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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