Streamlined lineup. For 2022, the Volkswagen Atlas now has an updated lineup. The base S trim from last year has been dropped, making the SE the new entry-level trim for the model year. While this change results in a higher starting price tag for 2022, the SE trim is a better starting point and now comes with a great list of standard equipment.

The Atlas SE comes standard with a 6.5-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, an eight-inch digital instrument cluster, two USB ports, six audio speakers, and Bluetooth. Other standard features include heated front seats, synthetic leather upholstery, LED headlights, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, and 18-inch wheels. With a starting price tag of $34,670, the Atlas gives you a lot of features for your money. The base trim is so well-equipped, we think it should suit most people’s needs.

Higher trim levels bring more features, but they get close to costing as much as premium options. With features like genuine leather upholstery, heated rear seats, ventilated front seats, a surround-view camera, 21-inch wheels, hands-free park assist, and 12 audio speakers, the Atlas SEL Premium R-Line certainly has the features to feel like a $50,000 car. But we don’t recommend that everyone purchase one.

Voluminous interior. The Atlas offers a spacious cabin with plenty of room for the entire family. The midsize SUV offers seating for up to seven as standard, though second-row captain’s chairs are available that lower seating to six people. We think the second-row captain’s chairs are worth the extra money, as the third row is difficult to get to without them. Additionally, the Atlas is one of the few SUVs that can accommodate adults in the third row, as it has 33.7 inches of rear legroom.

In addition to being spacious, the Atlas’ interior is also practical. The SUV offers up to 17 cupholders, ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to get and store a drink on a road trip. There are plenty of nifty storage nooks and compartments for small items located throughout the cabin.

Speaking of a road trip, the Atlas is capable of swallowing everyone’s gear with ease. With all of the seats in place, the Atlas has up to 20.6 cubic feet of cargo space. Folding both rows of rear seats down results in an enormous 96.8 cubic feet of total cargo space. That’s one of the highest figures for the midsize class.

Upgrade to the V6.Volkswagen offers the Atlas with two engines. The standard engine is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that makes 235 horsepower. While the engine is a punchy motor and gets the Atlas around town smoothly, it lacks the power to help the Atlas pass vehicles on the highway. Additionally, the four-cylinder sounds coarse when being pushed hard.

For a vehicle of this size, we recommend the available 3.6-liter V6 engine. It makes a heartier 276 horsepower that results in better performance on the highway. The V6 also remains quieter than the four-cylinder, while bringing much better performance. The standard eight-speed automatic transmission works better in the V6 than in the four-cylinder.

As one would expect, you’ll take a hit in fuel economy by going with the V6 engine. The most efficient Atlas with the four-cylinder engine is rated to get up to 23 mpg combined, while the best the V6 can get is up to 20 mpg combined.

Unimaginative styling. The Atlas goes for a large and quiet look. The exterior has some muscular lines and stylish elements on the front end, but overall, the SUV features a conservative design. This might appeal to some shoppers, but others in the class do a better job of looking upscale and having designs that draw people in.

It’s a similar story on the inside where the Atlas comes off as boring. The midsize SUV features a utilitarian design that’s straightforward, but it’s hardly inspiring. This design is ideal for families, as it’s easy to use and clean, but certainly leaves a lot of room to impress. Having a simple design is one thing, but interior materials in the Atlas also leave a lot to be desired. The Atlas’ cabin is filled with cheap plastics that are easy to clean, but hardly feel premium.

Final thoughts. Even in the packed midsize SUV segment, the 2022 Volkswagen Atlas manages to carve out its own piece of the pie with a massive interior, well-equipped trims, and a punchy V6 engine. The Atlas won’t make you the envy of the neighborhood with its boring design and it won’t spoil you with a premium cabin, but for families in need of a large vehicle that’s not a minivan, the Atlas goes above and beyond.

For an alternative, the Kia Telluride has less interior space than the Atlas, but offers a more premium look, an upscale interior, intuitive tech features, and nicer interior materials. The Jeep Grand Cherokee L has a roomy interior with room for up to seven people, a deluxe interior, and serious off-roading capability.

Check prices for the 2022 Volkswagen Atlas