Atlas felt lighter on its 20-inch wheels than expected. The suspension did a good job of dialing out unwanted body roll and it only began to push when liberties were taken. Hitting the highway saw it wafted along without jostling the riders over a rougher section.
Inside, the story is all about space. The middle row seating is comfortable with enough space for three taller adults to sit comfortably — the third row not so much. Now given the choice of riding back there or walking home in the rain … well, I’m staying dry. Then there’s the flexibility and space for seven and cargo. With all seats occupied, there are 583 liters, dropping the third row opens up to 1,571 and with the lot flat, there are 2,741 liters. That, by any measure, is roomy.
The cabin is very nicely finished. When you get to the top-line Execline trim, you pretty much get everything VW has to offer, including a 12.3-inch screen for the reconfigurable instrumentation. Naturally, all the desirable power options are in place, including a panoramic moonroof and a 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat. To the right, the centre stack is dominated by the eight-inch touchscreen that looks after all the entertainment, phone, vehicle and navigation functions, as well as giving access to a number of apps including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Rounding things out was the 13-speaker Fender sound system — it is a soulful setup with a dynamic range. Finally, lest I forget, there are 17 cup holders for seven riders. Why?
The good news is the Atlas is available with all the right safety equipment. What’s included depends upon the model; the Execline gets the lot — a 360-degree backup camera, adaptive cruise control with stop/go ability, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-keep assist, automatic high beams and park assist.
The Touareg’s eventual departure is going to leave some pretty big tires to fill, but the new Atlas is more than up to the task. Another 20 horsepower would not go amiss, but that aside there is very little to dislike with the overall execution. It has substance, style and seating for seven along with the ability to tackle an off-road trail as well as it deals with a twisty section of tarmac.
2018 Volkswagen Atlas Execline
BODY STYLE: Three-row mid-size SUV
DRIVE METHOD: Front-engine, all-wheel drive
ENGINE: 3.6L V6 (Power: 276 hp @ 6,200 rpm; Torque: 266 lb-ft @ 2,750 rpm)
CARGO CAPACITY: 583 L behind third row/2,741 L behind first row
FUEL ECONOMY (Regular): 13.7/10.1/12.1 L/100 km city/highway/combined
PRICE: MSRP $53,440