With the Atlas, Volkswagen finally has a three-row SUV designed with the qualities that American buyers crave.

Many consumers like big SUVs, and the Atlas is just that, inside and out. In daily driving, the 3.6-liter V6 and smooth 8-speed automatic feel lively. But the SUV’s heft slowed it down in our 0-to-60 mph test, falling short of its competitors. Fuel economy of 20 mpg overall is on par for the class.

The Atlas doesn’t possess VW’s typical sporty character, because that isn’t a priority for most buyers in this category. Still, this expansive SUV is capable when the road becomes twisty. It delivers a driving experience that’s more engaging than the Honda Pilot or Toyota Highlander.

The Atlas offers a comfortable ride as it smoothly soaks up road imperfections. The cabin is as quiet as a school library during spring break.

The roomy interior has clear appeal, particularly its generous second- and third-row seats. Inside the cabin, you can access the wayback via a slickly articulating seat—with one hand, you can pull a lever and effortlessly pivot the second-row seat forward, opening up a wide access path.

Honda and Toyota, take note: These VW controls are a model of clarity, particularly the intuitive touch-screen infotainment system.

Advanced safety features including forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking are available starting with the SE trim.

Read the complete Volkswagen Atlas road test.

2018 Volkswagen Atlas review

HIGHS: Accommodations, third-row-seat comfort and access, nimbler than size suggests, comfortable ride, quiet cabin, easy-to-use controls
LOWS: Acceleration trails competitors, spotty Volkswagen reliability
POWERTRAIN: 276-hp, 3.6-liter V6 engine; 8-speed automatic transmission; all-wheel drive
FUEL: 20 mpg

Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the October 2017 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.