Volkswagen wasn’t kidding when it named its new three-row SUV the Atlas, as a result of it’s been given a titanic activity.
The massive bruiser is VW’s first entry into the phase, which is among the best battlegrounds within the U.S. automotive market at present. It’s a tricky nut to crack, however untold fortunes await for individuals who do.
The Tennessee-built Atlas has been a very long time within the making. It was first proven as a diesel-hybrid idea in 2013 known as the CrossBlue, which is ironic given the most important function it’s anticipated to play in serving to VW recuperate from the self-inflicted wounds that diesels have been inflicting the corporate over the previous few years.
The manufacturing model takes the stage with a pair of play-it-safe gasoline engines. Entry stage front-wheel-drive fashions include a 235 hp 2.Zero-liter turbocharged four-cylinder for $31,675, whereas a 276 hp V6 begins at $33,075.
You’ll want the six-cylinder in case you’d like so as to add VW’s 4Motion all-wheel-drive system. It prices an extra $1,800 throughout the entire trims, which high out round $50,000. My mid-level SE tester with know-how bundle rang up at $39,815.
The worth seems to be proper, as a result of gross sales of the Atlas are off to a robust begin. VW moved 6,070 of them in December alone, second solely to the Jetta and twice that of its different American-made mannequin, the Passat sedan.
The primary impression that the Atlas makes is that its product supervisor drove a Honda Pilot into the event middle, gathered his workforce of engineers and stated “try this.”
This isn’t a foul factor. The Pilot is among the greats, and the Atlas is correct there with it. They’re roughly the identical measurement, and provides off an eerily comparable vibe in most respects. Their styling may be very completely different, nevertheless. The Atlas is boxier and extra truck-like, and its rational, unembellished inside design is straight from the VW look ebook, which sadly consists of some unconvincing wooden trim.
The cabin is cavernous, and 7 passenger seating is customary, however you possibly can swap the second row bench for a set of captain’s chairs. Adults even match pretty nicely within the third row, and the ample cargo area behind it gained’t go away many wanting for extra.
That sentiment additionally applies to the naturally-aspirated V6 engine. It’s clean, sounds nice and performs properly with the Eight-speed automated transmission that comes with it. You won’t wish to push the Atlas’ 5,000-pound tow score too typically, however for people-carrying duties it does the trick.
It does come up a bit of quick on gasoline financial system with a 23 mpg freeway score, in comparison with a similarly-equipped Toyota Highlander or Pilot’s 26 mpg, however that’s hardly sufficient of a distinction to get in the best way of preferences.
The plush trip was clearly tuned with American tastes in thoughts, however with a giant dollop of VW DNA. The Atlas is way from a GTI, however the suspension is well-damped, the steering responsive and it feels comparatively mild on its ft general. It’s extra just like the Pilot on this method than the lumbering Highlander, and simply attention-grabbing sufficient to drive to maintain your consideration.
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You’ll want it in tight quarters. I spent a day squeezing via Manhattan’s delivery-van choked aspect streets and nonetheless get sweaty simply eager about it. The Atlas has parking sensors, a blind spot monitor and a backup digital camera, however what it actually wants is a 360-degree fowl’s eye view show. It’s almost as large as a full-size pickup, and its excessive hood does not do it any favors in shut quarters, nevertheless it’ll match good within the wilds of surburbia.
With the know-how bundle, it may steer itself right into a parking area, which is all the time entertaining, and has adaptive cruise management, lane maintaining help and pedestrian detecting emergency brakes. Vital checked bins, however nothing groundbreaking there.
A built-in navigation system is barely supplied on the highest of the road SEL Premium, which additionally options widescreen digital instrument cluster borrowed from sister firm Audi. All fashions are outfitted with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto that mirror your telephone’s map apps on the dashboard display screen. In some methods, that’s extra interesting and becoming of our smartphone-connected occasions. For those who want an atlas in your Atlas, simply convey your individual.
One characteristic is rather a lot much less excessive tech, however completely suited to the use case for this sort of automobile. There’s a button within the local weather management marked REST that may maintain the cabin heat for as much as a half an hour utilizing engine’s residual warmth after you flip it off. For those who’ve ever let one among your kids sit within the automobile with snacks and an iPad whereas the opposite one performs silly, boring soccer once more, you’ll admire how helpful that is.
Does America really want one other three-row SUV? In all probability not, however VW wanted one, and the one it bought is fairly sturdy.
2018 Volkswagen Atlas
Sort: Four-door, 6-passenger AWD SUV
Engine: three.6-liter V6
Energy: 276 hp, 266 lb-ft
Transmission: Eight-speed automated
MPG: 17 metropolis/23 hwy