Volkswagen Reveals Atlas, the Midsize Three-Row Crossover With VW's Future on Its Shoulders

Seth Parks
by Seth Parks
volkswagen reveals atlas the midsize three row crossover with vw s future on its

The Atlas, Volkswagen’s entry into the hotly contested three-row crossover segment, is here — and it has the company’s future fortunes resting on its shoulders.

Volkswagen has not been doing well in the United States. Since 2012, its best sales year this millennia, VW has shed 30 percent of its sales volume. The brand that invented the compact car in the eyes of many Americans now finds itself in 14th place on the brand leaderboard with a 1.6 percent market share.

Dieselgate didn’t help, but its unbalanced product range may be the more nagging culprit. This is VW’s first mainstream, three-row crossover.

The Atlas arrives in showrooms this spring powered by two familiar transverse mounted engines. A 2.0-liter TFSI four-cylinder engine delivering 238 horsepower will be the base option in the Atlas, though customers (if Volkswagen finds any) can opt for the same 3.6-liter V6 that does duty in the Passat. Both engines will send power through an eight-speed automatic transmission. V6 buyers can opt for 4Motion all-wheel drive.

Pricing, fuel economy figures and tow ratings are not yet available.

It’s a conventional design, inside and out, consistent with Volkswagen’s conservative Teutonic temperament.

Its MQB architecture, shared with everything from the A3 to the Tiguan, results in a 198.3 inch overall length, identical to the class leading Explorer and seven inches longer than the Highlander. The front end is in line with VW’s current design language and offers a prominent gender neutral grille with standard LED headlamps and daytime running lights.

One of this crossover’s most distinctive design elements is its wheel arches. Love them or hate them, they contain undeniable hints of Grand Cherokee and the discontinued Mitsubishi Endeavor. Overall, the exterior styling is nondescript to our eyes, unlikely to wow consumers, though equally unlikely to offend.

Regardless of which of the five trim levels one selects, the interior is roomy. It looks and feels like a typical, near-premium VW interior with a mix of soft touch materials and hard plastics, all balanced by logical, well-considered ergonomics.

A mountain of tech will be on offer, from Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, to a 12-speaker Fender audio system and Digital Cockpit akin to Audi’s Virtual Cockpit. Forward-collision warning, blind spot monitoring, lane departure with steering assist, and a cornucopia of other safety features will also be available. Add to that adult compatible third-row seating and enough space for a minimalist family of up to seven to stow their things behind the third row.

The Atlas appears to be designed from the inside out, which should make for a user-friendly product, the stock-in-trade of three-row crossovers.

Volkswagen delayed the Atlas launch for years, in part to ensure its Chattanooga factory could deal with anticipated demand. Clearly, VW has has high expectations for its new mid-size SUV, and so it should. But as nondescript as Atlas may be, it’s better late than never for VW. The flight of consumers from cars to SUVs and crossovers is both well documented and continuing. A rising tide lifts all ships, ensuring that Atlas will find enough takers to propel the brand north from the 308,000 unit low-water mark it’s on pace to set in 2016.

[Images: © 2016 Seth Parks/The Truth About Cars, Volkswagen]

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  • Zipper69 Zipper69 on Oct 29, 2016

    The size and style makes me think that with a little cut-and-shut they could create a Tundra style four door pickup to nab a little of that market. The "Atlas Shrugger" ?

  • Montecarl Montecarl on Oct 31, 2016

    Wonder can I get a deal on a Touareg now

  • Analoggrotto By the time any of Hyundai's Japanese competitors were this size and age, they produced iconic vehicles which are now highly desirable and going for good money used. But Hyundai/Kia have nothing to this point that anyone will care about in the future. Those 20k over MSRP Tellurides? Worn out junk sitting at the used car lot, worn beyond their actual age. Hyundai/Kia has not had anything comparable to the significance of CVCC, 240Z, Supra, Celica, AE86, RX-(7), 2000GT, Skyline, GT-R, WRX, Evo, Preludio, CRX, Si, Land Cruiser, NSX etc. All of this in those years where Detroiters and Teutonic prejudiced elitists were openly bashing the Japanese with racist derogatory language. Tiger Woods running off the road in a Genesis didn't open up a moment, and the Genesis Sedan featuring in Inception didn't matter any more than the Lincoln MKS showing up for a moment in Dark Knight. Hyundai/Kia are too busy attempting to re-invent others' history for themselves. But hey, they have to start somewhere and the N74 is very cool looking. Hyundai/Kia's biggest fans are auto Journalists who for almost 2 decades have been hyping them up to deafening volumes contributing further distrust in any media.
  • Bd2 Other way around.Giorgetto Giugiaro penned the Pony Coupe during the early 1970s and later used its wedge shape as the basis for the M1 and then the DMC-12.The 3G Supra was just one of many Japanese coupes to adopt the wedge shape (actually was one of the later ones).The Mitsubishi Starion, Nissan 300ZX, etc.
  • Tassos I also want one of the idiots who support the ban to explain to me how it will work.Suppose sometime (2035 or later) you cannot buy a new ICE vehicle in the UK.Q1: Will this lead to a ICE fleet resembling that of CUBA, with 100 year old '56 Chevys eventually? (in that case, just calculate the horrible extra pollution due to keeping 100 year old cars on the road)Q2: Will people be able to buy PARTS for their old cars FOREVER?Q3: Will people be allowed to jump across the Channel and buy a nice ICE in France, Germany (who makes the best cars anyway), or any place else that still sells them, and then use it in the UK?
  • Tassos Bans are ridiculous and undemocratic and smell of Middle Ages and the Inquisition. Even 2035 is hardly any better than 2030.The ALMIGHTY CONSUMER should decide, not... CARB, preferably WITHOUT the Government messing with the playing field.And if the usual clueless idiots read this and offer the tired "But Government subsidizes the oil industry too", will they EVER learn that those MINISCULE (compared to the TRILLIONS of $ size of this industry) subsidies were designed to help the SMALL Oil producers defend themselves against the "Big Oil" multinationals. Ask ANY major Oil co CEO and he will gladly tell you that you can take those tiny subsidies and shove them.
  • Dusterdude The suppliers can ask for concessions, but I wouldn’t hold my breath . With the UAW they are ultimately bound to negotiate with them. However, with suppliers , they could always find another supplier ( which in some cases would be difficult, but not impossible)