2018 Volkswagen Atlas quick evaluate

The 2018 Volkswagen Atlas is an odd beast. It is each precisely what the corporate wants within the U.S. market proper now, and it is also a crossover that leaves us a bit chilly. Crossovers aren’t precisely a style that engenders a substantial amount of ardour in patrons involved with practicalities, like gas financial system, inside storage, and security. However the Atlas is extra passionless than most, an odd flip for Volkswagen, an organization whose most pedestrian automobiles have had some baked-in European goodness. That being stated, there are some things the Atlas does extraordinarily nicely, so credit score the place credit score’s due.

I spent every week in a V6 SEL mannequin with 4Motion in Reflex Silver over black leatherette, with solely a few choices. It featured 20-inch black alloy wheels and second row captain’s chairs, bringing it to a grand whole of $45,235.

It is giant, in and out

Total, the Atlas looks like a pleasant compromise between three-row roominess and exterior dimensions. Whereas it is a subjective evaluation, some three-row crossovers drive “larger” than they’re – the Atlas, however, feels good. Good sightlines helped. And whereas Shopper Editor Jeremy Korzeniewsky, on our first drive evaluate of the Atlas, felt the outside styling was vanilla and inoffensive (fact), its sharp creasing and exaggerated character traces approached good-looking to my eyes. Bolder colours will surely assist, just like the obtainable Tourmaline Blue, Kurkuma Yellow, or Fortana Crimson, though in the true world most vehicles shall be black, white, or silver, as is the overwhelming American choice.

Third-row entry and luxury is great

The third row is by some means grownup pleasant. Not simply by way of headroom, though there’s loads of that. The second-row captain’s chairs might be pulled up an affordable distance permitting for good knee room for each second and third rows. Most significantly, giant and ethereal aspect home windows forestall issues from seeming too darkish and claustrophobic again there. Even the seat cushions themselves, often an afterthought since fold-flat capacity is paramount, are snug.

The journey is not as much as snuff

Now for some gripes. Most evident is the journey high quality. The 20-inch wheels doubtless do not assist, however the Atlas bucks, tosses, and rolls by means of gentle highway imperfections. Typically it looks like every nook has its personal damping calibration, given the wild physique motions imparted to the driving force. Volkswagen historically tuned its suspensions nearer to the European very best, agency however well-damped, which by the way made even non-enthusiast Volkswagens extra nice than common to drive (with just a few latest exceptions). However Volkswagen made a acutely aware choice to melt up the Jetta for American tastes, past what softening Volkswagen historically utilized, and it looks as if this philosophy scaled as much as the a lot bigger Atlas. Perhaps the delicate journey impresses on take a look at drives, however a firmer setup would doubtless make life nicer for occupants over the lengthy haul.

Imprecise steering lets the Atlas down

The steering can be numb to the purpose of imprecision. Many overboosted, electrically-assisted steering racks are lifeless, and nobody expects the Atlas to supply Porsche-like crispness. However the stage of disconnect between steering wheel and entrance tires proves disconcerting. This isn’t a small automobile, and it takes an additional stage of consideration to guess-and-check lane placement. Over the course of the week, I adjusted to the rack’s peculiarities, however it took loads longer than regular. Volkswagen is aware of how you can make an electrically-assisted steering rack work correctly, so maybe that is one thing the corporate will handle in a refresh. The Atlas is, in any case, a model new automobile.

Wishing for a extra distinctive inside design

One final gripe: the inside design, whereas completely inoffensive, is not terribly distinctive. It is fundamental Volkswagen, scaled as much as match the bigger Atlas inside dimensions, however with out a lot character of its personal. Nothing actually says “Atlas” about it – extra to the purpose, there is a generic high quality to the wooden inlay throughout the passenger sprint, and the chunky and really plastic HVAC vents. Volkswagen appears to be saving some cash by avoiding extra premium supplies and designs, which even the 2019 Jetta incorporates. That automobile has extra attention-grabbing shapes and interfaces between varied parts, and if Volkswagen would have scaled it as much as match the Atlas’ dimension, it would be a way more profitable inside. Alas, we’re caught with the Atlas’ mediocre inside for not less than just a few years.

Gripes apart, the Atlas has loads to supply

What Atlas will get proper is sufficient to justify its existence: distinctive however inoffensive exterior styling and superior inside packaging. The journey high quality, steering, and inside design are sub-par, however doubtless will not offend any potential patrons to the purpose of selecting a competitor. What is going on to be actually attention-grabbing is to see what Volkswagen decides to enhance at its eventual mid-cycle refresh, and whether or not that may take this three-row crossover excessive.

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