2019 Volkswagen Atlas
The growth in the mid-size SUV segment has been sparked by a slew of new vehicles by various manufacturers. Volkswagen threw their hat in the ring with their Atlas three-row model. As a replacement for the Touareg, this American-made entry offers comfortable three-row space for up to seven passengers while touring their German engineering roots.
Two years ago, it set the bar for the class. Is the Volkswagen Atlas still the bar to match, even with new entrants into this highly competitive class?
From the outside, the Atlas is a mild-mannered midsize SUV with a functional design that does not need embellishment. It also garners the presence of its competitors without wanting to flash a few lines and creases. It has large doors for greater access to the cabin, along with a large liftgate for easy loading into the cargo bay. The ride height is your standard eight inches off the ground to the bottom of chassis.
Climbing inside of the large doors you’ll find an equally large cabin. The total volume inside of the Atlas is 153.7 cubic feet, enabling expansive space for seven passengers. The seats are sized well, wrapped in our SEL Premium tester’s two-tone perforated leather upholstery. There is plenty of bolstering and support in the front seats, with a lot of expansive room in the second row. Our tester;s captain’s chairs offer adjustments for rake and recline. Third-row access is easy with a slide-away feature on both the driver and passenger side. An adult can sit behind each other along all three rows in decent comfort.
For cargo space, it is also expandable. With all three rows up, you start off with 20.6 cubic feet. Fold down the second and third rows of seats, and you have 96.8 cubic feet of usable space.
The instrumentation is put together by a TFT screen in-between the two big dials. If one selects the SEL Premium model, you can get the new Digital Cockpit instrument cluster that is a full TFT screen with full customization for the driver. The Digital Cockpit is supreme in execution and information dissemination, yet you would have to pay much more for the privilege. The regular instrumentation works fantastically, as it carries the excellent readouts Volkswagen is known for.
Our Atlas tester is powered by a 276-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 with the company’s 4MOTION all-wheel-drive system and an eight-speed automatic transmission. This driveline is capable of towing up to 5,000 pounds in the Atlas. With a trailer, the V6 Atlas pulls very well and can master any condition – including snow and ice.
In terms of fuel economy, we saw an average of 20.1 MPG in our care.
Ride quality is fantastic. It is what you expect for an SUV of its size and stature. With every seat occupied, no one will feel uneasy as it clocks the miles to your final destination, even if it is a cross-town jaunt. Handling is what you expect in a mid-size SUV, but with a bit more stability through the corners.
Braking was superb, with excellent feel from the pedal. In both normal and panic situations, stops were pretty good in terms of distance and response; however, the steering felt a bit light in response from the wheel. You will find a tight turning radius for its class and decent on-center feel with an assist from the lane-keeping feature.
One thing that makes a Volkswagen stand out is a huge emphasis on safety and accident avoidance. With features such as lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise, front collision warning, and autonomous emergency braking, you get a very safe SUV that has already garnered top marks from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety based on crash testing.
The Atlas lineup starts at $30,895. Our V6 SEL Premium with 4MOTION tester came to $50,320.
You may have seen the title as this is a 2019 Volkswagen Atlas and not a 2020. That is because the 2020 model has been delayed. Volkswagen will continue to sell 2019s until this spring when the 2020 models hit the dealer lot, along with the two-row version called the Atlas Cross Sport.
With that said, the Atlas has plenty of competition in the mid-sized three-row SUV market. Its competitors include the Chevrolet Traverse, Ford Explorer, Dodge Durango, Hyundai Palisade, Kia Telluride, Toyota Highlander, Nissan Pathfinder, Honda Pilot, Mazda CX-9, and Subaru Ascent.
The Volkswagen Atlas stands out as a comfortable three-row mid-size SUV that satisfies families with a large interior space and strong performance. The competition may have heated up, you will still feel cool in this Volkswagen.
Story Credits: CarSoup Editors