By on March 19, 2018

Image: Volkswagen of America

We’ve known for some time that Volkswagen plans to capitalize on the success of the three-row Atlas SUV by building a slightly less commodious variant, and now it’s official. On Monday, the automaker announced the second all-new vehicle to roll out of its Chattanooga assembly plant, promising a concept version of the five-passenger midsize SUV at this month’s New York Auto Show.

The fact that VW is bothering to create a concept, even as it calls the model a “variant” of the Atlas, has us wondering just how different the vehicle can be in outward appearance. Then there’s the issue of a name.

“The Atlas has built strong momentum for Volkswagen in the SUV segment, and we are excited to grow our SUV portfolio with this new, Chattanooga-assembled five-passenger SUV,” said Hinrich Woebcken, Volkswagen of America’s CEO, in a statement.

Like the promised two-row version of the upsized Tiguan, this two-row Atlas is tailor-made for the U.S. market and shares the same MQB architecture. However, unlike the two-row Tiguan — not to be confused with the older Tiguan Limited — the five-passenger Atlas will don a new skin. Woebken said as much last year.

“We decided the Atlas will get a slightly lower-positioned five-seater, with nice, coupe-ish styling, [but the] same dimensions,” he said in a December interview with Automotive News.

Given that crossovers form the backbone of the brand’s U.S. sales strategy, chopping passengers from both the Atlas and Tiguan allows VW to move the nameplates downmarket and cast a wider sales net. This assumes both models will carry the same name, which might be difficult. “XL,” or something like that, is usually the go-to add-on for automakers who stretch a model. Rarely do they rip out seats and make one less filling.

As we see from this teaser image (and the fact that there is a teaser image), VW seems to be following through on Woebcken’s claim that the model will look different than its three-row sibling. Without the need for rear seat room, VW can give the model rakish rear glass. The Atlas’ conservative front end, if we’re to believe what we see, stands to gain an edgier appearance, with a taller grille, revamped headlamps, and aggressive side vents. Atlas Sport, perhaps?

The price tag for building the new vehicle stands at $340 million, so it’s definitely not a chop job. While VW hasn’t mentioned a launch date, Woebcken said last year that 2019 would be a big year for SUVs. Expect an introduction next year.

[Image: Volkswagen of America]

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12 Comments on “Atlas, Part 2: Volkswagen Announces Five-passenger SUV for Chattanooga...”


  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    ““We decided the Atlas will get a slightly lower-positioned five-seater, with nice, coupe-ish styling, [but the] same dimensions,” he said in a December interview with Automotive News.”

    …and Atlas Shrugged.

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    It seems as if VW’s goal is to offer a different vehicle at every $500 price point.

    • 0 avatar
      jalop1991

      “It seems as if the German auto industry’s goal is to offer a different vehicle at every $500 price point.”

      Fixed that for you.

    • 0 avatar
      threeer

      SUV 1.0, SUV 1.25, SUV 1.5, SUV 1.75, SUV 2.0…all small increments of the same basic platform. Cripes, how many nearly-identical vehicles can the market bear? Makes me want to run out and by a manual transmission sedan, or better yet, wagon.

  • avatar
    RHD

    Smaaller than an Atlas…

    The Volkswagen Map.

  • avatar
    Caboose

    Perhaps I’m cynical, but since most S/CUVs are a license to print money, why not follow Chevy’s lead earlier this year? Keep the car the same except ditch the third row and some trim. Shrink the rims by one inch. Shave the price by two grand and call it the Atlas Custom.

    The margins would still be crazy, especially with limited to no retooling.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      https://www.wsj.com/news/life-arts/automotive

      I recommend this link to help you overcome your cynicism. The timely and up-to-date automotive news they feature helped me to overcome my cynicism of the US auto industry.

  • avatar
    gasser

    Great idea: lower the seating position, which is one of the most popular SUV features, and then crunch down the back so we can lose cargo capacity. NOT!!!!!
    I agree with Caboose. Just jettison the 3rd row and make the 2nd row slide back more. Use the well of the 3rd seat for a lockable cargo space. Kaboom, an instant winner!!

    • 0 avatar
      notwhoithink

      “Great idea: lower the seating position, which is one of the most popular SUV features, and then crunch down the back so we can lose cargo capacity. NOT!!!!!”

      There’s plenty of room in the market for different models. I think the Atlas looks great, but it’s bigger than anything I want to drive. I think the new Tiguan looks great, but even being larger than the old Tiguan it’s still too small for my tastes. There’s absolutely room for something in between. This is one area where I think that Ford covers the market better than anyone else. The Edge is just about the perfect size CUV for my purposes, and just about everyone else has something a bit larger or a bit smaller, but nothing in that same size.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I think there is room for something halfway between the Tiguan and Atlas. Truthfully that is what the Arteon should have been. Let’s not pretend like it’s gonna be some dynamic dynamo. A coupey crossover flagship is what the market wants right now.

  • avatar
    JEFFSHADOW

    As Tiguan is TIger iGUANa, then

    PUMATOR (PUMA moniTOR) is the next VW SUV!

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