VW Atlas: German Engineering For The Whole Family

The VW Atlas is the brainchild of a group of insanely smart German engineers who were trying to make an SUV that American’s will love; and they got it right! In just over a year, Volkswagen has produced over 100,000 vehicles out of their Chattanooga, Tennessee production facility.  This is an important milestone considering their previous mid-size SUV, the Toureg, saw limited success in the US market. The Toureg was positioned as a luxury SUV and it was expensive. Whereas in contract the Atlas is positioned to be a great value. With a starting price of $30,750 and fully-loaded price of $49,735, the Atlas is able to cater to both economy and luxury buyers.

Family Friendly

When considering the entire VW Group family of SUVs, the VW Atlas is amongst the best for large families. VW sister companies Audi, Porsche, Bentley, and Lamborghini all offer large options (built on a different platform), but the Atlas arguably makes best use of the space with three-rows of full-size seats. That means all of your family members can sit comfortably on a long trip, plus have room for a couple suitcases. 


The vehicle’s onboard technology is well suited to long trips should you be so inclined. To start: My test vehicle featured a 12″ display for an instrument cluster. A customizable representation of the drive route, music selection, phone, and instruments right on the dash meant that I was able to take my eyes off the road less. In the event that you accidentally do become distracted, an available pedestrian monitoring system will instantly alert you should the neighborhood kids suddenly run in front of your Atlas – it will even automatically apply the brakes in certain situations.


On the higher trim levels, the VW Atlas turns into a first-class suite for the driver and passengers. Heated and ventilated seats paired with three zone climate controls ensures that everyone stays comfortable. The drive also gets a heated steering wheel for cold winter nights. If you and the crew want to rock out, a 480 watt Fender audio system is available. You can also get a hands free tailgate for loading your drum set into the back – just approach the vehicle with your key in pocket and wave your foot under the rear bumper.

Driving Impressions

Driving this 4,502 pound vehicle is less cumbersome than you would think. Its weight comes from the use of high-strength steel. The VW Atlas felt nimble on its feet due and planted at highway speeds thanks to the structural rigidity. The vehicle is powered by a 276 horsepower V6 engine. It is not a rocket ship, but it delivers enough performance to pass on a two-lane road. Parking the VW Atlas was fairly easy, primarily in part because of its 360 degree camera system. Without it, your visibility is difficult in tight situations – but no more than any other vehicle of this size.

In Short Summary

The VW Atlas offers a solid SUV designed by the Germans and built by Americans. Because of its roots you get a sense of luxury without having an expensive car payment. You also get a vehicle that will comfortably fit the whole family and keep them safe. So if you are in the market for a new ride for the family, the VW Atlas is definitely worth a test drive.