Volkswagen Readies Refresh for U.S. Success Story

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
volkswagen readies refresh for u s success story

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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6 of 13 comments
  • Steve203 Steve203 on Dec 11, 2019

    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.

    • See 3 previous
    • Sportyaccordy Sportyaccordy on Dec 12, 2019

      @Steve203 APR offers tunes for VWAG cars that are honored at dealerships. I'm not sure who's end the warranty is covered by but there is a partnership with most VW dealers. They even have tunes that still run on 87 octane.

  • Jfk-usaf Jfk-usaf on Dec 11, 2019

    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,

  • KOKing I car-sat an A32 while its owner was out of the country, and the then whiz-bang VQ motor was great, but the rest of it wasn't any better than a XV10 or XV20. Definitely the start of its downward slide, unfortunately.
  • Norman Stansfield Why are leaf springs still a thing on this truck?
  • Syke The expected opening comments. Have had mine for two years now, the car has done exactly what I want out of it, and a little better. I'm quite happy with the car, haven't had to adjust my driving style or needs in the slightest, and . . . . oh, did a mention that I don't give a damn what today's price at the pump is?Probably going to go for a second one in the coming year, the wife's happy enough with mine that she's ready and willing to trade in the Nissan Kicks. Eventually, the not often used van will end up getting traded on a Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, basically ensuring that we don't use gas for anything except the occasional long trip.And the motorcycles.
  • Bobbysirhan I've never found the Allegro appealing before, but a few years of EV rollouts make it seem downright desirable.
  • Scoutdude I know that dealership. Way back when my friend's grandfather was that Turner that owned the Chrysler Plymouth International dealer, in MacPherson. Of course the International was dropped when they didn't deem the Scout reason enough to keep the franchise. I moved from there in late 1978 so it is possible I saw this running around town way back when.