Friday, January 5, 2018

2018 Volkswagen Atlas SEL Premium AWD: The Brand’s New Flagship Vehicle

Highlight: For the 2018 model year, Volkswagen offers its customers the best bumper-to-bumper warranty in the industry. And unlike some other brands, the warranty is transferable, when it is retailed as a used vehicle.

Test Vehicle’s MSRP: $49,415 (base model $31,425)

Seating Capacity: 7

Standard Safety Features: air bags; a rearview camera; a post collision automatic braking system; an electric parking brake; and a tire pressure monitoring system

Standard Equipment S: 18-inch wheels roof rails; front wheel drive
cloth seats; manually front seats; a manually operated seat control system; fold flat second and third row bench seats; a dual zone and manually operated climate control system; a manually operated liftgate; VW Car Net App; manual adjustable headlights; and a 6.5-inch infotainment screen

Standard Equipment SEL: 20-inch wheels; 3.6-liter engine; heated washer nozzles; heated door mirrors; panoramic sunroof; a remote start engine system; a keyless push button ignition starter system; power folding mirrors; an automatic climate control system; automatic headlights; leather like seating surfaces first and second row seats; a power driver’s seat with a memory control system; a power front passenger seat; a leather steering wheel; heated/ventilated front seats; heated second row seats; rear sunshades for the second row; a power liftgate with an easy open system; an 8.0-inch infotainment screen;  a 12-speaker audio system with HD and Sirius; a radar activated cruise control system; a blind spot monitor with a rear traffic assist system; a lane keep assist system; a parking distance control system; park assist; VW Car Net Security And Service; and additional USB ports

Optional Features On Test Vehicle: None

Standard Audio On Test Vehicle: a 6-speaker AM/FM

Bluetooth Connectivity: Yes

USB Connectivity: Yes
Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty: 6 years or 72,000 miles

Powertrain Warranty: 6 years or 72,000 miles

Standard Engine/Horsepower: 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder/235-hp

Recommended Fuel: Regular

Standard Fuel Mileage:

What’s New: This is Volkswagen’s newest addition to their portfolio, the brand’s first three passenger crossover/SUV.

Why: Volkswagen’s first fullsize crossover is available with two powertrains, a turbo 4-cylinder or a non turbo 6-cylinder. The all-new roomy seven-passenger vehicle is available in a front wheel drive or an all-wheel drive configuration.

Unlike most three-row crossovers and SUVs, the second-and third-row seats are people friendly. In fact, the second-row seats can easily slide forward to accommodate third-row passengers. Even with the seats slid forward and locked in place, there is plenty of legroom for both rows. The second and third row seats also fold flat, providing additional utility. And, depending upon the trim, optional bucket seats are available as a replacement for the bench second-row seats.

VW's all-new Atlas was designed with American drivers in mind. From the independent suspension system to the electric power assist to the solid stamped steel body, all of these components contributed to the overall ride and handling. In short, we were smitten by the road manners of the latest addition to VW’s portfolio.

Moreover, it was quite obvious the Americanized crossover instrument gauges and infotainment system were designed specifically for the U.S. market. Conversely, unlike some of the German cultural components immersed in previous VWs, the Atlas' interior design team created a relatively easy-to-use instrument gauge cluster.

Furthermore, our review vehicle was outfitted with the latest high-tech features, too. Some of those features included a digital instrument gauge and the brand's crystal clear high-end audio system.

And like a number of automakers, with one’s smartphone, they can subscribe to VW’s signature Car-Net system. The mobile system allows the user to interact with the vehicle by doing everything from locking and unlocking the vehicle to monitoring the service health of the Atlas to keeping an eye of the driving history of less experience drivers such as teens. Some of the items notes are subscription based.

The Atlas is also equipped with a stop-start gas saving feature. The vehicle turns off-and-on when the brakes are applied while stopping. For those who become annoyed by the feature, the system can be deactivated.
And from a safety stand point, Volkswagen touts this large three-row crossover, as being the first in the segment to have a standard post collision braking system. The post collision system is engaged when it senses a primary collision is detected by the airbag sensors.

Besides this feature, the three row crossover can be outfitted with a number of safety driving aids: a forward collision warning and an autonomous emergency braking system, a radar- activated cruise control system and a blind spot monitor system, which aids in both parallel and perpendicular parking. Yes, this all-new Volkswagen is closer to riding us into the autonomous driving era.

Overall it’s almost hard to believe that this is a Volkswagen.

But: This all-new three row crossover lacks an automatic headlight system on the base S model. For safety sakes alone, shouldn’t that feature be standard?

Furthermore, unlike most Volkswagens, the Atlas can achieve up to 350 miles on a full tank of gas. In our opinion, VW should consider making the fuel tank larger so as increase the overall driving range. This would minimize stops to refuel.

Added to that, when the third-row headrests are in use, the driver’s view is limited.

Lastly, the upper end premium trim we reviewed, which includes a host of driver safety features, is only available in the all-wheel drive model. We are wondering why these must have features aren’t available on the front wheel drive model. We strongly believe buyers who are pinching pennies could benefit from the cost savings.

Verdict: After weathering the diesel debacle, Volkswagen seemingly has turned the corner. Volkswagen has made great strides in reinventing itself, launching such vehicles as this Passat-based three-row crossover. The all-new Atlas is a worthy competitor in an established segment. It’s roomy. It’s a great road vehicle. It’s available with a choice of powertrains. Lastly, we consider the Atlas to be a true seven seater vehicle, unlike many of its segment competitors.  

Competition: Chevy Traverse; Dodge Durango; Ford Explorer; Honda Pilot Hyundai Santa Fe; Kia Sorento; Mazda CX-9; and Toyota Highlander