By on December 11, 2019

Image: VW

Lusted after by no writer upon its debut, the intentionally inoffensive, strength-projecting Volkswagen Atlas did exactly what the automaker intended. It gave the brand a viable challenger in the midsize utility vehicle space, luring Americans into its Teutonic cabin and generating the margins necessary to help fund VW’s electric vehicle push.

The Atlas is a hit, and the coming year sees it undergo its first refresh. Details follow.

We weren’t at the small, sort-of reveal event in Michigan yesterday, but others were. According to Car and Driver, the 2021 Atlas arriving next May grows 3 inches in length and adopts a face similar to that of the upcoming Atlas Cross Sport two-row. It’s a less blocky, more integrated visage, and it’s no surprise it’s showing up on the Cross Sport’s bigger brother.

All told, the upcoming Atlas is 5.7 inches longer than the Cross Sport. Both models share the same wheelbase.

Also like the Cross Sport, the Atlas has decided to put its thriftiest powertrain and 4Motion all-wheel drive together — something not offered in the previous iteration. Good luck finding any 2.0-liter-equipped Atlas on a dealer lot. It seems both engines (2.0-liter four, 3.6-liter V6) will carry over unchanged, as will the eight-speed automatic.

Elsewhere, VW plans to update the model’s suite of driver-assist features with Dynamic Road Sign Detection and Traffic Jam Assist, the latter feature allowing adaptive cruise control to operate at annoyingly low speeds.

First appearing on VW’s sales charts in May 2017, the Atlas has steadily grown its customer pool. Sales are up 40 percent through the end of November. With a refresh inbound and a new Cross Sport variant on the way, Atlas volume will almost certainly top this year’s sales tally in 2020, likely by a significant margin.

Planning pays off.

[Image: Volkswagen]

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13 Comments on “Volkswagen Readies Refresh for U.S. Success Story...”


  • avatar
    tomLU86

    Peak Volkswagen was early 1960s to 1970.

    That was before my time (though the first family car I remember was a 68 Bug). It was easier then. VWs were slow, sturdy, and simple, cheap to own and operate, in a US market where the Big Three ruled, and the big car was king. The Japanese were still trying to figure things out. The Americans gave VW a big, open lane, and VW, to its credit, made the most of it. That’s not something to be dismissed. Renault and Fiat couldn’t; perhaps Opel and Ford of Germany, but those were non-starters, since the parent companies did not want them here.

    Sturdy and simple, inexpensive but not cheap. VW never made it to the next level (that would be Toyota/Honda) and has been an also-ran ever since.

    I say that even as I think the Mk2 Golf/Jetta are the best all-around cars ever (at least to me, and for me)

    VW has been “coming back” for US Success story every 10-15 years for the past 45 years. First the Japanese beat them here. Then the Koreans. Will VW preempt the Chinese? Or, more likely, will VW China wind up being VWNA.

    If TTAC is around in 10-15 years, you’ll probably run another story like this.

  • avatar
    Carrera

    VW was experiencing a good turn around when they started the great bumper to bumper warranty in 2018 that was the best in the business. Now they lowered it to 4/50,000 which isn’t bad but Kia Telluride and the new Hyundai Palisade is kicking VW butt. Also, the Atlas models are very close to the bottom of all reliability surveys. Now I know why VW nixed the 6/72,000 warranty. Because it was bringing them closer to the edge of insolvency in North America. I was closed to getting an Atlas when they came out. Decent inside but the dealers were very arrogant. They were making it sound like Atlas was the equivalent of Jesus’ second coming. I never considered the smaller sibling since that 2.0 Atkins cycle engine is very underpowered. It needs 1-2 APR tune the second it comes off the dealer lot.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      I think H/K is going to ruin the Atlas success. The interiors on those 2 are head and shoulders above everything else in the category. When you first step in one, it’s the wow factor.

      The Atlas is still good, but the H/K vehicles are better and likely more reliable in the long run. The Atlas warranty was a good story, but now that they’ve pulled that back, Atlas is a tougher sell.

  • avatar
    Steve203

    Atlas is way too big for my taste, so, of course, they make it even bigger.

    I really like the Tiguan, but it too is a bit too big. Why, oh why, don’t they put the 2.0 from the base Atlas in the Tig? My guess is the Atlas 2.0 wants premium gas and they know people in the US want to cheap out on everything.

    VW says they have a smaller CUV in the works, but guesses vary whether it is just the short wheelbase Tig that is offered in Europe, or something smaller.

    My Jetta wagon is only 6 years old, so VW has plenty of time to come up with something the size I like. If they miss the boat, I was admiring a BMW X1 in the grocery store parking lot the other day. That’s more like it, sizewise, but I would have to learn to stop using the turn signals.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      I think VW finally got a clue and tuned their motors for regular. I know the GTI will run on 87 octane. Looks like knock is related to revs so they just make power lower in the rev range.

      • 0 avatar
        Steve203

        >>I think VW finally got a clue and tuned their motors for regular. I know the GTI will run on 87 octane. Looks like knock is related to revs so they just make power lower in the rev range.<<

        Engines today can be forced to run on lower grade gas as the management system backs off on ignition advance, and you lose power and efficiency as a result.

        The 2.0 in the Tig is rated for regular gas with 184 hp @ 4400rpm and 221 ft-lbs. @ 1600 rpm

        The Audi Q3, a "premium" brand, where people might not blanch at using better gas, "recommends" premium. That 2.0 puts out 228 hp @ 5000 rpm and 258 ft-lbs. @ 1700 rpm

        The 2.0 in the Atlas, premium gas recommended, is rated at 235 hp @ 4500 rpm and 258 ft-lbs. @ 1600 rpm

        Imagine how much happier all the people crying about how slow the Tig is would be if they could tick the box on the option sheet for the premium gas, "high output" engine as used in the Atlas or Q3.

  • avatar
    jfk-usaf

    Dear VW,
    Sorry not sorry about the diesel thing and your (us) missing out on having a TDI as an option in this thing. We need more HP/TQ in a vehicle of this size please.

    Thanks,

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