2018 VW Atlas Review Apr 19, 2017 by Cedric (Driver Weekly)
While the Tiguan and the luxury Touareg used to be the only SUV from VW, the Atlas expands the lineup and offers three rows, meaning that Volkswagen officially offers an appropriate vehicle for larger families. This full-size SUV is great for families as well as anyone looking for extra room in every dimension.
Powertrain and Drive Feel
The Atlas will come standard with a 2-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that delivers 235 horsepower with 258 pound-feet of torque. At launch, only the more powerful 3.6-liter V6 is on offer with 276 horsepower and a torque of 266 pound-feet. Front-wheel drive comes standard, with 4MOTION all-wheel drive available for the six-cylinder powertrain. Behind the wheel, you will be impressed by how sturdily the Atlas handles, particularly considering its heavy weight. Those who have been lucky enough to get time behind the wheel ahead of its launch say it easily handles twists and turns. There are also Eco, Normal, Sport, Snow, Offroad, and Custom Offroad settings to choose from.
Styling True to the Concept
When creating the production model of the 2018 Atlas, Volkswagen kept it pretty close to the CrossBlue concept that debuted at the North American International Auto Show in 2013. There are now fog lights on the front fascia and new style lines along the side. The LED taillights are still there, although their appearance has been adjusted slightly. On the one hand, the Atlas has a solid and dependable appearance emphasized by right angles and rectilinear fascia; on the other hand, the aggressive character lines and creased hood feel busy—even desperate to distinguish an otherwise plain but functional shape. Regardless, you won’t purchase the Atlas just for its appearance.
Comfortable, Versatile Seating
Everyone who has read anything about the 2018 Atlas knows that it has three rows of seats, but it still helps to know the details. The standard seating configuration includes a three-passenger bench seat in the second row and a two-person bench seat for the third row. However, you can swap out the second row’s bench for captain’s chairs. We appreciate that the second-row seats tilt and fold to make it easy to get to the third row. Their ability to slide forward nearly 8 inches is also appreciated, as it means the third row doesn’t have to be cramped in terms of legroom. There are 20.6 cubic feet behind the third row of seats, 55.5 behind the second row, and 96.8 cubes behind the first row. These figures put the Atlas in the middle of its class for cargo capacity, beating out models like the Toyota Highlander, Mazda CX-9, and Ford Explorer.
Excellent Standard Equipment
Another factor of the 2018 VW Atlas we appreciate is the level of standard equipment. The exterior of even the base model includes daytime running lights and LED headlights. The 6.5-inch touchscreen is more than large enough for regular use and includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto across the lineup. That said, the available 8-inch touchscreen is well worth the upgrade in our opinion. Upgrading can also get you advanced safety features, like forward collision warning that includes pedestrian detection and brake assist, lane keeping assist, and more.
While the VW Atlas isn’t the most exciting new model, it looks and feels like dependable—more than anything else, that might be what Volkswagen needs to restore their battered reputation.