally better than Fiat's core models through the third quarter of 2019. The Arteon is the worst-selling Volkswagen model in the U.S. that isn't the discontinued Touareg or CC.

2019 Volkswagen Arteon The fastback model has a low and wide stance.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

There are plenty of reasons to be non-plussed about the Arteon, which competes directly with the Audi A5, Genesis G70, B W 3-Series, and Kia Stinger in price point and market positioning. At its front, the model shares looks with the rest of the Volkswagen family, which has become increasingly boring to look at. This from a company that made its name selling the Rabbit, Karmann Ghia, and Thing.

It has a low and wide stance, which is exactly the direction many new sedans are going these days. Its wide crossbar grille extends across the front of the vehicle giving the front a segmented by cohesive look that is reminiscent of the ugly dashboard int he Lexus LS. The Arteon comes standard with LED headlights, daytime running lights, and taillights. Premium accents like puddle lights and power-folding side mirrors are available as you move up in trim levels.

The front-wheel drive Arteon has a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine under its hood that is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission here in the U.S. It produces 268 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, which is a fine amount but not enough to release any endorphins.

2019 Volkswagen Arteon The long bars of the grille carry over into the headlight design of the Arteon.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Its handling isn't particularly engaging nor is it dull. Middle of the road is what Volkswagen seems to like to be with their sedans and they've done it again here.

A manual transmission is available in the car Europe and it shows in the Arteon's center console styling. The console top lays lower than the position of the average American car, which would be great for drivers who needed to rest their elbow near the shifter on the ready.

Other than that quibble, the interior remains functionally appropriate though its aesthetics and materials choices are not optimal. Simply put, the Arteon looks designed straight from the Volkswagen parts bin and serves as a reminder that there are other, more nicely appointed vehicles a buyer could choose from.

The car's 12.3-inch Digital Cockpit is a highlight, replacing the instrument panel, and the standard 8-inch infotainment touch screen is as status quo as they come for Volkswagen. It's completely function and for most buyers, that's exactly what they're looking for.

2019 Volkswagen Arteon The interior of the Arteon is completely function but it doesn't excite.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

The Arteon is available with rear climate controls which are a nice touch and Nappa leather upholstery is also available in higher grades. That finery can't hide the Arteon's general lack of comfortable seating space. On the upside, there's a good amount of passenger and cargo space.

The 2019 Volkswagen Arteon starts at $35,845 but climbs close to $50,000 when you opt for higher trims and premium add-ons. Driving a Arteon makes one wonder what else is out there. In an evolving car market space where Hyundai is taking design and innovation risks that are paying off while Nissan and Toyota are adding value to their models at every turn, it's hard to reconcile settling for the Arteon. It's not surprising that most customers are passing it by.

There's a new horse in town - actually, 1,233 horses.

Photo courtesy of Czinger

The man behind the Divergent Blade, a 3D-printed supercar, is at it again. Czinger Vehicles is poised to debut its U.S.-developed model, the 21C in front of the crowd during the Geneva International Motor Show in early March.

An early peek at the car has revealed Pagani and Koenigsegg-like looks and a smiling LED taillight at the rear sitting below a giant wing. Led by company CEO and founder Kevin Czinger, the designer of the Divergent Blade, Czinger Vehicles has put forth some impressive stats regarding the C21. It says that it has 1,233 horsepower and can get from zero to 62 mph in 1.9 seconds.

Czinger 21C hypercar At the back is a smiling LED taillight.Photo courtesy of Czinger

In an interview last year with Road and Track, Czinger said, "We're looking to combine computing power, science, and additive manufacturing into one system."

Ahead of the car's debut Czinger has released two hype videos:

www.youtube.com

www.youtube.com

When describing the Divergent Blade, Czinger revealed that it's made of 3D-printed sections that are fused together using reinforced carbon fiber elements. That structure also included aluminum and titanium. The 21C likely features much of the same components.

We already know that the 21C will not have traditional seats. Like in a fighter jet or a Renault Twizzy, the two seats will be one behind the other at the center of the car.

Czinger will build customer versions of the 2C1 in Los Angeles where the company has its headquarters. The company already has a worldwide dealer network with salespeople in Los Gatos, Beverly Hills, Miami, Mexico City, Dallas, New York, London, Munich, Frankfurt, and Stuttgart.

Czinger 21C hypercar The car has Pagani and Koenigsegg-like looks.Photo courtesy of Czinger

Watch for more news on the model following its debut in Switzerland on March 3. Follow all of our Geneva International Motor Show coverage here.

The Hyundai Nexo is noted for its well-designed headlights.

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has announced its results from the latest round of testing. Five vehicles came out on top earning the highest headlight score across all trim levels.

How does IIHS test? According to their website:

IIHS engineers measure the reach of a vehicle's headlights as the vehicle travels straight and on curves. Sensors on the track measure how far from the vehicle the light extends with an intensity of at least 5 lux. A lux is a unit of illuminance, or the amount of light falling on a surface. For comparison, a full moon on a cloudless night illuminates the ground below to about 1 lux.

Both low beams and high beams are measured on five approaches, shown in the graphic below:
- Straightaway
- Gradual left curve (800-foot radius)
- Gradual right curve (800-foot radius)
- Sharp left curve (500-foot radius)
- Sharp right curve (500-foot radius)

On each approach, visibility measurements are taken on the right edge of the roadway. On the curves, measurements also are taken on the left edge of the travel lane. On the straightaway, the second measurement is taken at a point corresponding to the left edge of a two-lane road. This allows the engineers to gauge the illumination on both the right and left side of a straightaway, which are typically quite different. With most headlights, there is a steep drop-off in light on the left side of a straight road in order to prevent glare to oncoming vehicles.

Glare for oncoming vehicles is also measured from low beams in each scenario. Engineers record the percentage by which it exceeds a set threshold.

Headlights are tested as received from the dealer. Although many headlight problems could be resolved by adjusting the aim of the lamps, IIHS doesn't change headlight aim. Few vehicle owners adjust the vertical aim of their headlights, so leaving the aim the way it was set at the factory makes the testing more realistic. Horizontal aim also is important, but in most vehicles it can't be changed after the initial factory setting.

Readings are taken 10 inches from the ground for visibility and 3 feet, 7 inches from the ground for glare.

IIHS testers use a system of demerits to rate the headlights. Low beams are weighted more heavily than high beams. Straighway readings are weighted more heavily than curved ratings because crashes happen most often on straight roads. Vehicles equipped with high-beam assist get their low beam demerits reduced.

All the vehicles on this list earned a perfect "Good" score in IIHS headlight testing across all trim levels.

2020 Honda Insight

2020 Honda Insight

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

The 2020 Honda Insight comes standard with multi-element LED headlights. The Insight starts at $22,930.

Hyundai Nexo

2020 Hyundai Nexo

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

The 2020 Hyundai Nexo comes standard with LED headlights, daytime running lights, and taillights. Automatic headlights are also standard. Hyundai prices the Nexo starting at $58,735.

Lexus NX

2019 Lexus NX

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc.

Lexus has equipped the 2020 Lexus NX with standard automatic headlights. Premium triple-beam LED headlights and enhanced LED daytime running lights with integrated turn indicators are available. The Lexus NX starts at $36,870.

2020 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid

2019 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid

Photo courtesy of Subaru of America

The 2020 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid comes standard with LED steering responsive headlights and LED fog lights. The Crosstrek Hybrid starts at $35,145.

Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3

Photo courtesy of Tesla

The Tesla Model 3 starts at $39,990 and comes standard with LED headlights and taillights. Automatic high beams are standard and fog lights are available.