The 2018 Volkswagen Atlas has just been unveiled. This is an all-new, 7-seater crossover SUV set to compete in the larger end of the midsize class inhabited by vehicles like the Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander. And it might end up being VW’s biggest seller since the good old Beetle. Yes, doing even better than the brilliant Golf.
A Love Letter to the USA
Let’s just mention diesel for a second before going into more detail about the Atlas. The TDI emissions episode hit the company’s reputation hard. Now it seems VW wants to make amends. Once the wraps were off the Atlas, Hinrich Woebcken (CEO, North America Region) emphasized Volkswagen’s commitment to the United States, having invested many millions of dollars not only in this new vehicle but also in the company’s Chattanooga manufacturing plant where the Atlas will be built. He added that the Atlas was designed especially for America.
Conceived in Germany
Which seems obvious. A largish crossover is as typically American during these times as a huge finned Cadillac was during the early Sixties. The Atlas looks decidedly chunky and not even the cool LED running lights bring any softer lines. That said, it has more interest about it than the instantly forgettable VW creations from just a few years ago. Volkswagen has a design studio in Santa Monica, California, whose workers were involved in the process to a degree, but the bulk of the styling was done in Wolfsburg, the company’s home.
The cabin appears classy with decent-quality materials. Note the reactively thin A-pillars — that means good visibility. One option is the Volkswagen Digital Cockpit, which is a configurable information display. There are also plenty of advanced safety features available, along with infotainment tech like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Passenger space is generous. The second row of seats can slide forward and back, while access to the third row is surprisingly easy for an adult, so it should be a breeze for the youngsters destined to perch back there, even when there are child seats fitted in row two.
Maximum cargo space with both back rows folded down amounts to 96.8 cubic feet, which is appreciably better than those major rivals mentioned above.
When and How Much?
When the 2018 Volkswagen Atlas goes on sale in spring 2017, the entry level engine will be a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder unit turbocharged to produce 238 hp. For more power, VW will offer a 3.6-liter V6 that develops 280 hp. All-wheel drive is known as 4Motion in VW world, and it’s available as an extra when the V6 is fitted. The standard setup is safe and predictable front-wheel drive.
Cost-wise, there’s nothing official yet, but Woebcken stated that the Atlas will be priced “in the heart of the segment.” So the ballpark we’re looking at is a starting price of around $32,000.
The recipe seems right, then. All we need now is to find out whether the Atlas is to American buyers’ tastes. We hope to review one as soon as humanly possible.
Photo Credit: © 2016 Volkswagen