Utility vehicles are a stretch for any number of automakers and while Volkswagen has made and pioneered any number of vehicles styles during its history it was a bit slow of coming around to developing one of the perennial favorites of the of the U.S. – the midsized SUV.
However, Volkswagen of America has come around and the 2019 Volkswagen Atlas is a very solid entry into what has now become a crowded and very competitive field where manufacturers are going all out to win over customers with attractive new vehicles.
The Atlas, as its name suggests, is solid, roomy, loaded with new technology and three rows of seating. Moreover, the powertrain does well under different conditions and has more than enough power to handle everyday chores such as commuting and running errands that include hauling extra passengers and or gear and cargo.
The 2019 Volkswagen Atlas, I drove, was equipped with a V6 with an eight-speed transmission and all-wheel-drive, which I found was clearly a help on various road services, including slick pavement and a dirt road.
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The powertrain produces 276 horsepower and 266 foot-pounds of torque and the power was delivered smoothly and efficiently. In addition, the eight-speed transmission never seemed to miss a shift in rather complicated urban, suburban and ex-urban drive routes during the test period.
The driving dynamics of the Atlas also are quite solid, delivering a comfortable ride with a minimum of fuss over a variety of surfaces as winter was beginning to release its grip on the Detroit area. The steering was smooth and the brakes on the Atlas had plenty of stopping power.
The comfortable ride is enhanced by the comfortable cabin its driver-friendly layout, supportive seats and quiet environment. The cabin is nicely furnished with a well-selected choice of materials that shown off by the layout of the instrument panel and center stack. With the 2019, Volkswagen also broken with long standing German tradition and delivered usable cup holders.
Driver controls are well positioned for ergonomics and usability, and simple displays that enhance involvement behind the wheel rather than distracting from it. The seat position, shifter height, and the spacing between the pedals add to driver’s overall comfort behind the wheel.
The lighting of cabin at night also help ease the extra stress that can come with driving at night. The ambient lighting, standard on the Atlas SEL Premium, also emphasizes upscale character of the Atlas. Prices start at $30,895 and runs through seven different models all the way to the top of the line SEL, which carries a price tag of $48,395.
The interior of 2019 Volkswagen Atlas is spacious thanks to the 117-inch wheelbase, which makes for more of elbow room not only for the driver but also for the passengers, particularly in the front and second row seats. Captain’s chairs are available. The Atlas’ third row seats are basically for youngsters.
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Each Atlas model, however, does offer up to four driver settings. Depending on trim, customizable features include driver-seat memory, mirror settings, driver assistance system preferences, temperature, Volkswagen Digital Cockpit arrangement, and navigation view.
There are three speaker configurations for Atlas, dependent on trim level and the SEL Premium model features the Fender Premium Audio System with 12 speakers. engineered, specifically for Atlas, to recreate a live performance for all three rows of passengers.
The 2019 Atlas is equipped with SiriusXM and HD Radio is also available Both units also have the ability to send and receive SMS text messages with Bluetooth with compatible phones and pair two phones simultaneously.
SEL and SEL Premium models of the 2019 Atlas are equipped with Volkswagen Car-Net Guide & Inform System, which offers additional navigation and infotainment for VW consumers. The in-vehicle navigation system features fuel prices, sports scores, movie information and weather data as part of the SiriusXM Travel as well as real-time traffic information.
The exterior design of the Atlas presents is neatly proportioned and carefully tailored. The front grille with its large VW insignia is easily recognizable and the rear liftgate and lighting also has distinctive styling that helps set the vehicle apart from the competition, crowding into the segment. The silhouette is quite striking with a high belt line.
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Overall, the 2019 Volkswagen Atlas is nicely done and balances the American desire for comfort and ease with traditional German precision. But I do wonder if Volkswagen fans in the U.S. might not find the Atlas too expensive especially since there are competitors with very good vehicles at lower price points.