Atlas, Part 2: Volkswagen Announces Five-passenger SUV for Chattanooga

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
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atlas part 2 volkswagen announces five passenger suv for chattanooga

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]

Steph Willems
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  • Sportyaccordy Sportyaccordy on Mar 19, 2018

    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.


    As Tiguan is TIger iGUANa, then PUMATOR (PUMA moniTOR) is the next VW SUV!

  • Ernesto Perez There's a line in the movie Armageddon where Bruce Willis says " is this the best idea NASA came up with?". Don't quote me. I'm asking is this the best idea NY came up with? What's next? Charging pedestrians to walk in certain parts of the city? Every year the price for everything gets more expensive and most of the services we pay for gets worse. Obviously more money is not the solution. What we need are better ideas, strategies and inventions. You want to charge drivers in the city - then put tolls on the free bridges like the Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges. There's always a better way or product. It's just the idiots on top think they know best.
  • Carsofchaos The bike lanes aren't even close to carrying "more than the car lanes replaced". You clearly don't drive in Midtown Manhattan on a daily like I do.
  • Carsofchaos The problem with congestion, dear friends, is not the cars per se. I drive into the city daily and the problem is this:Your average street in the area used to be 4 lanes. Now it is a bus lane, a bike lane (now you're down to two lanes), then you have delivery trucks double parking, along with the Uber and Lyft drivers also double parking. So your 4 lane avenue is now a 1.5 lane avenue. Do you now see the problem? Congestion pricing will fix none of these things....what it WILL do is fund persion plans.
  • FreedMike Many F150s I encounter are autonomously driven...and by that I mean they're driving themselves because the dips**ts at the wheel are paying attention to everything else but the road.
  • Tassos A "small car", TIM????????????This is the GLE. Have you even ever SEEN the huge thing at a dealer's??? NOT even the GLC,and Merc has TWO classes even SMALLER than the C (The A and the B, you guessed it? You must be a GENIUS!).THe E is a "MIDSIZED" crossover, NOT A SMALL ONE BY ANY STRETCH OF THE IMAGINATION, oh CLUELESS one.I AM SICK AND TIRED OF THE NONSENSE you post here every god damned day.And I BET you will never even CORRECT your NONSENSE, much less APOLOGIZE for your cluelessness and unprofessionalism.