The 2019 Volkswagen Atlas is a practical and comfortable crossover with three rows of seating and lots of room for passengers and cargo. However, its driving dynamics are rather dull and the infotainment system is a bit dated. The midsize crossover/SUV segment is so competitive that the Atlas doesn’t stand out.
The Atlas joined the Volkswagen line-up for 2018 and it was designed for consumers in the U.S., hence the larger size with ample space for passengers and cargo. In fact, it’s the largest VW ever made. For 2019, the Atlas gets more standard driver assistance technologies including blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, pedestrian detection and forward collision mitigation.
The seven-passenger Atlas is available in five trims: S, SE, SE with Technology, SEL and SEL Premium. Starting prices range from $30,895 to $43,395. That’s above average for the class, but even the base model comes with many standard features. There are also several packages so you can get the optional features you want. Front-wheel-drive is standard and all-wheel-drive is available.
There are two engines. My tester, the base S, is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 235 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. The other trims come standard with a 3.6-liter V6 that produces 276 horses and 266 pound-feet. This engine is available on the S. Both engines are paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission.
The Atlas is pleasant to drive but it’s definitely not sporty. In fact, it could use more power when accelerating and merging at freeway speeds as the powertrain works to propel this 4,242-pound vehicle down the highway. On the plus side, the ride is smooth even over bumps and rough roads. I was surprised at how easy the Atlas is to maneuver around the city. It handles like a smaller vehicle.
The Atlas has eight inches of ground clearance so it’s suitable for light off-roading and the family camping trip. When properly equipped, the Atlas can tow up to 5,000 pounds.
The S model with front-wheel-drive has excellent fuel efficiency for the class. EPA ratings for my tester are 22 mpg highway and 26 mpg highway with a combined rating of 24. I got 23 mpg during my week with a mix of city and highway driving.
The interior is pleasant and well laid out but the S trim feels somewhat Spartan. There are some noticeable hard plastics which make the cabin feel cheaper than many competitors. There’s a ton of space in all three rows. In fact, the Atlas is one of the few three-row crossovers where even passengers in the third row have decent leg- and headroom. And the second row slides forward and tilts up, making it easy to get in and out of the third row.
Standard features in all Atlas models include a rearview camera, cloth seats, dual-zone climate control, alloy wheels, 6.5-inch touch screen, six-speaker audio system, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a USB port, Mirror Link, and rain-sensing windshield wipers.
Several driver assistance technologies are also standard including blind spot monitoring, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, and rear cross traffic alert.
Options include push-button start, remote start, proximity keyless entry, power-adjustable driver’s seat, heated and ventilated front seats, heated second-row seats, second-row captain’s chairs, leatherette or leather upholstery, heated steering wheel, tri-zone automatic climate control, eight-inch touch screen, 12-speaker Fender audio system, navigation, satellite radio, HD Radio, Volkswagen Digital Cockpit (a digital screen that replaces the standard gauge cluster), three additional USB ports, and a panoramic sunroof.
Available driver assistance technologies include a surround-view parking camera, front and rear parking sensors, and parallel park assist.
The infotainment system is straight forward and responds quickly to commands. However, it looks a bit dated with its small screen. At least Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard.
The Atlas has a ton of space, even for a three-row crossover. There are 20.6 cubic feet with all three rows of seating in place. That expands to 55.5 cubes with the third row folded, and a whopping 96.8 cubes with the second and third rows folded flat. A hands-free power liftgate is available.
In NHTSA crash tests, the 2019 Atlas receives a top overall rating of five out of five stars.
Even third-row passengers have decent space
Lots of standard features even on base model
Drives like a smaller vehicle
User-friendly infotainment system
Standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
Enough ground clearance for light off-roading
Top NHTSA safety ratings
Lower-than-average fuel efficiency
Cabin is less upscale than many rivals
Dated infotainment system
My tester starts at $30,895. Destination charge is $995 bringing the grand total to $31,890.
Even the base Atlas comes with a long list of standard features, making it a good value for the money. It’s also a pleasant daily driver and there’s a ton of room for passengers and cargo. But many rivals offer better driving dynamics and nicer cabins so consider your options before purchasing a midsize crossover or SUV.