How Safe Is the Volkswagen Atlas?

Safety is a big concern for many drivers, and a bad score may be enough to deter consumers from making a purchase. For the automakers who spend millions developing, testing, and manufacturing a vehicle, one too many bad scores could make for a bad fiscal year. Multiple recalls only add to the fire.

So how does the new Volkswagen Atlas fit into this picture? No safety test results are out yet for the latest model year, but we’ve taken a look at past safety scores and recalls to try and see how the new Atlas will stack up.

2019 safety scores

According to NHTSA, the 2019 Volkswagen Atlas got 5 out of 5 stars for safety. This was a combined score. The front crash test earned the Atlas 4 out of 5 stars. The front passenger side earned 4 out of 5 stars. 

The Atlas earned 5 out of 5 stars for the side crash rating. There were five tests performed in this category, and all earned five stars. The rollover test earned four out of five stars. 

IIHS had more info, as it gave the 2018 and 2019 Atlas models mostly good reports. The headlights earned a score of marginal/poor, while the LATCH ease of use earned a marginal score. All other areas earned a score of good.

2019 recalls

It’s a rare vehicle that doesn’t have at least one recall, and according to the Atlas has five. The first recall revolves around the airbag. An incorrect bag was installed on the side. In the event of a wreck, the airbag may not deploy, and the driver may be seriously injured.

The second recall involves the exterior headlights. states, “The blocking cap disabling the adjustment of the headlight’s horizontal aim may not have been installed.” While many automakers claim ignorance about problems on their vehicle until consumers get fed up and sue, this wasn’t one Volkswagen could ignore. By not adding the blocking cap, Volkswagen failed to comply with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard number 108, “Lamps, Reflective Devices, and Associated Equipment.”

The third recall has yet another federal violation that forced Volkswagen’s hand. The instrument panel doesn’t always chime to let the driver know that the keys are still in the ignition. This may not seem like that big of a deal, but it does not comply with the FMVSS number 114, “Theft Protection.”

The fourth recall has to do with the fuel tank. Part of the fuel tank was welded incorrectly, and fuel may leak out. If this continues, then the Atlas may fail to start or stall due to uneven fuel distribution.

The final recall revolves around the rear coil springs. This is probably the most dangerous recall, as it has the greatest chance of causing a wreck. states, “The rear coil springs may prematurely fracture. If a coil spring fractures while driving, it may damage a rear tire causing a loss of vehicle control, increasing the risk of a crash.” Even if you ignore all the other recalls, this is one you should definitely get repaired.

What this means for the 2020 model

There will probably be a few hiccups with the 2020 model, but for the most part, it looks like it will be a good, reliable vehicle. It’s based on the same model as the 2018 and 2019, so there have not been any major changes. 

The recalls on the 2019 model are somewhat disturbing, however, so we’re hoping that Volkswagen took the time to make the proper repairs before releasing the 2020 Atlas.