If you think VW can’t go big, think again. The 2020 VW Atlas SUV is large-five inches wider than a Toyota Highlander, and almost 200-inches long. You know an SUV this big has a third row, even if this one seems a bit cramped. When the seats are folded down you gain almost 100 cubic feet of cargo space topping the Highlander, Pilot, and Mazda CX-9.
What’s weird is that the EPA considers the Atlas a “small” SUV. Never mind it’s only a little over an inch shorter than the “standard” size Audi Q7. The Ford Explorer, Mazda CX-9, Toyota Highlander and Honda Pilot for comparison are all part of this segment.
The Atlas gives you three-row seating and options too
Standard power for the Atlas is a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder engine that comes in both the S and SE trim levels. With 255 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, it gets the job done. For a bit more power there’s the optional 3.6-liter V6. Though it only ups the horsepower by eight over the four, it is a much smoother and quieter powertrain. Towing capacity is 5,000 lbs with the V6, so that’s another reason to consider it.
The four-banger comes in at a combined 22 mpg; 20 for City and 26 Highway mpg. The V6 comes in a little shy of those numbers with 19 mpg combined; at 17 for City and 24 for highway mpg. The all-wheel-drive option drops those figures down a mile-per-gallon each.
Front-wheel-drive, all-wheel-drive, driving modes steps up your traveling
Backing either engine is the front-wheel-drive eight-speed automatic or 4Motion all-wheel-drive option. Either way at over 4,500 lbs the Atlas is a cruiser. There are a number of different Modes you can switch to including a Sport mode. An optional terrain and traction-management system give you the ability to tailor the Atlas for snow, off-road, and other conditions.
Technology and safety are topping many a consumer’s lists and the Atlas does well in these categories. The App-Connect infotainment package includes an eight-inch screen with what we’ve been told is an easy interface to learn. It should be because VW uses this for almost every one of its 2019 vehicles. It also accepts both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto-even MirrorLink.
Generous seating and lots of space inside the Atlas
Digital Cockpit is also available which is similar to Audi’s Visual Cockpit digital dashboard. There are options to customize it along with the cool visuals. Driver-assist enhancements include adaptive cruise control that you can set to keep a specified distance from cars in front of you in traffic. Lane-keeping steering assist and the lane-departure alert system are all available.
An optional surround-view camera shows you what’s in front of and around you, along with the backup camera. There is also an Overhead View Camera option, too.
In all the Atlas is worth looking at even if you’re thinking about a midsize SUV. It’s roomy and has great enhancements while offering a comfortable if not powerful performance combo.