2019 Volkswagen Atlas V6 SE w/Technology new car reviews

The Atlas—Volkswagen’s American-produced 7-seater SUV—sits as the king of their lineup: It's now the biggest and the most spacious. Gone are the days of the Touareg, with Volkswagen now fully committed to trying to be the value-leader in the spaces their models occupy—a far cry from when they thought they could sell Americans a high-end luxury car.

Style-wise, the Atlas looks a bit like a refresh on the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee.

From Volkswagen:

Debuted for the 2018 model year, Atlas built on the latest Volkswagen design DNA to create a bold new look in the SUV segment. Its modern and muscular design retains classic proportions and clean lines, while still offering a low coefficient of drag of 0.34.

Perhaps those classic lines the speak of are indeed those of the Jeep? It’s by no means an unattractive vehicle, but if you do a quick Google search of the current Touareg, it would seem as though we’re getting the short end of the stick with the Atlas.

The Atlas comes in many flavors, but the big takeaway is that the base model 2.0-liter and the mid-grade 3.6-liter come standard with front-wheel drive. Thankfully all-wheel drive is available with the higher-end models.

Other staff views

David S. Wallens David S. Wallens
Editorial Director

It’s nice. How’s that? It drives nicely, it looks okay, the interior is fine. The seats felt comfortable after a hundred-mile drive. It easily keeps its lane in a blinding rainstorm. At $38,000 out the door, the price seems fair for a new three-row SUV.

Some little things? Sure. The thin steering wheel reminds me of the one in my ’75 Pontiac. With people in the third row, it can use more shock valving. While it has a power liftgate, you can’t close and lock it with one button. It’s not thrilling to drive, but is anything in this class?

Here’s my big wonder: For those already not drinking the VW Kool-Aid, what’s the value proposition of this vehicle? How can it steal sales from the Japanese, Korean and American brands?

Jordan Rimpela Jordan Rimpela
Digital Editor

This smacked a bit of driving a penalty box. Okay, that might seem harsh, but it just wasn’t enjoyable to drive. And no, I don’t mean enjoyable in the same way a Boxster is, but rather, as something to get in after a long day and just cruise home. The transmission was too eager to shift up into the highest gear possible as soon as possible, leading to the inevitable prodding of the gas pedal to try and awaken it from its slumber in 8th gear to go with the flow of traffic.

Equally weird? It has a tendency to break traction when applying more than half throttle from a standstill, making you assume you’ve done something very wrong. Our tester did have the 276-horsepower V6, but it still felt cumbersome and unwilling to acquiesce to what we wanted it to do. Maybe the all-wheel-drive model is the better buy, but really, are any models in the Atlas range worth the money? And honestly, what was so wrong with the Touareg?

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Dootz
Dootz Reader
8/27/19 8:00 p.m.

The Touareg platform would've made it more costlier for consumers, and you can't have that while fighting Pilots and Highlanders

Jordan Rimpela
Jordan Rimpela Digital Editor
8/27/19 8:17 p.m.

In reply to Dootz :

The Pilot we tested retailed for $49k. And even though most won't be specified to that price point, I'm sure the Pilot will outsell the Atlas handily. 

Streetwiseguy
Streetwiseguy MegaDork
8/27/19 8:57 p.m.

Is that another rebadged Dodge?

Slippery
Slippery SuperDork
8/27/19 9:06 p.m.
Jordan Rimpela said:

In reply to Dootz :

The Pilot we tested retailed for $49k. And even though most won't be specified to that price point, I'm sure the Pilot will outsell the Atlas handily. 

Down here in south Fl, for every Pilot, I see ten Atlas. 

nutherjrfan
nutherjrfan UberDork
8/27/19 9:21 p.m.

yeah I didn't even know that they still made the Pilot.  You do see an awful lot of well worn ones though.  A few Atlases here and there about.  smiley

Dootz
Dootz Reader
8/27/19 10:09 p.m.

In reply to Jordan Rimpela :

Chief, the difference is that the Pilot starts at $32k while the last-gen Touareg started in the mid-$40k. The Atlas here starts right alongside the Pilot's MSRP.

I can tell you right now that the Touareg wouldn't be moving off lots at all compared to the Atlas moving quite handily

Duke
Duke MegaDork
8/28/19 8:13 a.m.

The ads for the Atlas used to make me think they were photoshopped to make them look bigger, like one of those old Wide-Track Pontiac illustrations.  Like the one in the PR shot above.  There was one ad shot in particular of a suburban driveway, with a basketball in the foreground that looked about the size of a grapefruit next to the vehicle.  I figured it was artistic license.

Then they started showing up in real life, and it ain't photoshop.  Those things are berking huge, at least on the outside.

 

pinchvalve
pinchvalve MegaDork
8/28/19 8:22 a.m.

Wait, you had two kids, went for a third and ended up with twins...AND THEN HAD ANOTHER?!?!?  People be crazy.

Jordan Rimpela
Jordan Rimpela Digital Editor
8/28/19 8:27 a.m.
Dootz said:

In reply to Jordan Rimpela :

Chief, the difference is that the Pilot starts at $32k while the last-gen Touareg started in the mid-$40k. The Atlas here starts right alongside the Pilot's MSRP.

I can tell you right now that the Touareg wouldn't be moving off lots at all compared to the Atlas moving quite handily

Sorry, didn't mean to imply that the Touareg would have been more competitive, but rather that the Pilot will outsell the Atlas by a healthy margin, even if VAG is moving a lot of the Atlas. 

aw614
aw614 Reader
8/28/19 9:10 a.m.

I wonder how many discounts VW is handing out to move them, also am seeing a ton in Florida too. 

But if I recall the Touareg was probably more expensive to build vs the atlas. Always wish the touareg was more reliable as the offroading capabilities of the 1st gen were quite good. 

nutherjrfan
nutherjrfan UberDork
8/28/19 12:04 p.m.

Parked beside I guess what is the current Touareg today.  Man those things got big from the first gen!  Why do car manufacturers do that?  Just keep making things bloatier and bloatier until they can't be afforded and are then discontinued.  indecision

Duke
Duke MegaDork
8/28/19 12:11 p.m.
nutherjrfan said:

Parked beside I guess what is the current Touareg today.  Man those things got big from the first gen!  Why do car manufacturers do that?  Just keep making things bloatier and bloatier until they can't be afforded and are then discontinued.  indecision

Marketing.  That's the way it always happens, on purpose.  New model is introduced at size X and generates some brand recognition.  With each new generation it gets a little larger, a little fancier, and a little more expensive.  With each new generation the marketing department gets to shout, "Now Bigger!  Now Fancier!" while not mentioning the increased price outside the fine print.  Eventually the X model grows as large (or larger) as the previous model Y was originally, and that model is now the size of the old model Z.  The largest model gets discontinued, and a new model gets introduced where the original model X was.  Lather, rinse, repeat.

 

nutherjrfan
nutherjrfan UberDork
8/28/19 12:37 p.m.

In reply to Duke :

It seems to happening with the Versa but I have yet to see the new one in the flesh.  Does that mean a goodbye to the Biggus Maximus before too long? cool

nutherjrfan
nutherjrfan UberDork
8/28/19 12:45 p.m.

I am seeing an awful lot of Kia Tellurides around here.  Decent looking.  Can't be bothered to google if they have a third row. smiley

TopNoodles
TopNoodles Reader
8/28/19 12:51 p.m.

V6, front wheel drive, seats 7. Does this mean we can start referring to minivans as SUVs?

Suprf1y
Suprf1y UltimaDork
8/28/19 1:08 p.m.
Streetwiseguy said:

Is that another rebadged Dodge?

First thing I thought when I started seeing them, and I would have put money on it.

But I looked it up and apparently not.

DirtyBird222
DirtyBird222 UberDork
8/29/19 12:34 a.m.

Crazy that it weighs less than the heaviest of Dodge Challengers. 

Vigo
Vigo MegaDork
8/29/19 12:28 p.m.

a far cry from when they thought they could sell Americans a high-end luxury car.

I mean they COULD, they just had to put a Porsche or Bentley badge on it. My Cayenne is the nicest VW I've been around and I'm legit looking forward to Bentley ownership. cheeky

They couldn't have based it on the Touareg, and that's fine because what makes those expensive is wasted on a 3-row buyer, generically speaking. I actually like the Atlas a lot in the sense of it being more pragmatic than some other 3-rows that are selling on aspirations at the slight expense of being better at what they'll actually be used for. The Atlas seems like a very honest swing at the real target, which is people who need a minivan and won't buy one. 

As far as things getting bigger, the Touareg (and Cayenne) were/are exceptions to that rule. They got substantially lighter and not much if any bigger compared to where they started.  

T.J.
T.J. MegaDork
8/29/19 12:34 p.m.

SUVs are all pretty much invisible to me. This post is the first I've heard of a VW Atlas. From the thread title, I thought VW was using GM's Atlas engine in one of their products.

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