For 2018, Volkswagen has debuted an all-new three row crossover. Although I personally thought the Touareg was a terrific SUV, with the exception of it being overpriced, it never took off here in the United States. The all-new Atlas aims at taking on the leaders of the market at a revised price point. But does it have a chance?
From the outside, you’ll find the Atlas wears a truck-like, rugged appearance. It’s remarkably different, which is exactly what VW needed to do this time around. It has full LED front lighting and LED taillights are standard on SEL Premium models. The added LED lights maintain the crisp and clean lines. The only visual letdown is with the new wheel designs – both the eighteen and twenty inch wheels appear very plain and do not match the exterior styling of the Atlas.
You’ll find the interior to be simple and functional with a quality feel. It’s retains the exacting and ergonomic layout we’ve come to love from VW’s interiors. It’s very spacious for all passengers, even the third row with 38.3 inches of headroom and 33.7 inches of legroom. Most third rows are meant for kids only, but VW challenges that notion with seats that will comfortably fit moderately-sized adults! Cargo containers, cup holders and device inputs are found throughout the vehicle for added convenience. A cool feature available exclusively on the SEL Premium is the Advanced Volkswagen Digital Cockpit system. It provides the driver with a completely digital and customizable instrument cluster. The SEL model also has the new Fender Premium Audio system with 12 speakers.
The Atlas is offered with a choice of two engines, a 2.0 liter turbo charged four cylinder or the 3.6 liter VR6. Our tester was equipped with the latter. The six cylinder provides 276 hp and 266 lb-ft of torque and brings a 5,000lbs tow rating. Even with the V6, it’s not the best at quick acceleration. I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt, but I can’t see the smaller 2.0T offering enough power given the Atlas’ size. Regardless of engine, it uses a eight-speed transmission. Unlike its competition, the Atlas is fun to drive. This sounds a little bizarre given the segment, but VW spent the required time to develop the chassis. Rigidity comes in part to use of the latest technology like the laser clamp welding and ultra-high-strength steel.
Volkswagen has taken a cue from American consumers and developed a true winner for this market. Although they have struggled in the past, you’re going to see a new presence on the roads. The Atlas offers the technology, simple styling, and value consumers want in their next crossover. With plenty of space and a renewed focus on affordability, this is a big step in the right direction for Volkswagen’s biggest new model.
|2018 VW Atlas V6 SE w/ Technology
|As Tested MSRP||$38,015|