While some have suggested that the new 2018 Volkswagen Atlas is late to the midsize SUV party, it’s a beefy vehicle with a ton of character. The Atlas’ all-wheel-drive configuration gets power from a strong V-6 engine, which can make short work of unpaved gravel roads. Even the base front-wheel drive model comes with a respectable 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, which is like what VW has long been offering to drivers of their smaller Tiguan.
Buyers of the larger version of the Atlas should enjoy the 3.6-liter narrow-angle V-6 engine, which puts out around 280 horsepower. This puts the 2018 Atlas in a category above the similar Dodge Durango and Mazda CX-9. While VW might be planning a hybrid Atlas model in the future, both the 2.0-liter and 3.6-liter models offer decent fuel economy for their class. VW’s light MQB means that the Atlas can do much more than other models with less horsepower while retaining excellent crash-test safety ratings.
It offers drivers ample amounts of space through a lift gate that opens vertically by way of a release located above the license plate. VW decided to get rid of the older swinging badge design found on the Golf. It’s easy to load plenty of equipment in the back through this unique lift gate, which really helps to put the sport back in SUV. Drivers also won’t have to worry about how they get into the new 2018 Volkswagen Atlas either. Entry is by way of an easy motion that’s not unlike getting into a regular car. VW was more than likely trying to send a message to those who found getting onboard a Ford Explorer or Toyota Highlander uncomfortable.
What’s perhaps more notable than any of these features is where VW decided to make the Atlas. With more pressure on consumers to buy domestically made products, VW’s engineers were smart to select an industrial park in Chattanooga as the production site for their new midsize SUV. It also gave VW’s test drive crew a chance to work all the bugs out in their midsize SUV by driving it through demanding off-road trails in the Prentice Cooper Tennessee State Forest.
While most drivers won’t be putting the Atlas through its paces, they will enjoy driving a vehicle built to withstand these difficult conditions. A 200-280 horsepower Atlas makes a drive feel like they’re behind the wheel of a full-size SUV without paying for one, as the expected price will start below $40,000 and span to almost $50,000. Since the modular MQB platform means that the Atlas shares parts with many other current VW models, they’ll spend more time enjoying that feeling and less time searching for a hard-to-find replacement part too.