Crossover & Midsize

How Reliable Is the Volkswagen Atlas?

Although it’s a newer vehicle, the Volkswagen Atlas isn’t holding up very well to the reliability surveys conducted by Consumer Reports. In fact, it has the lowest overall reliability score possible. But what exactly is the problem — and does the Atlas have any redeeming qualities?

Official reliability rating 

According to Consumer Reports, the projected reliability of the Volkswagen Atlas is an abysmal 1/5. While the reliability of the Atlas’ engine and transmission have 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 gotten worse. 

When compared to the rankings of similar cars from other brands, the Volkswagen Atlas comes dead last. It has a 13 percent reliability rating, compared to the 63 percent Subaru Ascent and the 62 percent Kia Telluride. 

Comparing the Volkswagen Atlas to other models

The earliest model year for the Atlas was 2018, which means that Consumer Reports doesn’t have too much data to go on 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 particularly good reliability ratings. The Volkswagen Tiguan, for example, has the same 1/5 projected score — even with the benefit of surveys dating back to 2012. In the seven years that Consumer Reports has been researching this vehicle, its overall reliability rating has only improved once.

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

A similar Volkswagen with a slightly better rating is the Golf, which has a predicted reliability rating of 3/5. While this vehicle only showed an overall improvement in one of its research years, it has mostly remained steady in its ratings. 

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. When compared to similar vehicles from other manufacturers, though, the Golf ranks solidly in the center — it has a 54 percent reliability rating while the Toyota Corolla Hatchback is at 96 percent and the Volkswagen Jetta is at the bottom with 22 percent.

Additional specs for the Volkswagen Atlas

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

According to Consumer Reports, the Volkswagen Atlas ranks as number 21 of 26 under the category of Midsized Sport-Utility Vehicles. The Atlas ranked fairly well in its road test, garnering a score of 84/100. However, it only managed to get 3/5 for its predicted customer satisfaction ranking. Even so, this vehicle has proven itself to be fairly competitive when compared to other similar three-row SUVs.

Consumer Reports states 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 easily surpasses that of its competitors.

This vehicle can go from 0 to 60 mph in 8.7 seconds. It gets 13 miles per gallon in the city and 28 miles per gallon on the highway. On average, annual fuel costs come in at around $1,455. 

Overall, the Volkswagen Atlas can definitely hold its own when it comes to comfort, spaciousness, and ease of handling. It struggles with fuel economy, and unfortunately, it continues to lack 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 in the years to come.