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Entry price: $30,375

Price as tested: $39,815

Likes: Looks, interior, quiet, handles well, cargo.

Dislikes: Acceleration just so-so even with V6, MPG suspect.

There’s a brand-new SUV in town called Volkswagen Atlas, and it’s sure one of the roomiest midsize SUV’s we’ve ever tested. With three rows of standard seating allowing up to seven passengers, the all-new 2018 Volkswagen Atlas replaces the five-passenger Toureg and looks to be a stern competitor in this popular class. Currently, Atlas sits alongside smaller compact crossover Tiguan at VW dealerships, the latter which receives a major makeover for 2018. (We’re hoping to drive one soon).

Atlas starts with the entry S for $30,375, then moves up through another 11 models to reach the summit SEL Premium, which retails for $48,740 fully loaded. Both Turbo4 and V6 engines are available until you get to the top rung SEL Premium, which comes with the V6 engine as standard fare.  

Recommended is the V6 over the Turbocharged 4-cylinder for obvious power benefits and towing advantages. Expressly, the 3.6-liter V6 develops 276 horses and 266 lb. ft. of torque versus the small 2.0-liter inline turbo four-cylinder that delivers 235 horses and 258 lb. ft. of torque. When you have your Atlas loaded up with passengers and cargo is filled to the brim (for a trip to the beach for example), the extra 41 horses will surely be appreciated. All Atlas models utilize a fine shifting eight-speed automatic Tiptronic transmission that shifted perfectly during our test review.

The new Atlas offers both front-wheel-drive (2WD) or VW’s famous 4Motion all-wheel-drive (AWD) with Active Control, the latter which our tester featured. In choosing your preference of adhesion, keep in mind that only the V6 models offer the 4Motion AWD. The entry price for our Atlas V6 SE Tech V6 4Motion is $38,890, and comes delivered with just about every standard feature you’ll need.  If you live in a warm climate state, this same vehicle with front-drive starts at $37,340.

Of all the trims available, the Atlas SE V6 w/technology 4Motion may well be the best of the bunch as for return on investment. Standard features include all the high-tech items like Apple and Android compatibility, Volkswagen App-Connect, (which begins when you plug in your compatible Smartphone) adaptive cruise, enhanced rear view camera, front collision warning, emergency braking, lane assist, lane departure, eight-speaker SiriusXM with CD player, power liftgate and much more.

In summary, when you look back at Volkswagen’s heralded past in building unique vehicles made to transport seven or more passengers, memories of the 23-window Microbus, Kombi vans and those popular Vanagon wagons and Westfalia Campers come quickly to mind. These VW buses date all the way back to 1950 here in the U.S. following the Beetle introduction in 1949. During the 1960 decade,  no other vehicle came close to the popularity of a VW “Mini Bus” painted in multi-color, “Peace and Love” livery.

Now perfected, this new VW Atlas is sure to be a worthy competitor in our modern-day culture of moving family, friends and cargo.

Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and other GateHouse Media publications.

 

Auto Bits

What does the econ mode actually do?

Obviously, economy modes are intended to save gas. But how do they do it? We break it down. Eco, Econ, or economy modes have become common in modern vehicles. These driving modes are intended to save you fuel, but how do they actually work, and how much can they save you? The first question is one we can answer, but the second, how much you’ll save, is a bit trickier.

1. Power Reduction: Enable the economy mode in your vehicle and the first thing you will notice is that the power pedal changes. We’d call that the “gas pedal”, or “throttle” but electric cars have economy modes too, use no gas, and have no throttle. The pedal can change in its feel, or how it makes the vehicle respond. 

2. HVAC Control Changes:  The second most important way that economy modes alter your vehicle’s settings to save energy is by taking control of your heat and air conditioning. Running an AC compressor and the fans in your car consumes a lot of energy. Economy modes do a variety of things to cut back on that consumption, while still keeping the driver comfortable. 

3. Cruise Control Changes: Modern cruise control systems do much more than just try to keep a car on or above a certain set speed. They can follow a car in front of you and speed up and slow down and they can also slow your car when you are on a steep decline. 

John Goreham/BestRide.com

 

Did you know

According to FuelEconomy.gov, aggressive driving can consume 10  to 40 percent more fuel than sedate driving.