2018 Volkswagen Atlas Review

2018 Volkswagen Atlas Review

The 2018 Volkswagen Atlas represents a new chapter in Volkswagen’s U.S. story. Built in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the seven-passenger Atlas offers competitive levels of technology and spaciousness combined with hallmark Volkswagen driving dynamics and attention to detail, all at a price designed to draw attention in the crowded family SUV segment.

As the newest and biggest member of the Volkswagen lineup, the full-size Atlas SUV offers family-ready passenger and cargo volume, as well as everyday usability and utility. Atlas is available in five trim levels-S, SE, SE w/ Technology, SEL and SEL Premium-and is scheduled to appear in dealer showrooms in Spring of 2017.

2018 Volkswagen Atlas Exterior and Interior

Stylistically, the Atlas shares far in common with the five-seat and more Euro-oriented (and pricier) Touareg, although its flared fenders and slightly more angular overall look have a lot in common with the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Full LED headlamps are standard on even the base model, but LED tail lamps are on the options list.

2018 Volkswagen Atlas Review

Inside, the Atlas’ dashboard could easily have been lifted from the Passat. VW’s Car-Net infotainment system takes center stage on the dashboard and it’s flanked by a pair of large air vents. The megabuck SEL Premium offers a full LCD instrument cluster, which displaces with conventional gauges in favor of a multi-configurable screen.

All three rows of the Atlas offer better-than-average interior room. The second row slides fore and aft as in most competitors, but the Atlas joins only the Pathfinder in allowing a child seat to remain in the second row when it is slid forward for access to the rearmost seats. And that third row is reasonably roomy, providing what may be the most capacious accommodations in its class.

2018 Volkswagen Atlas Review

2018 Volkswagen Atlas Under the Hood

If you’re familiar with the VW lineup, what’s under the hood isn’t much of a surprise. Base models utilize a familiar 2.0-liter 4-cylinder turbocharged gasoline engine rated here at 238 horsepower. It’s the same powertrain we’ve seen in numerous other VW products, ranging from the Golf GTI all the way to the large Audi Q7 SUV (with which the Atlas shares very little).

That engine, however, is only mated to front-wheel drive, meaning it’s not likely to be a big seller in the places where snowfall is a regular thing. That’s an odd decision, if you ask us, as it significantly limits the Atlas’ appeal– especially as all-wheel drive market share continues to grow.

Optional is a 280 hp 3.6-liter V-6, which comes standard with front-drive and offers all-wheel drive as an option. Fuel economy won’t be a selling point; the V-6 all-wheel drive model is rated at 17 mpg city, 23 highway, 19 combined, while the front-wheel drive comes in at 18/25/20 mpg.

2018 Volkswagen Atlas Review

2018 Volkswagen Atlas Prices

Atlas S: The most basic model; 18-inch wheels, a 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system, smartphone support. $31,425 gets you the 2.0-liter turbo-four and front-wheel drive. You can step up to a 3.6-liter VR6 engine and front-wheel drive for $32,825, or get the VR6 and AWD for $34,625.

Atlas S Launch: A limited-edition trim variant; similar to the above, but with an 8.0-inch touchscreen, satellite radio, a panoramic sunroof and more. The VR6 is the only engine option. $34,425 for front-wheel drive; 36,225 for all-wheel drive.

Atlas SE: Adds heated front seats, automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers, blind-spot monitors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and leatherette seats, and more. $34,515 for I4-powered FWD cars. VR6-powered: $35,915 for FWD, $37,715 for AWD.

Atlas SE with Technology: To the SE trim, the SE with Technology adds adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, emergency braking, lane-departure warnings, remote start and more. $36,615 for I4-powered FWD cars. VR6-powered: $38,015 for FWD, $39,815 for AWD.

Atlas SEL: All of the SE with Technology trim goodies plus a panoramic sunroof, power-adjustable passenger seat, driver’s seat and mirror memory functions, parking aids, a second-row 115v power outlet and more. I4-powered FWD cars: $40,085. VR6-powered: $41,815 for FWD, $43,615 for AWD.

Atlas SEL Premium: Loaded with the 12.3-inch VW Digital Cockpit instrument cluster, heated and vented front seats, heated rear seats, power-folding mirrors, 20-inch wheels, a Fender audio system and more. VR6-powered and AWD-equipped only; $49,415.