2021 Volkswagen Atlas Review

Price From $32,565 – To $51,715

Source: Volkswagen

by | Oct 18, 2021

Overview

(4.5/5)

The Volkswagen Atlas has received a mid-cycle refresh for the year 2021, adding some long-awaited features as well as some design changes. The Atlas now gets an updated front fascia which VW describes as ‘bolder’ than before. The overall styling remains similar to the previous models, and the changes are minor.

The amount of cargo and seating space available has always been the highlight for Atlas. In the latest iteration, it has gained almost 3 inches in length so it is bigger than ever. The 2021 Atlas provides loads of features at an attractive price point. The mid-size three-row SUV segment has been seeing a lot of activity lately and compared to the competition, the Atlas leaves a lot to be desired.

Pros
Spacious interiors with ample cargo space even with the third row up.
Two different powertrains are on offer, and AWD is available for both of them.
All trims come with bench seats as standard with optional captain seats.
Cons
Engine performance is mediocre, even with the optional V6.
Fuel efficiency is subpar when compared to the competition.
The interior looks a bit cheap and uninspiring for a car that costs over $50,000 for the top trim.

Performance, Engine, and Comfort

(4/5)

The Atlas is a comfortable and practical SUV. Even though the powertrains are not the best in this segment, they are certainly not bad.

Engine & Performance

(3.5/5)

In comparison to other SUVs in the segment, the Atlas provides a significantly lower power output. If you are considering buying one, the bigger V6 is the one to go for. The V6 is quite punchy, especially at the lower end of the powerband. It provides loads of torque at lower rpms, and since it is naturally aspirated, the acceleration is smooth and linear. The exhaust note in sport mode is also commendable.

The turbocharged four-cylinder seems to be punching above its weight in this big bulky SUV. But it is not at all a bad option if you require additional fuel savings.

Engine and gear

The naturally aspirated 3.6L V6 produces 276 hp @ 6200 rpm and 266 lb-ft @ 3500 rpm. The engine is technically a VR6 because the angle between the cylinders is much narrower compared to traditional V6 engines and uses a single cylinder head.

The turbocharged 2.0L inline four-cylinder produces 235 hp @5,400 rpm and 258 lb-ft @ 1600 rpm. Both of the engines are paired with an 8-speed DCT automatic transmission.

Suspension

The suspension does its job pretty well. The 21 in wheels in the top trim have a noticeably bumpier ride compared to the smaller wheel options, which is to be expected. The smaller sidewalls mean it will have to be stiffer, reducing the overall comfort a bit. 

But it absorbs most of the potholes that you might encounter, and the ride is smooth. The suspension remains composed even through rough patches of road.

Handling

The Atlas handling is as nice as you can expect from a boxy three-row SUV. You will experience some body roll through some tighter corners. But that is a characteristic of all SUVs, and there is nothing out of the ordinary here. 

The steering is very light, so it is easy to maneuver in parking lots and remains nimble at slow speeds. But at higher speeds, some drivers may feel that the steering is a bit too light and disconnected.

Vibration

Vibrations are kept to a minimum in most situations. Both of the available engines are very refined and smooth, even at higher rpms. The cabin is well insulated, and there are no noticeable noise

Safety & Reliability

(4/5)

Volkswagen takes pride in the safety and build quality of their vehicles, and Atlas does not let them down. It earned a five-star crash-test rating in the test conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). It has a J.D. Power score of 70/100 for quality and reliability which is not bad.

Brakes

The brakes provide adequate stopping power even under wet conditions. The brake is light and easy to operate. All four corners have disc brakes equipped with ABS and Brake Assist.

Airbags

Apart from the standard airbags, the driver and front passenger get front and side thorax airbags. Side curtain airbags are available for both front and rear passengers.

Electronics

The 2021 Atlas brings a long list of safety features. Some of the most notable features are:

  • Forward collision warning
  • Rear cross-traffic alert
  • Blind-spot monitoring
  • Pedestrian detection
  • Hands-free parallel park assist (You will only have to operate the accelerator and brake pedals)
  • Lane keep assist
  • Adaptive cruise control with low-speed traffic assist
  • Surround-view 360° parking camera system

Lights

All the lights in the 2021 Atlas are LED, and they provide decent illumination. In the test conducted by Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the lights in the lower trims received the second-lowest ‘Marginal’ rating, but the top trims with the upgraded headlights received a laudable ‘Good’ rating for forward visibility. 

Traction control

The Atlas is equipped with traction control, and the tried and tested Volkswagen 4MOTION All-Wheel Drive system is available as an option. The 5th generation Borg Warner Haldex AWD system is primarily front-wheel biased, but it can transfer up to 50% of the torque to the rear wheels through the center clutch when it recognizes slipping in the wheels.

Fuel Economy

(3.5/5)

Fuel efficiency is probably one of the major weak points of the 2021 Atlas. The Atlas returns a fuel efficiency of 4- 5 mpg lesser than its opponents with similar powertrains.

Fuel efficiency depends on the size of an engine. So obviously, the four-cylinder engine returns better fuel efficiency than the V6. The addition of the AWD system will further increase fuel consumption. Fuel costs constitute a major portion of the overall running cost of a vehicle. If fuel economy is your top priority, you should choose the four-cylinder engine.

Engine size and Towing

The Atlas can either be equipped with a 3.6L NA V6 or a 2.0L turbocharged inline-four engine. The V6 is rated to tow a maximum of 5000 lbs, and the inline-four has a maximum of 2000 lbs.

Gas consumption per mile

The most fuel-efficient option of the bunch, the four-cylinder model returned a fuel economy of 21 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway. The bigger and more powerful V6 engine returned a fuel economy of 17 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway in the front-wheel-drive avatar. But with the AWD system equipped, the economy fell to 16 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway.

Interior

(4/5)

The interior is very straightforward and might look a bit bland to some. It has a lot of storage areas, and cupholders placed thoughtfully throughout the cabin. The Atlas’s interiors may not have the sophisticated looks like some other cars, but it is practical and makes sense for families looking for a utilitarian SUV.

Driving seat

The seat is soft and comfortable with adequate bolstering. It is a 10-way adjustable power-assisted seat with memory for up to 4 driver profiles. The seat is ventilated with heating and cooling. Under thigh support and lumbar support is very good, so it will be comfortable for long journeys.

Dashboard

The dashboard is neatly laid out with zero clutter. The upper part of the dashboard is covered with soft-touch material. The central 6.5-inch or 8-inch infotainment system (depending on the trim) has knobs for volume and tuning, and capacitive touch buttons for the other functions. The AC vents are placed on either side of the screen. 

The climate controls are placed below that. Two USB ports and a 12V outlet is available at the front. There are generous amounts of piano black plastic inserts throughout the cabin. The steering controls are easy to use, and the digital instrument cluster brings a plethora of functionalities.

Passenger seats and extras

The Atlas can easily seat seven people with the bench seat in the 2nd row. The front seats are heated and cooled, while the 2nd row is only heated. The 2nd row can be moved forward and backward and offers some reclining as well. The dual-tone leather upholstery with contrast stitching looks good. 

Separate AC vents are available for the 2nd and 3rd row. There are 2 USBs and a 115V power outlet in the 2nd row, but the 3rd row does not get any outlets.

Overall height and space

The car is 200.7 inches long, 78.3 inches wide, 70.1 inches tall, and has a wheelbase of 117.3 inches. The car is spacious, and there is plenty of headroom for passengers in all three rows. With a ground clearance of 8 inches, it is easy to get inside and out.

Trunk space

With the third row up, the cargo volume is 20.6 cu ft. With the third row down, it increases to 55.5 cu ft, and with both 3rd and 2nd row down it has a maximum cargo capacity of 96.8 cu ft.

Price and Extras

(4/5)

Volkswagen Atlas is a good deal for the price. Available in multiple trim levels and multiple price ranges, there is an Atlas available for all mid-range budgets.

Market Price

(4/5)

The 2021 Atlas starts at $32,565. There are seven variants in total at different price points, and as the price increases, the feature list also expands.

TRIM LEVELSSTARTING PRICE
S$32,565
SE$35,915
SE R-Line$40, 715
SEL$42, 970
SEL R-Line$45, 015
SEL Premium$48,215
SEL Premium R-Line$51, 715

*All prices are based on the UK market.

Warranty

When it comes to warranty, Kia Sorento offers a greater advantage over its competitors. The premium 7-year warranty by Kia includes a coverage of 100,000 miles on each new purchase. As a result, Kia has been a top choice among first-time car buyers, as well as those looking to invest in a second-hand model.

Another boon of Kia Stonic is the minimal cost of servicing. Unlike most SUVs, this one comes with a pretty seamless servicing plan, where you can choose any convenient duration, be it for three years, or five years.

Vehicle Servicing

It is recommended that you opt for servicing every 10,000 miles or once in 12 months, whichever is early in your case.

Awards

The 2021 Atlas was named the Cars.com Family Car of the Year and is a PARENTS Best Family Cars 2021 winner (as a 3-row sports utility vehicle).

Verdict

The 2021 Atlas is a spacious SUV that will be perfect for families looking for a simple and practical three-row SUV. It is not the most stylish or most sporty SUV of the bunch. But it offers loads of useful features and decent performance. Volkswagens tend to retain their value much longer than others due to their sturdy build quality. It is a very good option that you should shortlist if you are in the market for a three-row SUV.