SANTA MONICA, California – Volkswagen wants to win back Americans with a super-sized SUV – without a funny sounding name – that’s made in the U.S. of A. The 2018 Volkswagen Atlas is not a diesel-powered behemoth. It comes with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder or a 3.6-liter V-6 engine.
The engines produce 238 horsepower and 280 horsepower, respectively. Both have an eight-speed automatic transmission and can be configured either as front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive in the VR6 trims. The Chattanooga, Tennessee-built Atlas goes on sale in the spring of 2017.
Too bad VW didn’t call it the “Chattanooga.” It would sound right at home along side its similar siblings, the Tiguan and Touareg, though the “Tennessee” would sound cooler. But we digress.
The Atlas arrives with a spacious and roomy interior that’s packed full of driver assistance and techno gadgets, which is sure to please the bells and whistles fans. These include Adaptive Cruise Control, Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking, Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Traffic Alert, Lane Departure Warning, and Park Assist. Drivers can also reconfigure how they view vehicle info via the Volkswagen Digital Cockpit, which glows blue at night like a narrow TV monitor.
Additionally, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and MirrorLink are rumored to be compatible with the Volkswagen Car-Net system as well as the optional Fender Premium Audio System with 12 channels, a 480-watt amplifier, and 12 speakers. Can you say that rocks? Yes, it does.
The Atlas seats seven passengers, and Volkswagen claims that the third row can fit two adults – or can be folded to fit a small surfboard, if one was inclined to use it as a surf wagon. In person, it looks and feels more like a rumble seat with very thin padding. It also feels a bit snug back there, if you are American-sized or over 5’11’’ tall. There are plenty of storage compartments, cup holders and an abundance of plastic bits. Overall, it looks clean and well designed for large families that take frequent road trips around town or the country.
“This is the biggest and boldest Volkswagen we have ever built in the United States, delivering the distinctive design and craftsmanship we’re known for, now with room for seven, ” said Hinrich J. Woebcken, Volkswagen North American CEO in a statement.
While it’s big and bold, the 2018 Atlas closely resembles the Volkswagen CrossBlue Concept that made its debut at the 2013 Detroit auto show. If you removed the badging on both vehicles, it would be hard to tell them apart from a Honda Pilot in a police lineup. Still, the Atlas is the biggest VW to go on sale in the U.S., measuring in at 198.3 inches long, 77.9 inches wide, and 69.6 inches high.
Last but not least, the Automatic Post-Collision Braking System will also be available on the new Atlas. VW claims that this system will hit the brakes for you when the airbag sensors detect a primary collision, a good thing in case you are asleep at the wheel. Hopefully, you will never need it, but it’s great to have.
“Even with all of its standard features and technology, I want to emphasize that this family friendly vehicle will be competitively priced,” Woebcken promised us during the California press launch.
We’ll have to trust him on that one for now. Pricing will be announced closer to the launch date in the spring.
2018 Volkswagen Atlas Specifications
|On Sale:||Spring 2017|
|Engine:||2.0L turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4/238-hp
3.6L DOHC 24-valve V-6/280-hp
|Layout:||4-door, 7-passenger, front-engine, FWD/AWD SUV|
|L x W x H:||198.3 x 77.9 x 69.6 in|