Volkswagen on Thursday debuted a new mid-size car for the U.S. market to replace the outgoing CC sedan in a bid to increase overall brand sales.
The German automaker faces an uphill climb with the new model. The 2019 VW Arteon enters the market at an inauspicious time for passenger cars, which are struggling mightily as Americans snap up crossovers, sport-utility vehicles and pickup trucks.
But Volkswagen believes the vehicle's coupe-like design, safety features and peppy powertrain will appeal to consumers who aren't ready to give up on cars.
Already on sale in Europe, the vehicle was set to make its North American debut at the Chicago auto show Thursday.
To be sure, the mid-size segment still has a few stalwarts, including the redesigned Toyota Camry, which is flourishing. So success can be had.
But after VW's image was tarnished in a global emissions scandal that caused the company to abandon diesel engines in the U.S., the automaker has an even tougher road to travel as it seeks to win back customers who went elsewhere.
"The Arteon is Volkswagen's brand shaper," VW North America CEO Hinrich Woebcken said in a statement. "This car is the spiritual successor to the CC, but it is bolder and faster. Arteon has the style and performance of a luxury Gran Turismo for about the price of a fully loaded midsize sedan."
Exact pricing and fuel economy were not revealed. The vehicle arrives at U.S. dealerships in the third quarter.
The good news: Volkswagen has had recent success with a brand-new large SUV called the Atlas and the redesigned Tiguan crossover. That indicates the company's brand still has plenty of life.
VW global brand CEO Herbert Diess said in January at the Detroit auto show that the company is still aiming to become a major U.S. seller. For now, the VW brand remains a small player with market share of 2% in 2017, according to Autodata Corp.
The new Arteon's appeal includes a 268-horsepower, turbocharged 2-liter engine with a standard eight-speed automatic transmission and optional four-wheel drive.
The standard model gets 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, LED headlights and heated leather front seats.
The vehicle is noticeably longer than its predecessor, the CC, with an extra 5 inches of length in the wheelbase. It's also longer and wider.
The styling differences include a wider stance with a sloping roofline, frame-free windows, dual exhaust tips shaped like trapezoids and a wide chrome grille.
Standard safety features include a rearview camera, blind-spot monitoring, emergency braking and rear traffic alert. One standout feature is automatic post-crash braking.
Three trim levels are available.
Follow USA TODAY reporter Nathan Bomey on Twitter @NathanBomey.