Bigger vehicles are better when you have a brood, do weekend antiquing, make garden center trips, or haul flea market finds. Full-size crossover SUV manufacturers tend to court families for their bruisers, but many singletons have a need for big too. Volkswagen has infused style, a bit of driving excitement and a dose of big into the new, midsized 2018 Atlas that has across-the-board appeal for anyone seeking space.
Touting first-rate craftsmanship and Euro visual appeal, the Atlas raises the bar for midsized crossover SUVs. The three-row, seven-passenger vehicle is boxy with a rugged stance and sports dramatic character lines, wrap around rear LED taillights, distinct wheel arches and the bold VW horizontal grille with the brand’s insignia smack dab in the middle.
Inside the Atlas, the look is not as spartan as days gone by. The materials and trim used throughout the crossover’s cabin have been kicked up a notch, and the look is sophisticated with a smidge of modern. The dash is clear of ergonomic faults, straightforward with uncluttered easy-to-read and reach gauges.
Spaciousness will not be an issue in the Atlas. Grown folks will find that the Atlas is long-distance-driving comfy all around. There is wide supportive seating, and leg and headroom in not only the first two rows but in the third as well. One snag is that the passenger seat has no height adjustment which can be a drag for some. Here’s a real plus, though: gaining access to the hauler’s third-row for non-contortionists is surprisingly not a feat. Another check mark for the Atlas is that visibility is great all around, and its roof pillars don’t interfere with it.
There’s an abundance of cup holders in the German SUV–17, to be exact–and plentiful bins and cubbies where you can stash stuff. Cargo room is pretty exceptional:folding the second and third row seating down allows for up to 96.8 cu-ft. A nice, airy touch in the Atlas is the available panoramic sunroof that runs the length of nearly all three rows. The cabin is also a sealed capsule of hush that you’ll appreciate if you’re a music lover or a pensive type who wants no outside noises.
On the crossover’s tech and safety front, four of the five trims (the base gets a 6.5″ screen) get an 8″ touchscreen display with myriad functions that are a cinch to figure out and with fonts you can read. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and MirrorLink connectivity are standard on the Atlas across the trims. Phone pairing in the Atlas is not an exercise in futility, and neither is the voice-recognition calling system that allows you to use your natural speaking voice to make hands-free calling a snap. There are USB ports aplenty as well.
VW offers customers a safety net of features like anti-lock brakes, blind-spot monitoring, forward collision prevention, lane keeping assist, automatic post-collision braking, overhead view and rearview camera systems, pedestrian monitoring, rear traffic alert, and a comprehensive set of airbags. The Atlas earned a 5-star overall safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and is an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Top Safety Pick.
Driving the midsizer (the SE) is a pleasurable experience. It delivers a ride that is smooth, grounded with a suspension that absorbs road annoyances with nary a shudder. Steering in the Atlas feels well weighted, the turning radius is remarkably tight and braking is confident. The Atlas is powered by one of two robust engines: a base 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder 238 horsepower, or 3.6-liter VR6 engine with 280 horsepower. At the pumps, the Atlas is not too parched coming in at 22/city and 26/hwy.
There’s lots to like about the 2018 Volkswagen Atlas. It provides plenty of room for gear and guests, delivers creature comforts, must-have technologies and will definitely satisfy customers who are determined to go big or go home!
Prices start at $30,500. Need more info? Visit www.VW.com.