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2019 Volkswagen Atlas: What You Need to Know

US News & World Report - Cars logo US News & World Report - Cars 4/5/2019 U.S. News & World Report
a car parked in front of a body of water: 2019 Volkswagen Atlas© Volkswagen of America, Inc. 2019 Volkswagen Atlas

The 2019 Volkswagen Atlas ranks in the middle of the midsize SUV class because it struggles to stand out against its rivals. Its cabin also has a few hard plastics.

Research

The 2019 Volkswagen Atlas is ranked:

Is the Volkswagen Atlas a Good SUV?

The Volkswagen Atlas is a good midsize SUV and was a finalist for our 2019 Best 3-Row SUV for the Money award. This VW's many attributes include a generous amount of passenger and cargo room, a lengthy list of features, and a user-friendly infotainment system. It also handles like a much smaller vehicle. However, its base engine feels underpowered, and the upgraded engine doesn’t deliver the punch you need on the highway. Its cabin is nice, but a few hard plastics hurt its appeal. Furthermore, plenty of rival SUVs bring more to the table in this highly competitive class.

Should I Buy the Volkswagen Atlas?

The 2019 Atlas is a comfortable, spacious midsize SUV that offers plenty of connectivity features. Its deft handling makes it feel like a smaller vehicle. However, plenty of rivals outclass the Atlas. The Toyota Highlander starts at $31,330, and it has a robust V6 engine option and an upscale cabin. The Acura MDX belongs to the luxury midsize SUV class, and with a starting price of $44,300, it costs a lot more than the Atlas, though it’s affordable for its class. The MDX is an all-around decent vehicle with few weaknesses, and it gets higher fuel economy estimates with its V6 engine than the Atlas.

Should I Buy a New or Used Volkswagen Atlas?

Volkswagen introduced the Atlas, its first three-row SUV, as an all-new vehicle for the 2018 model year. For 2019, VW made a few more features standard in the base trim, including blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, rain-sensing windshield wipers, forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, and automatic emergency braking. All these features were available in older models, so you may find a similarly equipped 2018 Atlas for less money.

To research some other models in this generation, check out our review of the 2018 Volkswagen Atlas. If you decide an older model is right for you, visit our Used Car Deals page to learn about savings and discounts on used vehicles.

We Did the Research for You: 27 Reviews Analyzed

Our goal is to provide you with the information you need to make car shopping a breeze. You'll find everything you need to know about this vehicle in our comprehensive Volkswagen Atlas review. It combines concrete data (like fuel economy estimates and cargo space dimensions) with professional evaluations from 27 automotive sources. This Volkswagen Atlas review incorporates applicable research for all models in this generation, which includes the 2018 and 2019 model years.

Why You Can Trust Us

We’ve been reviewing cars since 2007, and our Best Cars team has more than 75 years of combined automotive experience. We also award the Best Cars for the Money, Best Cars for Families, and Best Vehicle Brands on an annual basis. To ensure our impartiality, a third party handles our advertising, and we don't accept expensive gifts from automakers.

How Much Does the Volkswagen Atlas Cost?

The base Volkswagen Atlas S has an MSRP of $30,895. That’s above average among midsize SUVs. Moving to the V6 engine raises the price to $34,095. The top-of-the-line SEL Premium starts at $48,395, which is higher than the base prices of some luxury midsize SUVs.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Volkswagen dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Volkswagen deals page.

Volkswagen Atlas Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Volkswagen Atlas or Honda Pilot?

The Honda Pilot is a great three-row SUV. The Pilot edges the Atlas in a side-by-side comparison. Both vehicles have a lot of cargo room and adult-friendly third rows, but the Pilot has slightly stronger acceleration. The Honda also has a gentle, controlled ride and a smooth-shifting transmission. With a starting price of $31,450, the base Pilot only costs around $550 more than the Atlas. Both are decent choices, but the Pilot is slightly better.

Which Is Better: Volkswagen Atlas or Jeep Grand Cherokee?

The Jeep Grand Cherokee is another solid pick for a midsize SUV. Its engines range from a fuel-efficient diesel to brawny V8s. It’s also an adept off-roader that remains comfortable on the pavement as well. On the other hand, the Volkswagen offers a more composed ride and third-row seats. If you don’t need third-row seating, the Grand Cherokee is an excellent choice.

Volkswagen Atlas Interior

How Many People Does the Atlas Seat?

The 2019 Atlas seats seven people. Cloth upholstery comes standard, and leatherette or leather upholstery, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, heated and ventilated front seats, heated second-row seats, a heated steering wheel, and second-row captain’s chairs are available.

Atlas and Car Seats

This vehicle has three complete sets of LATCH connectors for securing child car seats in the second row. Third-row seats have a single tether anchor. The lower anchors are set deeply in the seats, and some need a lot of force to attach them to the car seat.

Atlas Interior Quality

The Atlas has a nice cabin with soft-touch materials and wooden accents. However, there are a few hard plastics scattered around.

Atlas Cargo Space

The 2019 Atlas has 20.6 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats, 55.5 cubic feet behind the second row, and a total of 96.8 cubic feet behind the front row. That’s more space than what many three-row crossover SUVs offer.

Atlas Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

This Volkswagen features a 6.5-inch touch screen, Mirror Link, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a six-speaker stereo, Bluetooth, and a USB port. Upgrades include a larger 8-inch touch screen, navigation, Volkswagen Digital Cockpit, HD Radio, satellite radio, a 12-speaker Fender premium stereo, and three additional USB ports.

Volkswagen’s Digital Cockpit draws praise. It replaces a more typical gauge cluster with a 12.3-inch digital display. The infotainment touch screen is responsive to inputs, and there are physical knobs and buttons for controlling additional climate and infotainment settings. Standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is a plus.

For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay? and What Is Android Auto?

Volkswagen Atlas Performance

Atlas Engine: Adequate

VW offers two engines for the Atlas. The base S features a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that makes 235 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. A 3.6-liter V6 engine rated at 276 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque is standard in the other trims and available in the base. Both engines are paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Power delivery is adequate for most driving situations, especially with the V6 engine. However, this heavy SUV struggles to accelerate and pass other vehicles on the highway.

Atlas Gas Mileage: Above Average

With its base engine and front-wheel drive, the Atlas gets an EPA-estimated 22 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway. Those are great numbers for the class. Atlas models with the V6 engine get a more typical rating of 17/24 mpg city/highway.

Atlas Ride and Handling: Comfortable and Composed

The Atlas has a gentle ride even on rough roads. Despite its large size, its handling makes it feel smaller than it is. It’s not as sporty as the Mazda CX-9, but the Atlas remains composed, with only slight lean around corners. Front-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is available.

Atlas Towing Capacity

A properly equipped Atlas can tow up to 5,000 pounds.

Volkswagen Atlas Reliability

Is the Volkswagen Atlas reliable?

J.D. Power gives the 2019 Volkswagen Atlas a predicted reliability of three out of five, which is about average.

Volkswagen Atlas Warranty

Volkswagen covers the Atlas with one of the longest bumper-to-bumper warranties on the market: a six-year/72,000-mile warranty.

Atlas Safety

Atlas Crash Test Results

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2019 Atlas a perfect five-star overall rating. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave it the highest rating of Good in all six areas tested.

Atlas Safety Features

Standard safety features in the 2019 Atlas include a post-collision braking system, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, a rearview camera, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and pedestrian detection. Front and rear parking sensors, a surround-view parking camera, and parallel park assist are available.

Which Volkswagen Atlas Model Is Right for Me?

Volkswagen offers the 2019 Atlas in five trim levels: S, SE, SE with Technology, SEL, and SEL Premium. The SE with Tech and the SEL are also available with an R-Line package that adds unique exterior styling. The base model is well-equipped, and you can upgrade to the V6 engine and all-wheel drive for $3,200. The V6 comes standard in the other trims. All-wheel drive is standard in the Premium trim, and you can add it to any other trim for $1,800. Second-row captain’s chairs are available for $695 in all but the base model.

Volkswagen Atlas S

The Volkswagen Atlas S has an MSRP of $30,895. It comes with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine, cloth seats, dual-zone climate control, alloy wheels, rain-sensing windshield wipers, forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and a rearview camera. It also has a 6.5-inch touch screen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Mirror Link, a USB port, a six-speaker stereo, and Bluetooth. The base S doesn’t offer any notable packages.

Volkswagen Atlas SE

The 2019 Volkswagen Atlas SE has a base price of $35,495. In addition to coming with the V6 engine, the SE adds an 8-inch touch screen, three more USB ports, satellite radio, HD Radio, tri-zone automatic climate control, proximity keyless entry, push-button start, heated front seats, a 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, leatherette upholstery, and fog lights.

Volkswagen Atlas SE with Technology

With an MSRP of $37,295, the VW Atlas SE with Technology adds a power liftgate, adaptive cruise control, remote start, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. You can get a panoramic sunroof for $1,200.

Volkswagen Atlas SEL

The Volkswagen Atlas SEL starts at $41,395 and gains a sunroof, a navigation system, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster (Volkswagen’s Digital Cockpit), front and rear parking sensors, a hands-free liftgate, and a heated steering wheel.

Volkswagen Atlas SEL Premium

The Volkswagen Atlas SEL Premium has an MSRP of $48,395. In addition to standard all-wheel drive, this top-of-the-line Atlas features a 12-speaker Fender sound system, first- and second-row leather seats, ventilated front seats, heated second-row seats, a surround-view parking camera, parallel park assist, and larger alloy wheels.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Volkswagen dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Volkswagen deals page.

The Final Call

There’s much to like about the 2019 Atlas. It offers easy handling, a generous features list, an intuitive infotainment system, and lots of room for people and cargo. However, its ranking suffers from sluggish acceleration and some low-rent cabin materials. You may want to shop around in this highly competitive midsize SUV class.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

Read the full 2019 Volkswagen Atlas review on U.S. News & World Report for more details, photos, specs and prices.

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