Test Drive – 2019 Volkswagen Atlas SE 4Motion

Test Drive - 2019 Volkswagen Atlas SE 4Motion

Entry Price: $30,895

Price as Tested: $40,239

This week, we’re reviewing the 2019 VW Atlas, the all-new for ’18 three-row SUV that debuted to positive reviews. New for 2019 are standard features across the line including automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert. Notable is that the entry Atlas S base price moves up just $500, which is certainly a fair increase for such high-tech safety additions.

Other than these safety features and the four-cylinder Turbo-4 available only on the entry S, the 2019 Atlas is identical to last year’s all-new creation and features three-row, seven-passenger standard seating. Replacing the five-passenger Toureg, Atlas sits alongside smaller crossover Tiguan at the VW stores, the latter that also received a major makeover for 2018. 

Test Drive - 2019 Volkswagen Atlas SE 4Motion

Starting with the aforementioned Atlas S, which is a front-drive unit powered by a Turbo-4 for $30,875, consumers then move up through another 12 (yes, 12) V6 powered front-drive and VW’s famous 4Motion 4x4s with active control to arrive at the summit SEL 4Motion V6, retailing for $48,395 fully loaded. The entry price for our Atlas V6 SE Tech 4Motion is $39,095, and comes delivered with just about every standard feature you’ll need. If you live in a warm climate state, this same Atlas SE Tech vehicle with front-drive starts at $37,295. Our tester had just one option, interior floor Mojo Mats for just $149 more, bringing the final tally to $40,239 with $995 destination included. (Check with your dealer for any incentives).

A change in engine offerings for 2019 finds the V6 powering all but the entry S, while last year you could drive a mid-level SE with four-cylinder power. I feel VW made the right choice as I did recommend the more powerful V6 over the Turbocharged 4-cylinder for obvious power and towing advantages. 

Specifically, the 3.6-liter V6 develops 276 horses and 266 lb. ft. of torque versus the small 2.0-liter inline turbo 4-cylinder that deliver 235 horses and 258 lbs. of torque. When you load your Atlas up with a food order and some passengers, the extra 41 horses will surely be used and highly appreciated. All Atlas models utilize a fine shifting eight-speed automatic Tiptronic transmission for optimum low RPM cruising and city performance. 

Test Drive - 2019 Volkswagen Atlas SE 4Motion

Of all the trims available, the Atlas SE V6 w/technology 4Motion may well be the best value overall. Standard features include all the high-tech items like Apple and Android compatibility, Volkswagen App-Connect, (which starts when you plug in your Smartphone) adaptive cruise, enhanced rear view camera, front collision warning, emergency braking, lane assist, lane departure, eight-speaker SiriusXM with CD player, power liftgate and much more. 

Then you add SE’s leatherette trim interior, 18-inch tires on nice alloy wheels, power driver seat, heated front seats, rear sunshades, blind-spot monitor, eight-inch touchscreen, three zone climate control, remote push button start and you have a near fully loaded Atlas.  

Notable is fuel mileage. Our V6 tester is listed at 17 city and 23 highway, which isn’t the greatest of EPA fuel mileage estimates when comparing competition. I doubt we netted these numbers, especially in the city, although I was a bit aggressive with the throttle every now and then.

Test Drive - 2019 Volkswagen Atlas SE 4Motion

However, if you’re not going to haul seven passengers any time soon, start with the entry S Turbo4 and see how you like it as the EPA for the four cylinder is 22 city and 26 highway.  Remember, too, this VW Atlas is no lightweight, so fuel mileage will be less than the lighter weight and smaller SUVs it competes with.

On the plus side, Atlas is the biggest SUV Volkswagen has built in a long time and offers heaps of cargo capacity over and above the competition. Additionally, our behind the wheel experience with the Atlas ended with lots of positives, especially the many standard features and well-mannered highway attributes.

But it’s still the interior that is most noteworthy. Aside from its great exterior design, there’s nearly 100 cu. ft. of cargo space available with seats down and room for seven with all seating in the up mode. You’ll also enjoy 17 cup holders (yes, 17), easy third row access, and more third row legroom than the competition if you happened to stick a few teens or adults back there. 

As for folding the seats down for added cargo space, it’s an easy task that even the kids can accomplish. Further, when you add in Volkswagen’s new six-year, 72,000-mile bumper-to- bumper warranty, which is also transferable, you have a winning combination of quality VW build, lots of room and driver confidence. 

Test Drive - 2019 Volkswagen Atlas SE 4Motion

Important numbers include a wheelbase of 117.3-inches, 4,502 lb. curb weight, 5,000-pound tow capacity, 18.6 gallon fuel tank, 38-ft. turn circle, and from 20.6 to 96.8 cu. ft. of cargo space based on seat configuration. 

In summary, the new VW Atlas is a worthy competitor in today’s SUV way of moving family, friends and cargo. Your VW dealer will gladly explain all Atlas models when you visit and any current incentives including leftovers.

It’s a winner from where I sit.

Likes: Great interior, enhanced safety, exterior motif, big cargo.

Dislikes: V6 acceleration could be better, city MPG suspect, can get expensive moving up in trim.

(Greg Zyla is a syndicated auto columnist).

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