2018 Volkswagen Atlas crossover wagon comes together in Tennessee

2018, Volkswagen, Atlas

Volkswagen's newest marque -- Atlas -- is a crossover utility vehicle large in scale for the mid-size class of wagons with three row of seats for passengers and buyer choices of a fuel-thrifty turbocharged 4-cylinder engine or a beefy V6.

The sleek 5-door wagon seats up to seven passengers in a well-stocked cabin has a tight unibody structure like a car and carries precise mechanical components derived from German engineering.

Coming together at Volkswagen's USA assembly plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., the 2018 Atlas splits into three trim tiers of S, SE, and SEL, but offers several option packages.

Atlas appears taut and athletic in sculptural shape. The exterior reveals aggressive lines with striking front and rear styling. On the curvaceous prow, a 2-bar grille is sandwiched between cubistic corner headlights to forge a single horizontal unit stacked above a smooth wrap of the body-colored fascia. Below the fascia is a broad air intake with optional corner-illuminating foglights.

Atlas totes a domed and notched hood, while chiseled flanks show articulated fenders that ring the wheels. In profile, the fluid lines culminate in an arching canopy over the cabin with aluminum roof rails, and side pillars darkened to blend with tinted windows and create the impression of a sleek coupe.

The body measures 198.3 inches long, and 78.3 inches wide with a wheelbase length of 117.3 inches and the wheel track width of 67.2 inches front and 67.8 inches rear.

The passenger compartment comprises 96.8 cubic feet in a layout with two front bucket seats and a 3-place second-row bench (or optional pair of captain's chairs). There is also a 2-place third-row bench followed by the cargo bay with 20.6 cubic feet of flat-floored stow space with rear seatbacks raised or 55.5 cubic feet of room with the rear seatbacks folded down.

A rigid unit-body structure and independent suspension system create a taut yet comfortable ride quality for Atlas. Front suspension components include MacPherson struts with lower control arms, coil springs, and telescopic dampers plus an anti-roll bar. In the rear, a multilink arrangement has telescopic dampers and an anti-roll bar.

The power-assisted brakes have vented 13.2-inch discs in front and 12.2-inch solid discs in back. Active safety equipment includes an anti-lock brake system (ABS) with electronic braking assist (EBA), plus Volkswagen's electronic stability control (ESC) device.

For Atlas 2.0T S, 2.0T SE and 2.0T SEL editions, a base 4-in-line engine for front-wheel drive displaces 2.0 liters with turbo-charging plus VW's FSI (fuel straight injection) technology applied. It feels vigorous and quick, drawing on the full force of the engine's production of 235 hp at 4500 rpm plus 258 lb-ft of torque at 1600 rpm.

The transmission is a fuel-saving 8-speed automatic outfitted with Tiptronic manual shift mode. The EPA-estimated fuel economy figures for this Atlas powertrain tally to 22 mpg city and 26 mpg highway.

The Atlas 3.6L V6 S, 3.6L V6 SE, and 3.6L V6 SEL issues come with a gasoline-fired 6-cylinder VR6 engine which displaces 3.6 liters and stocks dual overhead cams. The V6 romps with 276 hp at 6200 rpm plus torque peaking to 266 lb-ft at 2750 rpm.

Front-wheel drive is standard with the V6, but Volkswagen's electronically controlled 4Motion all-wheel-drive traction system is optional.

The shifter for the V6 is the 8-speed automatic with Tiptronic shift mode. Fuel scores reach 18/25 mpg city/highway for the FWD edition, or 17/23 mpg city/highway with AWD equipment.

Atlas 2.0T S base model provides LED headlamps with LED DRLs and LED taillights, 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels with 245/60R18 all-season tires, dual-zone manual climate controls, cloth seats, manually adjustable front seats. In the second-row 3-person bench is a 6.5-inch composition color touchscreen with AM/FM radio and a 6-speaker sound system, Bluetooth connectivity and rearview camera.

Volkswagen's MSRP chart for 2018 Atlas models stretches from $30,750 (2.0T S-FWD) to $48,740 (3.6L V6 SEL Premium-AWD).

By Bob Plunkett

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Images of the 2018, Volkswagen Atlas

2018 Volkswagen Atlas 3-row SUV
2018 Volkswagen Atlas 3-row SUV
2018 Volkswagen Atlas 3-row SUV
2018 Volkswagen Atlas 3-row SUV
2018 Volkswagen Atlas 3-row SUV engine
2018 Volkswagen Atlas 3-row SUV engine
2018 Volkswagen Atlas 3-row SUV cargo room
2018 Volkswagen Atlas 3-row SUV cargo room