Meet the SUV that Volkswagen hopes Americans will buy. It’s the 2018 Atlas, a three-row family hauler that VW says was designed with America in mind. We hope so, because VW needs a real winner to boost its image following the TDI emissions scandal.
The Atlas, which seats seven, will launch next spring in five different trims. VW showed off its newest member of the lineup at a press conference during this week’s LA Auto Show.
VW says it spent two years crafting what will be its biggest vehicle ever sold – and built – in America. Designers paid attention to the needs of U.S. drivers which is something the automaker hasn’t always done well in the past.
“I think we developed something that takes us apart from the breed,” says Klaus Bischoff, Head of Volkswagen Design. “We looked deep into how Americans are living with their midsize SUVs, and we wanted to get the Atlas right.”
The car itself has a wide appearance but doesn’t have the aggressive look of say, Toyota’s new compact CH-R crossover. It’s boxy with prominent wheel arches, big lights front and rear, and lots of masculine lines and creases. But it still maintains a sense of VW’s ever present understated style.
Standard LED headlights and LED Daytime Running Lights are up front, with optional LED taillights in the back.
The Atlas arrives with a choice of two powertrains: the 2.0-liter turbocharged and direct-injection TSI four-cylinder with 238 horsepower or the available 3.6-liter VR6 engine with 280 horsepower. Both are mated to an eight-speed transmission to help maximize engine efficiency. It’s available as either a two-wheel or four-wheel drive depending on the trim.
Inside the cabin, designers say the interior was meant to be minimalist and not too cluttered. Technology-wise it’s available with Volkswagen’s Digital Cockpit.
Sorry, no fuel economy numbers until closer to the spring launch.