2019 Volkswagen Atlas

2019 Volkswagen Atlas Review: The Modern Midsize SUV

by Aiden Eksteen

The Volkswagen Atlas is still a relatively fresh name on the midsize scene, having only debuted a couple of years ago as a 2018 model. A truly contemporary vehicle boasting a modernistic design inside and out, the Atlas is built on the foundation of VW's venerable MQB platform, meaning that your three-row midsize SUV has a lot in common with the VW Golf. The Atlas also has an extensive features list by default, with up-to-the-minute equipment even at a base-level. Most Atlas models can be optioned with one of two competent engines, either a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder mill with peak outputs of 235 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, or a 3.6-liter V6 mill with peak outputs of 276 hp and 266 lb-ft. Outputs are driven to either the front wheels or all four wheels of the Atlas by a stock eight-speed automatic transmission. The VW Atlas isn't perfect though, and the midsize three-row SUV segment is a highly competitive one with the Honda Pilot - the king of versatility and practicality - and the all-new Subaru Ascent proving to be compelling alternatives.

2019 Volkswagen Atlas Changes: 🚙What’s the difference vs 2018 Atlas?

For the new model year, the Atlas lineup received a modest re-spec, with a selection of driver-assistance and convenience features added across the range. The base-spec Atlas S models now come fitted with automatic LED headlights, rain-sensing wipers, heated side-view mirrors as standard, and, along with other lower-level trims also now comes outfitted with front assist, a blind-spot monitor, and rear traffic alert as standard. The Atlas SE models are upgraded with tri-zone automatic climate control, and the SE models with Technology now get the options to add a panoramic sunroof with HomeLink garage door opener, or 20-inch alloy wheels. Finally, Volkswagen's digital cockpit - a high-tech configurable instrument cluster - is now standard in all SEL models, together with navigation and a heated steering wheel.

Pros and Cons

  • Nicely balanced ride comfort and handling
  • All three rows of seating are commodious
  • Intuitive infotainment system and controls
  • Lots of usable cargo room in the trunk
  • Good safety ratings
  • Initial acceleration is lackluster
  • Subpar fuel economy estimates
  • Some low-grade in-cabin materials

2019 Volkswagen Atlas Trims

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
2.0T S
2.0-liter Turbo Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
$30,895
V6 S
3.6-liter V6 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
All-Wheel Drive
$34,095
2.0T SE
2.0-liter Turbo Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
$34,095
V6 SE
3.6-liter V6 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$35,495
2.0T SE with Technology
2.0-liter Turbo Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
$35,895

Atlas Exterior

The Atlas exhibits a sophisticated yet rugged impression: upfront is VW's signature two-bar chrome grille which is flanked by automatic LED headlights with daytime running lights on every model. Front LED fog lights are standard on all but the S models and LED taillights are standard on SEL models only. Its black lower front and rear fascia cladding along with its silver roof rails are what give the Atlas its rugged impression, which is removed for R-Line models for a sportier look - instead, an air intake upfront and chrome strips at the lower door sills are added here. 18-inch five-spoke alloy wheels are standard on most models with 20-inch twin five-spoke alloy wheels on the SE Technology R-Line and SEL R-Line.

2019 Volkswagen Atlas Front Angle View Volkswagen
2019 Volkswagen Atlas Rear Angle View Volkswagen
2019 Volkswagen Atlas Rear Angle View 1 Volkswagen
See All 2019 Volkswagen Atlas Exterior Photos

Dimensions

The Atlas leans towards the larger side of the midsize SUV segment. Alongside the Honda Pilot, the Atlas measures 1.8 inches longer with an overall length of 198.3 inches; the Atlas also has a longer wheelbase at 117.3 inches to the Pilot's 111 inches. Standing just under an inch shorter in overall height, too, the Atlas measures 69.7 inches tall. Ground clearance for the Atlas is eight inches, which is 0.7 inches more than what Honda's SUV has. Body width is 78.3 inches. Curb weights range from 4242 lbs to 4,528 lbs in its heaviest guise, which is around 240 lbs heavier than the Honda Pilot base model with its curb weights ranging between 4,035 lbs and 4,319 lbs.

  • Wheelbase 117.3 in
  • Height 70.0 in
  • Max Width 78.3 in
  • Front Width 67.2 in
  • Rear Width 67.8 in

Exterior Colors

There are eight exterior colors available for most models of the VW Atlas, although only seven apply to the R-Line variants. These include Deep Black Pearl, Pure White, and Fortana Red Metallic - all are cost inclusive. Pacific Blue Metallic is the option not available for the R-Line models, which along with Reflex Silver, Platinum Gray, Terra Brown, and Tourmaline Blue are the remaining metallics to choose from. The Atlas looks exceptional optioned in the Fortana Red Metallic, which accentuates its chrome exterior accents, black lower cladding, and silver wheels. R-Line models lose the lower black cladding and receive a bespoke front and rear fascia which look better in Reflex Silver Metallic as it contrasts strongly with the front fascia's integrated black strip.

  • Deep Black Pearl
  • Pure White
  • Tourmaline Blue Metallic
  • Fortana Red Metallic
  • Terra Brown Metallic
  • Platinum Gray Metallic
  • Pacific Blue Metallic
  • Reflex Silver Metallic

Atlas Performance

The Atlas' penchant lies more in comfort and practical capability than in true acceleration and traditional performance metrics. Models equipped with the 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder motor and the standard FWD system run from 0-60 mpg in a moderate 7.2 seconds. The Atlas models with the 3.6-liter V6 engine and AWD system are even slower, taking just under eight seconds to get to 60 mph. Both the Honda Pilot and Subaru Ascent are quicker off-the-line, with the Honda reaching the 60 mph mark in a full second faster, and the Subaru reaching the mark in a slightly faster 6.9 seconds in its quickest guise.

Only the V6 equipped AWD Atlas models are rated for towing, and with the trailer tow hitch fitted, these models are accorded with a maximum towing capability of 5,000 lbs which is average for the class, with both the Honda Pilot and Subaru Ascent offering the exact same in maximum capability.

2019 Volkswagen Atlas Front View Driving Volkswagen
2019 Volkswagen Atlas Rear View Driving Volkswagen
2019 Volkswagen Atlas Engine Bay Volkswagen

Engine and Transmission

The Atlas comes outfitted with one of two engines, either a 235-hp, 258 lb-ft 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder engine, or a 276-hp, 266 lb-ft, 3.6-liter V6 engine, both of which are coupled to an eight-speed automatic transmission. While acceleration from either engine is rather sluggish at first, power delivery is always smooth and consistent as the Atlas rarely feels underpowered when out on the road. Getting up to speed and initiating highway overtakes are still gradual affairs but not nearly as frustrating as some rival SUVs; still, the Honda Pilot and Subaru Ascent both offer slightly quicker acceleration in this regard. The V6 is the better mill of the two, exhibiting more refined responses and a V6 soundtrack to boot. It also noticeably copes with the Atlas' heft a little better than the four-cylinder does, thanks to the extra power it brings. As for the transmission, while its shifts are quick and smooth, it can sometimes hesitate to downshift, which saps passing power and slows merging. The Sport mode setting does mitigate the issue slightly by speeding up throttle responses overall, however, the engine does then feel overly strung out even when in traffic.

  • Engines
    2.0-liter Turbo Inline-4 Gas, 3.6-liter V6 Gas
  • Transmission
    8-Speed Automatic
  • Drivetrains
    AWD, FWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

There is nothing particularly exciting about the Atlas in terms of its drive and handling dynamics. What stands out the most is that it's certainly an SUV tuned for comfort over anything else, and this is proven when traversing over anything but the harshest of road imperfections and undulations, even with the larger 20-inch wheels equipped. By virtue of its softly-tuned suspension, its ride feels almost always settled and without the overly floaty sensation typical of softly sprung SUVs in this segment.

That said, it's not exactly a fun car to drive, but steering responses are precise and always smooth. The steering effort is appropriately light too, while also not feeling too disconnected from the road as with many overly boosted steering systems. In the city streets, it feels almost car-like with its nimble handling and precise responses - the perks of those MQB underpinnings - and on the highway, it manages to always remain composed. There's plenty of grip offered by the tires and the Atlas always feels confidently planted to the ground. However, its heft is inescapable and is most noticeable when strung through curvy roads. Nevertheless, there is more than enough stopping power provided from the brakes and the response is confident yet smooth.

As a three-row unibody SUV, the Atlas is geared for light off-road duty too. With a class-leading approach angle of 22.7 degrees, decent ground clearance, and available 4MOTION AWD it's one of the more capable off-roaders in the midsize crossover class, but don't expect 4Runner levels of capability.

Atlas Gas Mileage

The turbocharged 2.0-liter motor can only be equipped in the FWD Atlas, which is the most fuel-efficient combination from the lineup with EPA estimates of 20/26/22 mpg city/highway/combined. The 3.6-liter V6 motor can be equipped with either FWD or AWD Atlases; FWD models are only slightly more fuel-efficient than the AWD models, but still return below-average EPA estimates of 17/24/19 mpg and 17/23/19 mpg respectively. The all-new Subaru Ascent is one of the more efficiency-minded midsize SUVs in its class, with EPA estimates of 21/27/23 mpg coming from its 2.4-liter turbo four-cylinder equipped FWD model. The Atlas is equipped with a 18.6-gallon gas tank and utilizes regular unleaded fuel only; on a full tank of gas, the 2.0T FWD Atlas can drive on for around 409 miles before requiring a refuel.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    18.6 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 22/26 mpg
* 2019 Volkswagen Atlas 2.0T S FWD

Atlas Interior

The build quality of the Atlas is exceptional; the doors shut with a solid feel, fixtures and fittings are firmly attached, and there are no squeaks or rattlings heard in the cabin at any point on the road. There are numerous high-quality materials utilized throughout the Atlas' cabin, though low-quality panel and dash trim and hard plastics are also used generously. Seating and general ergonomics are favorable, with the front and second-row armrests suitably positioned, and the driver and infotainment controls all within the driver's reach. The seats are especially comfortable, supportive, and spacious, with ample passenger-room from front to back. The infotainment system includes Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as standard, and USB ports are provided for passengers up front and in the rear. The best part of it all is that thanks to the MQB underpinnings, you feel like you're in a much smaller vehicle, but with an abundance of space.

2019 Volkswagen Atlas Dashboard Volkswagen
2019 Volkswagen Atlas Steering Wheel Volkswagen
2019 Volkswagen Atlas Dashboard 1 Volkswagen
See All 2019 Volkswagen Atlas Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

In standard guise, the VW Atlas can seat a total of seven passengers. With the available second-row captain's chairs optioned in, occupancy reduces to six. All the seats in the Atlas are comfortable and supportive, and the front seats feature decent adjustability. Both the second and third-row seats feature reclining functions too, and even adults will feel comfortable in the second row: there is sufficient head and legroom for those up to six feet tall. There is ample overall passenger room throughout the cabin, even for adults in the rear-most seats. The driver is positioned well behind the controls and thanks to large windows all-round, large side-view mirrors, and with non-impeding headrests, all-round visibility is great. Ingress and egress into and from any of the rows is pleasantly easy, thanks to the Atlas' high-set seats, sliding and reclining second-row seats, and its tall roof. Heated front seats are standard in the SE trim and up, with ventilation reserved for the top trim.

  • Seating capacity
    7-seater
  • Front Leg Room 41.5 in
  • Front Head Room 41.3 in
  • Rear Leg Room 37.6 in
  • Rear Head Room 40.4 in

Interior Colors and Materials

The S model Atlas comes standard with Titan Black cloth seating appointments, complemented by a black interior with chrome accents. A leather-wrapped steering wheel is standard-fit as of the S model. The seats in all models from the SE to the SEL R-Line are fitted in VW's V-Tex leatherette upholstery, featured in either Titan Black or Shetland. Unfortunately, those adamant on genuine leather upholstery will have to opt for the top-spec SEL Premium model, where leather can be optioned in either Golden Oak, Titan Black, or Shetland.

Atlas Trunk and Cargo Space

Behind the third-row seats in the Atlas is an impressive 20.6 cubic feet of cargo room, which is sufficient for a small family's overnight bags for a spontaneous adventure. With the 50/50 split-folding third-row seats folded down, cargo room expands to a practical 53.5 cubes, which can be further increased by folding flat the 60/40 split second-row seats for a 96.8 cubic feet cargo area.

In terms of in-cabin storage solutions, there are usably wide door-side pockets on all four doors, an additional smaller pocket on the rear doors, small-item armrest trays, a small center console cubby ahead of dual cupholders, a cavernous center armrest cubby, a storage net on the front passenger's side of the center console, and a medium storage tray on the dash. Each front seat has a seatback map pocket, and there are dual cupholders in the second-row bench (not in the captain's chairs). The third row includes three cupholders and a storage tray on each side.

2019 Volkswagen Atlas Trunk Space Volkswagen
2019 Volkswagen Atlas Maximum Cargo Space Volkswagen
2019 Volkswagen Atlas Trunk Space with Seat Folded Volkswagen

Atlas Infotainment and Features

Features

Even the base-spec models of the Atlas lineup are well-equipped with features, the Atlas S coming standard with LED headlights and DRLs, a start-stop system, dual-zone automatic climate control, a six-way manually-adjustable driver's seat, and cloth seating surfaces. In the way of safety and driver-assists, there's a rearview camera, a blind-spot monitor, rear traffic alert, and forward collision warning with autonomous emergency braking and pedestrian monitoring. Upgrading to the SE models will see features such as front fog lights, keyless access with push-button start, three-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, a ten-way power-adjustable driver's seat, and V-tex leatherette seating surfaces. The SE Technology models additionally get a remote start system, adaptive cruise control, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. With SEL models come LED taillights, a hands-free easy-open liftgate, a trailer hitch, power tilting/sliding panoramic sunroof, VW's digital cockpit, and park distance control. The SEL Premium is aptly named, coming standard with all the above plus high beam control, park assist, park distance control, interior ambient lighting, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear outboard seats, leather seating surfaces, and an overhead view camera.

Infotainment

The standard infotainment setup in any Atlas model is very appealing, and the user-interface highly intuitive and easy to understand. In the base-spec S model is a 6.5-inch touchscreen display tethered to an AM/FM stereo. It includes Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration, Bluetooth audio streaming for compatible devices, and Volkswagen's Car-Net App-Connect. Every Atlas as of the SE model comes fitted with an eight-inch infotainment touchscreen tethered to an AM/FM/HD radio and an MP3/WMA-compatible CD player. The S model gets a six-speaker audio layout, mid-level trims offer eight speakers and the SEL Premium model features the Fender Premium Audio System with 12 speakers. There is only a single USB port for device connectivity and charging in the S model, in every other model are four, with two located up front and the other two in the rear.

Atlas Problems and Reliability

There have been a total of five recalls commissioned for the 2019 year model VW Atlas so far, pertaining to a potentially leaky fuel tank, headlights missing blocking caps, incorrect side impact airbags, another to rear coil springs that would fracture too easily, and the last to an absent "key in ignition" warning function. J.D. Power nevertheless availed the current model Atlas with an average predicted reliability rating of 79 out of 100. Volkswagen covers the Atlas with a class-leading six-year/72,000-mile new-vehicle basic warranty and a seven-year/100,000-mile limited warranty against corrosion.

Warranty

  • Basic:
    6 Years \ 72,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain:
    6 Years \ 72,000 Miles
  • Corrosion:
    7 Years \ 100,000 Miles
  • Roadside Assistance:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles

Atlas Safety

The 2019 Volkswagen Atlas received relatively good safety ratings from both the NHTSA and the IIHS. From the NHTSA it received an overall safety rating of five out of a possible five. Of the six specified crashworthiness evaluations conducted by the IIHS, the Atlas scored top scores of Good for all.

US NHTSA crash test result

  • Overall Rating
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
  • Side Crash Rating
  • Rollover Rating

Key Safety Features

Though fitted with only six standard airbags, there's an expansive selection of favorable safety features in every Atlas, with an intelligent crash response system, a tire pressure monitoring system, ESC, and ABS standard in every model. As of the base-spec S model, there's also a rearview camera, blind-spot monitor, rear traffic alert, and forward collision warning with autonomous emergency braking and pedestrian monitoring. The SE models add on to those with adaptive cruise control. Park assist with distance control and maneuver braking is standard in SEL models.

Verdict: 🏁Is the 2019 Volkswagen Atlas a good SUV?

The VW Atlas is a good vehicle, but there are a few flaws that set it back from being the best in the segment. Most of the Atlas package is impressive though, with a decent V6 engine and a refined 4MOTION AWD system available that avail it with competitive towing capabilities and light off-roading advantages. Passenger-comfort is the main concern for the Atlas, the SUV offering a commodious cabin with comfortable and supportive seats from front to rear. Its ride quality is comfortable too and although soft, is highly composed and never floaty. There's a lot of appeal in the Atlas' lineup with even the base model boasting high feature specification levels, and particularly in its infotainment setup with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality included as standard. Its standard safety and advanced driver-assist consignments are laudable too, and he resultant safety ratings are reasonably good. The Atlas is slightly lackluster though, in terms of performance, and could do with a more frugal engine as its fuel economy lags behind class-leading rivals. Opting for the VW Atlas would not be a regrettable decision, but you may find yourself wanting something with a little more grunt.

🚘What's the Price of the 2019 Volkswagen Atlas?

There's a variety of Atlas models that make up the lineup, with the 2.0T S starting off at an MSRP of $30,895, swapping out the 2.0T mill for the V6 one adds $3,200. The 2.0T SE follows at an MSRP of $34,095; it, along with the 2.0T SE Technology (priced at $35,895), can also be optioned with the V6 motor for $1,400. The V6 SE Technology R-Line carries a sticker price of $39,245, the V6 SEL costs $41,395, and the R-Line version of the V6 SEL asks $43,345. The V6 SEL Premium closes the lineup off at an MSRP of $48,395. Those prices are all excluding Volkswagen's destination charge of $995 as well as any tax, registration, and licensing fees.

2019 Volkswagen Atlas Models

There are ten models that comprise the Atlas lineup, differentiated by engine allocation and feature specification. At the start of the lineup is the 2.0T S, followed by the V6 S, 2.0T SE, V6 SE, 2.0T SE Technology, V6 SE Technology, V6 SE Technology R-Line, V6 SEL, V6 SEL R-Line, and finally the V6 SEL Premium. 2.0T models are equipped with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, V6 models with a 3.6-liter V6 engine.

The S models come with basic features such as LED headlights and DRLs, a start-stop system, dual-zone automatic climate control, a six-way manually-adjustable driver's seat, and cloth seating surfaces. In terms of infotainment, there's a 6.5-inch color touchscreen and AM/FM radio. Standard safety and advanced driver assists include a rearview camera, a blind-spot monitor, rear traffic alert, and forward collision warning with autonomous emergency braking and pedestrian monitoring. S models can be had in either of the two engine options.

The SE models are available in both of the engine options, but all SE variants are upgraded with front fog lights, keyless access with push-button start, three-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, a ten-way power-adjustable driver's seat, and V-tex leatherette seating surfaces. Infotainment is covered by an eight-inch touchscreen tethered to an AM/FM/HD radio and MP3/WMA-compatible CD player.

Additions to the Technology versions of the SE include a remote start system, adaptive cruise control, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Once again, either powertrain can be specced on here.

SEL models boast the V6 engine as standard, and include LED taillights, a hands-free easy-open liftgate, a trailer hitch, power tilting/sliding panoramic sunroof, VW's digital cockpit, and park distance control.

In the SEL Premium is high beam control, park assist, park distance control, interior ambient lighting, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear outboard seats, leather seating surfaces, an overhead view camera, and a premium Fender audio system. The SEL Premium and all R-Line Atlas models all have the V6 motor under the hood, and the R-Line trims get bespoke front and rear fascias, additionally.

See All 2019 Volkswagen Atlas Trims and Specs

Additional Packages

With a wide variety of models representing the lineup's specification levels, the available packages feature more like standalone options. This includes the $695 Second-Row Captain's Chair seating configuration, which is available for all except the S-model variants.

For $1,200, all mid-range SE models can be optioned with the available Panoramic Sunroof with HomeLink.

The 2.0T SE Tech and V6 SEL can be equipped with 20-inch Silver Triple Five-Spoke Alloy Wheels for $700, while 20-inch Black triple five-spoke alloy wheels are available for the V6 SEL and SEL Premium at $995. Available for the SEL Premium alone are $700 21-inch Two-Tone Machine Alloy Wheels.

Lastly, a $550 Tow Hitch package can be optioned on to the V6 S, V6 SE, V6 SE Technology, and V6 SE Technology R-Line.

🚗What Volkswagen Atlas Model Should I Buy?

The V6 SEL model is the recommended trim as it comes equipped with the more capable 3.6-liter V6 mill as standard, along with VW's all-wheel-drive system - this gives the Atlas improved towing capability and better all-weather traction. It also comes equipped with a trailer tow hitch as standard and is the first model in the lineup that comes fitted with VW's contemporary digital cockpit as well as with a panoramic power sunroof, LED taillights, and park distance control. If you won't be needing the seven-passenger occupancy, then we suggest throwing in the optional second-row captain-chairs, as they improve passenger comfort and overall in-cabin room, while also making access to the third-row seats easier.

Check out other Volkswagen Atlas Styles

2019 Volkswagen Atlas Comparisons

Honda Pilot Honda
Subaru Ascent Subaru
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
Volkswagen Atlas235 hp22/26 mpg$31,545
Honda Pilot 280 hp20/27 mpg$32,250
Subaru Ascent 260 hp21/27 mpg$31,995

2019 Volkswagen Atlas vs Honda Pilot

The Honda Pilot is priced in more or less the same bracket as the VW Atlas. It's equipped to seat a total of eight passengers, however, and like the Atlas has the option to fit second-row captain's chairs, which then brings its occupancy down to seven. The Atlas only seats a maximum of seven. The Pilot's standard V6 engine feels a lot more refined than the Atlas', while also being considerably more potent off-the-line. It's also a little more fuel-efficient overall. Both vehicles share a maximum towing capacity of 5,000 lbs, but the Atlas has more cargo room in the rear. The Pilot's impressive magic seats and storage solutions bring a lot more versatility though, especially as a family vehicle. While full smartphone integration is offered as standard as of the base model of the Atlas lineup, it's not included on the base model of the Pilot. The Pilot does, however, come with a whole lot more safety and driver-assist features as standard and received a 2019 Top Safety Pick allocation from the IIHS. The value of the Pilot certainly exceeds that of the Atlas' once past the base model. The Pilot is just a little better than the Atlas in every regard - barring trunk capacity - but still scores highly in terms of versatility.

See Honda Pilot Review

2019 Volkswagen Atlas vs Subaru Ascent

For only a little more than the VW Atlas, prospective buyers can look to the Subaru Ascent. It comes equipped with a 2.4-liter turbocharged engine that services the whole lineup, it's more powerful than the Atlas' 2.0-liter but less potent than the V6, it's considerably more fuel-efficient than both though. It's also solely serviced by a CVT that delivers unintuitive responses and just feels lackadaisical. Unlike the Atlas, however, the Ascent can seat a maximum of eight passengers in place of only seven, and subsequently, it's left with slightly less cargo room than the Atlas behind the rear seats. Specification-wise, both models are relatively equal in value: the Ascent does come with a few more driver-assist features and is the safer vehicle, having received a 2019 Top Safety Pick + designation from the IIHS. The Atlas is the SUV we'd pick; while the Ascent offers plenty of value, the Atlas is just a little better by virtue of its superior build quality and leading practicality.

See Subaru Ascent Review

Volkswagen Atlas Popular Comparisons

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2019 Volkswagen Atlas Video Review

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