Volkswagen Arteon: Which Should You Buy, 2020 or 2021?

2021 Volkswagen Arteon

Most significant changes: Subtly revised exterior styling and updated interior styling; new digital gauge cluster and the latest MIB3 infotainment system; all-wheel-drive SE and non-R-Line SEL trims are gone

Price change: SE trims increase $1,175; SEL R-Line increases $25 for front-wheel drive and decreases $75 for AWD; SEL Premium R-Line decreases $525; destination fee increases $175 to $1,195

On sale: Fourth quarter of 2020

Which should you buy, 2020 or 2021? Unless you’re buying a base model, model-year 2021 is the way to go. (Real enthusiasts will say the correct answer is, “Wait to import an Arteon Shooting Brake,” the gorgeous wagon version of the Arteon that isn’t being sold in the U.S., but that isn’t “realistic” for most car shoppers.)

In only its third model year, Volkswagen is updating its premium Arteon sedan for 2021 with subtle tweaks to the exterior, as well as substantial updates inside to give it a more premium feel befitting its near $50,000 price. The German automaker also simplified the Arteon lineup slightly, making the base SE front-wheel drive only and eliminating the non-R-Line version of the mid-level SEL.

Related: Volkswagen Updates 2021 Arteon Sedan With New Interior, Mild Facelift

Available in the fourth quarter of 2020 (astute readers still capable of managing the passage of time will note that we are now in the fourth quarter of 2020, and that there are just over 10 weeks left in the year at the time of writing), the 2021 Arteon sees its base price increase for its new features, but the price goes down as you get to higher trims in the lineup.

A FWD-only 2021 Arteon SE will start at $38,190, $1,175 more than the 2020 (all prices include the destination fee, which increases $175 from $1,020 to $1,195 for 2021). Upgrading to the FWD SEL R-Line costs an extra $4,600 at $42,790, with AWD versions priced at $44,790. That makes the 2021 FWD SEL R-Line $25 more expensive than its 2020 counterpart, but thanks to the reduction in cost of AWD from $1,900 to $1,800 for 2021, the AWD version is actually $75 cheaper. The savings get even greater for the range-topping SEL Premium R-Line, which comes with AWD standard and starts at $48,190 — $525 cheaper than the 2020 version.

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While the price increase for the base model may be too much to bear — and if you’re looking for a base model, spending the absolute minimum might be your goal — the added features and luxury of the mid- and top-trim 2021 Arteons for either less or minimally more than the 2020 make it an easy choice over its predecessor.

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