The VW Atlas is a mid-size luxury SUV in production since 2016 when it replaced the famed VW Touareg. The Atlas is also known as the VW Teramont in certain markets, and the current Atlas/Teramont has recently been revised in 2021 which made it in line with all the other mid-size luxury SUVs.
The VW Atlas powertrain lineup starts with a few 4-cylinder engines and it goes all the way up a large V6. The Atlas is either a FWD or an AWD car depending on the engine you go for. Furthermore, the Atlas is also mated to an 8-speed automatic gearbox which can maximize efficiency without suffering in performance.
Design-wise, the Atlas looks like a more Americanized VW Touareg which means that it borrows certain design cues that are known to sell in the US market. This means that the Atlas is boxier and filled with chrome bits. The suspension and chassis have also been tuned to be comfortable and relaxing.
Reliability-wise, the Atlas is all over the place because some examples seem to be extremely problematic while others are a lot more dependable. Moreover, the Atlas is also a practical car while also being more competitively priced than some of its key rivals. All in all, the Atlas is indeed a really good car.
VW Atlas – The powertrain
The VW Atlas engine lineup kicks off with the 2.0L 4-cylinder engine with 235hp and the most powerful and most popular engine is the 3.6L V6 with 276hp. Both of these are mated to a well-known VAG 8-speed Tiptronic torque converter gearbox that fits the laid-back character of the Atlas beautifully.
The Atlas is not a car that should ever be configured with FWD as it is a bit weird to drive a mid-size luxury SUV that is only driven by the front two wheels. After all, the VW Atlas is an off-roader which means that it makes little to no sense to get it with a FWD drivetrain.
Efficiency-wise, the 2.0L FWD 4-cylinder SE model is able to return up to 23MPG combined while the 4MOTION 2.0L SE 4-cylinder model is able to return 22MPG which makes them almost identical which further negates the need to go for just a FWD setup.
The more powerful V6 model can return 19MPG and is only available with 4MOTION anyway. All in all, the Atlas should also get a more powerful V8 model, but VW skipped doing that in order to keep the price down and to not ruffle any feathers with more expensive Audi, Porsche, and Bentley competitors.
VW Atlas – Design and chassis
The redesigned VW Atlas looks way better when compared to the previous generation which looked like a bloated VW Tiguan. The Atlas is designed to look futuristic, desirable, and luxurious. The interior design also follows a similar trajectory, even though the difference between the Atlas and some more affordable VW products is minimal.
All in all, both the exterior and the interior design of the VW Atlas is highly dependent on the options you go for which means that you need to spend more in order for the car to look as good as it can. Given the fact that most online videos and pictures showcase highly-specified examples, chances are you will be disappointed with one that is lacking all the necessary kit.
The suspension and chassis tuning of the Atlas is fully focused on comfort, sophistication, and ease of use. No matter which trim level you go for, all of them are not really able to deliver all that much off-road. The fact of the matter is that most VW Atlas buyers don’t care about off-roading.
VW Atlas – Reliability and common issues
The VW Atlas is all over the place when it comes to reliability as some models are a lot better than others. The most common VW Atlas issues are faulty injectors, engine shutdown issues, all sorts of leaks, issues with the fuel pump, and faulty steering clocksprings.
The Atlas is also known to go through tires at an alarming rate. Either way, you need to maintain an Atlas if you want it to be manageable in the long run. This is a large luxury complex SUV that needs constant maintenance, without it, many things could go wrong.
VW Atlas – Value and practicality
You can get a VW Atlas for as low as $15k if you are willing to risk it with a higher-mileage pre-facelift model. Higher-end models sometimes cost four times as much which further reiterates the fact that the Atlas is really dependent on the options you go for.
Practicality-wise, the Atlas comes with up to seven seats which means that it maximizes seating space. Visibility is great and so is the cargo space.
Is the VW Atlas worth it?
The VW Atlas certainly lacks when compared to many other mid-size luxury SUVs, but it does make up for it with its price. As such, the Atlas is indeed worth it if you are after such a car. This segment is fiercely competitive which means that there are many great options.
However, the Atlas is extremely practical and it balances cost with luxury better than most cars from this segment.
Is the VW Atlas safe?
The VW Atlas comes with a stellar 5-star safety rating which means that it is a really safe car. VW knows that most people buying the Atlas are going to use it as a family hauler, and that is why they did their best to make the Atlas as safe as possible.
However, many high-end software safety systems are only available if you go for the top-spec versions. Without these systems, the Atlas is not going to be on par with some more expensive luxury SUVs.
Is the VW Atlas better than the Touareg?
No, it is not. Even though the Atlas seems to be a relatively desirable car, the Touareg seems like a better package overall. The Touareg looks nicer both from inside and out and is available with more powerful engines as well.
This does not mean that the Atlas is bad, yet rather the fact that the Touareg is still at the top of the VW food chain.