12 Best Family Cars: 2019 Volkswagen Atlas
- Generous 3-row seating for seven
- European touches in styling and driving add to its appeal
- 6-year/72,000-mile transferable bumper-to-bumper warranty
- Pricing starts at $31,890 (including $995 destination charge) | Price yours
- On sale now | See Atlas models for sale near you
If bigger really is better – particularly when it comes to family SUVs – then the 2019 Volkswagen Atlas is certainly one of the best. In a midsize 3-row SUV world dominated by Honda Pilots, Toyota Highlanders and Ford Explorers, the VW Atlas – still fresh on the scene after being all-new last year – possesses a character that's unique among its peers.
Room for your family to grow
The Volkswagen Atlas really is the VW Passat of midsize SUVs: It doesn't have inches of legroom and headroom, it's got acres. And that real estate extends to all three rows of the Atlas, not just the first two. The second-row seats slide and move beautifully out of the way to give wide access in and out of the third row. And that third row? You can put adults – 6-footers – back there and they won't complain. Rear cargo capacity, especially with the third row seatback folded, is ready to take on adolescent hoarders and outdoor adventures.
If calligraphic interiors are your thing, the angular Atlas interior may not thrill you, but it won't be long before you become a fan. The front seats are supportive, the high view out the front is excellent, and the biggish SUV is surprisingly easy to maneuver around town. For the family, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard at every level, as do forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, post-collision braking (you'd be surprised how important that can be), dual-zone climate control, automatic LED headlights, and roof rails for active families. Move up through the trim levels significantly enhances both your pleasure and safety.
Noble driving manners
Call it a European sensibility, or perhaps a German instinct, that everything on wheels must feel like it has some command of the road. To that end, neither of the Atlas' two available engines – a turbocharged 235-horsepower 4-cylinder and a 276-horsepower V6 – brings this heavy beast to a roar, but they are both mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission that shifts smoothly and does its best harness what power it can find when you put it in Sport mode. That said, the ride is quite good, and even in spirited cornering moments, the Atlas holds its composure better than a 4,500-pound SUV ought to. Front-wheel drive is standard, with all-wheel drive available with the V6.
Pricing and Value
Starting at $31,890 including destination charges, the 2019 Volkswagen Atlas will allow you to move through many trim levels with ever-more desirable features groupings as you keep moving up – to levels as nearly high as $50,000. In our Expert Review of the 2019 Atlas, we assessed all of the equipment and price and concluded, "a good balance of price and equipment would be the SE w/Technology for $38,290 (front-wheel drive)" which includes V6 power and adaptive cruise control.
As a fresh take on midsize-SUVs, the Volkswagen Atlas engages with just enough out-of-the-mainstream character – like standard blind-spot monitoring at every level and a transferable, generous 6-year/72,000-mile warranty – to be worth a look for anybody shopping for comfort combined with capability. For families, however, it's all about big. On that count, the Atlas shines bright enough to be a viable alternative to the monarchy of minivans.
More 2019 Volkswagen Atlas
We're living with a Volkswagen Atlas for 12 months to see how well this SUV as a daily driver over an extended period of time.