2018 Volkswagen Atlas Review
The all-new 2018 Volkswagen Atlas is VW's first 3-row SUV and the largest vehicle it sells. In the crowded midsize SUV class, the Atlas is a top contender – with generous passenger and cargo space and a long list of standard and available features.
Is the Volkswagen Atlas a Good SUV?
The Atlas is a good SUV. It can easily fit you, your family, a pet, and cargo. It has comfortable, supportive seats and plenty of room to stretch out in all three rows. Not only that, but there are tons of connectivity features for your smartphone, and the infotainment system is easy to use. The Atlas might be large, but it handles like a smaller vehicle. Optional all-wheel drive is useful in extreme weather. However, the available V6 engine occasionally feels like it could use more power.
Should I Buy the Volkswagen Atlas?
If you're constantly carpooling or taking long trips with friends and family, the Atlas is a great choice in the midsize SUV class. It has an above-average starting price for the class, but it comes with a good number of standard amenities, including smartphone integration and a 6.5-inch touch-screen infotainment system. Its available features list is even longer, with notable extras like forward collision monitoring and navigation.
Should I Buy a New or Used Volkswagen Atlas?
The Atlas is brand new for 2018, so there are no previous model years to choose from.
We Did the Research for You: 22 Reviews Analyzed
We researched and analyzed 22 professional reviews and combined that analysis with information like EPA estimates, performance specs, available safety features, and much more to create this comprehensive 2018 Volkswagen Atlas review.
How Much Does the Volkswagen Atlas Cost?
The 2018 Volkswagen Atlas starts at $30,750, which is above average among its midsize SUV rivals. For that price, you get a four-cylinder engine and front-wheel drive. V6 models start at $32,150, and all-wheel drive, which is only offered with the V6, can be had for an additional $1,800. The top trim, the SEL Premium with 4Motion, starts at $48,740. For a closer look at each trim and its standard and optional features, check out the “Which Volkswagen Atlas Model Is Right for Me?” section below.
Volkswagen Atlas Versus the Competition
- Which Is Better: Volkswagen Atlas or Audi Q7? The Audi Q7 is a part of the luxury midsize SUV class, and that luxury title comes at a significantly higher price point than the Atlas. With a starting price of $49,900, the Q7 costs about $19,000 more than the Atlas. Both the Q7 and Atlas seat seven, but the Audi's third row is only suitable for children. The Atlas', on the other hand, is spacious enough for two adults. The Q7 also has a much smaller cargo area of 71.6 cubic feet, while the Atlas has a maximum of 96.8 cubic feet. In terms of interior refinement, however, the luxurious Q7 has top-notch materials, whereas the Atlas has some hard plastics. In addition, the Q7's V6 is more powerful than the Atlas'. Despite their size, both models handle well and drive like smaller vehicles. If you can do without the luxury accommodations, go for the Atlas. It costs less, yet has more room and a similar ride.
- Which Is Better: Volkswagen Atlas or Honda Pilot? The Honda Pilot has a starting price of $30,900. There's seating for eight, and like the Atlas, there's ample cargo space, comfortable seats, and a roomy third row. The interior of the Pilot is more refined than the Atlas', with top-notch materials that you'd expect in a more upscale SUV. The Pilot’s lone V6 engine has plenty of power for passing on the highway. Like the Atlas, the Pilot drives like a smaller vehicle and can make tight turning maneuvers without any trouble. The Pilot has a shorter list of standard features, however, and its infotainment system has a finicky touch screen and lacks physical knobs and buttons. Both vehicles are good choices in the midsize SUV class, but the Atlas is better.
- Which Is Better: Volkswagen Atlas or Volkswagen Tiguan? With a starting price of $24,595, the Volkswagen Tiguan is about $6,000 less than the Atlas. It is part of the compact SUV class and seats five in two rows. A third row is optional, but unlike the Atlas' third row, it's cramped. Both models have generous cargo space for their respective classes, but the Atlas provides a lot more. The Tiguan has a strong turbocharged 2.0-liter engine, but it gets below-average fuel economy for its class, and all-wheel-drive models require premium fuel (the Atlas takes regular). While the Tiguan is less expensive than the Atlas, it's one of the more expensive compact SUVs. If you can handle the price increase, the Atlas is a better choice.
Volkswagen Atlas Interior
- How Many People Does the Atlas Seat? The 2018 Volkswagen Atlas seats seven on cloth upholstery. Standard features include 60/40 split-folding second-row seats and 50/50 split-folding third-row seats. Available features include heated and ventilated front seats, leatherette and leather upholstery, a 10-way power-adjustable driver's seat with memory settings, an eight-way power-adjustable passenger seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, a heated steering wheel, and heated rear seats. All the seats in the Atlas are comfortable and supportive. The Atlas also has plenty of head- and legroom in every row – even in its third row. Rivals may brag about first- and second-row leg- and headroom, but the Atlas can brag about third-row space as well. It is spacious enough to fit two adults, and thanks to the tilting and sliding second-row seats, it's easy to access. The second-row seats also tilt forward, providing a generous amount of space for passengers.
- Atlas and Car Seats; Up to three car seats can fit in the second row of the Atlas, and two can fit in the rear seat. The Atlas' LATCH systems have not yet been evaluated by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety for their ease of use.
- Atlas Interior Quality; The Atlas has a simple interior design with plenty of soft-touch materials. Though some hard plastics are used, they're not prominent and don't make the cabin look cheap. Wood and metal accents give the cabin a little style. The smaller Volkswagen Tiguan has an upscale interior with no hard plastics and a handsome design.
- Atlas Cargo Space; The Atlas has 20.6 cubic feet of cargo space behind its third-row seats. This expands to 55.5 cubic feet when the third row is folded and 96.8 cubic feet when the second and third rows are folded. This is much more than the Audi Q7's 14.8, 37.5, and 71.6 cubic feet of cargo space behind its third, second, and first rows, respectively. Standard 60/40 split-folding second-row seats and a 50/50 split-folding third row increase cargo-carrying flexibility, and an available hands-free power liftgate makes loading the Atlas a breeze.
- Atlas Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation; The 2018 Atlas comes standard with Bluetooth, a rearview camera, a 6.5-inch touch-screen infotainment system, a six-speaker audio system, and the Car-Net App-Connect system, which lets you integrate your smartphone into the Atlas' infotainment system through Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and MirrorLink. Available features include a panoramic sunroof, an 8-inch touch screen, proximity key, push-button start, four USB ports, an eight-speaker sound system, tri-zone climate control, a remote power liftgate, remote start, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster (Volkswagen's Digital Cockpit), LED taillights, a Fender premium audio system with 12 speakers, and navigation with traffic and weather updates. The Atlas' touch screen is responsive and has crisp graphics. There are many menus, but they're organized and easy to navigate once you familiarize yourself with the system. Physical knobs and buttons control climate and some infotainment functions. The top-of-the-line model features a 12.3-inch digital cockpit that is fully customizable to display a variety of information directly in front of the driver.
- Atlas Engine: Optional V6 Is Good Most of the Time; The 2018 Volkswagen Atlas comes with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes 235 horsepower. A 276-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 engine is optional. The optional engine is adequate for this hefty SUV in most everyday situations. Both engines are paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission that shifts smoothly. For more power, the Audi Q7's V6 has plenty of punch and immediate acceleration.
- Atlas Gas Mileage; With the base four-cylinder engine, the Atlas gets an EPA-estimated 22 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway. With the V6 engine, mileage is 18/25 mpg city/highway, and opting for a V6 model with all-wheel drive brings mileage down to 17/23 mpg. The competing Honda Pilot gets an EPA-estimated 20 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway.
- Atlas Ride and Handling: Drives Smaller Than It Is; Front-wheel drive is standard in the Atlas, and Volkswagen's 4Motion all-wheel-drive system is available on V6 models. It includes four different driving modes: Dry, Rainy, Snowy, and Rough. Steering is light, but improves when the Atlas is put in Sport mode (which can be selected when in Dry mode). Despite its large size, the Atlas has little body lean around turns and feels like a smaller vehicle. It rides over bumps and dips in the road with little disturbance and feels relatively stable in inclement weather.
- Atlas Towing Capacity; The Atlas has a maximum tow rating of 5,000 pounds. With this capacity, you can tow a fully loaded 6-by-12-foot U-Haul or a 20-foot powerboat.
- Is the Volkswagen Atlas Reliable? J.D. Power and Associates hasn't rated the 2018 Atlas for reliability yet. Volkswagen has a track record for building vehicles with average reliability ratings.
- Volkswagen Atlas Warranty; Volkswagen covers the 2018 Atlas with one of the longest bumper-to-bumper warranties you can get, at six years or 72,000 miles. Volkswagen only covers the Tiguan with a three-year/36,000-mile limited warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. Honda offers the same terms on the Pilot. The Audi Q7 has a four-year/50,000-mile warranty.
Atlas Crash Test Results; The 2018 Volkswagen Atlas receives Good ratings (the best possible) in all crash tests performed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, and it was named an IIHS Top Safety Pick. The Atlas receives a perfect five-star overall safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Atlas Safety Features; The Atlas comes standard with automatic post-collision braking and a rearview camera. Available advanced safety features include blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, forward collision monitoring with automatic braking, lane departure warning, and front and rear park assist.
Which Volkswagen Atlas Model Is Right for Me?
The 2018 Volkswagen Atlas comes in six trims: S (base) Launch Edition, SE, SE with Technology, SEL, and SEL Premium. The SE with Technology trim comes with the best mix of technology, convenience, and safety features, including Apple CarPlay, forward collision monitoring, tri-zone climate control, and a remote power liftgate.
Volkswagen Atlas S; The base S trim starts at $30,750 and comes standard with the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. Standard features include, dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth, a rearview camera, a 6.5-inch touch-screen infotainment system, a six-speaker audio system, LED headlights, and Volkswagen's Car-Net App-Connect, which lets you integrate your smartphone with the Atlas' infotainment system through Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and MirrorLink. The Atlas S with the V6 starts at $32,150, and you can add 4Motion all-wheel drive to V6 models for $1,800.
Volkswagen Atlas Launch Edition; The Atlas Launch Edition starts at $33,750. It comes with a 3.6-liter V6 engine and an eight-speed automatic transmission. Standard features include a panoramic sunroof, cloth upholstery, a 60/40 split-folding second row, a 50/50 split-folding third row, Bluetooth, automatic post-collision braking, a rearview camera, a USB port, satellite radio, a six-speaker sound system, an 8-inch touch screen, voice recognition, and the Volkswagen Car-Net App-Connect. The Launch Edition is available with 4Motion all-wheel drive for $1,800.
Volkswagen Atlas SE; The SE trim starts at $35,240 ($37,040 with 4Motion all-wheel drive). It comes with lower trim features and adds heated front seats, keyless entry, push-button start, leatherette upholstery, a 10-way power-adjustable driver's seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, four USB ports, an eight-speaker sound system, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert.
Volkswagen Atlas SE with Technology; The SE with Technology trim starts at $37,340 ($39,140 with 4Motion all-wheel drive). It comes with lower trim features and adds tri-zone climate control, a remote power liftgate, adaptive cruise control, remote start, forward collision monitoring with automatic braking, and lane departure warning.
Volkswagen Atlas SEL; The SEL trim starts at $41,140 ($42,940 with 4Motion all-wheel drive). It adds an eight-way power-adjustable passenger seat, driver's seat memory settings, and front and rear park assist.
Volkswagen Atlas SEL Premium; The top-of-the-line SEL Premium trim starts at $48,740 and comes standard with 4Motion all-wheel drive and adds a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster (Volkswagen's Digital Cockpit), LED taillights, leather upholstery, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, automatic high beams, park assist, a 360-degree camera, a Fender premium audio system with 12 speakers, and navigation with traffic and weather updates.