Now Volkswagen has entered the family-sized SUV market, casting its net to catch American consumers looking to meld form, function and versatility with the long-time German brand.
Enter the 2018 Volkswagen Atlas V6 SEL with 4Motion model – with a new wrinkle – it’s built by American labor in Chattanooga, Tenn. The Atlas seats seven passengers and has been selling like hotcakes.
“This is the biggest and boldest Volkswagen we have ever built in the United States, delivering the distinctive design and craftsmanship we’re known for, now with room for seven,” said Hinrich J. Woebcken, CEO of the North American Region, Volkswagen. “The Atlas marks a brand-new journey for Volkswagen to enter into the heart of the American market.”
As the newest and biggest member of the Volkswagen lineup, the mid-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 with technology, SEL and SEL Premium.
My tester was the top-of-the-line model and its sticker priced at a competitive $45,235.
Atlas came equipped with a 3.6-liter VR6 engine. The powerful direct-injection engine delivers 276 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 266 lb.-ft. of torque at 2,750 rpm. It utilizes a cross-flow aluminum-alloy cylinder head design, twin overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder and variable valve timing. Power is delivered through an eight-speed automatic transmission to help maximize efficiency.
And for those with large toys, the Atlas has a towing capacity of up to 5,000 pounds. Atlas receives a combined city/highway EPA rating of 19 miles per gallon.
Atlas builds on the latest VW design DNA to create a bold new exterior in the SUV segment, highlighted by a modern, muscular design with classic proportions and clean lines.
The Atlas’ interior design is classic Vdub – clean and functional, with a premium feel. The seat position, shifter height and spacing between the pedals are fine tuned for driver comfort. Advanced ambient lighting and use of premium materials create an upscale feel.
All three rows of seating deliver comfortable head and legroom, with the first two rows receiving captain’s chairs. Across all three rows, an array of available inputs (12V, USB, auxiliary), cup holders, bottle holders, storage nets and cargo containers provide convenience for all passengers. With the third row folded flat, cargo capacity is increased to 55.5 cubic feet.
Creature comforts and technology help put the Atlas over the top. A premium Fender audio system belting out 480-watts of power through 12 speakers isn’t a bad place to start. Other goodies include a panoramic sunroof, tri-zone climate control, rear-view camera, adaptive cruise control, satellite radio and CD player.
Safety features are highlighted by forward-collision warning, lane-departure warning, blind-spot warning, park pilot, all-wheel drive with active control and a first-in-class automatic post collision braking system.
I’m a real cheapskate, so I’m thinking the Atlas will make a great vehicle for me in a couple years when the price drops to working-stiff levels.
Base Price: $42,690
Price As Driven: $45,235