Volkswagen has a reputation built on its small cars, thanks to the popularity of models like the Beetle and the Gulf. But the German automaker is aiming to make inroads in the US in one area where it hasn’t performed well — SUVs.
Unlike the the company’s current large SUV, the Touareg, its newest SUV offering has been designed from the ground up for the American market. It’s a seven-passenger crossover SUV called the Atlas.
This 2018 model is being used to capitalize on the newfound enthusiasm American car buyers have with SUVs. For Volkswagen, it’s an important segment that could bring greater profits, even while it continues to suffer from the fallout around its diesel car emissions scandal.
The new VW Atlas is much larger than the aforementioned Touareg, measuring 16.5 feet long. It will be offered with either a 2.0-liter turbocharged, direct-injected four-cylinder engine producing 238 horsepower or a 3.6-liter V6 engine delivering 280 horsepower. Both will be paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. 4Motion all-wheel drive can only be had with the V6-equipped model. However, VW expects the V6 to be the most popular engine choice at launch.
As with other three-row, mid-size SUVs, the Atlas with offer a host of safety equipment, include including an Automatic Post-Collision Braking System that applies brakes after an initial crash is detected to minimize additional damage in the vent of an accident.
Other technology available with the 2018 Atlas includes VW’s updated infotainment system with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and MirrorLink connectivity. The infotainment system features a touchscreen, though it can be manipulated via buttons and knobs. A digital instrument panel will also be available, along with a Fender audio system, and a long list of advanced safety and driver assistance features. Adaptive cruise control, a blind-spot monitor, forward collision prevention, lane keeping assist, post-collision braking, and a parking assistant, will also be available. LED headlights will be standard, though LED taillights are optional.
With a base price around $30,000, the new VW Atlas is priced in the heart of the mid-size three-row SUV segment. For reference, a 2017 Honda Pilot starts at $31,495, and the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe at $31,695. But Volkswagen promises that the new Atlas also offers the same high-quality interior that consumers expect from the German brand.
The Volkswagen Atlas will be in showrooms this spring. When it arrives, it will mark a new direction for VW as it tries harder to cater to the specific tastes of American drivers and attepts to fulfill the needs that its current offerings weren’t addressing.