2021 Volkswagen Atlas review: Sense and sensibility

Nancy J. Delong

The Atlas loses a little bit of visual bulk with its new face, but it appears to be much extra modern now.

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

Vainness could appear into participate in, but by and large, most people today procuring for 3-row crossovers want a little something flexible, sensible and economical. A car in this section needs to be equipped to do it all, from hauling hockey machines to taking the entire spouse and children on a prolonged road vacation. These Swiss Military knives are immensely preferred, even if they are not the most exciting items on the block. The VW Atlas has constantly trapped to the no-nonsense side of items, and its 2021-design-yr refresh allows it stand apart in an ever-escalating group.


  • Sharp new glimpse
  • Enough 3rd-row space
  • Good standard tech

Really don’t Like

  • Brittle experience on huge wheels
  • No 3rd-row USB
  • Middling fuel financial system

Familiar face, just fresher

The prerefresh VW Atlas experienced a little bit of an Isuzu Axiom glimpse heading with its blocky options and squarish headlights. But now that there is certainly a new two-row Atlas Cross Sport in town, the O.G. received a nip-tuck to convey it up to day. It is really most evident up entrance, where the Cross Sport’s face has been grafted onto the regular Atlas with excellent impact. The rear bumper is a minor distinct, much too, but it can be more durable to notice. My SEL-trim tester athletics the $1,700 R-Line package deal, which ramps items up more with sportier bumpers, side skirts and honkin’ 21-inch wheels. It is really a great glimpse, even if 21s feel kind of large for a mass-industry crossover. The prerefresh Atlas’ essential design and style staples carry more than, and I am happy they do — I never know why, but I am obsessed with how aggressive its fenders are.

If you’ve got been inside of any other Volkswagen in the past five a long time, the refreshed Atlas’ cabin will be instantly acquainted. From the HVAC switchgear to, uh, all the other switchgear, VW relies closely on its elements bin inside of, which has advantages from a familiarity standpoint but can truly feel a minor stale at the similar time. There is certainly a new steering wheel (with VW’s new logo), and I appreciate the simple fact that the switches truly feel high quality. In addition, the heated steering wheel ultimately gets its personal button, breaking free from the shackles of the heated-seat controls. The leatherette seats are supportive, and the Atlas’ upright silhouette indicates there is certainly loads of visibility on all sides.

An upright design and style indicates there is certainly hundreds of space inside of the 2021 Atlas. The 2nd row’s tilt-and-slide functionality allows smaller sized travellers supply up a little bit extra legroom to the 3rd row, but even in its default position, my 6-foot body is decently snug way back again there, with the two headroom and legroom that would make more time outings tolerable. There is certainly suited cargo space driving the 3rd row, many thanks to the simple fact that the Atlas is about three inches more time than prior to, but lowering the seats when they are not necessary presents up positively cavernous quantities of storage for suitcases, athletics machines, you title it. Junk storage is sufficient, much too, many thanks to a deep heart console and a number of cubbies scattered about the cabin.

Composed adequate

The 2021 Atlas’ aim on perception and sensibility also shines as a result of in the way it drives. And, like many other cars and trucks in this section and outside of, a lot of it will count on the wheels and tires that appear with your trim. Take my SEL R-Line tester, for case in point: Its 21-inch wheels are the largest on supply, and although they fill the wells properly, they also lead to a experience that is a smidge extra brittle than I might like more than severe bits like enlargement joints. The 265/45R21 Pirelli Scorpion Zero all-time tires have suited sidewall, so the experience could be worse, but it feels just a little bit much too aggressive for a spouse and children motor vehicle in this spec. I bounce all over extra than I might like, but fatter tires and smaller sized wheels on decrease trims will almost certainly remedy that.

VW’s Atlas also displays the similar weirdness that I remember from the Subaru Ascent. Specifically, its throttle is entirely much too sensitive. I never know if automakers spice up the gas pedal’s reaction for a precise cause, but it can be having bothersome. Clean driving is a excellent detail to have in a spouse and children car, and it can be really hard to prevent head bobs when 15% throttle feels like seventy five%. The brake pedal will not have this it can be a lot easier to stop efficiently than it is to begin efficiently.

Some of that probably arrives from my tester’s powertrain. Whilst a 235-horsepower, two.-liter I4 is the base engine, this Atlas carries the upgraded three.6-liter V6 that creates 276 hp. An 8-velocity automatic transmission is standard throughout the board, although potential buyers get the preference of two or 4 driven wheels. The three.6 is pleased to accelerate, but only in the corners of the tachometer where it in fact generates motive pressure. Capture the V6 in a single of its flat places and it’s going to just putt about idly until finally you provide adequate throttle for a downshift to kick in. The transmission is clean, but gear adjustments exhibit up a minor afterwards than I might like, primarily in conjunction with this precise engine.

No matter the powertrain, the Atlas will not just have stellar fuel financial system. The 4-cylinder versions attain twenty-21 miles per gallon in the town and 24 mpg freeway, although the V6 variants see 16-seventeen mpg in the town and 22-23 mpg on the freeway. It is really awesome that the parasitic reduction from the AWD system is not incredibly large, but all those quantities are not magna cum laude territory. Luckily, my V6-toting tester is an overachiever on the freeway, demonstrating closer to 24-26 mpg at the circulation of traffic (seventy five-80 mph). Serious-world town financial system stays as mediocre as the feds’ most effective attempts.

Not only is there a first rate quantity of space in the Atlas’ 3rd row, it can be damned simple to get into many thanks to a clever tilt-and-slide cope with on the 2nd-row bench.

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

Familiar, welcoming tech

Whilst the base S trim could possibly only acquire a 6-inch touchscreen, each individual other 2021 Atlas variant ramps it up to an 8-inch unit. Whilst the graphics and responsiveness have been freshened up more than the a long time, it can be nonetheless mainly the similar telematics getup that I have in my personalized 2016 VW Golf SportWagen. It is really a little bit austere in design and style, but it can be suitably speedy and it appears to be slick with the swift-navigation buttons on both side of the screen. Satellite radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Automobile are on board, and the system can be optioned more on SEL trims with manufacturing unit navigation and, on the SEL High quality, a Fender audio system. It is really a pleasurable minor screen that hardly ever distracts in a important way.

Charging alternatives abound for most travellers. Again, the S trim receives the shaft with just two USB-A ports, but each individual other trim ramps that up to five. USB-A ports double up in the heart console cubby, with a further under the armrest and two extra for 2nd-row occupants. A 3rd-row USB is nowhere to be located, which is not just preserving up with the Joneses. It also will not have USB-C, so ideally your old cables are nonetheless kickin’ all over. You can wirelessly charge your system with the Qi charger that appears on SE trims and up.

There are some other clever tricks in here, dependent on how a lot you want to expend. The SE/Tech trim provides creature comforts like 3-zone local weather management, keyless entry, distant begin and the Motor vehicle-Internet two. linked-car system that allows you use your cellular phone to do items like lock and unlock the doorways or begin the engine from afar. The SEL trim provides Digital Cockpit, changing the gauge cluster with a screen that presents a huge assortment of info, from basic fuel financial system details to a comprehensive map.

Whilst loads of protection methods appear standard, the loadout only receives better as you throw down extra dough. The Atlas S starts with automatic emergency braking, rear cross-traffic alert and blind-spot checking, although the SE/Tech trim picks up comprehensive-velocity adaptive cruise management and parking sensors. The SEL trim provides lane-maintain assist and traffic jam assistant and it will also exhibit road signals in the cabin. At the tippy-major, the SEL High quality tacks on a surround-watch digicam and automatic parking assist. The traffic jam assistant operates efficiently, as does the adaptive cruise management at freeway speeds, generating for rather the clean journey with every thing enabled.

If familiarity breeds convenience, then VW homeowners will previously be in adore with the Atlas’ inside. It is really minimal on flash, but substantial on functionality.

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

How I might spec it

The 2021 VW Atlas starts out at an economical $32,565 prior to place (for FWD AWD provides $1,900 to the bottom line), but items get extra serious in a hurry, with the highest I4 trim costing $48,215 and V6 versions ranging from $39,315 to $fifty one,715. I might prevent the R-Line things for the sake of cabin convenience, and I imagine the SEL is the serious sweet spot here, with the suitable kind of options out there at a value that is not much too wonky. Stick with an AWD two. design and it’s going to set you back again $forty three,415 (AWD is obligatory here), or you can sort of sport the system and get the SEL V6 with FWD for $100 significantly less than that.

Down to brass tacks

If you want a 3-row crossover from a mass-industry brand, you have just about much too a lot preference. The Toyota Highlander is newer and rides nicer, and it can be out there as a hybrid, but its infotainment is not that excellent. The Mazda CX-nine prioritizes the driver a little bit extra, but the 3rd row is restricted and once more, I never like the infotainment. The Honda Pilot is an all-all over reliable spouse and children-hauler, and if you want to take care of yourself, the kissin’ cousins of Kia Telluride and Hyundai Palisade truly ramp up the fanciness. Quilted leather-based? Positive, why the hell not.

Maybe you and your spouse and children prefer a 3-row crossover that has just a minor little bit of visual punch, with standard tech that will not suck and an inside that prioritizes space and sensibility more than flashy materials and angles. If that is extra your velocity than nearly anything, the 2021 VW Atlas will make a incredibly awesome addition on your driveway. 

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