Three-row SUVs, like the Volkswagen Atlas, answer the needs of families big and small by offering space, comfort, and towing power without the power-sliding doors of a dorky minivan. Thanks to its spacious third row, the seven-passenger Atlas serves as a comfortable way to transport adults. Its large cabin, with the second- and third-row seats folded, transforms into a useful tool for hauling cargo. Power comes from a 269-hp turbocharged inline-four engine bolted to an eight-speed automatic. Front-wheel drive is standard, but all-wheel drive is available as an option. The Atlas, which competes against more refined competitors such as the Kia Telluride, Jeep Grand Cherokee L, and Mazda CX-90, gets better with every update Volkswagen throws at it. There’s even an Atlas Cross Sport, reviewed separately, which puts a stylish spin on the SUV at the expense of a third row.
What’s New for 2024?
Volkswagen gives the Atlas a stylish makeover for 2024 atop a host of brand-new standard equipment. The most obvious change is the Atlas’ new look. A revised front fascia with new headlights is on for trim levels above SE. There are new wheel designs across the entire lineup, including 21-inch wheels for the R-Line models. Volkswagen ditches the previously available 276-hp V-6, and instead offers the Atlas with only a 269-hp turbocharged inline-four powertrain. Despite the difference in powerplants, the max towing capacity remains 5000 pounds, and an eight-speed transmission with front-wheel drive is still standard. All-wheel drive remains an option. For the cockpit, the refreshed Atlas gets a bunch of new, more upscale trim thrown into its otherwise plastic basket. For 2024, Volkswagen also makes a heated steering wheel and ventilated front seats standard equipment. A 12.0-inch infotainment screen is also new, which is a big upgrade from the previous 8.0-inch unit. VW has also added the Atlas Peak Edition appearance package, offered with exclusive Avocado Green and Pure Gray paint colors and a more rugged and outdoorsy look.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
We’d recommend adding 4Motion all-wheel drive to the Atlas SE with Technology. This brings remote start and includes USB charging ports for the third row. To that, we’d spec the second-row captain’s chairs and the tow hitch, which unlocks the Atlas’s maximum towing capacity of 5000 pounds.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Every Atlas comes with the same engine now: a 269-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 273 pound-feet of torque. It pairs with eight-speed automatic transmission and either front- or all-wheel drive. The previous Atlas came with a 235-hp four-cylinder or a 276-hp V-6, but those are gone now. During our drive with the new powertrain, we noticed improved throttle response and VW’s retuned transmission makes the engine feel like it has a little more pep in its step. At our test track, the Atlas managed to hit 60 mph in 7.3 seconds, which is quicker than the V-6–powered one we tested in 2018. The Atlas responds obediently to steering inputs and only feels a little clumsy when pushed quickly around corners. It’s composed on the highway and reasonably nimble in the city with a ride that’s generally smooth over all but the harshest potholes. Unfortunately, the minor updates to the Atlas don’t transform its chassis into something as fun to drive as the Mazda CX-90.
Towing and Payload Capacity
Every Volkswagen Atlas can tow as much as 5000 pounds. That’s as good as the Toyota 4Runner and Subaru Ascent.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
The EPA estimates that front-wheel drive Atlases should be good for 20 mpg city and 27 mpg highway. Opting for all-wheel drive drops those estimates to 19 mpg city and 26 mpg highway for most models. The Peak Edition trims are rated for 18 mpg city and 24 mpg highway. On our 75-mph highway fuel economy route, which is part of our extensive testing regimen, our all-wheel-drive Atlas test vehicle returned 25 mpg. For more information about the Atlas’s fuel economy, visit the EPA’s website.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
Family-friendly interior space, a straightforward control layout, and an overabundance of cupholders make the Atlas a practical choice, even among other highly practical rivals. Plus, a third row of seats that can comfortably accommodate full-size adults is a definite win. The interior design of the Atlas is uncomplicated and utilitarian—perfect for families but less so for style mavens—though there is a definite improvement in cabin materials for 2024. The Atlas should accommodate just about anything a suburban family can throw at it, and there are plenty of thoughtfully placed storage nooks to stash small items. In our luggage testing, the Atlas impressed us by fitting four carry-on suitcases behind the third row and 38 behind the first, same as the enormous Honda Pilot.
Infotainment and Connectivity
No matter which trim you choose, the Atlas comes well-connected and ready to entertain. A 12.0-inch infotainment touchscreen is standard and has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability, a six-speaker sound system, a wireless phone charging, and six USB-C ports with 45 watts of charging power. Unfortunately it lacks the volume and tuning knobs that make operating the radio system easier.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
The Atlas comes with a bevy of standard and optional driver-assistance technology. For more information about the Atlas’s crash-test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) websites. Key safety features include:
- Standard forward-collision warning and automated emergency braking
- Standard blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert
- Available adaptive cruise control with a lane-centering feature
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
Volkswagen provides an above-average limited warranty, but its powertrain coverage falls short of most competitors’. VW does sweeten the deal with complimentary scheduled maintenance that is similar to what Toyota offers.
- Limited warranty covers four years or 50,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers four years or 50,000 miles
- Complimentary maintenance is covered for two years or 20,000 miles
2024 Volkswagen Atlas SEL Premium R-Line 4Motion
Vehicle Type: front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 6-passenger, 4-door wagon
Base/As Tested: $53,805/$54,895
Options: second-row captain’s chairs, $695; Aurora Red Metallic paint, $395
turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve inline-4, iron block and aluminum head, direct fuel injection
Displacement: 121 in3, 1984 cm3
Power: 269 hp @ 5500 rpm
Torque: 273 lb-ft @ 1600 rpm
Suspension, F/R: struts/multilink
Brakes, F/R: 13.2-in vented disc/12.2-in vented disc
Tires: Bridgestone Alenza Sport A/S
265/45R-21 104T M+S Enliten
Wheelbase: 117.3 in
Width: 78.3 in
Height: 70.4 in
Passenger Volume, F/M/R: 61/53/39 ft3
Cargo Volume, Behind F/M/R: 97/56/21 ft3
Curb Weight: 4630 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS
60 mph: 7.3 sec
1/4-Mile: 15.4 sec @ 92 mph
100 mph: 17.7 sec
Results above omit1-ft rollout of 0.3 sec.
Rolling Start, 5–60 mph: 7.8 sec
Top Gear, 30–50 mph: 3.9 sec
Top Gear, 50–70 mph: 4.9 sec
Top Speed (gov ltd): 117 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 170 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft Skidpad: 0.84 g
C/D FUEL ECONOMY
Observed: 21 mpg
75-mph Highway Driving: 25 mpg
75-mph Highway Range: 460 mi
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/City/Highway: 21/19/25 mpg
C/D TESTING EXPLAINED
More Features and Specs