2019 Volkswagen Atlas

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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.

Read in this review:

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2019 Volkswagen Atlas Changes: What’s The Difference vs The 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

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.

Best Deals on 2019 Volkswagen Atlas

2019 Volkswagen Atlas Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
2.0T S
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
V6 S
3.6L V6 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
All-Wheel Drive
2.0T SE
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
3.6L V6 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
See All 2019 Volkswagen Atlas Trims and Specs

2019 Atlas Exterior

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


  • Length 198.3 in
  • 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

  • Deep Black Pearl
  • Pure White
  • Tourmaline Blue Metallic
  • Terra Brown Metallic
  • Platinum Gray Metallic
  • Pacific Blue Metallic
  • Reflex Silver Metallic
  • Fortana Red Metallic, Build Out: 11/15/2019

2019 Atlas Performance

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

Engine and Transmission

  • Engines
    2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas, 3.6L 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.

2019 Atlas Interior

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

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

2019 Atlas Trunk and Cargo Space

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

2019 Atlas Safety and Reliability


  • 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

US NHTSA Crash Test Result

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

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 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
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
Volkswagen Atlas235 hp21/25 mpg$35,150
Honda Pilot 285 hp18/23 mpg$36,300
Subaru Ascent 260 hp20/26 mpg$33,895

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
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