Skip to main content

Volkswagen’s 2018 Atlas will chart a new direction for the brand

The 2018 Volkswagen Atlas is a crucial model for VW as it works to recover from the “Dieselgate” scandal. It’s a seven-seat SUV tailored specifically for the U.S. market at a time when sales of SUVs are booming. So can the Atlas carry the weight of Volkswagen’s future on its shoulders?

When it goes on sale next year, the Atlas will be the largest VW model sold in the U.S. Yet it uses the same MQB platform as the Golf and the Audi A3. Volkswagen promises plenty of room for seven passengers and their luggage, meaning the Atlas will compete against family haulers like the Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander, not to mention minivans.

Read more: 2016 Volkswagen Golf GTE first drive

Some minivans may actually be more stylish than the Atlas. Its boxy shape definitely communicates the fact that this is an SUV, and ties the Atlas to other Volkswagen models, but it doesn’t offer much pizzazz. At least it will look distinctive at night, thanks to standard LED headlights. LED daytime running lights are standard as well, with LED taillights optional.

While the styling is restrained, the amount of technology isn’t. The Atlas will be available with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a 12-speaker Fender audio system, and a Volkswagen Digital Cockpit reconfigurable dashboard display. It will also get a full suite of safety features, including adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, park assist, autonomous emergency braking, and a post-collision braking system meant to keep the car from moving after an initial collision.

Volkswagen will offer two engine options at launch: a 238-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, and a 280-hp VR6 (basically a V6, but more compact). Both engines will be paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive will be standard, with all-wheel drive available on VR6 models.

In addition to being designed for the U.S. market, the Atlas will also be built here. It will be assembled at the same Chattanooga, Tennessee, plant that builds the Passat midsize sedan. VW just spent $900 million upgrading the facility to handle the SUV. The Atlas launches this coming spring.

Editors' Recommendations

Stephen Edelstein
Stephen is a freelance automotive journalist covering all things cars. He likes anything with four wheels, from classic cars…
Volkswagen spruces up its 2018 Atlas with an R-Line appearance package
2018 Volkswagen Atlas R-Line

When it comes to performance, big seven-seat SUVs usually sit at the back of the pack. But Volkswagen is trying to at least create the appearance of sportiness with a trim package for its new 2018 Atlas family hauler.

The Atlas will get an R-Line package similar to the ones already offered on other VW models. Making its public debut next week at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show, the Atlas R-Line doesn't get any real performance upgrades, just some styling changes to make gearhead owners feel less bad about trading in their GTIs for one of these tanks.

Read more
Getting muddy with a VW SUV so secret, we can’t even show you the whole thing
we get a sneak peek at vws new mid size suv getting muddy with vw 89a8150

Volkswagen has appointed new leadership for the North American market, and big changes are coming from the world’s second-largest automaker. A new CEO, an expanded factory in Tennessee, and an all-new 2017 mid-size SUV are all pointing the way.
VW hasn’t settled on a name for their new mid-size SUV just yet, but their prior offerings (TouaregTouareg and Tiguan) have started with a “T” so we’ll just call the new rig the TBD for now. VW plans a formal unveil on October 27th and they plan to display the new SUV at the L.A. Auto Show in November, so full details are not far off.

This is VW’s entry into the rich market segment of soccer wagons.

Read more
EV vs. PHEV vs. hybrid: What’s the difference?
BMW X5 PHEV charge port

When sizing up options for your next car, you may be figuring out whether to get an electric vehicle, only to discover there are a bunch of variations to consider -- not just hybrids, but plug-in hybrids, extended-range electric vehicles, and fuel cell electric vehicles are just some of the other categories. The depths of EV jargon run so deep that we wrote an entire EV glossary, but for now let's zero in on the difference between electric vehicles, hybrids, and plug-in hybrids. These options blend old tech and new tech in a way that's often practical, cheaper than an EV, and still more efficient than an old-school gasoline car.
What is an electric vehicle?
An electric vehicle skips the internal combustion engine found in most traditional cars in favor of an electric motor. This allows EVs to operate without needing gasoline. Instead, they're powered by an electric battery that will need to be charged regularly, either at your home or at a charging station like a Tesla Supercharger. The Ford Mach-E, Kia EV6, and Rivian R1S are all popular examples of modern EVs.

The electric motor works by way of a rotating magnetic field. Inside the motor, three electromagnets surround a free-floating rotor, which spins based on which magnet is attracting it most. That rotor in turn produces power to the wheels of the car and pushes it forward and backward. Regenerative braking reverses the relationship and turns motion into electricity. While you're slowing to a stop, the force of the turning wheels spins the rotor and generates a charge via the electromagnets in the motor, which in turn goes up into the battery for storage. If you're curious, you can dig into the nuts and bolts of how an electric vehicle works.
What's the difference between a hybrid and a plug-in hybrid?
In short, a hybrid primarily relies on gas with an electric backup, while a plug-in hybrid relies on electric power with a gas backup.

Read more