The mid-size SUV segment is dominated by American and Japanese products with a conspicuous absence of a German product. That’s changed with the introduction of 2018 Volkswagen Atlas – the first German mid-size SUV for the masses with a starting price of $30,750. It’s no doubt it’s late to the party. So does it have any trick up its sleeve?
Yes – the third row. Atlas third row seats are one of the few in the segment that can accommodate a 6-feet adult with decent comfort. Elsewhere, the interior is extremely spacious and is well built. It’s available with an efficient 2.0L TSI engine but most Atlas comes with a larger 3.6L V6. However, the V6 feels gutless among some competitors.
Also, the V6 fuel economy of 17 in city and 23 on highway is uncompetitive. However, once these are ignored, the Atlas is a genuinely impressive package. While the resale value can’t be predicted now, Volkswagen does offer 6-year/72,000 mile warranty that can be transferred to the second owner.
6.6/10 Fuel Economy
The mid-size SUV segment is dominated by American and Japanese products with a conspicuous absence of a German product. That’s changed with the introduction of 2018 Volkswagen Atlas – the first German mid-size SUV for the masses with a starting price of $30,750. It’s available with an efficient 2.0L TSI engine but most Atlas comes with a larger 3.6L V6. However, the V6 feels gutless among some competitors.
2018 Volkswagen Atlas Features
With a starting price of $30,750, the 2018 Volkswagen Atlas is one of the cheapest mid-size SUV you can buy. While its base 2.0L TSI is impressive, you have to get the V6 for unlocking AWD if you live in snow-affected areas. Advanced active safety features start pouring in from V6 SE with technology package and the V6 SEL premium tops the range with a price tag of $48,740 – in Acura MDX territory.
V6 SE w/Technology
V6 SEL Premium
The S includes:
Dual-zone manual climate control
Volkswagen Car-Net App-Connect
The V6 S includes:
Dual-zone manual climate control
Volkswagen Car-Net App-Connect
The V6 SE includes:
Four USB ports
Composition Media touchscreen sound system
Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Traffic Alert
The V6 SE w/ Technology includes:
Climatronic three-zone climate control
Remote power liftgate with closing assist
The V6 SEL includes:
Power tilting/sliding panoramic sunroof
Front seats, 10-way power
Adaptive Cruise Control
The V6 SEL Premium w/ 4MOTION includes:
4MOTION all-wheel-drive system
Volkswagen Digital Cockpit
Discover Media touchscreen navigation
2018 Volkswagen Atlas Engine
"With the exception of a horsepower deficit, the Atlas is a pretty pleasant crossover to wheel around, especially considering its size."-Edmunds
Engine and Transmission
The 2018 Volkswagen Atlas comes with two engine options. The smaller 235 hp turbocharged 2.0L Inline-4 develops almost as much torque as the larger V6 – 258 lb-ft. However, even the more powerful 3.6L V6 with 276 hp and 266 lb-ft of torque can struggle at times pushing this over 4000 pounds VW SUV.
2.0L inline four-cylinder, 16V, FSI
3.6L V6 SIDI VVT
2.7L 4-Cylinder(DOHC) 16-Valve
Regardless of the engine, a silky smooth 8-speed Automatic is the only available transmission. While the base 2.0L I4 is only available with FWD, the 3.6L V6 can be equipped with Volkswagen 4Motion All-Wheel Drive system. The VW Atlas AWD offers excellent traction even in slippery situations and is a worthwhile upgrade for handling inclement weather conditions.
The Atlas equipped with the 2.0L TSI does 0-60 in 7.2 seconds. Surprisingly, the Atlas V6 is slower to 60 taking 7.9 seconds despite having 41 hp more power and 8 lb-ft more torque. However, Atlas V6 also weighs 500 pounds more. This explains the ambiguity in acceleration.
16 sec @ 81.6 mph
15.1 sec @ 91.2 mph
15.6 sec @ 97mph
15.4 sec @ 90 mph
Emission (Tons/yr of CO2 Emissions @ 15K mi/year)
Still, even the fastest Atlas is noticeably slower than some competitors. The Honda Pilot does 0-60 over a second faster in 6.1 seconds thanks to its higher power output and lighter curb weight. The Chevy Traverse is also significantly faster taking 6.5 seconds for the same run. Only the Toyota Highlander is slower – significantly slower, taking 8.9 seconds to do 0-60 mph.
Ride and Handling
The Atlas rides with excellent compliance and all but the harsh bumps are smoothened out effortlessly. This combined with excellent noise insulation (second only to the whisper-quiet Chevy Traverse) and famed German high-speed stability to make this VW SUV a true long-distance liner.
This does not imply the Atlas can’t handle corners. The driver-selectable Sport Mode sharpens up the steering, throttle, and transmission transforming this German SUV into a machine capable of handling corners well.
The Atlas comes with 13.2-inch brake rotors up front and 12.2-inch brake rotors at the rear wheels. These can haul the Atlas from 60 mph in 115 feet. That’s best in the segment. Apart from raw numbers, the Atlas brake pedal also delivers best in class pedal response.
60-0 MPH (ft.)
2018 Volkswagen Atlas Fuel Economy
With the base 2.0L TSI engine, the Atlas delivers 22 mpg in city and 36 mpg on highway for a combined rating of 24 mpg. While that’s better than the competition, the competition uses significantly more powerful V6 engines. The Atlas V6 is significantly thirstier delivering 17 mpg in city and 23 mpg on highway.
2018 Volkswagen Atlas Interior
"The Atlas's interior design is elegant and clean, not unlike the simple modern layout of the upscale Audi brand. But the best part of the cabin is its versatility." -KBB
Seating and Comfort
The Atlas interior has a typical Volkswagen look and feel with clean elegant lines and intuitively arranged controls. However, what’s more, impressive is the space. While the first and second-row room is up with the segment best, the third row beats all of them outright. Third-row access is easy and once seated, even 6-feet adults will find decent headroom and legroom.
Passenger Volume(ft cube)
Front (Head/Shoulder/Leg (In.)
Second (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (In.)
Third (Head/Shoulder/Leg (In.)
Apart from the impressive passenger volume, the Atlas also impresses with its capacious boot. Behind the third row, the Atlas offers 20.6 cubic feet of cargo space. That’s up with the segment best Chevy traverse. Folding third row liberates 55.5 cubic feet of space, again better than all others except Chevy Traverse. Finally, with all seats folded, Atlas offers an impressive 96.8 cubic feet of luggage capacity.
Behind 3ndRow(ft. Cube)
With 3nd row folded (ft. Cube)
With All Seats folded (ft. Cube)
The base Atlas S gets 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay and six-speaker audio system. Splurging to the Atlas SE gets you larger 8.0 -inch touchscreen infotainment system and two additional speakers apart from three USB ports and Sirius XM satellite radio. The Volkswagen Digital Cockpit is available exclusively in Atlas SEL premium.
2018 Volkswagen Atlas Exterior
"Its bricklike shape gives the Atlas a sturdy, off-road-ready appearance and enables a space-efficient interior. Its large size may be daunting to some, but from behind the wheel it feels more maneuverable than its bulk suggests." -Car and Driver
The Atlas is styled like a typical Volkswagen product with clean lines and an understated demeanor. It relies on proportions to exude a confident stance. However, this Volkswagen SUV also has plenty of muscular details befitting its size. Speaking of size, it spans 198.3 inches in length and 78.3 inches in width. At 69.7-inch it’s just as tall as any other SUV here.
Track width(in) F/R
If the huge cabin and payload capacity of the Atlas is not enough for you, you can tow 5000 pounds trailer with a properly equipped Atlas. The competitors also have similar tow rating with only the Chevy Traverse edging slightly ahead with a towing capacity of 5200 pounds.
2018 Volkswagen Atlas Safety
2018 Volkswagen Atlas comes with following safety features:
StabiliTrak electronic stability control system Air bag system.
Hydraulic Brake Assist (HBA)
Rollover sensor system Rear Vision Camera
Child security rear door locks
Passenger Sensing System
Rear seat reminder
LATCH System. Teen Driver.
Tire Pressure Monitoring System
Intelligent Crash Response System (ICRS)
Frontal barrier crash rating overall
Frontal barrier crash rating driver
Frontal barrier crash rating passenger
Side barrier rating overall
Side barrier rating driver
Side barrier rating passenger
Side crash rating overall
Combine side barrier and pole rating
Small overlap front passenger side
Moderate overlap front
Head restraints & seats
2018 Volkswagen Atlas Competition
2018 Volkswagen Atlas SUV vs Honda Pilot
The Honda Pilot is one of the most well rounded midsize SUV with well-equipped, spacious seats and high-quality materials. An efficient and powerful engine pulls the pilot briskly along the road. On top of that, the Pilot comes with Honda’s reputation for reliability and has great resale value too. However, the Atlas comes with a better third row and it’s almost as good in other areas.
2018 Volkswagen Atlas SUV vs Chevy Traverse
The 2018 Chevrolet Traverse blends charismatic styling with plenty of passenger space and cargo capacity. The seats are supportive and higher trims cover them in soft materials. This is accompanied by a plush ride and composed highway manners. Also, the traverse is one of the quietest in the class. That said, the Atlas is nearly in many ways and better in some – like handling.
2018 Volkswagen Atlas SUV Toyota Highlander
The 2018 Toyota Highlander packs an upscale interior, a powerful V6 engine and plenty of advanced active safety features as standard. While its V6 is strong, it’s also available with an efficient four-cylinder motor. However, while the Highlander can seat 8, its third row is significantly tighter than the third row in Atlas.
2018 Volkswagen Atlas Final Verdict
After a long time, Volkswagen has a product that’s competitive in the segment. It’s immensely spacious inside with a third row that’s easily among the best in the segment. On top of that, the cabin is impressively quiet even at high speeds and rides of supple suspension.
That the Atlas can also excite you through curvy roads is just icing on the cake. There are shortcomings though mainly in the powertrain department. The V6 does not pack enough punch and is not particularly efficient either. Also, the base 2.0L TSI engine is unavailable with AWD. Still, the Volkswagen Atlas offers a genuinely appealing package and is an easy recommendation if want a family-friendly SUV.
Huge cabin and accommodating third row
Silky ride quality
Agile handling for the class
Impressive infotainment system
Its not as fast as some rivals
V6 fuel economy is unimpressive
Base 2.0L TSI is not offered with AWD
The 2018 Volkswagen Atlas is an all-new product. Its first large SUV from Volkswagen after the much pricier Volkswagen Toureg Luxury SUV.
Tourmaline Blue Metallic
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