2021 Volkswagen Atlas
One of the rising stars in the mid-size SUV market just received a makeover. And, not a moment too soon.
While the segment has been on the rise – lead by several all-new entrants – the updated 2021 Volkswagen Atlas still gives you all of the good things it offered in years past. It just does so with a bit more flair than before.
Will this added flair put the Atlas over the top in this highly competitive segment?
Look no further than the new front clip on the 2021 Atlas. It looks very aspiration and upmarket for this model. The shape is more three-dimensional and very nice to look at. We also like the updates on the rear end with new taillights and trim pieces. And, the new “digital” Volkswagen logo takes center stage wherever you find it.
These updates help in elevating the Atlas from where it started. It is no longer mundane looking, but very nice and friendlier. Again, we found it to be a bit more luxurious than expected.
The Atlas still sport 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.
The one thing Volkswagen did not change was its large interior space and its three-row seating capacity. The front seats are large, wrapped in our SEL tester’s perforated leather upholstery. There is plenty of bolstering and support in the front seats. The second row three-seat bench is comfortable. You can adjust for rake and recline to take advantage of the expansive space behind the front row of seats. 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.
We always loved how expansive the cargo space is on the Atlas. 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 one thing we also like on the Atlas is its simple dashboard design. You can now add elegant to the mix. The new “digital” logo compliments an elegant new steering wheel with cleaner controls and better logic. We had the Digital Cockpit with its customization options, which adds to the flair of this Atlas tester. The also like the big infotainment screen, now augmented by a wireless charger deep in the center console. In all, the Atlas gives you a great place to command your family through anything.
Volkswagen may have shuffled its Atlas lineup for 2021, but our SEL V6 tester is still powered by the 276-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 with a smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission. Our tester had front-wheel drive, but you can 4Motion all-wheel-drive across the lineup. As for fuel economy, we saw an average of 22.4 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 good overall, with a solid feel from the pedal. In both normal and panic situations, stops were pretty good in terms of distance and response. The steering system 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 2021 Atlas lineup starts at $31,555. Our V6 SEL tester came with a sticker price of $43,315. A further update for the 2021 model year will arrive soon with further enhancements to the five basic trim levels available for the Atlas. You can choose between the 3.6-liter V6 or a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine along with the available 4Motion all-wheel drive system.
These updates help the Atlas a lot. However, there is plenty of cross-shopping that the Volkswagen is often compared to. These rivals 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 continues to stand out as a comfortable three-row mid-size SUV that satisfies families with a large interior space and strong performance. The updated look inside and out does help its cause tremendously. It is truly worth a look.
Story Credits: CarSoup Editors