With the big Atlas, Volkswagen is putting size and functionality front and center. It may not possess Volkswagen's traditional premium air, but the Atlas proved thoroughly competitive against its established three-row SUV peers. With its competent ride and handling, quiet cabin, easy-to-use controls, and generous interior accommodations, the Atlas is one SUV that shoppers shouldn't shrug at.
Of course, VW is no stranger to SUVs, but the original Tiguan and the larger Touareg were too small and too expensive. The Tennessee-built Atlas takes a different path. Volkswagen's big SUV trumps most of its competitors in second- and third-row room. It also offers a unique second row: By using a lever with just one hand, the row effortlessly pivots and slides out of the way, opening a large access path to the third-row seats. And the Atlas also eclipses its competitors in terms of cargo capacity when the second- and third-row seats are folded. Towing capacity is a generous 5,000 pounds.
This big coach rides comfortably, absorbing bumps and ruts well. Barring the odd side-to-side jostle and an occasional firm jiggle, the Atlas is a relaxed cruiser. The cabin is quiet with only the occasional wind murmur at highway speeds.