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Although it hasn’t been on the market long, this Volkswagen SUV has had a lukewarm reception. The Volkswagen Atlas has earned some low or below-average scores for reliability from a few major publications. But what exactly is the problem, and does the Atlas have any redeeming qualities?

Is the Volkswagen Atlas reliable?

A Volkswagen Atlas on display at an auto show
A new 2020 Volkswagen Atlas | Erik Voake/Getty Images for Volkswagen

According to J.D. Power, the reliability of the Volkswagen Atlas is below average. While the reliability of the Atlas’ engine and transmission has improved over the past two years, many other important areas — including the fuel system, the body integrity, and the power equipment — have either remained the same or worsened. 

Compared to the rankings of similar cars from other brands, the Volkswagen Atlas comes dead last. It has a low-reliability rating compared to the Subaru Ascent and the Kia Telluride. The three-row and midsize SUV segment has good options, making it hard to stand out, but the Atlas remains at the back of the pack.

Comparing the Volkswagen Atlas to other models

The earliest model year for the Atlas was 2018, which means there isn’t too much data for this model. Given this fact, it’s only fair to the Atlas that we compare it to some similar Volkswagen models to see how they do on the reliability scale.

Unfortunately, even the vehicles with a more extensive history don’t receive good reliability ratings. The Volkswagen Tiguan, for example, has the same low score — even with the benefit of surveys dating back to 2012. In the seven years Edmunds has researched this vehicle, its overall reliability rating has only improved once.

Earlier Tiguan models struggled with engine and transmission reliability. While more recent models have improved in these areas, they continue to lag in the reliability of their power equipment, body integrity, and fuel systems.

A similar Volkswagen with a slightly better rating is the Golf. While this vehicle only showed an overall improvement in one of its research years, its ratings have remained chiefly steady. Like the other similar Volkswagen models, one of the Golf’s weakest points is its body integrity. The Golf also struggles to maintain reliable in-car electronics and brakes.

Additional specs for the Volkswagen SUV

The Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport at the Los Angeles Auto Show
The Volkswagen Atlas | MARK RALSTON/AFP via Getty Images

2024 Kia Telluride vs. 2024 Volkswagen Atlas: Midsize 3-Row Matchup!

According to Edmunds, the Volkswagen Atlas ranks number at the back of the midsize SUV segment. The Atlas ranked pretty well in its road test. This vehicle has proven relatively competitive compared to other similar three-row SUVs, but it might not be the best option to buy used.

Drivers state that the Atlas handles well, offering a quiet ride, smooth powertrain, and simple controls. The Atlas also has an impressively large interior — when the second- and third-row seats are folded down, its cargo space surpasses its competitors. The Atlas can go from zero to 60 mph in 8.7 seconds. It gets 13 miles per gallon in the city and 28 miles on the highway.

Overall, the Volkswagen Atlas can hold its own regarding comfort, spaciousness, and ease of handling. It struggles with fuel economy, and unfortunately, it lacks reliability in many areas. The specs of similar Volkswagens suggest that the Atlas may continue to be unreliable, but it’s worth hoping that this new vehicle may improve.