By on October 20, 2018

2018 Volkswagen Atlas - Image: Volkswagen

The three-row Atlas was the midsize utility vehicle Volkswagen needed, but the model’s entry-level 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder is apparently the engine Volkswagen doesn’t want.

For 2019, the Atlas seems some unusual rejigging occur at the bottom end of the trim ladder. Unless you’re totally stoked with the idea of having the least amount of power going to the fewest number of wheels, you’ll end up paying more.

According to 2019 Atlas order guides seen by CarsDirect, Volkswagen plants to drop the 235 hp 2.0T engine from all but one trim level — the base S model. Last year, SE and SEL buyers could get their hands on a four-banger.

As it drops four-cylinder availability in favor of the brand’s 276 hp 3.6-liter V6, VW has also eliminated the front-drive Atlas S V6 model. This means getting into a six-cylinder requires extra expenditure for all-wheel drive (it’s a $3,200 climb from the $31,890 MSRP of the four-cylinder S). If six cylinders is a necessity but AWD isn’t, you’ll find yourself leapfrogging that model to land on the $36,490 front-drive SE V6.

It’s an odd grouping — you’ll have to spend an additional $4,600 for a front-drive V6, but $1,400 less if you’re in the mood for an AWD V6.

Four-cylinder Atlases were always thin on the ground; the manufacturer made most turbo trims available as factory order only. With this 2019 trim reshuffling, VW can continue marketing the base model’s competitive entry price while boosting the line’s profitability.

A key product for the U.S. market, Atlas sales began in May of 2017. Over the first nine months of 2018, 43,002 American buyers drove home in a new Atlas, with the model representing over 16 percent of the brand’s U.S. volume. Coupled with sales of the smaller Tiguan and its outgoing Tiguan Limited predecessor, as well as the remaining Touaregs populating U.S. lots, SUVs made up 47 percent of Volkswagen’s 2018 U.S. sales.

[Image: Volkswagen]

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17 Comments on “Atlas Shrugged: Volkswagen’s Big Crossover Doesn’t Have Much Time for Four-cylinders...”


  • avatar
    Ermel

    Strangely, the mid-size pickup Amarok also sports a V6 (Diesel of course), even as its only available engine in Germany, while the Transporter/Caravelle and the much bigger Crafter vans only get I4 diesels.

    If I see it correctly, the only VWs left with more engine than an I4 now are the Atlas, Amarok, and Touareg — and the only one of those that even offers an I4 also is the only one built for (and in) North America. Strange times.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    I suspect this is about engine manufacturing capacity. No one is buying VW diesels so the 2.0 liter turbo gasoline 4 has become the go-to engine for most VW buyers globally. Thus for model such as the Atlas that can easily handle the otherwise slow selling V6, it makes sense for VW to make the turbo-4 less attractive to buy so they have more available for Golfs and Passats.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    I guess, if you think that V6 camry starts @ $34K, this is cheap for vw. But it also can get you v8 mustang with some performance packages

  • avatar
    stangmatt66

    I would bet the take rate of the 2.0T is much less than the V6 because you can’t get it with AWD. A shame because the 2.0T can easily be tuned to make more HP and torque than the V6 (291 hp and 317 ft-lbs from APR Stage 1).

    • 0 avatar
      thegamper

      The 2.0t is the engine to have in this vehicle if you don’t require AWD. It’s faster and more efficient. VW’s V6 isn’t really very competitive in its segment. I was thinking I’d look into it when my wife’s lease is up in a year, but will probably scratch it if the V6 is the only option in higher trims.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      That 315 lb-ft is a good, safe limit as the Traverse RS 2.0T is rated at 295 lb-ft of torque but is up to +15 lb-ft in over boost.

      Trifecta doesn’t advertise a Traverse RS 2.0T ecu tune but offers one for the Equinox/Terrqin 2.0T.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      A tuned 2.0T will still sound like a school bus and- more importantly to every Atlas buyer- totally void the warranty.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Gee, this is exactly what Tesla is doing with the Model 3.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      You mean VW promised an entry-level model, but hasn’t built a single one?

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        Sort of. They have a history of eliminating low end products and only offering mid to high end products.

        With Volkswagen it’s understandable, but with Tesla it’s considered deceptive. But they had better produce and sell the mythical $35k Model 3, or the critics will be proven right.

        Some people think the $35k car will only be sold with the $5000 premium upgrade package, which would be the same as today, but not what they described on Day 1.

  • avatar
    bkrell

    My wife bought a loaded Atlas SEL Premium 4 Motion. Its Achilles heel is its 18.6 gallon gas tank when the VR6 sucks down the gas to the tune of about 18 mpg in her use. Coming from a 31 gal tank Yukon XL, she loathes the range of this car.

    Otherwise, it checks all the boxes well. I’ve got the 2.0l in my GTI and cant imagine the same motor pulling the Atlas. Many VW people did buy the 2.0l in anticipation of an inevitable APR tune. Its here and does dial up the fun. But I personally love the smoothness of this 6.

  • avatar
    CincyDavid

    Sheesh, I’d LOVE it if my wife’s Grand Cherokee got 18 MPG. It gets 14ish in the city and 18 in all-interstate driving. Has a 24? gallon tank so the range isn’t horrible. The 360 HP/390 lbs of torque is nice though.

    I pondered getting an Atlas, wound up getting a deal on a used JGC and went with that.

    I will say I saw an Atlas R Line the other day in a BEAUTIFUL dark blue with a tinge of green to the color…I’m a silver/dark gray/black car guy but that dark blue was amazing.

  • avatar
    cicero1

    Great reference to the best book ever written.

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