Volkswagen unveiled the 2018 Volkswagen Atlas SUV at an event on the Santa Monica Pier. Built in Chattanooga alongside the Passat, the seven-passenger Atlas offers a full slate of available driver assistance and technology features—including Volkswagen’s first Digital Cockpit in a vehicle for the US—a spacious interior and a choice of two gasoline powertrains.
Atlas, said Hinrich Woebcken, CEO of the North America Region, Volkswagen and President and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, is the brand’s first entry into the mid-size SUV segment, “the heart of the American market.” The largest Volkswagen the company has built in the US, Atlas features Volkswagen-style driving dynamics and attention to detail, and will be priced to be attractive in the volume family SUV segment.
Engineered from Volkswagen’s Modular Transverse Matrix (MQB) architecture, the Atlas draws on the latest Volkswagen design DNA—previewed in the CrossBlue concept, earlier post)—to create a bold new look for Volkswagen in the SUV segment. At 198.3 inches long, 77.9 inches wide, and 69.6 inches high, Atlas is larger than any other Volkswagen on sale in the US, yet it retains classic proportions and clean lines. Up front, standard LED headlights and LED Daytime Running Lights combine for a unique visual signature, with optional LED taillights to complete the look.
The Atlas arrives with a choice of two powertrains: the 2.0-liter turbocharged and direct-injection TSI four cylinder with 238 horsepower or the 3.6-liter VR6 engine with 280 horsepower. Either engine routes power through an eight-speed transmission to help maximize engine efficiency.
The Atlas can be configured either as front-wheel-drive or with available 4Motion all-wheel-drive in VR6 trims. The 4Motion system has a Driving Mode Selection feature that allows the driver to select specific parameters based on driving conditions. EPA fuel economy estimates will be released ahead of the launch in the Spring of 2017.
Inside, the Atlas makes maximum use of its dimensions to offer space for seven adults and their luggage. The third-row can be easily reached by an innovative folding seat solution, one that works even with child seats installed in the second row. Driver-centric displays enhance the feeling behind the wheel rather than distracting from it; while the available Volkswagen Digital Cockpit—the first application this Volkswagen technology in the US—allows drivers to reconfigure how they view vehicle information.
Connectivity. The available Volkswagen Car-Net system provides a full suite of connected vehicle services, including standard App-Connect technology that offers integration with the three major smartphone platforms—Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink. The vehicle also features an available Fender Premium Audio System that is the most sophisticated yet seen in a Volkswagen, with 12 channels, a 480-watt amplifier and 12 speakers.
ADAS. The Atlas offers available driver assistance features that had been previously been reserved for premium SUVs, at an affordable level. These include: Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC); Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking (Front Assist); Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Traffic Alert; Lane Departure Warning (Lane Assist), which actively helps the driver steer the car back into its lane; and Parking Steering Assistant (Park Assist).
Atlas is also the only vehicle in its class to offer the Automatic Post-Collision Braking System. This builds on the premise that a collision is rarely a single, instantaneous action, but rather a series of events that follow the initial impact—the most significant of which can cause additional collisions. The Automatic Post-Collision Braking System addresses this by applying the brakes when a primary collision is detected by the airbag sensors, thus helping reduce residual kinetic energy and, in turn, the chance of additional damage.
Atlas is targeted at the US market, Volkswagen will export it from the US to other markets in the world, said Woebcken. As an MQB-based vehicle, Atlas can also be tweaked for other markets as well—with a diesel engine version, for example. Volkswagen in China, for example, will design its own variant of the Atlas for that market, said Christian Buhlmann, Volkswagen AG Head of PR Product International and National.
Despite the brand’s—and its US dealers’—excitement over having a very attractive offering in the mainstream 7-seat SUV family market, Volkswagen is still focused for near future on electrification, Woebcken said. (Earlier post.)
|One of the Atlas models on Santa Monica Pier. Note the black rims, which are available as an option. Click to enlarge.|