Volkswagen updated its popular Atlas SUV a year early, as part of VW’s new strategy.

Volkswagen shortened its traditional product cycle to refresh the midsized sport-utility vehicle instrumental in sparking the VW’s sales revival in the United States.

The 2021 Volkswagen Atlas, which is due in showrooms this spring, will have a completely new front and rear as well as updates to the interior and additional powertrain options, including all-wheel drive.

The refreshed Atlas arrives three years after it first went on sale in the U.S. and is the first fruit of the strategy of introducing a facelift after three years, compared to the previous four-year interval traditionally used by Volkswagen.

(VW offers first look at updated 2021 Atlas — and confirms new entry CUV)

The changes to the 2021 Atlas include new bumpers, grille and new head and taillights. In addition, the 2021 Atlas is nearly three inches longer than the original version and 5.7 inches longer than the two-row Atlas Cross Sport, which is also scheduled to reach dealers next spring.

Changes to the 2021 Atlas include new bumpers, grille and new head and taillights.

The exterior changes are intended to make the 2021 Atlas more expressive and bolder and the available R-line version features black accented vents, more aggressive bumper design, side cladding and optional 21-inch wheels.

The 2021 Atlas will also come with new driver assistance features include Traffic Jam Assist and Dynamic Road Sign Detection. The 4Motion all-wheel-drive system will be available with both V6 and four-cylinder engines on the 2021 Atlas, Schafer said.

On the inside, the Atlas now features new steering wheel design, available double-stitched leather seats, and 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system on all but the base model. An Induction charging for smart phones is now available.

(First Look: 2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport)

VWOA plans go beyond the introduction of the refreshed Atlas and the 2020 Atlas Cross Sport, it continues to expand its SUV line-up with models tailored to the specific needs of the U.S. market.

Tiguan is Volkswagen’s current volume seller, but officials say they see “enormous potential” in offering a smaller compact SUV and will soon introduce another vehicle in this very competitive segment.

The 2021 Atlas will also come with new driver assistance features include Traffic Jam Assist and Dynamic Road Sign Detection.

A second small SUV, which is expected in the summer of 2021, will fill a space under the Tiguan as a smaller, compact SUV and will be built in Puebla, Mexico, filling the production space emptied by the demise of the Beetle, Schafer said. It will also be sold throughout North America, he added.

The push into the utility vehicle market has bolstered Volkswagen’s U.S. sales, which are up 4.2% so far this year. The increase, which is centered in the light truck end of the market and is better than the industry, which off slightly this year, Shafer said. “Heading into the final quarter, Volkswagen is the second-fastest-growing volume brand in America this year,” he noted.

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Thanks to the addition of the Atlas and transformation of the second-generation Tiguan, SUV sales now account for 53% of total VW volume, up from 47% in 2018. Utility vehicles also account for the lion’s share of the brands conquests and have lifted the brands average transaction prices by $4,000.

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