The Volkswagen Atlas is a newcomer to the automotive market, having been launched for the 2018 model year. As a result, not much is new for 2019 aside from a few more standard driver-assistance features. Volkswagen builds this three-row, midsize SUV alongside the Passat sedan in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Powertrain and specs
The 2019 Volkswagen Atlas has two engine options beginning with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder producing 235 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. That's a bit low compared with other base engines in the midsize, three-row crossover class. The optional 3.6-liter six-cylinder engine is more competitive, with 276 horsepower and and 266 pound-feet of torque.
The VR6 engine (similar to a V6, but with its cylinder banks closer together) is available with either front- or all-wheel drive. The four-cylinder engine powers the front wheels only, but both engines are paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission.
The most economical Atlas may be a little down on power, but it's one of the most fuel-efficient SUVs in its class, returning an EPA-estimated 22 miles per gallon in the city and 26 mpg on the highway. For reference, the most efficient versions of the Honda Pilot and the Nissan Pathfinder both get 20 mpg in the city and 27 on the highway.
The front-wheel-drive VR6 Atlas, meanwhile, gets 17/24 city/highway mpg, while all-wheel drive reduces the highway figure by 1 mpg. That ends up being less efficient than a similarly equipped Chevrolet Traverse (17/25) and Toyota Highlander (20/26), but more miserly than a V6, all-wheel-drive Ford Explorer (16/22).
Interior and towing
There's plenty of space inside the Volkswagen Atlas for up to seven occupants, although the Highlander, Pilot and Traverse can seat up to eight. If you need to haul a bunch of stuff, there's up to 96.8 cubic feet of cargo space. That's a lot more than most of the competition except for the Chevy Traverse with 98.2 cubic feet.
A few players in this segment are capable of towing up to 5,000 pounds. The Atlas can, too, but if you need more, the Nissan Pathfinder boasts a 6,000-pound maximum.
With Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and even MirrorLink on a 6.5-inch touchscreen, the Atlas comes with a healthy suite of standard tech. Also included is an SD card reader and a six-speaker stereo, but audiophiles will likely choose the available 480-watt, 12-speaker Fender .
The Atlas doesn't skimp on the safety tech, either. Right out of the gates you get standard collision-mitigation braking, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and braking as well as rain-sensing windshield wipers. That's pretty competitive with Honda and Toyota's standard driver-assistance suites. The competition from Ford and Chevy, however, comes with none of those features standard.
Options and pricing
Across its five trims, base prices for the Atlas begin at $30,895 and top out at $48,395 plus $995 for destination. The entry Atlas S comes with 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights with LED daytime running lights, heated and powered side mirrors, two-zone manual climate control and cloth upholstery.
Next up is the $35,495 SE trim with the VR6 engine as well as keyless access, push-button start, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, leatherette seat upholstery, a power driver's seat, heated front seats, three-zone automatic climate control, more USB ports and an 8-inch touchscreen with HD and satellite radio paired with an eight-speaker sound system. The SE trim offers a tech package that bumps the price to $37,295 and adds remote start, a power liftgate, lane-keep assist and adaptive cruise control. On top of the SE with Tech Package there's an R Line Package that moves the price to $39,245 and adds sporty visual upgrades like 20-inch wheels and stainless-steel pedals.
Next up is the $41,395 SEL trim that includes LED taillights, a trailer hitch, ultrasonic parking sensors, a panoramic sunroof as well as a foot-activated liftgate, a heated steering wheel, power passenger seat, a 12.3-inch instrument cluster display and embedded navigation. The R-Line package for the SEL trim bumps the MSRP to $43,345 and adds the same design upgrades as on the SE trim.
Finally comes the $48,395 SEL Premium trim, which adds power-folding side mirrors with integrated puddle lights, ambient interior lighting, leather upholstery, front-seat ventilation, heated rear seats, the 12-speaker Fender audio system, autonomous parallel parking with a 360-degree camera and automatic high beams.
The 2019 Volkswagen Atlas is available at retailers nationwide now.