2018 Volkswagen Atlas earns IIHS Top Safety Pick

It missed out on the higher Top Safety Pick+ award because of its headlights -- not uncommon since that test was added to the regimen.


While the federal government already crash tested the 2018 Volkswagen Atlas, it had yet to pass the battery of ultrafrustrating tests from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. But now it has, and it did so with flying colors... for the most part.

The 2018 Volkswagen Atlas earned the IIHS' Top Safety Pick accolade. In order to achieve this, a vehicle must pass a battery of crash tests, as well as an evaluation of both its headlights and its crash-prevention systems. Do well in everything, and you get Top Safety Pick+. Do well in all but one category, and you get Top Safety Pick, which is still very good.

The Atlas received a Good score in every single crash test, including the complicated small overlap front test, when just front corner of the car collides with something. It also earned a Superior rating for its autonomous emergency braking system, which is optional on the SE trim and standard on the SEL and SEL Premium trims. In the 12 mph test, the Atlas avoided the collision entirely. In the 25 mph test, it dropped down to 8 mph before contacting the barrier.

The Atlas earned two Marginal scores, however, for its headlights and its child-seat Latch hardware. For the child seats, the Atlas was dinged for having the lower anchors too deep in the seat, and on the outboard second-row seats too much force was needed to attach a car seat to the lower anchors.

It didn't fare very well on the headlight test. For the LED reflector headlights with auto high beams, part of the SEL Premium trim, visibility was inadequate on the right side while driving straight, and visibility on all sides was inadequate in curves, earning a Marginal rating. Its standard LED headlights, which lack automatic high beams, received a Poor rating for the same inadequacies.

Headlights aside, the Top Safety Pick award means the Volkswagen Atlas is one of the safer three-row crossovers on the market. It joins other Volkswagens on this list, including the Golf Alltrack, Golf SportWagen, GTI and Passat. The Jetta is the only VW to achieve Top Safety Pick+.