Volkswagen rolls out the new Atlas SUV

The 7-passenger mid-size SUV is big, boxy and might just bring VW back into the light.

Emme Hall Former editor for CNET Cars
I love two-seater, RWD convertibles and own a 2004 Mazdaspeed Miata for pavement fun and a lifted 2001 Miata for pre-running. I race air-cooled Volkswagens in desert races like the Mint 400 and the Baja 1000. I have won the Rebelle Rally, seven-day navigational challenge, twice and I am the only driver to compete in an EV, the Rivian R1T.
Emme Hall
2 min read
2018 Volkswagen Atlas
Watch this: The 2018 Volkswagen Atlas...this is it!

If any vehicle was carrying the weight of the world on its shoulders it's the 2018 Volkswagen Atlas. Built with the American market in mind, VW's new 7-passenger SUV has the heady task of reclaiming the VW brand and making us all forget about that silly little Dieselgate scandal.

As you would expect, no diesel model will be on offer. Instead buyers get their choice of a 2-liter turbo engine good for 238 horsepower or a 3.6-liter VR6, knocking out 280 horses. The Atlas is the biggest vehicle VW makes, so one would expect the larger engine to be the big seller. Both engines will get the same 8-speed automatic transmission.

You'll have to pony up for the larger powertrain if you want all-wheel drive as it's only offered with the VR6 engine. In addition to power going to all four wheels, you'll also get four different driving modes, from snow to off road to sport to custom.


The Atlas will get a whole slew of safety and convenience features, such as adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning and park assist. Also on hand is the first in class post-collision braking, which helps curtail additional collisions after the first impact.

Inside the cabin there's Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink. It also looks like VW has taken a cue from its division and added its own version of virtual cockpit, with a customizable digital gauge cluster. It's not quite as slick as the Audi version, but it's still pretty cool and puts the navigation directly in front of you.

I sat in the third row seats and found them plenty roomy for two full-size adults. Even at 5'9" I had plenty of headroom. The second row seats slide forward allowing for easy ingress and egress.


The Atlas is technically designated as a mid-size SUV, but at an overall length of nearly 200 inches, the 7-seater is a large SUV indeed. The length of the car is emphasized by a style line stretching down the side and the wheels are pushed out on all four corners. The hood is nicely sculpted and the LED headlights have a unique light signature. It's a boxy thing, but still a nice-looking boxy thing.

Pricing and fuel economy have not been announced.

The 2018 Volkswagen Atlas is built in America, for America

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