Volkswagen has a long history of building family vehicles. The Wolfsburg-based carmaker has recently attempted to blend its know-how in building people movers with its experience in producing crossovers. The result is a new three-row midsize crossover, the largest and roomiest that it has ever built.
First previewed as the CrossBlue Concept, Volkswagen has finally unveiled the new seven-seater Atlas. In the US it’s labeled as a midsize crossover, but it easily dwarfs the brand’s own five-seater Touareg. Just how big is it? It measures 5,037mm long, 1,979mm wide, and 1,768mm tall. If that set of numbers is hard to visualize, it’s basically about the same size as the current Ford Explorer, one of its chief rivals.
The Atlas more or less retains the general look and proportions of the CrossBlue Concept from 2013, but updated to match the brand’s latest design language. Up front, its grille receives angular details that give it a bolder look. This is flanked by LED headlights with signature daytime running lights. Below the main cluster is another row of LEDs, possibly housing the turn signals.
Moving on to the sides, the Atlas features the CrossBlue’s squarish flared wheel arches. Unlike the concept though, these are linked by a prominent character line, giving it a more muscular and unique appearance. Larger rear door openings should give the third row better access. The prominent kink on the rear-most side window adds a touch of style. Angular horizontal LED taillights complete the rugged look.
Inside, it features a roomy interior that optimizes passenger and cargo space. Its well-organized and driver-oriented dashboard gives it an upscale feel. Premium tech like the reconfigurable Volkswagen digital cockpit and Fender Premium Audio System are available.
Unlike the Touareg, which has a longitudinally-mounted engine, the Atlas uses Volkswagen’s Modular Transverse Matrix architecture. The latter has a transverse-mounted engine, and is known for its smart packaging and lightweight construction.
Two gasoline powerplants are offered for the Atlas: a 238hp 2.0-liter turbocharged TSI and a 280hp 3.6-liter VR6. Both engines are mated to an eight-speed automatic. Front-wheel drive comes as standard, while 4Motion all-wheel-drive is an option on VR6 variants. Unlike the concept, there’s no diesel of any form in sight, quite possibly because of the dieselgate issue.
The Tennessee-built Atlas will go on sale in the US in the second quarter of 2017. It will also be offered in the Middle East and Russia starting in late 2017. No word yet if or when it'll hit our shores.