By on September 15, 2017

2018 Volkswagen Atlas - Image: VolkswagenAt launch, the lone Volkswagen Atlas available in the United States was the more powerful 3.6-liter V6, a Tennessee-built $34,425 three-row crossover with 276 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque. All-wheel drive is an $1,800 option. The Atlas was rated at 18 miles per gallon in the city; 25 on the highway. City fuel economy for AWD models dropped by a single mpg; highway mpg fell to 23.

Now we know how much money you can save by purchasing the front-wheel-drive-only Volkswagen Atlas 2.0T, which suffers a loss of 41 horsepower but generates very nearly as much torque as the V6 (258 lb-ft) and does so 1,150-rpm closer to idle.

Not surprisingly, a small, modern, turbocharged engine is barely more efficient than the larger, naturally aspirated V6.

According to the EPA, the front-wheel-drive Atlas 2.0T is rated at 22 miles per gallon in the city, a substantial improvement over the V6’s 18-mpg rating. But highway fuel economy ticks up by only one mpg to 26. By the EPA’s estimate, you’ll save just $300 on fuel annually by choosing the 2.0T.2018 Volkswagen Atlas - Image: VolkswagenOf course, that’s not the only money you’ll save by selecting the base model Atlas. Volkswagen originally said the V6 would be a $1,400 option on the $31,425 Atlas S. To date, the basic Atlas V6 has been the $34,425 Launch Edition. Promised late availability of the S trim has yet to materialize, though inventory is building up. There are nearly 6,000 copies of the Atlas in’s inventory.

With rising inventory comes rising sales. The Atlas went into production in December, according to Automotive News, but after sales began in May, volume has been held quite low. August was the Atlas’s best month so far — 2,807 were sold.

But you can see the tide beginning to turn for Volkswagen’s small utility vehicle lineup. In addition to the 2,807 Atlas sales, Volkswagen of America also reported 2,516 sales of the new 2018 Tiguan and 1,005 sales of the old Tiguan, set to become the Tiguan Limited. That drove the utility vehicle division’s share of Volkswagen’s U.S. volume up to 21 percent in August 2017 from 12 percent a year ago.

Speaking of the Tiguan, the heavier Atlas’s far more powerful 2.0T — the 2018 Tiguan’s makes just 184 horsepower and 221 lb-ft of torque — is very nearly as fuel efficient. The front-wheel-drive Tiguan is rated at the same 22 mpg city and one-ups the Atlas only with its 27 mpg highway rating.

[Images: Volkswagen]

H/T to Peter!

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and and the founder and former editor of Follow on Twitter @timcaincars and Instagram.

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21 Comments on “$31,425 2018 Volkswagen Atlas 2.0T’s Fuel Economy Basically Matches Smaller VW Tiguan...”

  • avatar

    I was highly suspicious of the little 2.0Ts hauling around midsize CUVs, but I’ve had rental Ford Edge Titaniums several times now, and found the re-hashed 2.0T Ecoboost to work pretty well in that application. About 25-26mpg in mostly highway driving (about the same as my parents’ ’09 RX350 with the 3.5L V6), with reasonable smoothness and strong grunt down low. I’ve found VW’s 1.8T to drive very well in a rental Passat, so there’s hope that the Atlas with the 2.0T is a good pairing with reasonable real world economy.

    • 0 avatar

      Had the same rental.. I felt boost came on a little slowly at times, but generally ok. But man, do they need some kind of better tires or traction control. The slightest bit of moisture, and I could spin the front tires at will at 30 mph..

    • 0 avatar

      Our 2016 Envision Prem ll has a 2.0T AWD. Empty I’m at 32 mpg at 65 mph with it’s 4,000 plus me. Loaded to the roof and people we saw 30 mpg at 65 mph…with AWD.

      I wonder why the 2018 Traverse RS is getting a 2.0T and only FWD?

  • avatar

    Every pic I see, and every one I see in person, just looks like a bad Chinese knockoff of a Grand Cherokee or something like that.

    I really want to like it, since I’m a longtime VW fan, as well as being right in the target market for these things. There’s just something about the whole being less than the sum of the parts to me. Maybe it was a concerted effort to make it look like more than an upsized Tiguan.

    Also, when did VW decide to start calling their VR6 a “V6”? I guess it was in the Touareg, but to me the failure to use “VR6” is sort of ditching a strong piece of company history. Not that it matters to the Atlas market, but it definitely matters to me. I’m twice as likely to opt for the VR6 since it’s about as close as you get to an I-6 anymore. It’s extra confusing since VAG does make a lot of actual V6 engines, which are quite a bit different than the VR6.

    OTOH, the 2.0t has tons of tuning options to run circles around the VR6 if you so choose.

  • avatar

    Just watch your mpg drop once you start tapping into the boost.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah lets see what happens in real world fuel economy when people are actually driving around and not idling for half the time like epa testing; Or driving on the highway higher than average speed of 48miles per hour.

  • avatar

    I suspect that the residuals on the V6 will be much better than the 2.0T, as such when it comes to leasing, the difference in price may be much narrower than people think.

    I still think they would be better suited to introducing a shorter, two-row Atlas to compete with Grand Cherokee shoppers who I imagine outsell 3-rows by a fair margin.

    • 0 avatar

      They did that for years…it was called the Touareg. A direct competitor to the higher-spec GC and they just killed it after years of tepid sales.

      • 0 avatar

        ash78 –

        Except that the JGC’s starting price is around $30,000 and the T-Reg’s base price is almost $50,000.

        A $48,000 Grand Cherokee Overland’s equipment (air suspension, navigation, cooled seats, 19 speaker sound system, up-rated transmission) runs circles around a base T-Reg.

        Volkswagen never got the packaging or pricing right on the T-Reg for the US Market, for a variety of reasons.

    • 0 avatar

      A shorter 2-row Atlas has been confirmed. They just haven’t announced a production date yet.

  • avatar

    27 Highway for the Tiguan is pretty darn mediocre. There are multiple competitors that produce similar power with much better economy.

    • 0 avatar

      Unfortunately VW never really put any development money into good gas engines for vehicles this size/weight.

      • 0 avatar

        Well, the VW Group did – but spent it on V6s that went into Audi products.

        The VR6 is a rock solid motor that sounds great – but is an old design and horribly inefficient. That being said, my 3,400 lb. 2004 R32 got roughly 19/25 – so, getting roughly similiar specs in a vehicle that is pushing 6,000 lbs. is not too shabby.

        The Audi V6s aren’t cost effective enough to put into VW branded products. I suspect that as they turn things around in the US that more investable dollars will appear.

    • 0 avatar

      Would have been a perfect candidate for a TDI… whoopsie…

    • 0 avatar

      For a small box 2.0T that is not bad.

  • avatar

    It will be interesting to watch the sales figures/statistics for the next several months comparing the Atlas to another 3-row SUV that has recently received attention on TTAC this week: the CX-9. It might also be interesting to see a direct comparison of these two vehicles. To me they seem to appeal to very similar market.

  • avatar

    And it is probably all Premium fuel. There goes your ownership cost

  • avatar

    Is the Atlas supply constrained? I’ve only seen one here in the Los Angeles area. The Atlas is a depressing vehicle to me; it just exudes soulless-ness.

  • avatar

    For obvious reasons it’s not going to happen now, but the choice engine for the Tiguan was the 2.0 TDI. I drove one with a 7-speed DSG for a week in the mountains of Switzerland and Northern Italy, and it was a hoot.

    I didn’t bother to keep track of fuel consumption, mainly because it didn’t consume enough fuel to be worth the effort of recording it. Emissions, well, that may have been another story…

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    I’m riddled by the model equipment levels on these. The Launch gets a sunroof but little safety (BSD, etc) the pricier SE gets you safety but no sunroof.

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