Trucks & SUVs

The 2019 Volkswagen Atlas Lacks the Enthusiasm Expected of VW

Every once in a while, a fresh new model vehicle is introduced that, while highly anticipated, ends up leaving critics with a shoulder-shrugging feeling of ‘meh.’ In the case of the 2019 Volkswagen Atlas, this seemed to be the response. Fans were excited to see what the Atlas would offer. But in the end, many of the overall sentiments lacked any real enthusiasm for the SUV.

The Volkswagen Atlas is a great contribution, and VW enthusiasts will easily list the countless benefits and likes about the vehicle. But for many, the critiques pointed out a shortfall of inspiration or excitement overall. And it could be that the Atlas felt like it was abandoning the personality of the VW brand. 

It does deserve your consideration if you’re in the market for a crossover. But don’t expect the 2019 Volkswagen Atlas to bring the wow factor. At least that’s what the Car and Driver folks determined after driving their Atlas for 40,000 miles.

Car and Driver took the 2019 Volkswagen Atlas for a spin

When the folks at Car and Driver look to review a vehicle, they don’t mess around. They procure a model with all the amenities and venture out on a road trip to not just test drive a car, but to experience the vehicle for the long haul. 

When it came time to sample the 2019 Volkswagen Atlas, they chose the high-end SEL Premium, with the 3.6-liter V6 engine and the 4Motion all-wheel-drive. They wanted to hit the road with heated and cooled seats, adaptive cruise control, and the panoramic sunroof. The best way to review a vehicle is to immerse yourself behind the wheel completely.

The Car and Driver experience with the Volkswagen Atlas

The Car and Driver team hoped the three-row Volkswagen SUV would bring the inspiration, as VW does typically. But after spending 40,000 miles with one of the best versions of this crossover, they weren’t feeling moved with their experiences. 

They weren’t thrilled with the cabin isolation and interior materials, given they opted for the nearly $50,000 variation. They also felt that others in this space, including the Kia Telluride and Hyundai Palisade, just offered more luxurious-feeling refinement than the Atlas. 

Of course, Volkswagen has never tried to be a luxury brand. But it always had its voice and personality, almost Germanic and very unique. But this road trip evaluation had the Car and Driver critics missing even that unmistakable VW charm.

Venturing away from the VW brand of yesterday

Fans and loyalists of the Volkswagen brand might be the industry’s fiercest. But things have changed for the automaker, and shifts are seen across the fleet’s personality. You might not see the trusty VW wagon designs on the showroom floor anymore. And of course, we all bid farewell to the iconic Beetle. 

The US markets are now seeing the SUVs, in part, to meet the changing needs of the American consumers. And while the Atlas may not feel like it has the personality of VW vehicles of old, it has been popular since it landed stateside in 2018. Just through the first six months of 2020, the Atlas and smaller sibling, Tiguan, made up 60% of Volkswagen’s sales in the US.

The 2019 Volkswagen Atlas has great cabin space and an easy-to-use infotainment platform. It has options, with various trims, making it simple to customize the driver experience. But in the end, the Atlas finds itself in the middle of the pack, often outshined by plushier competitors. It may not inspire over-the-top enthusiasm among the critics. But die-hard VW fans will more than likely love this midsize SUV all the same.

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