The Atlas shares some design DNA with other VW products, but the mid-size crossover largely blazes its own path when it comes to exterior styling. The Atlas has a high belt line and chunky proportions, giving it a strong, truck-like stance. In a world of svelte-looking crossovers, the Atlas stands out on its own.
The Atlas is billed as VW's biggest vehicle ever and boasts cargo room to match. The Atlas has 20.6 cubic feet of space behind its third row, with that volume expanding to 55.5 cubic feet when the third row is stowed. Fold the second-row and the Atlas will swallow 96.8 cubic feet worth of gear.
The Atlas is just as adapt at hauling people thanks to a flip-and-slide second row bench that provide easy access to a rather spacious third-row. Second-row Captain's Chairs are also available for even greater access to the rear seats. As a bonus to those with little ones, the Atlas' second-row seats can be moved forward with a child's seat still in place.
The Atlas' cabin is a typical VW design with straightforward controls. All models except for the entry-level S get an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system; S buyers must make do with a 6.5-inch unit. Both screens run VW's App-Connect out of the box, which includes Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The Atlas is available with a number of advanced safety systems like adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist.
The Atlas is available with two different engines — a base 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder with 235 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque and a 3.6L naturally-aspirated V6 with 276 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque. The base 2.0L is available exclusively in front-wheel drive while the V6 can be had with front- or all-wheel drive. All Atlas models come with an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Atlas V6 FWD models are rated at 18mpg in the city and 25mpg on the highway, netting a 20mpg combined average. Opting for VW's 4Motion all-wheel drive system reduces those figures to 17/23/19mpg city/highway/combined. VW has not released fuel economy figures for the Atlas four-cylinder model.
The Atlas V6 is an adequate tow vehicle with a towing rating of 5,000 pounds. The Atlas four-cylinder is capable of tugging 2,000 pounds.
Trim Level Breakdown
The VW Atlas is available in six different trim levels - S, S Launch Mode, SE, SE w/Tech, SEL and SEL Premium.
The Atlas S is a fairly basic model with standard cloth seats, manual climate control, manually adjustable front seats, six-speak audio system and a 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system. Other standard features include a rear-view camera, LED headlights, 18-inch wheels and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.
The Atlas S Launch Model will presumably be a one year offering that includes a panoramic sunroof, SirusXM satellite radio and an 8.0-inch touchscreen display.
SE models bring keyless access with push-button start, heated door mirrors, additional USB ports, rain sensing wipers, automatic headlights, leatherette seating surfaces, power driver's seat, heated front seats, leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel, rear sunshades, VW's Car-Net Security & Service, eight-speaker sound system and blind spot monitor with cross-traffic alert.
Stepping up to the SE w/Tech nets remote start, 3-zone automatic climate control, power lift gate, adaptive cruise control, front collision alert and lane keep assist.
SEL models gain a standard trailer hitch, panoramic sunroof, power driver's seat with memory, power front passenger's seat and park distance control.
The range-topping SEL adds power-folding side mirrors with puddle lights, ambient lighting, leather seats, ventilated front seats, heated second-row seats, 12-speaker Fender premium audio system, VW Car-Net Guide & Inform, 360 degree camera, park assist and light assist.
Atlas SE and above models can be fitted with second-row Captain's Chairs in place of the standard bench. A sporty R-Line appearance package can be added to Atlas SE w/Tech and SEL models.
Atlas S, SE, SE w/Tech and SEL models can be had with either the base four-cylinder or the up-rated V6. Atlas S Launch Models get a standard V6, but buyers can pick between front- and all-wheel drive. The Atlas SEL Premium is available only with a V6 and 4Motion all-wheel drive.
All VW Atlas models ship standard with dual front and side airbags, front and rear side curtain airbags, an Intelligent Crash Response System and an Automatic Post-Collision Braking System. Upper-end models can be equipped with frontal collision warning, blind spot monitoring and lane keep assist.
The VW Atlas competes in a segment that includes the Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander, Mazda CX-9, Ford Explorer, Chevrolet Traverse and Dodge Durango.