2018 Volkswagen Atlas: To The Rescue After Diesel Disaster

The 2018 Volkswagen Atlas arrives not a moment too soon. After losing billions of dollars in penalties, as well as many sales and their credibility, for cheating on their diesel-powered vehicles’ emissions, the company needs something that appeals directly to Americans in the most popular segment. 

What could be better than a midsize three-row SUV? The 2018 Atlas has just arrived to see if VW can win back hearts and minds that have been lost in a cloud of smelly diesel fumes. Volkswagen absolutely has to get it right this time.

Built In America For Americans

The 2018 Atlas is being built at the Volkswagen Chattanooga assembly plant in Tennessee. It is the largest VW ever built in America. It is 198.3 inches long, 78.3 inches wide and 69.6 inches high. It is designed to compete with the Honda Pilot, Ford Explorer, Toyota Highlander and others of its type. 

This is the sweet spot of our SUV market – the midsize three-row segment. This type of vehicle is very popular with young families, who appreciate the car-pooling capacity when taking the gang to soccer practice.  These vehicles are also great for family vacations, providing plenty of space for both people and their gear.

The 2018 Atlas offers seating for up to seven. The standard second-row bench seat splits 60/40 and reclines. It can also tilt and slide forward for access to the third row, even with child seats in place. Second-row captain’s chairs will be an option at a later date. Total interior passenger volume is 153.7 cubic feet.

Five Atlas Trim Levels Offered

The VW Atlas comes in five different trim levels: S, SE, SE w/ Technology, SEL, and SEL Premium. The entry-level S comes with LED headlights, roof rails, two-zone climate control, cloth seats, six-speaker AM/FM audio system with 6.5” touchscreen display, voice control, Bluetooth, VW Car-Net App-Connect, and a rearview camera.

The SE trim adds keyless access with push-button start, additional USB ports, rain-sensing wipers, automatic headlights, leatherette seating surfaces, leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel, eight-speaker AM/FM/HD/SiriusXM audio system with 8” touchscreen display, power driver’s seat, heated front seats, rear sunsheades, and blind spot monitor w/rear traffic alert.

The SE with Technology trim gives you remote start, three-zone climate control, power liftgate, adaptive cruise control, front assist, and lane assist. The SEL brings you a panoramic sunroof, power front seats with driver’s memory, power liftgate with easy open, and park distance control. The top-of the-line SEL Premium adds LED taillights, leather seats with ventilation in the fronts and heat in the rears, eight-speaker audio system with 8” touchscreen display and navigation, area view camera, park assist, and light assist.

Choices Of Engines And Drive Systems

The 2018 Atlas offers a choice of a 2.0L four-cylinder, turbocharged engine with 235 horsepower, or a 3.6L V6 with 276 horsepower. Front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive is offered on S, SE, SE w/ Technology and SEL trims. Front-wheel drive models can be had with either engine, but the all-wheel drive models come only with the V6. The SEL Premium is available only as an all-wheel drive V6.

2018 Volkswagen Atlas: Ready For The Big Game?

It appears that Volkswagen has finally designed and built a three-row midsize SUV to take on the established players in the segment. The competition will not be eager to lose any market share in this lucrative part of the market. 

The 2018 Atlas looks good on paper, but how well it ultimately does in the market will depend on many factors, over and above the inherent quality of the vehicle. The Atlas has all of VW’s image, quality, sales, and service obstacles to overcome. If Volkswagen can’t turn itself around on the strength of the Atlas, then where can they go next? Stay tuned!

About The Author

Stephen Fogel

Stephen follows the global automotive industry on a daily basis, including new model announcements, new technologies, sales trends, and the latest in "green" cars.