12 Best Family Cars: 2018 Volkswagen Atlas
The Volkswagen Atlas entered a highly popular category and quickly established itself as one of the most family-friendly midsize SUVs on the market. It isn’t often that a freshman effort in any category can compete so strongly with the best, but Volkswagen did its homework and it paid off. With a massive interior, fantastic warranty and some of the newest safety and convenience tech available, the Atlas has earned its spot on this year’s list of Best Family Cars.
One of the most impressive things about the Atlas is how it accommodates people and gear. In a recent midsize SUV comparison, KBB’s editors appreciated the cabin’s elegant, low-key styling, but what was more eye-opening was how easy it was to use every row and reconfigure the interior. For example, while many SUVs have a third row that can be punishing to get into, sit in for long amounts of time and get out of once you reach your destination, that’s not the case in the Atlas. As we explained, “Overall roominess is where the Atlas feels like it's in a class all by itself. Our 6-foot, 5-inch absurdity-testing editor lounged in the second row's generous legroom and headroom, and then bounded -- bad knee and all -- into the third row where he was simply unable to make himself uncomfortable. Getting in and out of the second-row bench seat was velvet smooth and easy for our tall tester. Better than that, however, was that the second-row seat folded and slid dramatically forward to allow our on-staff giant unfettered access to the third row.” There are also plenty of smart storage areas throughout the cabin. And if you have child seats in the second row but need to get to the third row, you can tilt and slide the second row forward while keeping the car seats in place.
Even with seven people on board, there’s still room for 20.6 cubic feet of cargo. When you fold down those rows, they fold flat – really flat -- and can hold about 97 cubic feet of gear. Other pluses: it offers a low liftover height, making it easy to put gear in back, and when the liftgate is open, the available space is nice and wide.
Top-notch safety and technology
In addition to standard features such as six airbags, a rearview camera and stability control, the Atlas is the only midsize SUV that has standard automatic post-collision braking. An extensive safety options list includes adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, blind-spot monitoring with rear traffic alert, and lane departure warning and assist. All-wheel drive is also available.
Niceties like Fender premium audio, a Digital Cockpit system that lets you customize what information the driver sees in the gauge cluster, and standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration are offered. The Car-Net system includes Family Guardian, which has a speed alert and pre-set boundaries. Car-Net also includes safety, security and maintenance features.
The Atlas starts at a reasonable $31,425. Even better, the Atlas offers one of the best warranties in its segment, with 6-year/72,000-mile bumper-to-bumper protection that's fully transferrable to any subsequent owner. While it’s too early to predict resale values for the Atlas (and these have been a weak spot for Volkswagens in the past), you can get into Volkswagen’s newest and biggest SUV knowing you have excellent coverage.
The Atlas was one of the three-row SUVs we considered when selecting vehicles for our 2018 Best Buy Awards. While the Honda Pilot retained its title as the Midsize SUV Best Buy, the judges noted that “The Atlas impressed us with its cavernous interior space, excellent third-row access, sharp driving dynamics and masculine appearance. If seven passengers is enough for your lifestyle, and you value ease of cargo loading and ultimate cargo space, the Atlas is worth your time.”
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