The Atlas arrives after a lengthy development period and will be sold in the US market, but not in Europe. It gets a muscular design to match US preferences, which is inspired by the design of the Crossblue concept that was first shown three years ago.
The Atlas has squared-off daytime running lights and a thick front grille, with muscular wheel arches and sharp tail-lights. The car’s look is distinctive and quite different to the rest of Volkswagen’s range, emphasising the effort the car maker has made in appealing to American buyers.
Engines and gearbox
At launch, the Atlas comes with the choice of two engines: a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder TSI with 238bhp and a 3.6-litre six-cylinder VR6 with 280bhp. Both units send drive exclusively through an eight-speed automatic transmission, but the 2.0-litre has two-wheel drive only while the larger VR6 can be specified with 4Motion four-wheel drive. This technology offers several drive modes to improve traction and performance on varying surface conditions.
The Atlas is based on the Volkswagen Group's MQB architecture, but it's significantly larger than its siblings; at 4922mm long, the Atlas is 225mm lengthier than the Skoda Kodiaq and even 121mm longer than the current largest Volkswagen SUV, the Touareg.
The Atlas is 1979mm wide and 1767mm high, making it 38mm wider and 35mm taller than the Touareg. Not only is it larger than any VW passenger car on sale in Europe, it’s also Volkswagen’s largest US model, too.
The cabin features the usual raft of VW switchgear and dials, shared with the rest of its range. This includes touchscreen infotainment mounted in the centre console and an optional digital screen behind the wheel, the display of which can be customised according to driver preference.
The car’s infotainment can be specified with Volkswagen Car-Net, which brings Apple Carplay, Android Auto and Mirror Link, while an optional Fender Premium audio system, complete with 12 speakers and a 480-watt amplifier, is claimed to be the most advanced ever fitted to a Volkswagen.
Driver assistance systems include adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking (AEB), blind spot monitoring with a rear traffic alert system, lane departure warning and park assist technology. VW claims that the Atlas is also the only car in its class to come with an automatic post-collision braking system, which keeps the brakes applied in the second phase of an accident to prevent further impacts.
Along with this new safety system, the Atlas sets itself apart from the rest of VW's SUV range with the biggest seating capacity. Three rows of seats make the Atlas a genuine seven-seater that VW says can easily carry seven fully-grown adults and their luggage. VW has paid special attention to making access easy, devloping a unique seat folding mechanism specifically for the Atlas's second row of seats to maximise space into the back.
Prices and on-sale date
At this stage, the US is the only confirmed market for the Atlas, but China is understood to be another potential area of interest in the future.
The US models will be built in Chattanooga, Tennessee, US next year. Pricing and further technical information will be released before order books open.