Since final we met Volkswagen’s Atlas a couple of yr in the past, the biggest mannequin in VW’s fleet has had time to settle into its place among the many competitors and we have had time to study extra about its strengths and sharpen our nitpicks. Yes, I nonetheless miss the rugged and succesful Touareg the Atlas changed — and look again wistfully on these few years VW supplied it with a V10 TDI engine — however the brand new mannequin looks like a a lot better, extra economical match for the family-hauling set that it is meant to serve. And there’s rather a lot to like concerning the 2019 Volkswagen Atlas. Literally, there’s a number of it. At 78.3 inches large, the Atlas is about 5 inches wider than the Toyota Highlander, however nonetheless a fraction of an inch narrower than the Honda Pilot. Of course, VW’s horizontal design language emphasizes and exaggerates the width, giving it a broader look than the Honda on the street.
The Atlas’ 198.3-inch size leaves respectable room for legs in its third row of seats (33.7 inches). I would not name it spacious again there — it is a squeeze for taller people, particularly with simply 38.3 inches of headroom. But, other than the shortage of USB charging ports on the third row, it isn’t a nasty spot for a small grownup or youngster to spend a street journey, and really fairly beneficiant for the category.And, with each of its rear rows folded flat, the Altas bests the Highlander, Pilot and Mazda CX-9 for cargo capability, at 96.8 cubic ft. If you are on the lookout for house in your, ahem, “small sport utility vehicle,” the Atlas is a fantastic alternative. (How the EPA counts the Atlas as “small” whereas the Audi Q7, which is simply 1.3 inches longer, is a “standard SUV” is past me.)
Solid cabin and security tech Overall, the Atlas’ know-how has confirmed to be a stable suite, beginning within the dashboard with commonplace App Connect infotainment. Its giant, 8-inch display sits fairly and may be very attentive to the contact with a easy, easy-to-learn interface. The elective navigation software program acquired me the place I used to be going with out challenge and labored properly with the voice recognition Volkswagen’s working today. This is similar setup you may discover within the dashboards of almost each new VW within the automaker’s 2019 lineup and I’ve loved it each time. Phone-based Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are commonplace, together with MirrorLink, if that is your jam.
The Digital Cockpit instrument cluster appears nice and is pretty customizable. It’s much like, however not as flashy or highly effective as Audi’s Virtual Cockpit digital dashboard. Then once more, it is a good luxurious contact on this extra reasonably priced class, which is why it is a disgrace you’ll be able to solely entry this specific possibility by choosing the one costliest trim stage, the $48,395 V6 SEL Premium with 4Motion all-wheel drive.Driver-assistance options are lastly as much as snuff for this mannequin yr. My tester featured an adaptive cruise management system that works in stop-and-go site visitors, sustaining a set following distance behind the automobile forward. The lane-keeping steering help and lane-departure alert programs are unobtrusive sufficient, however there isn’t any lane-centering such as you’ll get with the upcoming 2020 Toyota Highlander’s Lane Tracing Assist.
Why does this work like that?I promised nitpicks, so right here they arrive. My greatest gripes are with the operation of the parking sensors and digital camera programs. When you set the Atlas into reverse, the usual rear-view digital camera comes on, the audio quantity dips and the proximity sensors activate. So far so good, all the pieces is ok. When I put the SUV into drive, nevertheless, the sensors and rear digital camera do not deactivate till I hit properly over 10 mph. In a big car parking zone, parking deck or neighborhood, that would imply a really very long time with out audio or infotainment — only a ineffective rear view. You might attain up and shut the digital camera view with a digital button, however who needs to do this each time they discover themselves creeping out of a car parking zone?
This would not be so unhealthy if it had been the elective surround-view digital camera — a view of the realm forward of and across the automobile could be helpful in, say, a tightly twisting parking deck state of affairs — but it surely would not mechanically activate in reverse or drive. You must manually press a console button each time to make use of it, which can also be annoying. Honestly, if I’d paid additional to get the Overhead View Camera, I’d need that to be the default digital camera view when parking anyway.Admittedly, these are minor annoyances in the way in which these options work — the precise performance is ok — however they stood out as tough edges in what felt like an in any other case polished Atlas expertise.Performance and powertrainA 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine is the usual energy plant for the Atlas S and SE trim ranges. It makes 235 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque — wholesome if not overwhelming numbers for a automobile of this dimension.
The elective engine improve is a 3.6-liter V6 that steps as much as 276 hp and 266 lb-ft of torque. VW calls it a “monster” in its promotional supplies, however with solely eight extra lb-ft than the two.0T, it would not appear so monstrous to me. Still, it is a good horsepower improve and — maybe extra importantly — a a lot smoother, quieter engine in day by day operation. The V6 will even enable the Atlas to tow as much as 5,000 kilos, making it a stable improve ought to you might want to haul a small boat on the weekend.Either means you go, the Atlas options an eight-speed automated transmission and front-wheel drive. V6 fashions have the choice for 4Motion AWD, making it (once more) maybe the higher alternative for inclement climate.The base engine is sweet for 22 mixed miles per gallon (20 metropolis and 26 freeway), in keeping with the EPA. The V6 drops to 19 mixed mpg (17 metropolis and 24 freeway) dropping solely a single freeway mpg with the addition of all-wheel drive. During my week of testing, I averaged 22 mpg with my 4Motion V6, just about bang-on with the estimates.Off-the-line efficiency is respectable, however even with the V6’s eight additional torques, freeway acceleration for passing is not the most effective. The mixture of the Atlas’ gearbox — which appears to be tuned for environment friendly cruising — and the physics of a giant 4,502-pound SUV encourage a extra relaxed driving type, which appears to swimsuit household hauling. There is a Sport mode for the transmission, but it surely would not actually assist total efficiency. Owners will seemingly get extra use out of the elective terrain- and traction-management programs — accessible by way of a knob on the middle console — which supply 4 completely different applications for snow, off-road and the like.Pricing and competitorsThe Atlas competes with the aforementioned Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander in addition to Ford’s up to date Explorer and the Mazda CX-9; it begins at $30,895 with the four-cylinder engine. The VW is extra spacious and barely cheaper to begin than a lot of the competitors however, comparably geared up, it is a comparable worth. Personally, I feel most homeowners would wish to step as much as the V6, unlocking the all-wheel-drive possibility within the course of. Then you are taking a look at a beginning worth of round $34,095 for the V6 S with 4Motion. (Oddly, there would not seem like a V6 S sans all-wheel-drive.) The candy spot, I feel, is the V6 SEL, which will get you many of the finest options beginning at $41,395 or $43,195 with 4Motion. At that worth, you’ll be able to roll the marginally bigger Buick Enclave.
As examined, my top-trim Premium SEL 4Motion rolls in all the bells and whistles — together with the Digital Cockpit (a nice-to-have, however not strictly required) and the Overhead View Camera (which I’ve already complained about) for $48,395. All costs exclude a $995 vacation spot cost you may have to account for.It’s not excellent, however what automobile is? And, on the very least, my greatest complaints are extraordinarily nitpicky. As a household hauler, the Volkswagen Atlas continues to be a stable alternative for the cash — particularly for drivers who worth a spacious, quiet cabin and a cushty experience over thrills and dynamics.