The Volkswagen Atlas is a crucial car for Volkswagen. It literally does have all of Volkswagen depending on the success of this vehicle, tough gig!
The 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder won’t be available until later so the only engine you can option for is the dated 3.6 six-cylinder which is shared with the Passat. While it is nice that the six-cylinder is accompanied by Volkswagen’s 4-motion all-wheel-drive system, we wish that Volkswagen would’ve updated the engine to pump out at least 300hp so it doesn’t feel sluggish compared to the Mazda CX-9 we’ve driven. The standard eight-speed auto gearbox does a fantastic job of helping the Atlas feel peppy where it matters the most, but all that gets lost in translation as the steering becomes overly light at highway speeds. It almost makes the whole entire vehicle feel nervous rather than confident. The ride comfort around town is actually quite good considering how firm it feels at times when driving over certain surfaces, but if you hit a bump it will send jolts throughout the cabin, leaving you feeling queasy if the road is anything but perfect. Wind and road noise won’t be much of an issue but you will hear the suspension thump over some surfaces, but that is far from a deal breaker.
The infotainment system is very simple and easy to use. The menus are easy to navigate through and while the whole interface is excellent, we strongly suggest keeping both eyes on the road at all times unless you are stationary. The front seats offer superb comfort, while those in the second row won’t have anything to complain about at all, those in the third row may feel shortchanged on comfort but it’s not as cramped as some of its keen rivals. You’ll have to fold down the third row seat to really exploit the boot space, with both rows folded down you’ve got yourself a cargo van.
Our tester car was a pretty pricey SEL with 4-motion all-wheel-drive. It came equipped with LED headlights, 20-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry with keyless start and optional 20-inch alloy wheels. Leather wrapped seats and steering wheel also come standard as well as tri-zone climate control, remote engine start and Blind Spot Monitoring system with lane departure warning.
We had high hopes for the Volkswagen Atlas, it certainly didn’t disappoint but we expected a lot better from Volkswagen. The refinement is there but it certainly needs tweaking in areas that makes Volkswagen feel special compared to its keen rivals. The steering feedback is way too light at highway speeds, the styling is way too cartoonish for our taste and we certainly wish that Volkswagen improved the aged 3.6 engine. You’ll like the Atlas because it offers a competent package for a reasonable price.
Likes: It can seat comfortably seven people and still offer decent boot space. The standard kit list is pretty generous too and you can option for a turbocharged four-cylinder.
Dislikes: The exterior styling is cartoonish and the turbo four-cylinder only can be had with front-wheel-drive. The 3.6 engine needs updating and the steering is way too light at highway speeds.
Our pick: SE w/ 4-motion strikes a nice balance between price and standard kit. You won’t have to venture too high up unless you are willing to dish out the extra cash. Even so, there are a few rivals from Mazda and Honda that make a more compelling case. The Launch Edition w/ 4-motion is also another worthy trim to consider.