Sep 13, 2019

What we're driving: 2019 Volkswagen Arteon

2019 Volkswagen Arteon SEL. Photo courtesy of VW

This week I'm driving the 2019 Volkswagen Arteon, a pretty car with a funny name.

Why it matters: VW is trying to revive its brand in the U.S. after its devastating diesel-emissions scandal. Having car names that customers can latch onto certainly helps.

  • The question that VW faces — as do all automakers — is whether there's still a market for 4-door passenger sedans.
  • Volkswagen has a history of assigning strange names to its vehicles — Touareg? Tiguan? EOS? At least they got it right with Atlas, the moniker for their big all-American SUV.

Arteon certainly is a looker, especially in the deep Atlantic Blue paint job on my test model.

  • Based on VW's new modular MQB architecture, it has an aggressive stance, which is low and wide, but with a sleek coupe-like profile that gives it an upscale presence.

Details: The base SE model I drove came with the standard 268 hp 2.0-liter turbo engine paired to an 8-speed transmission.

  • The 4Motion all-wheel-drive system cuts the fuel economy to an average 23 mpg (vs. 25 mpg for front-wheel drive) and raises the sticker price to $37,645.
  • Basic driver-assistance features such as automated emergency braking and blind-spot monitoring are standard. But more advanced safety tech — adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist and automatic high-beam headlamps — are only available on higher trim levels.

The bottom line: Styling alone doesn't cut it, though. As with previous VW flagship sedans — the Phaeton and CC — the Arteon attempts to push into premium territory, but some of its interior materials and technology don't live up to that ambition.

Go deeper: See what else Joann has been driving

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What we're driving: Mazda CX-9 Signature

Mazda CX-9 Signature. Photo courtesy of Mazda

This week I'm driving the 2019 Mazda CX-9, the largest vehicle in Mazda's lineup.

The big picture: I've always been a Mazda fan. Their cars are stylish, fun to drive and generally offer great gas mileage.

Go deeperArrowOct 4, 2019

Hybrid cars try to shed tree-hugger image

Lincoln Aviator Grand Touring is a plug-in hybrid. Photo: Lincoln

Carmakers are going to great lengths to reposition their gas-electric hybrid models as sporty, premium or even high-performance — anything but the responsible choice for tree-huggers.

The big picture: With stricter fuel economy standards looming, and zero-emission electric cars still too pricey for most consumers, automakers need to fill the compliance gap by selling a lot more hybrids.

Go deeperArrowOct 11, 2019

Canoo reimagines the automobile

Canoo, an electric vehicle prototype that will be available by subscription starting in 2021. Photo: Courtesy of Canoo

Electric vehicles, which don't have an engine, transmission or other space-eating components, allow automotive designers the freedom to rethink what a car should be. One example: Canoo, which debuted Tuesday night in Los Angeles.

Why it matters: Canoo reimagines everything about the automobile, including the business model. Instead of buying a Canoo, consumers will only be able to get one via monthly subscription.

Go deeperArrowSep 25, 2019