Sharing most of its DNA with its Cross Sport sibling, Volkswagen’s Atlas is a carryover from 2022. It remains a five-trim three-row SUV, offering two seats more than the Cross Sport for only a few hundred dollars extra.
Choosing Your Volkswagen Atlas
The five-model Atlas range starts with Volkswagen’s traditional entry-level SE trim, priced at $35,895 including destination. VW’s 4MOTION AWD system is a $1,900 upgrade on SE and SE with Technology models, while a 3.6-liter V6 can replace the two-liter turbocharged gas engine for $1,750 on SE with Technology and mid-range SEL. 4MOTION is standard from SEL trim upwards, while the V6 is the only powertrain in SEL R-Line Black and SEL Premium R-Line guises. The latter will set you back $53,085 as the range’s flagship model.
The three lower Atlas trims come as standard with a two-liter turbocharged gas engine producing 235 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, supplied to either the front or all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy stands at an EPA-estimated 21 miles per gallon city, 25 mpg highway, and 23 combined, but specifying AWD knocks one MPG off each figure.
Move up to the 3.6-liter V6, and power outputs rise slightly to 276 hp and 266 lb-ft. For this modest power gain, fuel economy drops to 18/24/20 miles per gallon in the rare FWD configuration, with AWD reducing the highway mileage by one MPG.
|Engine Type||Horsepower||Torque||Fuel Economy (City/highway/Combined)|
|2.0 turbo||235 hp||258 lb-ft|
|3.6 V6||276 hp||266 lb-ft|
Passenger and Cargo Capacity
Cargo capacity for the seven-seater Atlas stands at 20.6 cu ft with the rear seats in place, 55.5 cu ft once they’re dropped, and 96.8 cu ft if you also lower the second-row seats.
Every Atlas receives six airbags, electronic brake pressure distribution and hydraulic brake assistance, blind spot monitoring, and autonomous emergency front braking. SE models miss out on the adaptive cruise control and parking sensors standard on every other model, while SEL is the first to receive road sign displays, high beam assist, lane keeping, and emergency assistance. Rain-sensing wipers and weather-adaptive automatic LED lights are standard across the range.
You probably won’t see an SE Atlas in your local dealership’s showroom, because its 6.5-inch touchscreen with two-band radio is way off the pace nowadays. Navigation only appears in SEL models, and even wireless smartphone connectivity is reserved for SE with Technology models, as are rear USB ports and satellite radio. SE with Tech models also enjoy a 10.25-inch configurable driver instrument display and wireless device charging.
It wouldn’t be fair to describe SE models as sparsely equipped, but cost-cutting is evident in the leatherette steering wheel, manually adjustable passenger seat (though the driver gets eight-way power), and manual climate control. The 6.5-inch touchscreen is another throwback, though at least the side mirrors are heated, folding, and power-adjustable, while keyless entry is standard alongside heated front seats.
There are no packages on SE models.
Replacing SE’s 18-inch wheels with far more stylish 20-inch wheels, SE with Technology lives up to its name by offering a power rear liftgate, three-zone climate, adaptive cruise, and remote engine start. The infotainment screen expands to eight inches and gains HD/satellite radio. Wireless smartphone connectivity and charging both come as standard.
There are no packages here either, though second-row captain’s chairs cost $695 (as they do on all higher trims) and a panoramic sunroof will set you back $1,200.
Adaptive front lighting distinguishes SEL models externally, alongside heated washer nozzles and outside mirrors with position memory and auto-tilting on the passenger side. A panoramic sunroof is hidden behind silver roof rails, illuminating a cabin that features eight-way power adjustment for both front seats, ambient cabin lighting, a heated steering wheel, and navigation. Safety is also improved with everything from lane keep assistance to traffic sign recognition.
V6-only Black models live up to their name with black roof rails and matching external styling, alongside a standard trailer hitch. However, they lose SEL’s heated steering wheel.
Exclusively shod in 21-inch alloy wheels, Premium trim enjoys leather-clad seats which are heated in the second row and ventilated up front. A surround-view camera system is standard alongside park assistance, and the stereo is upgraded to a Fender system with a subwoofer.
SE models are too underequipped to be a serious proposition, so SE with Technology represents the first acceptable rung on the Atlas ladder. SEL brings welcome extra safety features, but higher trims don’t justify their price premium, and the V6 engine standard on more expensive models harms gas mileage without significantly improving performance.