2018 Volkswagen Atlas Walk Around

Wide, flared fenders and modestly angular design elements might suggest the top Jeep SUV. With its overall conservative appearance, however, the Atlas is closer to Volkswagen’s two-row Touareg model, despite the latter’s more European look.

Some muscular details are evident, coupled with a wide stance, yet the Atlas tends to look a little smaller than its actual dimensions would imply. Every Atlas has full LED headlights flanking a wide grille, while LED taillights are optional.


Conservative design extends into the cabin, which combines clean lines with logical layout. The driver’s compartment might lack pizzazz, but everything is easy to use and intuitive. The cabin is impressively spacious and versatile, functional and easy to use.

Compared to nearly every rival, the Atlas cabin seems low-budget, however. Even the top model (SEL Premium) gets curious-looking simulated wood, while its leather upholstery looks more like vinyl. Some of the plastic trim looks mediocre. Volkswagen interior used to be among the best, but cost-cutting to make pricing more competitive is evident.

Standing out on the dashboard, Volkswagen’s Car-Net infotainment system works with an 8.0-inch screen. Unfortunately, its glass tends to highlight fingerprints. SEL Premium trim gets a full LCD instrument cluster, shunning conventional gauges.

All three seating rows promise stretch-out space. Large front seats give the driver and passenger good leg support, helped by an uncommonly long cushion.

Even the third row is relatively roomy. Capable of transporting average-size adults, that rearmost seat warrants best-in-class honors, though its cushion sits rather low.

The second-row bench slides fore/aft, to ease access to the rear compartment. Optional captain’s chairs can replace the three-place bench, reducing capacity from seven passengers to six.

Road noise is apparent, but cargo space excels.

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