Written by Marco Carvajal
Test Driving the Atlas SUV
Test driving cars can help you discover interesting new car models and features that you didn’t know, especially discovering new features that can make one’s life more enjoyable and practical.
I love to drive all type of cars from classic models to fast sports cars, SUVs, sedans or minivans with my family. I especially enjoy family oriented cars to bring my children onboard and take them for a nice adventurous drive around Florida where we live.
From Jacksonville all the way to Miami or Key West there is so much to explore around us, driving and making stops around the coastline, going to Orlando to an amusement park, or simply enjoying one of the natural parks in our city of Palm Coast, driving and driving to our next destination.
The 2021 Volkswagen Atlas 2.0T SE 4MOTION is a real family car. It has been made with children and guest passengers in mind. This SUV is a 3 row 7 seater providing space and fun inside and outside for all the family on board. Not only is practical but also it has a luxury feel and it has a very attractive interior and exterior design. It is difficult to find somebody who won’t like the Atlas.
The Atlas is well-conceived, carefully executed, and priced appropriately for buyers in the midsize SUV segment. Even if the Atlas is considered a midsize, I feel I am inside a full-size SUV because of its excellent space distribution approach.
The Atlas is a great SUV, but Volkswagen encounters a big challenge as many SUV buyers don’t recognize the Atlas yet, since it is a very new SUV, just 3 years old. Other brands like Toyota, Nissan, Honda Mazda, and Ford have penetrated the SUV market and new buyers have known them for much longer time than the Atlas, but with the quality and great options available within the Atlas lineup, this challenge is just a matter of time for Volkswagen.
The Atlas is an American Volkswagen, built in Chattanooga, Tennessee, proudly made in the United States.
This 3-row large SUV has been very successful since it was released in the US, in 2018. The Atlas is the biggest and boldest Volkswagen ever built in the United States. It is exactly what the American market was waiting for.
Volkswagen presented the updated version of the Atlas for the 2021 model year at the Chicago Motor Show in 2020. Scott Keogh, CEO of Volkswagen Group of America commented about that new Atlas:
“The Atlas has been a huge success story for Volkswagen of America, helping us to position the brand with a greater emphasis on the family-friendly SUVs that consumers are buying.”
The Atlas 2020 and 2021 years got the highest safety rating from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The new 2021 model offers new technology and modern premium features not available in previous Atlas versions.
Evolution of the Atlas
The Volkswagen Atlas was VW’s first step into a three-row midsize SUV, with a spacious interior and comfortable ride that helped place it in a tough segment when it debuted back in 2018.
Today, 3 years after releasing the Atlas and after very successful sales, new competitors and a rapidly evolving market means that Volkswagen must offer updates and innovation to keep the Atlas up to date.
The exterior design of the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas has redesigned headlights, bumpers, taillights, and a new grille.
The interior of the Atlas receives some minor changes, such as a new steering wheel and the addition of new driver aids, including a system that can scan road signs.
The Volkswagen Atlas is a product built at the automaker’s plant in the town of Chattanooga, the Atlas is very spacious, just what the American market is expecting.
The Atlas is an ideal modern family SUV, with 3 large rows, a nice contemporary design, new technology, and fun onboard to keep everyone entertained, good value for the money priced very reasonably, and ready to sell and sell. There are several small details that make the Atlas ideal for families.
Smaller Atlas Cross Sport with 2 Rows
The regular Atlas version is a 3 row 7 seater, but Volkswagen also has created a small-size version of the Atlas, the 2 rows 5 seats SUVs, the Atlas Cross Sport. The Cross Sport is small than the regular Atlas. For families and drivers who need more space, the regular Atlas is the right choice.
The Atlas is a very practical family car and it keeps selling, but Volkswagen understood there was a need for a mid-size Atlas, as this segment keeps growing further in the US. The brand took advantage of the good sales and name of the Atlas, producing a smaller Atlas Cross Sport in order to keep selling to a new segment. Most drivers love the large Atlas SUV and the success of the Atlas is expanding into the Medium Size SUV with the new Cross Sport Atlas.
Highlights for the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas 2.0T SE 4MOTION:
- 4Motion All-wheel-drive System
- 24 mpg
- 235 horsepower
- 258 pound-feet of torque
- 8-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic and Sport mode
- LED headlights with LED Daytime Running Lights (DRL)
- 18″ alloy wheels
- Climatronic 3-zone automatic climate control
- App-Connect with wireless capability
- 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat
- Power-adjustable lumbar support for driver’s seat
- Composition Media touchscreen sound system with 8″ color display
- Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking
- Blind Spot Monitor
- Rear View Camera System
- Volkswagen Car-Net
The Atlas has been a success for Volkswagen automaker, sales have reached higher goals than expected. Stiff competition from the Toyota Highlander, Nissan Pathfinder, Honda Pilot, Mazda CX 9, and Ford Explorer among others didn’t stop the Atlas from selling and becoming one of the favorite SUVs among families.
Trims and Pricing
The 2021 Atlas is offered in eight trim levels: S, SE, SE with Technology, SE with R-Line Technology, SEL, SEL R-Line, SEL Premium, and SEL Premium R-Line.
Models SEL R-Line and SEL Premium R-Line are only available as a special order.
The Atlas is available as Forward-Wheel Drive or 4Motion (All-Wheel-Drive). Pricing varies from $31,000 up to $50,000 depending on the trim model and additional options and packages selected.
The Atlas SE trim model that I am driving is available with 6 sub-model variations with the approximate following prices:
2021 Atlas SE 4-cyl FWD
$34,905 Starting MSRP
2021 Atlas SE 4-cyl Motion
$36,805 Starting MSRP
2021 Atlas SE with Technology VR6 FWD
$38,345 Starting MSRP
2021 Atlas SE with Technology VR6 4Motion
$40,245 Starting MSRP
2021 Atlas SE with Technology R-Line VR6 FWD
$39,745 Starting MSRP
2021 Atlas SE with Technology R-Line VR6 4Motion
$41,645 Starting MSRP
Prices can vary.
Engine and Performance
The advanced 4 wheel system, Volkswagen’s 4Motion with Active Control all-wheel-drive system is available with both V6 and turbocharged four-cylinder powertrain options for the first time in the new 2021 Atlas models.
The latest-generation 4Motion system is designed to activate before wheel spin occurs, helping eliminate traction losses. This smart four-wheel system achieves its goal by using an advanced control function based on specific driving conditions.
Under the hood, a 2.0L 4-cylinder engine with 235 hp (achieved with premium fuel) and 258 lb-ft. of torque bring power to the Atlas. The turbocharged four-cylinder engine is available on top trims, and all-wheel drive is available with both the turbocharged four-cylinder and VR6 engines.
The transmission of the Atlas is very efficient and elevates performance. Having eight speeds can help improve efficiency and performance. In Tiptronic mode, you can shift manually and take control of your driving experience.
The new 2021 Atlas keeps the same exterior design as the successful outgoing model, but it is bigger, it is nearly three inches longer, thanks to the new front and rear bumper design.
New bumpers, new headlights, and taillight design includes standard LED lighting, producing a more aggressive look.
A practical power tailgate is standard on the Atlas SE. Then on the SE trim with Technology and higher trims you can enjoy the Easy Open feature.
SE trims feature standard 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels wrapped in 245/60 all-season tires, while SE with Technology and above models are upgraded with 20-inch alloy wheels and 255/50 all-season tires for better traction on difficult roads.
The interior of the new 2021 Atlas receives is better than the previous model, with more advanced technology, with connected and comfortable features.
Part of the new interior enhancements includes a leatherette-wrapped multifunction steering wheel, available contrast-stitching on the leather seating surfaces and door trim, and an 8-inch Composition Media infotainment system on all Atlas models. Then available features in the new Atlas include the Volkswagen Digital Cockpit, Fender Premium Audio System, ambient lighting, 3-zone Climatronic climate control, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, wireless charging, and remote start.
Captain’s Chairs are available on SE models and higher, replacing the standard three-passenger, second-row bench seat with two individual seats for even greater comfort and adjustability, providing a more luxurious feel inside the Atlas.
The Atlas can transport seven passengers, the Atlas accommodates three rows of seats with enough interior space between passengers and seats. The spacious and comfortable second row has enough room for three child seats, something unusual and difficult to find in other SUVs.
The Atlas is very safe including a suite of driver-assistance technology optional. Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Monitoring (Front Assist), Blind Spot Monitor, and Rear Traffic Alert are standard on all models. Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Stop and Go, Lane Keeping System (Lane Assist), Park Distance Control (PDC), Park Steering Assistant (Park Assist), and Overhead View Camera (Area View) are some of the wonderful safety optional features.
New for 2021, the updated Atlas includes the addition of new driver aids, including a system that can scan traffic signs. This feature can help you know what the speed limit is for the road you are driving and other advanced features to enjoy a safer ride onboard the Atlas.
Since its debut back in 2014, Volkswagen Car-Net has allowed Volkswagen owners to get connected to their vehicles. The 2021 Atlas features the next generation Car-Net, introduced in 2020 with an updated mobile app, a long list of no-charge services for five years, and new subscription options.
The advanced Car-Net Services suite will be offered in four main areas: Remote Access, Safe & Secure, Hotspot, and Guide & Inform.
As part of Car-Net, services like Family Guardian services and Roadside Call Assist can provide added peace-of-mind for all the family. Speed alert notifies the owner when the pre-determined maximum speed limit is exceeded something that can be a great tool to monitor the driving style of children or guests.
If you want to limit the area of driving for your children or guests, a boundary alert lets the owner know when the vehicle has traveled outside of a pre-set virtual boundary.
Curfew Alert notifies the owner if the vehicle is driven outside the specified timeframe, while Valet Alert alerts if the vehicle is driven more than 0.2 miles from the valet drop-off location.
The advanced Car-Net app allows users to control who receives notifications by designating primary and secondary users, with varying levels of control and functionality for each. Notifications can come in the form of text messages, emails, or push notifications from the mobile app itself.
Car-Net services include Remote Access, Car Health Reports, New Driver program, Safe and Secure, Hotspot.
If the Atlas becomes disabled, Roadside Call Assist is available at the touch of the wrench button. The Atlas is a wonderful modern family car connected to very advanced technologies.