Late to the party, the new 3-row Volkswagen Atlas arrives next month with a $30,500 starting price and styling inside and out that leans toward simple and straightforward. Finally, VW has a proper ute, made by Americans for Americans.
All-new Atlas goes on sale in May.
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SEL Premium is Atlas’ top trim (priced at $48,490) and includes the reconfigurable cockpit cluster, which earned corporate sibling Audi trophies for Wards 10 Best Interiors and Wards 10 Best User Experiences in 2016. SEL Premium also integrates 2.5D navigation, which allows one-shot voice destination entry and predicts possible destinations based on frequently used routes.
Another good reason to pony up for the top trim is the all-new Fender Premium Audio System with 12 speakers, a 480-watt 12-channel amp and a massive subwoofer tucked underneath the rear cargo floor. Audio supplier Panasonic worked with VW and the music amplification experts at Fender to pack arena-size sound inside the Atlas.
Arriving late to the big CUV party, the Atlas brings a feature VW says has been lacking in the segment: Automatic Post-Collision Braking. Standard on all models, the system applies the brakes when a primary collision occurs and is intended to reduce residual kinetic energy and the chance for additional damage.
Both the new Atlas and upcoming ’18 Tiguan CUV will carry a limited warranty of six years or 72,000 miles (115,869 km), whichever comes first. VW describes it as the best transferable bumper-to-bumper warranty among SUVs in America and says coverage will extend beyond the first owner.
Designed and engineered in Wolfsburg with input from U.S. staff, the Atlas evolved from VW’s 2013 CrossBlue concept and is starting to roll off the line in Chattanooga, TN. The VW plant there currently assembles the Passat sedan based on the company’s older PQ platform. The automaker invested $900 million at the plant for the Atlas launch.
But the Atlas comes from the enormously flexible MQB (Modular Transverse Matrix) architecture, which underpins the Golf and a European version of the Passat. The upcoming Arteon, which will serve as VW’s luxury flagship, also will spring from MQB.
On sale next month at VW’s 652 U.S. showrooms, the Atlas will be exported from Chattanooga to Mexico, Canada, Russia, South Korea and the Middle East, but there are no plans to sell the Atlas in Western Europe, as the vehicle was deemed too large for the region.
Too large for Europe generally means just right for the U.S. Finally, VW has a proper ute, made by Americans for Americans.