Thursday, November 14, 2019

Is This Your Best Buy SUV?

Volkswagen has proven that being late to the full-sized, three-row SUV party is not such a bad thing. Despite VW’s attempts at SUVs with the Touareg and Tiguan, which were both quality SUVs, neither really captured the heart of the American SUV buyer. Volkswagen’s latest attempt, the Atlas, is poised to become a best-selling SUV because it hits all of the hot buttons the typical SUV buyer has. It doesn’t break new fuel economy ground, but it acquits itself well against a broad array of competition while delivering the goods in terms of price, utility and features. 

2018 Volkswagen Atlas

It’s a space ship in back

The new Atlas is a real full-sized three-row crossover that seats seven full-sized adults. The Atlas is just the right size at over 200 inches, and over 90 cubic feet of space in the rear with both back seat rows down, 53 cubic feet with the 3rd row down and and 21 cubic feet of space with both rows of seat up. All of this cargo space is available with a perfectly flat floor.

The Atlas is a massive box on 18-inch wheels, the interior is beautiful and spacious with tons of room in the middle and back seats. Ammenties include 17 cup holders, and all sorts of bins and storage in the doors and side areas.

Parts Bin Value

The Atlas draws from the VW part’s bin to maximize its value with the base Atlas starting at just $30,750. Yet at this price it’s no stripper, it uses VW’s tried and true two-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, a state of the art eight-speaker infotainment system, LED headlights, dual-zone climate control and front wheel drive. An eight-speed transmission is standard on all Atlas trim levels. And that model will deliver 26 mpg on the highway.

2018 Volkswagen Atlas

Inside, the Atlas has an upscale feel

The Atlas has a total of starting with the $30,750 two-wheel drive 2.0L Turbo up  to the $48,740 3.6L V6 4Motion SEL trim with a digital cockpit and panoramic sunroof.

Our test vehicle was the mid-level trim the front wheel drive V6 SE with the Technology package that has an MSRP of $38,015., Add $1,800 for 4Motion AWD.

The Technology Package

The Technology package includes a rear-view camera system, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning and autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian monitoring. The package also includes lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, rear traffic alert, remote engine start, keyless access, SiriusXM, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, VW Car-Net, front and rear USB ports and much more.

2018 Volkswagen Atlas

The choice is there–we challenge you to find one that doesn’t fit

The Atlas sits on the VW MQB architecture that is also the underpinnings of the Golf and other VW vehicles. Because of that, the ride qualities of the Atlas are superb, with only a hint of body roll in some situations. It’s solid German engineering with big American roominess. The V6 has decent gas mileage for the size of the Atlas. EPA averages are 18 city/25 highway/20 combined. Our test vehicle averaged 23 mpg in mixed driving. Smarticd will be taking a look at the higher mpg versions of the Atlas soon.

With the variety of levels of trim and affordability available, there is an Atlas for every need and pocketbook. The Atlas is a home run for Volkswagen, and it should be at the top of the list for anyone considering a three-row SUV.

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Smarticd is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition, we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.

Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class, which leads us to emphasize electric cars, plug-in hybrids, hybrids and diesels. We also feature those efficient gas-powered vehicles that are among the top mpg vehicles in their class. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at [email protected].

Gary Lieber is a Road Test & Technology editor at Smarticd. Gary is a Silicon Valley technology veteran, having spent more than 20 years as an executive at Apple and Microsoft. He is a life-long technologist, club racer and gearhead. He has written about cars for the last 10 years, focusing on battery electric cars, autonomous vehicles and the technologies behind them. He is an organizer of Silicon Valley Reinvents the Wheel, founder of the San Francisco Bay Leaf Owners Association, former Concours Chairman for the Porsche Club of America and currently serves as Vice President of Communications for the Western Automotive Journalists.

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