Boring. This was how a designer from German carmaker Volkswagen described one of its newest offerings – the new Volkswagen Atlas SUV. VW unveiled the Atlas at the 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show in November, saying that this new mid-size crossover – slotted between the compact Tiguan and upmarket Touareg – is created and designed to appease customers in the United States. Would that really be the case?
In a conversation with The Truth About Cars during the LA Auto Show, this unnamed VW designer quipped that the VW Atlas is visually boring, with a design that is four years old. He also compared the new Atlas to a Ford vehicle from the 2012 model year.
Visually, the 2018 VW Atlas has its own appeal. Apparently, VW doesn’t want its new SUV to be too aggressive in terms of design. Rather, the VW Atlas, as head of VW Design Klaus Bischoff out it, should look substantial, with a styling that would age well and would go out of fashion in the next two to three years. But for this certain VW designer at the LA Auto Show, the design of the Atlas has been out of style for four years. If there is anything that VW could really be targeting, it could the tendency of American buyers to opt for vehicles offering generous interior space.
In terms of design, the 2018 VW Atlas employs VW’s current design language and is underpinned by the brand’s Modular Transverse Matrix architecture, or MQB. With dimensions of 198.3 inches in length, 77.9 inches in width and 69.6 inches in height, the Atlas is larger (plus 121 mm longer, 38 mm wider and 35 mm taller) than the Touareg. With these measurements, the 2018 VW Atlas is the largest SUV from the carmaker to be built in the US. However, Licharz noted that the new Atlas might be too big to be parked in many European garages.
The new 2018 Atlas is part of VW’s is part of Volkswagen’s plans to establish itself as an expert in all-wheel-drive capability and to further penetrate the US market. This new SUV will also be offered in China as the VW Teramont. Upon launch in the US, the 2018 Atlas will be offered with two powertrains: a turbocharged direct-injection 2.0-liter 4-cylinder TSI engine offering up to 238 hp (177 kW) of output and a 3.6-liter VR6 engine delivering up to 280 hp (208 kW) of output.
Both engines are paired to an eight-speed transmission. The Teramont, meanwhile, will be available with three powertrain options – two versions of 2.0-liter TFSI engine (186hp and 220hp of outputs) and a 2.5-liter V6 TFSI engine providing 299 hp of output. All Teramont engines are mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.