Posted Tuesday, October 18, 2022
In the US, where the family cult is very developed, spacious cars are in high demand. The SUVs and crossovers are struggling to meet family values, that is, to have three full rows and a roomy trunk. And Volkswagen does not lag anymore with their latest SUV model – Volkswagen Atlas.
Let’s take a closer look at the Atlas and compare it with other Volkswagen SUVs and the main competitors.
At the turn of the millennium, unnoticed by the public, Volkswagen turned into a brand for the wealthy middle class. Even such once-affordable models as the Golf and Passat began to gradually grow in price. And the Touareg SUV and the Phaeton executive sedan that appeared a little later changed the image of the German brand forever.
But in the case of the US market, the well-thought-out German plan failed, and this primarily affected the sales of the most expensive model – Touareg.
The Volkswagen Touareg lacks the third row, has no alternative to all-wheel drive, which not everyone needs, and costs more than a Lexus RX. Work on marketing mistakes led to the emergence of a new seven-seater Atlas crossover, which went against the generally accepted rules of the brand even in the name. All Volkswagen SUV models begin with the letter T (Tiguan, Touareg, Taos), but an exception was made for the American market. In other markets, its name is Teramont.
One way or another, the Atlas came to the rescue of Volkswagen, but a bit late. By the time it appeared in the class, the leaders had already been determined and changed several generations. Today the Atlas has to compete with such giants, literally and figuratively, as the Ford Explorer, Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot, Mazda CX9, and the Subaru Ascent.
Price has never been a competitive advantage for Volkswagen, but size remains. Atlas is indeed bigger than its rivals. It is over 200 inches, 78.4 inches wide, and has a wheelbase of 117.3. At the same time, even with the third row of seats unfolded, the trunk volume is 20.6 cubic feet.
The difference in price between the Atlas ($34,600) and the second-generation Touareg ($49,500) in the US is impressive, which allows you to buy the most equipped Atlas for the price of a base Touareg, especially if you choose from used vehicles, where prices are started fromd $28,000 to the date of publication.
The appearance of a large crossover at such a low price greatly changes the balance of power in the VW lineup, and if the Touareg did not go well in the US market before, now it loses its customers even more.
The Volkswagen Taos is the smallest subcompact VW SUV, competing with the Jeep Compas and Subaru Crosstrek. It is also the cheapest SUV in the Volkswagen lineup.
The VW Atlas has the highly stretched modular MQB platform with a transverse engine, related to a dozen passenger car models of the concern (including the VW Golf). The manufacturer deliberately made this SUV less luxurious to justify such a significant price difference and turn the brand towards the consumer.
The Touareg SUV is completely different – it is built on the PL72 platform, which it shares with such models as the Audi Q7 and Porsche Cayenne.
The American Atlas in the base trim has:
More expensive versions are equipped with:
The appearance turned out to be restrained, although branded lights and a radiator grille leave no doubt about VW family affiliation. It is easy to confuse Atlas with the new Tiguan in the stream since their feed is very similar, and the model name is written in chrome letters on the chrome bar connecting the rear lights, and you can read it only at close range.
One may say that this Volkswagen SUV design was deliberately slowed down and made less modern. Swollen wheel arches and the absence of a large number of branded faces make it clear that Atlas is not an athlete but rather a middle-aged family man burdened with a lot of household chores. A slightly sad expression only confirms the guess, and LED bags under his eyes give out a lack of vigor and testosterone.
Dashboard finishing materials are simple but high-quality. Only the uppermost part of the front panel and doors is covered with soft plastic. Everything below is made of hard plastic. The seats are rather simple in form but rather comfortable. The interior design is laconic and a bit boring. However, marketers did not allow themselves to cross the line beyond which the interior could be called cheap. Perhaps the word “simple” is more appropriate here. Yes, in the Atlas, everything is concise, practical, and convenient.
In motion, the five-meter Volkswagen SUV steers like a mid-size sedan. At first, there is even a conflict between physical sensations and visual perception. But if you switch the settings to the “Sport” mode, the steering wheel instantly becomes heavier and much more comfortable.
The VW Atlas cabin provides good acoustic comfort, the V6 engine is almost inaudible, the automatic transmission shifts gears smoothly but cheerfully, and a large glass area provides good visibility. But at high speed (70 mph and above), the picture changes fundamentally, and the wind begins to howl overhead. The wheel arches are poorly protected from noise.
The dimensions are not intimidating, and the turning radius makes it easy to maneuver even on narrow streets and parking lots. The suspension is tuned on comfort, although you should not expect high energy intensity and moves. Similar cars in the US are essentially minivans, just throwing the skin of crossovers.
The VW manufacturers equipped the Atlas with the fifth-generation 4Motion transmission. It is front-wheel drive by default and connects the rear axle as needed. The mode selection knob is similar to the one installed on the new Tiguan, which means that the possibilities will be comparable.
The main plus of Atlas is more high-torque engines and increased ground clearance. There’s plenty of space in the second row, which isn’t surprising given the huge wheelbase. But the third row can also accommodate adult passengers leaving a small margin for the knees. You can easily access the rear seats thanks to the middle row that slides and leans forward. By the way, this folding principle allows you to tilt the seats without removing the child seat from them. And despite the third row being much less comfortable because of the noticeably flatter shape of the seats and a more upright seating angle, you can travel there even for long distances.
If you are looking for a spacious and reliable vehicle for the whole family, you may love one of the used Volkswagen SUVs. Check the availability right now and schedule your test drive at Indy Auto Man!