2018 Volkswagen Atlas Review & Compare | Avondale, AZ

Review & Compare the 2018 Volkswagen Atlas at Larry H. Miller Volkswagen Avondale

VW's Atlas is a whole new type of world map in the three-row SUV segment

Younger drivers may not be familiar with the concept of a physical, paperbound, multi-page book of maps. In today's fast-paced world of tech, driving directions and road maps come from small GPS devices and massive touchscreen systems. In some advanced models, cars can display your street map in front of your exact line of sight.

But twenty or thirty years ago, none of that was possible--and if you wanted to really know where you were going, anywhere in the country, you cracked open your trusty Road Atlas. Musty volumes that smelled of glue long after purchase, these map books were priceless on the family vacation. Driving directions came not from a pleasant robot voice, but from your co-pilot. "Are we there yet" originated from the days of the road atlas, as impatient and squirming little ones (and teens) in the back seats drew lines between Point A and Point B, guessing at travel times in traffic.

That road atlas may have been the inspiration for Volkswagen's newest--and first--three-row family SUV: endless opportunities, wild adventures, and the confidence to go anywhere. The VW Atlas is the largest model in the lineup, above the Touareg, and it seems like a perfect fit for the modern family road trip. As Volkswagen's first real foray into this segment, only time will tell if the Atlas will remain a solid competitor to models like the Toyota Highlander, the Honda Pilot, and the Hyundai Santa Fe--but for now, it's a seriously impressive option.

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Inspired by classic Volkswagen

The exterior of the newest Volkswagen SUV won't feel foreign to long-time enthusiasts, even though its extra-large body is an entirely new exercise for the brand. The bold wheel arches look and feel solid under a smoothly-sloping roofline, the barred grille proudly sports the VW badge, and an overall sporty style that hints to shoppers that Volkswagen won't be compromising driving feel for plush comfort and satisfying interiors.

It's a look that will feel familiar to fans--but bigger, more muscled, and a lot more capable for big families. And, probably unsurprisingly, a bigger body means a lot of trims to choose from. The new midsize SUV offers a dozen configurations: Atlas S, Atlas V6 S, Atlas V6 S with 4MOTION, Atlas V6 Launch Edition, Atlas V6 Launch Edition with 4MOTION, Atlas V6 SE, Atlas V6 SE with 4MOTION, Atlas V6 SE with Technology, Atlas V6 SE with Tech. and 4MOTION, Atlas V6 SEL, Atlas V6 SEL with 4MOTION, and Atlas V6 SEL Premium with 4MOTION.

The base Atlas S is the most affordable option, great for those just looking for an efficient family hauler. The group of Atlas V6 models boosts power and performance with a larger engine, and equips packages like Tech, 4MOTION for all-wheel drive, and premium interior options. The exterior can be painted in Reflex Silver Metallic, Pure White, Platinum Grey Metallic, Deep Black Pearl, Tourmaline Blue Metallic, Kurkuma Yellow Metallic, or Fortana Red Metallic.

Premium interior choices

There's a lot to love about the new Volkswagen Atlas. The interior is a great place to start. It's not hard to notice the solid feel of German engineering and design, with soft-touch plastics and quilted upholstery, and seats that can hold you comfortably even as you push the limits of your road map. There are other midsize crossovers that are flashier, plusher, or cheaper, but if the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, the Atlas is truly the whole package.

Volkswagen borrowed stoic Germanic wisdom to build the cockpit. Though the Atlas brings plenty of new tech, its designers succeeded in keeping everything tidily collected within easy reach of your arms. The intuitive infotainment system is easily navigated by newcomers, and won't distract or frustrate you while you're trying to get to where you need to go. From heated steering wheels to massive panoramic sunroofs, memory seats to premium audio, it's easy to outfit the new Atlas to fit all kinds of wants and needs. Go from minimalistic to top-of-the-line in just a few clicks--though it's easier than you might think to start pushing $50,000 for a fully-loaded VW Atlas SUV.

Interior materials and colors are classic and subtle, as could be expected from Volkswagen: Titan Black Cloth, Titan Black V-Tex Leatherette, Shetland and Black V-Tex Leatherette, Shetland V-Tex Leatherette, Shetland Vienna Leather, Titan Black Vienna Leather, and Golden Oak/Titan Black Vienna Leather.

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Seven seats, seventeen cupholders

Have you ever been driving with a full crew, and been frustrated at your lack of cupholders? Probably not--unless you were traveling with regiment of children. But Volkswagen planned ahead for that chance, and loaded up its new Atlas with seventeen cupholders. Now, even a fully-loaded Atlas can provide 2.43 holders per passenger; but think about a long road trip with friends, or even just a day of errands with a lot of little ones. Bottles of water, juice boxes, cups of snacks, travel mugs of coffee--it all adds up.

But beyond just the impressive number of cupholders, the Atlas is thoughtfully and tastefully designed to be comfortable for everyone inside, and to be as convenient as possible for families with children. The standard 2-3-2 configuration is open and makes short work of elbow room for all three rows. All five of the rear seats are equipped with LATCH anchors to safely secure child seats for all ages. If child seats are installed in the back row, the middle row can both tilt and slide to make for easy access to the rear seats.

Atlas performance lets you pick your preference

There is a heftier engine option for drivers who want or need more power. The Atlas can be equipped with a 3.6-liter V6, good for 276 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque, that takes a small hit in fuel efficiency compared to its turbo sibling, but boosts towing capacity up to 5,000 pounds when properly equipped.

Across the board, the Atlas SUV pairs its engine to a 8-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic® , and offers optional 4MOTION® All-Wheel Drive with Active Control on most of its models.

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Family-friendly to a new level

Loaded with tech, safety features, and more bells and whistles to satisfy your passengers, the new Atlas is an impressive new option for families--or for anyone looking for a capable, three-row SUV. Volkswagen's 6-year/72,000-mile bumper-to-bumper limited warranty gives you more coverage than its competitors, making it a great value. When you're in the market for a seven-passenger crossover, the Atlas should definitely be on your list.

While the Atlas won't be the peppy powerhouse that the Golf lineup is, and won't be as agile or light as the Beetle, this large SUV feels a lot more athletic than it looks. Standard power comes from a 2.0-liter turbo four, good for 235 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Be aware, though, that the turbo needs premium fuel to get the full benefit of performance and fuel economy. The small price to pay for fancy gas is more than worth the perks that come alongside giving your turbo the juice that it needs.

Compare the Volkswagen Atlas vs the Competition

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