Home » The 2024 Volkswagen Atlas And Atlas Cross Sport Are The Kraft Mac & Cheese Of Cars

The 2024 Volkswagen Atlas And Atlas Cross Sport Are The Kraft Mac & Cheese Of Cars

Atlas First Drive Photos
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“This is our most profitable vehicle” a Volkswagen product planner bragged during the brief morning introduction to the 2024 VW Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport and, frankly, that nicely sums up the pair of big crossovers. It’s a pragmatic exercise in late capitalism and, properly spec’d, the exact right car for the person who isn’t exactly sure what they want.

[Full Disclosure: Volkswagen of America was nice enough to throw an event within driving distance of my house, but I did avail myself of a night in an Airstream camper (more on that later) and a couple of meals. I also took a bag of s’mores ingredients to eat in my Airstream, but I got distracted by a different Airstream and left them in there. When I went back for the s’mores bag someone had eaten them. Fair play.]

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Volkswagen’s popularity in this country stems originally from the Beetle, which was a peculiar and lovable product, well-timed and especially well-marketed to a generation of young people. As those kids grew up, Volkswagen grew with them, adding the sporty Golf, pleasing Jetta, and yuppie Passat. Even as the company grew it mostly maintained its Volkswageness. The New Beetle wasn’t rear-wheel drive, rear-engined, but it was cute and reasonably affordable. Plus, it had a little flower pot built into the interior!

At some point, roughly around the de-contented B7 Passat or neue Rabbit, Volkswagen decided it wanted to become another Toyota and lost some of that charm. It tried to become a world-tackling company with a vehicle for everyone; things became a little bit cheaper, with the company trading on its past to cover up the creeping beigeness. Sure, the company made some great cars, like the Golf R, but that was the exception, not the rule.

B7 Passat

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This gambit of making cheaper and duller Volkswagens almost worked. Marketshare increased a little. Sales went up, for a while, before crashing down. Some of this was the inevitable outcome of Dieselgate in 2015, but something way worse happened to Volkswagen: Kia and Hyundai figured out how to make better cars, right around the time VW was cratering its own brand value.

To the company’s credit, it seems to have figured this out rather quickly. Even before Dieselgate and VW’s road to EV Damascus moment, the products started to get better while retaining some of the company’s heritage. Plus, they started to get more logical.

Old Atlas

One of the best ideas to come out of Wolfsburg was the 2017 introduction of the Volkswagen Atlas. Neither the best, nor worst, vehicle in its segment, Volkswagen realized a key selling point of big crossovers would be a third-row; the company figured it could build a reasonably nice and reasonably affordable SUV-like thing with enough room for seven passengers. This was before the Kia Telluride, Grand Cherokee L, and way ahead of the Grand Highlander.

Prior to that, Volkswagen offered only the completely fine Tiguan (also a smart play, and big seller) and kinda cool Touareg–a vehicle with a name as hard to pronounce as its price tag was difficult to justify. The Atlas was bigger than a Tiguan but cheaper than a Touareg. It just made sense. That the company added on the five-seat-only Atlas Cross Sport was more a reflection of consumer sentiment than practicality, but it’s a car company. That’s what they’re supposed to do.

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Now, for 2024, the Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport have become simplified and more feature-rich to compete with the sudden crowded world of three-row crossovers.

What’s New For The 2024 Atlas

2024 Atlas And Cross Sport
Photo: VW

There may be no ethical consumption in capitalism, but you still gotta buy a car sometimes. If you want the truckiest thing you can buy with three rows, try a Tahoe or Expedition. If you want the most luxurious and probably best three-row SUV, a BMW dealer will happily help you locate and vacate your wallet in exchange for an X7. A Kia Telluride is better, sure, but do you really want to wait for one?

Maybe you don’t want to wait. Maybe the small little details that are so important to car reviewers and enthusiasts are not, in fact, important to you. What might be important to you is that it looks good, it’s as big inside as the Superdome, and you can afford it.

Img 9541

Not all mid-cycle refreshes are created equal. Sometimes a company updates a car just to update it. This is Subaru Forester Syndrome. The pre-facelift Atlas is a little too slab-sided for my tastes. A touch too one-note. The whole thing looks like it was generated in the background of a Playstation One first-person shooter if you catch my drift.

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Credit Volkswagen for taking the hint and craft what is, essentially, the same vehicle into a slightly more modern-looking package. The grille has been pleasingly reshaped, the headlights are now connected by a small LED lighting element, and VW even added a heckblende out back! If you’re not familiar, a heckblende is that little strip of plastic or light meant to create the appearance of one big taillight that stretches around the rear of a car. Heckblendes are hecking cool in my book.

Img 9544

The interior is changed, though I’m not sure I’d say improved. I drove two SEL Premium R-Line cars and they were nice enough places to be. In order to keep these cars profitable some corners were cut and dash elements that looked texture were actually just printed and smooth. How expensive is it to just texture something? Do we need these little Potemkin trim panels? Some accountant at VW will know better than I do. I’m a fan of VW’s Digital Cockpit Gauge Cluster and it’s cool that what was once a premium Audi feature is now something everyone can enjoy.

2024 Atlas Interior
Photo: VW

It’s a modern car, so this is the point in the review wherein I kvetch that you can’t access the fan speed controls on anything but a screen. There should absolutely be fan buttons. There are not. This is silly.

Shot of interior screen

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The whole layout of the controls is like a plot to a Christopher Nolan movie in that it only makes sense if you’re determined not to think about it too much. For instance, you can access the I.Q. Drive driver assistance features via a touch capacitive button below the main screen, but then you have to touch photos on the screen to adjust these features for some reason. I don’t love it. But, hey, you get a 12-inch infotainment display on every car!

2024 Atlas Car Seats
Photo: VW

So what’s the actual important change here? You get one engine. The 3.6-liter six-cylinder VR6 engine is gone, in its place is a new 2.0-liter turbo. While I appreciate that Mercedes loves the VR6, it’s not extremely missed here. Paired with an eight-speed automatic, the new TSI 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder motor has seven less horsepower (269 hp vs. 276 hp), but also has a bit more torque at 273 foot-pounds. In both FWD and AWD spec the new turbo motor, VW proudly brags, offers 28% more torque at 1,550 RPM, though overall torque is just up 7 lb-ft. That’s enough to boost the all-wheel-drive Atlas to 60 mph in a respectable 7.5 seconds, compared to 8.3 for the outgoing VR6-equipped car.

The new engine also returns better fuel economy, offering 20 city/27 highway/23 combined mpg for the FWD models (the old VR6 offered 18/24/20 MPG city/highway/combined) and 19/26/22 for the AWD SE models (outgoing AWD VR6 models offered 18/23/20 MPG city/highway/combined. The new Wilderness-y Atlas Peak Edition gets 18/24/20 mpg. All models can still tow up to 5,000 pounds.

Other than choosing between AWD and FWD, or Atlas (three-row) or Atlas Cross Sport (two-row), all variations of the Atlas are basically the same car with different toppings. This makes logical sense. Volkswagen is shifting to electric cars but knows that most buyers ain’t making that jump anytime soon. Developing multiple engines is silly. Just make one car and let someone choose if they want to pay the $36,715 (plus $1,350 destination) for the SE Cross Sport or $52,455 (plus $1,350 destination) for the fancier R-line regular Atlas.

I will not enumerate all the differences, so here they are, from a VW presentation:

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Screen Shot 2023 07 13 At 7.57.34 Pm Screen Shot 2023 07 13 At 7.57.28 Pm

What The Atlas And Cross Sport Are Like To Drive

I drove a 4motion (that’s the AWD one) Atlas with the R-Line Premium trim and a similarly spec’d Cross Coupe with the Storm Trooper black-over-white interior. The drive route was a moderately twisty path between Catskills towns with some longer stretches of smooth highway.

2024 Atlas Driving

You ever spend a few hours of your day working in an almost fugue state? A lacuna that so entirely envelopes you that you look up at the clock only to realize it’s 3:00 PM and you haven’t had lunch or even moved. That’s what it is like to drive the Atlas.

Volkswagen made no suspension changes, so it’s the same strut-type front and multilink rear. Sure, you can shift between ECO an SPORT and other modes, which will adjust pedal feel, transmission mapping, and adjust the steering slightly.

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What I do remember is finding an open and empty stretch of road to shift the Aurora Red Atlas into SPORT mode and try to launch. True to the promise of the new engine, the low-end grunt was there and to 30 mph it felt almost quick. Still, after about 50 mph the turbo sort of quiet quits on the motor. It’s still there, but it’s not interested in doing its job. If you plan to execute a lane change I’d suggest using one of the steering wheel-mounted paddles to kick it down a few gears to give the turbo a reason to work.

2024 Atlas Driving 2
Photo: VW

In the battle between suppleness and sharpness, the suspension is clearly tilted towards the former at the expense of the latter.

Still, a real test of a three-row SUVs suspension is not in the front seat. It’s all the way in the back, where kids sit. My driving partner was Stephen Rivers from Carscoops, who actually got his start on OppositeLock (the guy with the sweet rallycross Bugeye WRX). I totally lucked out there because Stephen is not only a great person to chat with, he was also fine with tossing the Atlas around to see if I’d start to feel like I wanted to barf.

It took about 10 minutes. I was fine and was able to eat shrimp-and-grits maybe an hour later, but the bounciness over the rear axle was not something an adult is going to want to endure on backroads. The good news for anyone back there, though, is that it’s quite roomy. Even as a taller-than-average guy I could shift the middle row of seats up enough to be comfortable. And with 98 square-feet of storage with all the seats down, you could move an entire college dorm room easily with this thing.

2024 Atlas Bottleholder

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Actually, the best thing about the third row of seats is that someone designed this little child-friendly cupholder system with three much smaller-than-Big-Gulp sizes that seem absolutely perfect for children. Plus, it’s open in between so easy to clean or, maybe, store a small tablet. That’s some good ass design, right there.

Volkswagen boasts that the Atlas now gets IQ.DRIVE standard on all trims, which means lane assist, adaptive cruise control and rear traffic alert. The cruise control on the first Atlas didn’t want to work for some reason, but on the Cross Sport (which was completely identical to drive) it did function and worked as designed. It’s important to remind people that lane assist is not the same as some of the Level 2 driver systems on other vehicles and will, if you’re not paying attention, stop steering for you if the lines in the road disappear, as happened twice while I was testing the system. That doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with IQ.DRIVE, I just don’t want people to get confused.

Why You Should Buy A Volkswagen Atlas

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The ID.4 and ID.Buzz may be the most important future products for Volkswagen, but the Atlas is the most important one in the present. The good news is that VW made it better. It looks better. The new engine makes more sense than the VR6. Someone read their Malcom Gladwell and decided it was cheaper and easier to make a lot of flavors of the same thing rather than reinvent the vehicle altogether.

It’s easy to view this as a perfectly callous exercise in product development. It’s possible to argue that the Atlas is the worst Volkswagen product, as one journalist on the trip mused. Maybe, but I’d argue that goodness or badness are abstractions.

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Img 9501

You ever eat Kraft Mac & Cheese? Of course you have. You’re a human being. Kraft Mac & Cheese seems as fake and foreign a product as can be developed in a lab. It is non-food that comes with an almost neon powder and tiny ersatz noodles. It’s also cheap and fucking delicious. Is your own homemade version better? Probably. Fettuccine Alfredo is better. Even the Annie’s sharp cheddar version is better. But none of those things are Kraft Mac & Cheese.

And to be mad at Kraft Mac & Cheese is to kinda miss the point. It’s like getting mad at the moon for creating tides, or Jack Antonoff for trying to make every song sound like “Venice Bitch.” It’s what they do and it’s what works. Is a Kia Telluride EX X-Line a better deal at $47,250 MSRP better than a $48,445 Atlas SEL? Yeah, 100%. Is a dealer going to sell you a Telluride EX X-Line for $47k? Probably not anytime soon.

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My whole premise here is that the Atlas is a cleverly designed ploy to offer a lot of stuff in a big package at a fair price. It’s a volume seller. But don’t get mad, get a deal. Volkswagen makes these things in Chattanooga and it’s good at making a lot of them. It also needs to sell them.

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The VW guy gave it away at the top. They’re the most profitable thing the company makes here in the United States. That means there are probably going to be deals to be had. Without driving a Telluride, a Grand Cherokee L, a Pilot, and all the rest back-to-back I cannot give an accurate sense of which one is truly better to drive, but my gut tells me its not this. It’s probably the CX-90.

Most people are not buying a three-row crossover for the driving dynamics. They want a big thing with stuff, and this has stuff. A lot of stuff. Nice stuff. A decent sound system. Wireless charging pads. A lot of USB-C ports. Stuff.

If stuff is what you want you should try out the Atlas. It is great at stuff.

All photos Matt Hardigree unless otherwise noted

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ScottyB
ScottyB
11 months ago

I get what you mean on these vehicles being like Kraft Mac & Cheese, except it’s important to note that Kraft Mac & Cheese holds it’s value much better at trade in time.

Jaroslaw Kusz
Jaroslaw Kusz
11 months ago

So much hate here for Atlas… What a shame. It’s a great comfy and extremely roomy car. New Tahoe? For real? Anyone look at this thing from behind? It looks like guts are falling out of this vehicle. The control arm is so low it’s ridiculous. Kia? No thanks. The only other I was considering was Chevy Traverse. All other 3 rows are not even close with the amount of room to Atlas and Traverse. Unless it’s a Suburban which pretty much a barge with falling out control arms…

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
11 months ago
Reply to  Jaroslaw Kusz

Torch had a great series called “Meh Car Monday.” The Atlas would be featured there in 20 years. Twice.

Jaroslaw Kusz
Jaroslaw Kusz
11 months ago

Torch loves VWs…

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
11 months ago
Reply to  Jaroslaw Kusz

Shunning Hyundai/Kia’s class leading options in favor of buying a Volkswagen is…certainly a thing you can do! Current Volkswagens are basically what the Korean manufacturers were 15-20 years ago…mechanical time bombs that you’ll be lucky to hit 60,000 miles in. And when it comes to the Tahoe…the interior will probably look like shit in 5 years but that small block V8 will go 200k without even blinking. The EA888 is a very, very different story…trust me, I’ve owned a VW with one, and I will never own a VW again.

Jaroslaw Kusz
Jaroslaw Kusz
11 months ago

I’m sure the V8 is great, what about the rest?

Tommy Helios
Tommy Helios
11 months ago

Hello again fellow autopians, your resident VW apologist here. If you buy a VW made after 99 you are a fool and I feel no sympathy for you. Spend the extra money and buy the Highlander and not this piece of shit.

Henry Krinkle
Henry Krinkle
11 months ago

Mom had a VW bus in the 60s, I had a super beetle in the 70s, and then 3 Quantums in the 80s and 90s including a Syncro. In the early 2000s I had a Passat with 4Motion and an extended warranty from VW. That car had so many repairs and failures VW cancelled the warranty because the repairs exceeded the price originally paid for the car. It was in the fine print on page 13. We often end up with VWs when we rent cars in Germany and they are great cars but if and when they break down (and they will), it’s not my problem. I’ll never own a VW again because they screwed me on that 4Motion. Now driving a Prius as a daily, with zero (0) repairs in 11 years and a series of 911s (C4S and Turbo S)

Unclesam
Unclesam
11 months ago

I’m glad they’ve de-uglified this car over time (although the cross sport is unforgivably proportioned and will always look stupid in profile).

I looked hard at this, and it should have been a slam dunk for VW to sell us another car, but a) it’s hard to get over how ugly it is and b) the gas mileage for a family hauler is frankly immoral for 2023. I’m not towing anything and don’t need to drive on anything worse than rarely snowy roads. If snow tires can’t handle it I can stay home. Pacifica hybrid was the only logical choice.

Ben
Ben
11 months ago

Am I the only one who prefers Velveeta if I’m going to eat noodles and fake cheese?

Thomas Metcalf
Thomas Metcalf
11 months ago
Reply to  Ben

I used to enjoy my Kraft Dinner (that’s what we call it in Canada), especially with cut up hotdogs in it. Then I married a gal who can cook and makes wonderful mac and cheese from scratch. It has added about 60 lbs to my weight and forever ruined KD for me.

Turkina
Turkina
11 months ago
Reply to  Thomas Metcalf

I believe they put a recipe for Kraft Mac & Cheese + hot dogs in a Wayne’s World book. Of course, it was probably a Canadian thing due to Mike Myers… The book also had pages such as “Babes to Schwing To” and “Crafting a Sweet Mullet.” Okay, maybe I’m making those up, but it did make me try my Mac & Cheese with hot dogs and that tasted so much better than when my mom put tuna in it 😛

Greg
Greg
11 months ago
Reply to  Ben

yes.

EmotionalSupportBMW
EmotionalSupportBMW
11 months ago

It bothers me that VW got away with making R-Line a thing. M-sport and AMG trim are bad, but at least there is history there and it’s a thing. Audi S-Line, sure, it’s kinda a stretch, but sure, also has kinda been a thing. VW has built like 3 R vehicles, then acts like whatever the hell The R Department is, it’s cool and has motor sports history and you should pay for it. Just call it a sports package! The world has enough letter based in-house performance packages that become trim levels. And picking R, everyone has done an R all ready. Why not the Y-Line package. Because that’s a great question to ask yourself after you spent three grand on whatever the hell R-Line styling elements are for your Atlas.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
11 months ago

If the trim doesn’t come with performance upgrades then it’s stupid. This shit is a real pet peeve of mine. The M Sport/Audi S/AMG lites all have significant power and performance upgrades. Is it a bit cynical? Sure, but like…no one is going to tell me an M340i or S4 aren’t legit performance cars.

The M/S/AMG line stuff is a bigger stretch, but at least on the BMWs and Audis they mean handling upgrades (not sure about Benz). The general enthusiast consensus is that the M package on base BMWs is worth springing for. But I digress…as you say there’s a lot of history there.

The R line VW stuff is just laughable. What history is there? The Golf R? No one outside of VW fanboys and enthusiasts has any idea that car even exists. I have similar gripes with Hyundai’s N Line. No one outside of hot hatch enthusiasts has any idea what N even is and we’re already trying to sell it as a styling package? Utterly ridiculous.

And now for my final grievance, the goddamn Challenger and Charger GT. There is nothing more embarrassing on the road. Those cars are literally nothing without a V8…and I say this as someone who accepts the Ecoboost Mustang (particularly the HPP trim) and V6 Camaro as valid because you can still have a lot of fun with them. Hell the Camaro’s V6 even sounds good.

But equipping the V8 bodywork on rental spec Challengers and Chargers with a fucking pentastar V6? If you buy that you’re a poser, point blank. I’ve even seen GT versions with GT badging on the side of the cars where the V8 badge usually goes. SHAME!

I also hate them because the idiots who buy them are always people who feel like they have something to prove. I’ve never had some dude in a Hellcat or even 392 version of either car try to race me…but V6 one? Every couple of weeks one pulls up in one next to me trying to make a goddamn scene. Hell last weekend one tried to race me on a residential street.

I ignored him, he proceeded to go foot to the floor, take the full 7 or 8 seconds those boats need to hit 70, then hard brake in front of me, flip me off, and keep driving. In a 30 zone in the burbs with a Whole Foods on one side and houses on the other. Fucking cretin.

If the car has no go it doesn’t need any show.

Last edited 11 months ago by Nsane In The MembraNe
V10omous
V10omous
11 months ago

I assure you the guys in the Hellcats and 392s are often looking for races too. In truth its the worst part of owning a car that people know is fast. I’ve not had them go after me on a 30 mph street though, wtf.

EmotionalSupportBMW
EmotionalSupportBMW
11 months ago

If only VW had a combination of letters that is easily identifiable to the brand! It was right there. GTI-line. There is little history, some prestige. Just turn up the boost like 2 PSI so it gets in the 300hp territory, put the body kit on it, change the color of the springs and caliper. Boom, 10k over the price of the SEL, you’ll sell every one of them. Thank you VW, I hope my check is in the mail.

And a man in a v6 Up badged Challenger is truly the most unstoppable force. The biggest of Altima energy. I had one three honk my old E55 on a freeway, and I just felt bad. I didn’t even press the skinny pedal. I was like “You can have this buddy”.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
11 months ago

That’s exactly what I did. I didn’t even make eye contact and just let him make a fool of himself. The funniest part is the Kona N is capable of making a surprising amount of cars look silly…but I’m not going to engage in that idiocy on a public road.

If you want to meet me at the drag strip or on a remote country road then game on…but in a 30 MPH zone through a neighborhood? Sir…absolutely not

Unclesam
Unclesam
11 months ago

Agree 100% although the pre-facelift Atlas looked much less ugly with the R-line fascia than stock.

Well, less ugly, anyway

Last edited 11 months ago by Unclesam
First Last
First Last
11 months ago

I test drove almost every vehicle in this class (pre-Telluride) back to back when I was in the market, and the thing that made the biggest impression on me about this boring crossover (compared to all the other boring crossovers I was comparing to) was the MILES of cheap hard plastic surfaces inside. It was like they slaughtered an entire black plastic elephant to make this car. To be fair, my prior experience with VAG products had me coming in with the expectation that the Atlas would have inferior reliability but would make up for it with superior interior quality and great driving dynamics. Imagine my surprise when it had neither of those things. I was almost offended by the whole experience, and the Atlas was the first of these transportation appliances I definitively crossed off my list.

Mercedes Streeter
Mercedes Streeter
11 months ago

Ok, hear me out. Buy one of these, rip that 2.0 out of there, then get on the horn and call up HPA Motorsports. Put that 550 HP VR6 in there. Boom, sleeper crossover!

Diana Slyter
Diana Slyter
11 months ago

That VR6 deserves better than to be ballasted down by the most obese MQB!

Mercedes Streeter
Mercedes Streeter
11 months ago
Reply to  Diana Slyter

It does, but I suppose if you’re going to buy a three-row VW crossover, this is how you can make it fun! 🙂

Tommy Helios
Tommy Helios
11 months ago

Or…hear me out, we take it to Alaska on the 4th of July.

DadBod
DadBod
11 months ago

That’s some good ass design, right there.

obligatory xkcd: https://xkcd.com/37/

ps: hat tip for the classic Malcolm Gladwell link

Amberturnsignalsarebetter
Amberturnsignalsarebetter
11 months ago

Heckblendes are being Heckblended to death at the moment.

I really love them as a style concept, but it’s getting to the point where every new car had over and some are absolutely hideous.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
11 months ago

They’ve been beaten to death, much like oversized grilles. The market is oversaturated.

Robot Turds
Robot Turds
11 months ago

This is one of those vehicles where I have no clue why anyone would buy it. It is generic looking. And its a VW which means if there was ever a brand where there could be lots of problems down the road well this is it. Literally anything else save for a Land Rover would be either just as good or a whole lot better.

Andrew Wyman
Andrew Wyman
11 months ago
Reply to  Robot Turds

As car enthusiasts we don’t see it, but as general people go, these things are everywhere. I see them all over the road here in Portland.

Ryan L
Ryan L
11 months ago
Reply to  Robot Turds

I know two people who’ve bought them: one was because the wait on a new explorer was too long and the other was 100% price based – I believe it was the cheapest 3 row CUV type thing he could find.(wife had had it with minivans)

Karl Jacobs
Karl Jacobs
11 months ago
Reply to  Robot Turds

You’re forgetting that the dealer markup on a Telluride is still ~$20k. And the similar Telluride is also $5k more at MSRP. The new Pilot is also more expensive, and Honda never seems to have them on lots.

If the Atlas is on lots, without the markups, average people will buy them.

DUSTIN
DUSTIN
11 months ago
Reply to  Robot Turds

I can answer this as I actually own a 20 SEL Rline Cross Sport. We had a kid and our 17 Passat was to small for our new hobby of riding dirt bikes and me mountain biking a lot.

We looked at tiguans and all kinds of stuff. The amount of Tech and room you get is unmatched for the price. I got 0.9% financing, $2500 off the price and nothing else came close money wise for the options.

I actually had two. I had a 2.0 Tsi that got 22mpg city and was getting 27mpg towing my dirt bike on the highway with a hitch carrier. Then it got totalled. I could only find the 3.6 Rline to replace my 2 p SEL so we said screw it. I love it. The fuel economy isn’t awesome with the vr6. The 2.0 was faster and got better mpg. But the room and comfort on long trips and ability to eat cargo is awesome.

We just did 2150 mile summer vacation from FL to NC and all around and loads of side trips. I got 23-24mpg average, mostly highway. So I was ok with that. It’s had one issue in the 3 years I’ve had it and it was fixed under warranty in 3 hours. The charcoal canister got fuel in it and failed. Fast easy repair and it’s been solid.

I’ll most likely trade it in in a year or two for a 24 or 25 model Cross Sport and get that much better 2.0 mpg. Plus there’s loads of mods for these. From suspension to tunes and you name it. For a family hauler, it does the job well. And for the space and money it’s hard to beat.

My full bolt on mustang with nitrous and all the suspension and built rear etc… Is the fun car. You can’t look at this as a fun car. That’s not what it’s for.

Tommy Helios
Tommy Helios
11 months ago
Reply to  Robot Turds

Everybody knows the world is full of stupid people.

Day One Dave
Day One Dave
11 months ago
Reply to  Tommy Helios

And only stupid people are breeding…

Tommy Helios
Tommy Helios
11 months ago
Reply to  Day One Dave

Different song, same era.Well played.

Maymar
Maymar
11 months ago
Reply to  Robot Turds

I don’t think it’s entirely out of line to say three row crossovers are at least a little image driven (or else you’d just buy a minivan). Except for the CX-90, all the other Japanese stuff looks too Japanese, the Grand Cherokee L is the only appealing American alternative unless you spring for the Aviator, and while the Telluride/Palisade do look adequately premium, they’re still of limited supply. The Atlas might be generic, but it’s at least German generic, which more or less makes it the outlet mall version of nice.

Day One Dave
Day One Dave
11 months ago
Reply to  Maymar

Toyota Sienna AWD would be such a better vehicle than this… SMH.

Buzz
Buzz
11 months ago

This is a good review except for the part where you said Amy’s mac & cheese is better. It really isn’t. If Kraft cheese wasn’t road sign orange, you’d pick it every time.

Buzz
Buzz
11 months ago
Reply to  Matt Hardigree

I’m going to come to your house, blindfold you, and force feed you processed cheese product (respectfully). Annie’s should change their name to Blandies.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
11 months ago
Reply to  Buzz

I could absolutely taste the difference if you blindfolded me…and I say that as someone who’s an unapologetic lover of the blue box mac. I grew up on it in the days before we knew that ultra processed food adjacent products are terrible for you…so even in my 30s eating it scratches a serious nostalgia itch. I’ll unapologetically wipe out a whole box without even blinking…and honestly I could handle 2 without much strain but the shame would be unbearable.

But the Annie’s mac is next level. It offers a way more sophisticated flavor profile, although Matt is correct…you really have to do the white cheddar to access it. The regular stuff isn’t all that different, although I could still taste the difference between it and Kraft. The white cheddar is on another level though.

Also, my sinful trick when it comes to orange mac is to add some hot sauce while mixing it up. It adds a little bit of a kick that wakes everything a tad. Highly recommend.

Buzz
Buzz
11 months ago

To me, Annies is like what people often say about LaCroix – someone whispered the word “cheese” in a nearby room while the packaging line is sealing sawdust in those little foil baggies.

I’ll give the white cheddar a try. I’m not expecting much, but I am prepared to eat my words.

MATTinMKE
MATTinMKE
11 months ago

My 11 year old is a connoisseur of various Mac & Cheeses, and Annie’s is the go-to in our house. No contest.

Personally, if I’m eating fake crap, it’ll be chili. Specifically, Real Chili (https://realchilimilwaukee.com/). Most artificial garbage you can cram in your maw. Pairs wonderfully with Cherry Coke.

Tommy Helios
Tommy Helios
11 months ago

My Midwest casserole of choice: Mac, chicken breast, ranch and hot sauce.

Doug Kingham
Doug Kingham
11 months ago
Reply to  Matt Hardigree

Kraft Dinner? I’ve only ever heard a Canadian friend call it that. Is that what they’re calling it now in upstate New York? Whatever it’s called, I wish I could easily get it here in London. My family loves that stuff.

Tap-n-Die And Some WD-40
Tap-n-Die And Some WD-40
11 months ago
Reply to  Matt Hardigree

Hang on, sure Annie’s is great, but Banza is some serious gourmet shit

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
11 months ago
Reply to  Matt Hardigree

“Way better” is irrelevant. You don’t eat kraft dinner because it tastes better than the alternatives.

Trust Doesn't Rust
Trust Doesn't Rust
11 months ago

“If you want the truckiest thing you can buy with three rows, try a Tahoe or Expedition. If you want the most luxurious and probably best three-row SUV, a BMW dealer will happily help you locate and vacate your wallet in exchange for an X7. A Kia Telluride is better, sure, but do you really want to wait for one?”

So in summary, the reason for buying an Atlas is: “Yeah, you’ll do.”
That’s the saddest justification for both buying a car and agreeing to go to the homecoming dance with someone (and it never stops hurting).

GreatFallsGreen
GreatFallsGreen
11 months ago
Reply to  Matt Hardigree

+1, we’re not talking about some big segment gap like a G6 vs. an Accord. Advantages in design or drivability aren’t going to be noticed by most people and their use case.

If every dealer had equal numbers of Tellurides and Pilots and such on the lots it might be a different story. The perception people have of brands differs, a lot of people still think of high mileage old diesels when it comes to VW, they aren’t reading and sharing horror stories. Plus Hyundai/Kia haven’t been great lately with their own brand perceptions and honestly, neither has Honda with some of the recent recalls on the previous gen Pilot. And I say this as someone with my 2 brand-new car purchases having been Kia and VW.

Trust Doesn't Rust
Trust Doesn't Rust
11 months ago
Reply to  Matt Hardigree

I’m sure there are Atlas fans out there and I support them 100%. However, picking a car just because it’s available makes me sad.

Karl Jacobs
Karl Jacobs
11 months ago
Reply to  Matt Hardigree

That Telluride that I would have bought last year also came with a $20k dealer markup.. if the Atlas comes in affordable, I may bite.

Amberturnsignalsarebetter
Amberturnsignalsarebetter
11 months ago

At least you went to the homecoming dance. Spare a thought for Cybertruck’s date; she is still waiting for her ride and she graduated college 3 years ago.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
11 months ago

Matzo bread too spicy? The Atlas is the car for you.

Arrest-me Red
Arrest-me Red
11 months ago

Like it, but should buy for 50k? I am not made of money.

Tommy Helios
Tommy Helios
11 months ago
Reply to  Arrest-me Red

Nope, lease or buy anything else.

Drive By Commenter
Drive By Commenter
11 months ago

My cousin has one of the older VR6 ones. Granted she is a VW fan. Says it’s been just fine and hasn’t seen the dealer except for oil changes.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
11 months ago

“VW fan” and “masochist” are interchangeable

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
11 months ago

Well, she *is* getting oil changes at the dealership…

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
11 months ago

I don’t see a single compelling reason to choose one of these over the competition unless you get a crazy deal on it and are mechanically savvy enough to deal with the inevitable problems it’s going to have. The VW buttonless interior is an absolute nightmare and one of the worst automotive engineering faux pas of the last decade. You know it’s bad when executives have to say it was a mistake on the record. I get that they were probably too far along to keep it out of this refresh, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s the worst setup on the market today.

Leave it to Ze Germans to over engineer a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. Then, to make matters even worse, they got rid of the single compelling reason to buy one of these…the VR6. And now you’re left with the ridiculously temperamental EA888. I hope you’re ready for CODES because that baby is going to throw them left and right. I get it, VW bros…it takes to tuning like a fish to water. But in a family hauler? Miss me with that shit. My GTI had countless visits to the service bay in the first 10,000 miles because that godforsaken powertrain.

So…what are we left with? A more complicated, less reliable family vehicle than the competition that’s exponentially harder to live with. And unfortunately the bean counters at VAG have gone and ruined the one thing a lot of their cars had going for them…nicer interior spaces than the competition. If you really love the styling I guess I can see wanting this, but to me in an anonymous class of vehicles it’s just as anonymous as the rest.

If you need a 3 row crossover go directly to the Asian brands. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. An Atlas will bring nothing but pain, and when you’re already dealing with kids the last thing you need is a series of headaches induced by your family hauler.

Drive By Commenter
Drive By Commenter
11 months ago

If the wick gets turned up, it’s easier to justify the problems that result.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
11 months ago

Correction: if you need a three row crossover stop posing as……. a mom? and buy a minivan instead.

I’ve been experiencing a newer Pilot lately. It’s a perfectly competent three row minivan. It’s just not as competent as an Odyssey is. The Odyssey is lower, easier to get in and out of, bigger inside, and more efficient.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
11 months ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

The comments on this site always degrade into van worship sooner or later. Time is a flat circle. Never change, Autopian.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
11 months ago

Absolutely. What’s more is I don’t even particularly like minivans. I just hate crossovers. Especially three row crossovers, which have absolutely zero conceivable advantages over minivans.

V10omous
V10omous
11 months ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

I own a minivan, love it, have no interest in a CUV, and yet your blanket statement is simply not true.

-No minivan has a 5000 lb towing capacity like this and most 3 row CUVs have.

-Most minivans are not available with AWD, and none are RWD. All CUVs come in AWD, and some offer RWD.

-People scoff at the ground clearance and off-roading pretensions of CUVs, but it really is useful in deep snow or rougher roads vs a low riding van.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
11 months ago
Reply to  V10omous

Yeah, I just don’t think these are issues.

Towing, I’ve towed behind a minivan, up to a couple thousand pounds. I wouldn’t pull heavier than that behind a Honda Pilot, no matter what Honda says I can do. They’re just not built for it, and a lot of tongue weight in a FWD or front biased car becomes a serious traction issue in even really mild stuff like a soft shoulder if you have to pull over.

Used to be, almost all minivans were available with AWD. In fact, Car and Driver did an excellent story back in the day comparing like seven different AWD minivans above the Arctic Circle. So I’d just buy an old minivan if AWD was a big deal. Also, many “AWD” crossovers are objectively not all wheel drive according to the SAE definition. Also, good tires and front wheel drive will get you a long way.

Ground clearance? Again, only an issue with newer minivans. Just recently sold an 03 Caravan that had at least as much ground clearance as a flippin Volkswagen Atlas.

GreatFallsGreen
GreatFallsGreen
11 months ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

To you – but those aren’t relevant to a typical shopper.

“Well Honda says I could but I wouldn’t” – I wouldn’t necessarily trust a minivan towing 3k pounds more than I’d trust a crossover at 5k pounds.

AWD – how does 30 years ago help a buyer today? Not to mention the safety ratings of the MPV, Aerostar, Astro, and Previa – and probably the Chrysler based on the gen that followed still being marginal.

Ground clearance – nope, VW says 8″ for the Atlas. Different sources say between 5.4-6.1″ for 2003 Chrysler vans, but for an OEM source, Toyota listed 6.9″ for the Sienna of the era (which did offer AWD).

And more to v10’s point…I think people view minivans as a size class above crossovers, more than they need – even if most things being equal, they achieve the same in the end. I say this as someone that also has not purchases nor has an interest in a CUV but have seen a lot of people buy them.

Not really different than the types of vehicles enthusiasts go on about – to a lot of people, a GTI or Civic Si or something would seem like a silly car to buy for similar money as a larger, quicker vehicle, like a midsize sedan with the big motor.

V10omous
V10omous
11 months ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

I’m not trying to explain why you, personally, would want a CUV; that appears to be a hopeless cause.

I’m also not trying to justify one to myself, because once again, I chose to spend my money on a 2020 Sienna (after owning a 2011 before that).

I’m trying to explain reasons why some other people might prefer CUVs to vans. You stated there were “zero conceivable advantages” to the CUV, which is a frankly absurd thing to believe. The burden of proof is on you to justify that statement.

If I didn’t already have a crew cab 4×4 truck for towing and deep snow driving, I’d have definitely bought an SUV or CUV over a minivan. I’ve literally gotten the Sienna stuck in my own driveway after a bad snowstorm when I hadn’t plowed yet. It’s extremely obvious to me why someone who didn’t own a truck might want one.

Jatco Xtronic CVT
Jatco Xtronic CVT
11 months ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

this comment is exactly correct. the minivan is not the mom car anymore… it’s the crossover/suv now

Ben
Ben
11 months ago

unless you get a crazy deal on it

Which, anecdotally, is exactly what is happening with these. They might be VW’s most profitable vehicle, but I suspect it’s also one of their most discounted (which tells you something about the profit margin on three row crossovers, but I digress).

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
11 months ago

I haven’t tested one myself, but everything about that touchscreen interface looks like an absolute nightmare.

The last Atlas interior was so easy to use! Intuitive! Simple! Why did they break a good thing?

Karl Jacobs
Karl Jacobs
11 months ago

An Atlas vs a Telluride at MSRP? Telluride every day. Atlas with a $1000 dealer incentive vs a Telluride with a $20k dealer markup? That’s a different story.

GreatFallsGreen
GreatFallsGreen
11 months ago

I think a big driver is that it’s different from the typical brands we’ve seen in family cars – Chevy, Ford, Honda, Toyota. For models like Hyundai/Kia, even if you’re not skeptical on the brands (some still are), they’re tough to actually find on the ground in this segment. Poor Pathfinder has shed its CVT yet seems to get forgotten.

The Atlas and the Ascent have become common among a lot of young parents I know. Part of it is word of mouth/familiarity – once one’s shopped and chosen, that counts for something. The most recent one was a VW owner in the past so he trusts the brand, and bought a 2023 to avoid the new controls; availability was a big factor though too over waiting to shop at other brands.

Personally between the touch controls and the powertrain (and I own a GTI), I’d be looking at most other models. And when it comes to the Cross Sport, that’s an odd segment in general. Cross Sports seem relatively common around my area which surprises me. But with the V6 gone, I’m not sure why you’d choose one for the money. Seems like you do get a lot in the base model (heated and ventilated seats) but also seems like something like an Acura RDX could be had for similar coin.

Data
Data
11 months ago

“The whole thing looks like it was generated in the background of a Playstation One first-person shooter if you catch my drift.” That’s harsh. Maybe it can hang out with the Tesla Cybertruck.

I want to know more about the S’mores larceny. It sounds more interesting than the Atlas.

Fahrvergnügen, say the word.

V10omous
V10omous
11 months ago

I fully admit I come into this as a certified VW hater, so take that into account when reading the rest of the comment.

I can’t fathom taking the chance on this vs the competition. Virtually everyone else in the class still offers NA 6 cylinder power (or even 8 in the case of the JGC), the exception being Toyota whom I trust wholeheartedly. No one else to my knowledge is giving you the despised touch-only interfaces. No one else possesses the awful reputation for reliability that VW has richly earned. And yet they are asking the same price as everyone else. What is the affirmative case for the VW? What does it do better than anyone else?

The comparison is utterly unfair to Kraft Mac & Cheese. Kraft costs $1 a box. “Good” mac and cheese costs several times the amount. If VW saw fit to sell this for much less than the competition, so be it. My criticism would be far less harsh.

Last edited 11 months ago by V10omous
V10omous
V10omous
11 months ago
Reply to  Matt Hardigree

I purposely put the scare quotes around “good” because my mac and cheese palate has not changed since 1986 and Kraft is still the peak for me.

One of the smaller character shape boxes that comes with less noodles, but the same sized cheese powder packet, so the fake flavor is even denser….perfection.

I wonder if the trim mix is the same between the Telluride and the Atlas. I also think that’s the most favorable comparison to the VW. Are Pilots, Highlanders, etc still selling over sticker? Are Traverses and Explorers?

Last edited 11 months ago by V10omous
Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
11 months ago
Reply to  V10omous

The trick is to use less milk than the recipe calls for. Gives you that more concentrated flavor effect every time, regardless of pasta shape.

V10omous
V10omous
11 months ago

Oh I do that too. Just a splash.

First Last
First Last
11 months ago
Reply to  V10omous

I use roughly the amount called for, or a bit more (who actually measures the milk anyway?) but then boil off the extra. Gives you the concentrated flavor with better texture.

Brandon Forbes
Brandon Forbes
11 months ago

Ok gonna gripe for a sec then I will finish reading the article. You say “a bit more torque,” but don’t tell us what the old one had. Then the very next paragraph reference “better” fuel economy, but again do not provide numbers for the old one. If you’re going to cite an improvement, I know I would greatly appreciate a metric by which to measure it. Is this 1 lb/ft more? 1 mpg? or 10 of each? I am far too lazy to go look this up myself, but both the torque numbers and the mpg seem quite normal, not impressive numbers, so were the old ones terrible or are the improvements actually so minor as to not be significant enough to warrant mentioning?

Brandon Forbes
Brandon Forbes
11 months ago
Reply to  Brandon Forbes

Yeah aside from the touch screen only fan adjustments, which honestly wouldn’t bother me too bad as I usually just leave things on auto if that’s an option, it looks like a perfectly inoffensive crossover that will blend in as well as any of the others. Not something that I want, but something that will sell in droves especially if you can just walk in to a dealership and walk out with one that you don’t have to pay over MSRP for.

Brandon Forbes
Brandon Forbes
11 months ago
Reply to  Matt Hardigree

Thanks! Yeah it’s all close enough as to not really matter in the real world.

David Tracy
David Tracy
11 months ago
Reply to  Brandon Forbes

Added!

Brandon Forbes
Brandon Forbes
11 months ago
Reply to  David Tracy

Y’all are awesome!

Mthew_M
Mthew_M
11 months ago
Reply to  David Tracy

Also, 98 Square feet? Is that accurate? I don’t think I’ve ever seen a consumer vehicle storage space measured in square feet before.

Brandt S
Brandt S
11 months ago
Reply to  Mthew_M

Yeah, I’m pretty sure that is not correct. That’s nearly 10’x10′ of suface – per math…

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