2018 Volkswagen

2.0L, 4-cyl turbo, 235 HP

True German style, quality, performance and seating for 7 make for a party in VW’s largest SUV ever: Volkswagen Atlas.

By Tara Weingarten

Ten Things to Know About the 2018 Volkswagen Atlas


Somehow, I got paired up on my test drive in the 2018 Volkswagen Atlas with another automotive journalist who thought we were in a Lamborghini. Instead of driving like a civilized person along the gently undulating roads of the Texas Hill Country, he tore through tight canyon passes as if he was trying to best a lap time. From a standstill, he jammed on the gas pedal and threw us deep into our seats. He slammed on the brakes just as violently so that we were almost beheaded by our shoulder belts. Who drives like this?

Well, truth be told, most of the automotive journalists who are my colleagues do. Normally, I just grin and bear it, knowing that many of us (including my Atlas partner) have competent professional driver training and skills. But here, in this giant, three-rows of seating, super roomy SUV, I was wondering what was the point? After all, who among you who are shopping for a large SUV are going to drive like this maniac? Probably few, if any of you will. But – and finally, here’s my point – after my day with my insane (but super fun!) driving partner, I know that you will be safe if you do decide to go nuts in the Atlas. And even more, you’ll have a blast because the 2018 VW Atlas is BAD A@#&! I discovered on that day that the VW Atlas can handle way more vigorous driving than it should.


Assembled in Chattanooga, Tn., the 2018 Volkswagen Atlas takes on other mid-size American SUVs, like the Chevrolet Equinox, on their home turf. Both are about the same price, yet the VW Atlas feels more nimble, more capable, and is arguably more stylish.


The VW Atlas comes in two flavors: a fuel-efficient, less raucous 2.0L, 4-cylinder, 235 HP, turbo-charged version, and a more performance-oriented 3.6L, VR6 with 276 HP. The larger engine version gets 18 mpg city/25 hwy in a front-wheel drive configuration, and 17 mpg city/23 hwy in the all-wheel drive model. All engine types of the 2018 Volkswagen Atlas are mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. We loved how smoothly the transmission transitioned through the gears,


Wanna tow stuff? Go ahead. The Atlas can tow 2,000 pounds with an after-market hitch, or 5,000 pounds with a factory-installed hitch.


Have kids? You’ll love this. The second-row bench seat tilts and folds forward, without having to remove tethered child seats, allowing easy access to the third-row bench. For those not needing seating for seven, consider the optional second-row Captain’s Chairs, which reduce capacity to six occupants but gives comfy individual seats with armrests for two backseat passengers.


The 2018 Volkswagen Atlas looks awesome coming and going. Drivers in front of you will be jealous of the Atlas’ super-groovy LED headlights (standard.) LED taillights are optional; but they’re way cool, too. Chromed trim on the lower part of the bumpers looks European and premium. Functional and attractive chromed roof rails are standard and double the size of the Atlas’ cargo capacity. Eighteen-inch wheels are standard on the Atlas, with 20″ wheels offered as an option (they come standard on the SEL Premium grade.)


Inside, an 8″ glass-covered (like an iPad) touch screen is standard on the SE trim level and above. The Atlas’ clean lines and simple design makes for a stress-free environment. Everything is pleasing to the touch, save for cheap-feeling hard plastic on the interior door handles. We love the ambient lighting hidden in key locations of the Atlas interior.


A 12-speaker Fender audio sound system has 480 watts and a 12-channel amplifier in the SEL Premium grade. Also, loads of app-based features sync your phone to the Atlas’ touch screen so you can see real-time traffic, purchase movie tickets at the local theater, and make dinner reservations, all from the comfort of your spacious Atlas cabin.


Check out the Digital Cockpit in the 2018 VW Atlas SEL Premium grade. It’s a fully-programmable gauge cluster that covers the entire area behind the steering wheel. It can display a navigation map, detailed info about the car’s functions and audio, and digital versions of the speedo and tach. It’s gorgeous, premium, super techy and is normally found in the cockpits of Audis, VW’s luxury brand. Love this feature, almost enough to pay the Atlas SEL Premium top-of-the-line price of $48,495!


Later this year, expect a fun amped-up style package, called the R-Line, to be an option for those looking for stronger styling cues.

Final Thoughts

VW says the new 2018 Atlas is designed for the American family. Ok American family, Get ready for performance and sophisticated design along with the requisite dozen cup holders.

Amazing handling for such a large vehicle

Contemporary style

Some hard plastics feel less than premium

Ride Quality

Share This:

Leave a Comment