2018 Volkswagen Atlas – First Test Drive


In the recent past, Volkswagen has been rather optimistic as they set a goal of selling 800,000 vehicles in the US by 2018. Suffice it to say that not everything went according to the plan and after four years and one massive scandal the German automaker definitely will not fulfill that goal. However, if any vehicle may help the VW to at least get closer to that figure, it is the new 2018 Atlas.

Meanwhile, the new Atlas has been tested in the Sacacomie region of Quebec, as it is expected to go on sale in the United States in just a couple of months. The best word to describe the new Atlas is a so-called dead word – “nice.” Simply, there is nothing to get excited about in its cabin, but there is also nothing to be disappointed about. Nevertheless, let’s look at it in greater details.


Engine Choices

The Atlas will be available with two engines. The first one is a turbocharged 2.0-liter I4 that produces 235 horsepower, and it comes only with FWD configuration. The other unit is a 3.6-liter V6 engine that delivers 276 hp, and it is equipped with 4Motion AWD system, and this version of the Atlas has been tested. Volkswagen offers only an eight-speed automatic transmission, which switches gears discreetly and it is quite responsive.

AWD System and Drive Modes

The VW Atlas comes with the enhanced 4Motion all-wheel drive system which is also used in the Golf R and Golf Alltrack, and this setup will keep your vehicle stable and glued to the ground even if you don’t want it to be. When you put the car in the Normal drive setting, the 4Motion configuration switches to front-wheel drive, but if the sensor detects the momentum slip, it immediately activates the rear clutches in order to send power to the rear wheels. If necessary, the Atlas can send all of the engine’s torque to the rear wheels, but if you put the car in Sport mode, the transmission’s shift programming is changed, the throttle response is faster, and there is extra weight added to the steering feel. With the Eco mode, everything is opposite, the gearbox shifts rapidly and the power is sent to the rear axle only if it is urgent.

The other drive modes in the new Atlas are Onroad, Snow, Offroad and Offroad Custom. Snow is similar to Eco, but the difference is that the Snow mode sends power to all four wheels all the time. The Offroad functions in the same way, plus, the traction intervention and stability control systems have been reduced. In addition, a hill descent control is offered as well, and it is activated automatically at speeds up to 18 mph on grades steeper than 10 percent.

What we can conclude from the test is that the Atlas is a decent vehicle which is easy to drive, but it is far from being a game-changer. However, we should wait for some additional tests which might show us that Atlas is more than just a comfortable and quiet vehicle.

In Numbers

The 18-inch wheels are right on the money as they give the car an aggressive appearance, but you should know that VW offers 20-inch ones as an option. The length of the Atlas is 198.3 inches, while the width and the height are 77.9 and 69.6 inches respectively and interestingly enough it is the same size as a Ford Explorer. Nothing about the Atlas is what we expect from Volkswagen, and even though it is based on the same MQB platform which underpins Golf, Atlas is 31 inches longer.

2018 Volkswagen Atlas Interior

Because of the upright design, the interior of the Volkswagen Atlas is so spacious. There is just more than enough headroom and legroom no matter whether you sit in the first, second or third row and the Atlas boasts gigantic windscreen up front and a panoramic sunroof up top. You can slide the second-row forward and to the back while the seats can be tilted forward making the access to the last row bench more manageable (not great). However, it may not be a good idea for adults to sit in the third row for a longer period of time.


The interior of the Volkswagen Atlas is similar to all the latest VW’s vehicles. There is a decent quality plastic that feels good to touch, while the steering wheel is small and wrapped in leather and all the buttons and knobs are accessible and practical. What is different is that this model comes with upgraded technology inside the cabin. There is a new eight-inch touchscreen, and the infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is implemented into it. Some lower trims come with smaller screens, while the range-topping Atlas SEL Premium is offered with the fully digital display.

2018 Volkswagen Atlas Price

The 2018 Volkswagen Atlas will be produced in Tennessee, and it is going to hit the market by the end of spring. The starting price will be around $30,000 for the base trim and just above $50,000 for the top-shelf version.

Do you like the new Volkswagen Atlas?