VW's seven-seater gets updated tech and a tad more style.
The Volkswagen Atlas has been a key model for the German brand in the United States - giving the marque a foothold in the three-row midsize SUV segment at a time when the SUV revolution is in full swing. But competition is tough against the Mazda CX-9, Subaru Ascent, and Honda Pilot, which is why, at this year's 2020 Chicago Auto Show, Volkswagen is debuting the facelifted 2021 Atlas. Set to be built in the USA, it comes packing not only a fresh look but a range of additional features and updated safety tech to help the Atlas bear the weight of expectation just a little easier.
It's not just a visual upgrade, however, as the Atlas has grown by three inches in length over the original, despite sharing the same MQB platform. New front and rear bumper designs are key to the growth, incorporating a new three-bar grille design that extends into the headlight clusters, giving the Atlas a masculine presence. R-line models face updates as well, with more aggression dialed in in the form of updated front and rear bumpers, side skirts, and new alloy wheel designs in 20- or 21-inch sizes.
Beneath the skin, the Atlas doesn't receive a slew of mechanical updates, retaining both the 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder (235 horsepower) and a 276-hp V6, both paired as standard with an eight-speed automatic gearbox. 4Motion all-wheel-drive was previously reserved for V6-equipped models, but for 2021, you can now equip AWD on top trims equipped with the 2.0T motor. As before, though, if you want to tow, the V6 with the Towing Package is a must, ensuring a towing capacity of up to 5,000 lbs.
Bigger changes are in store inside the cabin, with a new steering wheel design and a range of new upholstery choices with contrast stitching on leather surfaces. A new infotainment system is also introduced, comprising an eight-inch display on all trims but the base S model. Updated Car-Net systems are equipped with a range of standard and available services, including in-car Wi-Fi functionality for up to four devices. Volkswagen has also improved the available options, with buyers now able to include the Volkswagen Digital Cockpit, Fender premium sound system, tri-zone climate control, wireless charging, remote start, heated rear seats, and front-seat ventilation to various models across the range.
With a greater push towards safety, the Atlas now benefits from an upgraded driver-assist suite. Standard on all trims, you'll find forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. Higher trims now include further assists, with adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, front and rear park sensors, park assist, and a 360-degree camera making the cut on higher trims, while traffic jam assistance and traffic sign recognition have been implemented from the VW Atlas Cross Sport.
Launching in spring 2020, full specification and pricing will be made available closer to the time.