The Volkswagen Atlas is offered in five trim levels; S, SE, SE and SEL. Drivetrains choices for Atlas are available in front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive while engines include an available 3.6L V6 making 235 horsepower and 258 lb-feet of torque or the standard 2.0L 4-cylinder turbocharged engine making 276 horsepower and 266 ft pounds of torque paired to a an 8-speed automatic transmission.
Standard features include LED headlights, cruise control, power mirrors, 2-zone climate control, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, 6.5-inch touch screen and a 6-speaker audio system. The S comes with three rows of cloth-covered seats, front LED lighting and 18-inch aluminum wheels. Storage areas are abundant and include an oversized glovebox, a closed storage bin in the instrument panel and room for 2 full-size adults in the third row seating.
Volkswagen offers an extensive list of options for the 2018 Atlas. A 12.3-inch Digital Cockpit instrument cluster, a center stack 8-inch touch screen with navigation, a 360 degree camera, adaptive cruise control, 3-zone climate control, leather seats with heating in the first two rows and cooling up front, a power liftgate, panoramic sunroof, remote start, 115-volt power outlet, rain-sensing windshield wipers and an 8-speaker audio system. Power-folding heated side mirrors and 20-inch alloy wheels are also available,
Standard safety equipment includes six airbags, automatic post-collision braking, and VW's Intelligent Crash Response System, which cuts the fuel supply, unlocks the doors and turns on the hazard lights in the event of a crash. Advanced safety features like blind spot monitoring, lane keep assist and park assist are available.
Vanity may come into play, but by and large, most people shopping for three-row crossovers want something versatile, sensible and affordable. A car in this segment needs to be able to do it all, from hauling hockey equipment to taking the whole family on a long road trip. These Swiss Army knives are immensely popular, even if they aren't the most exciting things on the block. The VW Atlas has always stuck to the no-nonsense side of things, and its 2021-model-year refresh helps it stand apart in an ever-growing crowd.
The prerefresh VW Atlas had a bit of an Isuzu Axiom look going with its blocky features and squarish headlights. But now that there's a new two-row Atlas Cross Sport in town, the O.G. got a nip-tuck to bring it up to date. It's most obvious up front, where the Cross Sport's face has been grafted onto the regular Atlas with great effect. The rear bumper is a little different, too, but it's harder to notice. My SEL-trim tester sports the $1,700 R-Line package, which ramps things up further with sportier bumpers, side skirts and honkin' 21-inch wheels. It's a good look, even if 21s seem kind of large for a mass-market crossover. The prerefresh Atlas' key design staples carry over, and I'm glad they do -- I don't know why, but I am obsessed with how aggressive its fenders are.
If you've been inside any other Volkswagen in the last five years, the refreshed Atlas' cabin will be immediately familiar. From the HVAC switchgear to, uh, all the other switchgear, VW relies heavily on its parts bin inside, which has benefits from a familiarity standpoint but can feel a little stale at the same time. There's a new steering wheel (with VW's new logo), and I appreciate the fact that the switches feel premium. Plus, the heated steering wheel finally receives its own button, breaking free from the shackles of the heated-seat controls. The leatherette seats are supportive, and the Atlas' upright silhouette means there's plenty of visibility on all sides.
The Good ~ Sharp new look ~ Ample third-row space ~ Solid standard tech
The Bad ~ Brittle ride on big wheels ~ No third-row USB ~ Middling fuel economy
The Bottom Line If pragmatism guides your buying decisions, the refreshed 2021 VW Atlas should be near the top of your to-drive list.
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