2023 Volkswagen Arteon R-Line Trims: Which Is The Best Value

Volkswagen's best-looking car is also one of the rarest on U.S. roads, with the 2023 VW Arteon proving there's still life left in the sedan. Launched back in 2017 — and recipient of a facelift in 2020 — the Arteon apes the styling of German sports sedans with considerably larger price tags. In fact, the shapely four-door starts at $43,010 (plus $1,295 destination).

As usual, there are some decisions to be made when it comes to the order form, though to make life a little easier, Volkswagen has standardized a lot of the previous options and trims. Now, there are just three to choose from in the U.S. Even better, all three — the Arteon SE, SEL, and SEL Premium — all come with VW's R-Line package.

The R-Line package doesn't make the Arteon go any faster, but it does help it look the part. It consists of a new front grille with an integrated light bar that spans across the standard LED headlamp clusters, together with a new lower bumper. The result is certainly striking, concentric bands of chrome that leave the sedan looking lower and wider.

Meanwhile, there's also a gloss black rear lip spoiler and matching air intakes. Inside, the R-Line package includes contrast stitching on the leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, plus paddle shifters for manually moving through the 7-speed DSG transmission's ratios. Finally, there's a black headliner to the cabin and a special welcome screen for the in-dash displays.

There are big differences lower in the range

Also standard across the board is the engine, a 2.0 TSI turbocharged four-cylinder. Here, it's good for 300 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque and is combined with a 7-speed DSG transmission.

The cheapest model, the 2023 Arteon SE R-Line, pairs that with front-wheel drive (FWD). Standard equipment includes 18-inch alloy wheels, adaptive cruise control, and VW's Adaptive Chassis Control that uses electronically-adjustable dampers to switch between comfort and sport settings. Inside, there are leatherette seats, an 8-inch infotainment touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and safety features like Lane Assist, Blind Spot Alerts, and Forward Collision Warnings.

Volkswagen's middle trim, the 2023 Arteon SEL R-Line, starts at $47,180 (plus destination). The biggest difference is that it adds 4MOTION all-wheel drive (AWD), which not only improves traction in snow and ice conditions but improves performance including acceleration and cornering. 20-inch alloy wheels are standard on the SEL R-Line, as are leather seats, a power tilting & sliding panoramic sunroof, and power-folding side mirrors.

The top trim is nice, but you probably shouldn't buy it

Top of the range is the 2023 Arteon SEL Premium R-Line, from $50,175 (plus destination). It keeps the AWD and 20-inch wheels and adds Park Assist, a Harman Kardon audio system, a massage seat for the driver, front seat ventilation, and heated seats for the front and rear. VW also throws in more convenience features, like a 45W rear seat USB-C charging port.

While the extras are nice, the best bang for your buck probably comes in the middle of the Arteon range. The SEL R-Line trim gets the performance and traction improvements brought by 4MOTION AWD, along with visual niceties like the larger wheels, and its cabin is well-appointed with the gadgets you'd expect. Yes, you miss out on some of the top-end features — particularly for those in the rear, where heated seats and the rear charging port are omitted — but that seems a small compromise for the cost saving.

The bigger decision, in fact, might be when to buy, and "sooner rather than later" seems wise in the case of the Arteon. Volkswagen hasn't announced it's discontinuing the sleek sedan, but its days seem numbered with the upcoming arrival of the VW ID.7. That all-electric sedan will have green credentials to boast of, not to mention a high-tech cabin, but whether it can match the Arteon's desirable design still remains to be seen.