The long-awaited Volkswagen mid-sized 7-passenger SUV has finally been Christened — it’s called Atlas.
The 2018 Atlas was unveiled at a seaside ceremony at Santa Monica Pier, at the western tip of historic Route 66. Built in Chattanooga, Tennessee, it heralds a new chapter in Volkswagen’s history, with competitive levels of spaciousness and technology, combined with VW’s hallmark driving dynamics and meticulous detail.
“This is the biggest and boldest Volkswagen we have ever built in the United States, delivering the distinctive design and craftsmanship we’re known for, now with room for seven,” said Hinrich J. Woebcken, CEO of Volkswagen’s North America Region. “The Atlas marks a brand new journey for Volkswagen to enter into the heart of the American market.”
Based on the award-winning Modular Transverse Matrix (MQB) architecture, the new Atlas first saw the light of day as the Crossblue Concept at the 2013 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. It’s sized nearly identically to the Ford Explorer and is intended solely for the Canadian and American markets.
Power comes from a choice of either the 238-hp 2.0-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder or the 260-hp 3.6-litre narrow angle V-6 (VR6), both of which will be paired with 8-speed automatic transmissions sending power to the front wheels, or optionally to all four wheels (4Motion) when mated to the VR6.
The look is classic SUV but with flair here and there, such as the modern Volkswagen face with LED headlights and running lights, slightly bulging fenders front and rear, and an LED option for the taillights.
Inside, there’s three rows of seats that can seat up to seven in various seating and cargo carrying configurations made possible by tilting seatbacks and sliding seats in the front two rows.
Up front, Volkswagen’s Digital Cockpit allows drivers to select what information they want and how it’s presented. And as with most modern vehicles, Atlas is fully connected to Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink. Like modern VWs, it can be equipped with a Fender Premium Audio System (here, it features 12 channels, 480-watt amp and 12 speakers).
Driving aids include adaptive cruise control, collision warning with automated braking, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning, and park assist. It also features Automatic Post Collision Braking, which automatically brakes the vehicle after the airbags deploy. The idea is to prevent additional damage caused by a moving vehicle with an incapacitated driver.
The Atlas will be built alongside the Passat sedan in Chattanooga, with deliveries starting in spring 2017.