2018 Volkswagen Atlas revealed -- Midsize SUV on sale here next spring
Back in July, we had a chance to ride in an early prototype version of Volkswagen’s nascent midsize SUV. Today, the automaker offered a first look at the finished product and also confirmed several pertinent details – including that this new 7-passenger hauler will be called the Volkswagen Atlas when it arrives in showrooms here next spring after making its formal public debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show.
Designed for American tastes
Based on VW’s Modular Transverse Matrix (MQB) platform, the Atlas will be built along side of the Passat at the firm’s plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Specifically crafted to address the needs of “the modern American family,” the new Atlas offers an exceptionally spacious and flexible interior and comes in no less than five different trim levels. The largest Volkswagen model ever assembled in the U.S. also boasts features that will make it one of segment’s most technologically advanced.
Measuring 198.3 inches from nose to tail, the VW Atlas is 77.9 inches wide and 69.6 inches tall and has a 117.3-inch wheelbase, dimensions that are similar to key rivals like the Ford Explorer, GMC Acadia and Honda Pilot. Visually, the exterior has a clear SUV bias, with crisp edges and bold character lines that complement its somewhat elevated ride height. However, relatively slim A-pillars and an open greenhouse design impart a more car-like feel to the mix and should help make it easier to maneuver in confined spaces. All Atlas models boast full LED front lighting and offer distinctive LED rear lamps as an option.
Space to spare everywhere
We knew from our earlier encounter that this new VW offered a laudable combination of passenger room and cargo space, and while hard specs were not released, the finished product appears to reinforce those initial impressions as every seat in the house can actually accommodate a full-size adult. Fore/aft adjustability on its second row – whether a 60/40 bench or captain’s chairs – along with flip-forward capability eases access to the 50/50 third-tier in the Atlas, even if child seats are installed on the middle perches. The overall dash configuration of this new VW appears to be heavily influenced by the CrossBlue SUV Concept presented at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show. A clean, user-friendly layout matches its large, center display with an available Volkswagen Digital Cockpit configurable instrument cluster. Other premium touches on offer include a 480-watt Fender Premium Audio System and VW’s Car-Net, which offers a full suite of connected vehicle services plus App-Connect technology that provides integration with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink.
Class-above safety features
On the safety/driver-assist front, the Volkswagen Atlas will come with or offer a comprehensive range of state-of-the-art items highlighted by Adaptive Cruise Control, Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking, Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Traffic Alert, Lane Departure Warning with active assist and Park Assist. VW says it also will be the only vehicle in its class of offer an Automatic Post-Collision Braking System that applies the brakes when the airbag sensors detect a primary collision to help reduce the chance of additional damage.
Initially, the Volkswagen Atlas will have one of two transversely-mounted engines underhood. The standard motivator is a 2.0-liter/4-cylinder TSI turbo that makes 238 horsepower and drives the front wheels. The naturally aspirated 280-horse/3.6-liter VR6 is optional, and going with that more potent alternative also allows buyers to step up to VW’s multi-mode 4Motion AWD system. Regardless of cylinder count, the sole transmission is an 8-speed automatic. Pricing -- which VW promises will be extremely competitive -- as well as packaging, EPA numbers and other details about the 2018 Volkswagen Atlas will be released closer to its official on-sale date.
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