2018 Volkswagen Atlas

2018 Volkswagen Atlas

Episode 3649
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

When Volkswagen opened up a plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee; to build a new Passat sedan; everyone assumed that car was just first of things to come.  Well, that was 6 years ago! now, finally, we get to see VW’s second effort from the “dynamo of dixie”, the largest utility the brand has ever made; and designed specifically for the American family; the Atlas!

Back when the 2018 Volkswagen Atlas was going through its early design stages, VW must have been nervous about where the SUV market was headed.  It turns out, they needn’t have worried, as utility sales continue to escalate like it’s 1999 all over again.  And Atlas appears to be exactly the right vehicle that Volkswagen needs.

 This 3-row, 7-passenger, approaching full-size crossover, is longer outside and roomier inside than the Honda Pilot or the Toyota Highlander. In fact, at 198.3-inches, its overall length is exactly the same as the Ford Explorer. 

 VW went for a somewhat old-school, rugged, yet boxy look here, with a familiar front that unabashedly resembles the rest of the VW lineup. 

 There’s 8.0-inches of ground clearance; and 18-inch wheels are standard on all but top trim SEL Premium, which gets 20s.

 Familiarity lies under the hood as well, with a standard 2.0-liter I4 turbo rated at 235-horsepower and 258 lb-ft. of torque. 

 You’ll have to step up to the optional naturally-aspirated 3.6-liter VR6 if you want all-wheel-drive.  It delivers 276-horsepower and 266 lb-ft. of torque through the 5th generation of VW’s 4Motion permanent AWD system; which operates in front-wheel-drive mostly, but sends as much as 50% of power rearward when slip is detected.

 Two off road modes are part of Driving Mode Selection. 

 Putting an all-new vehicle out right now without the latest in safety tech, would be a no-go; so the Atlas has most goodies available, from full Stop and Go Adaptive Cruise Control to Autonomous Emergency Braking.

 Inside, the dash design is similar to the Passat, but less drab and a little more modern. 

 Materials and trim are quite good, better than most in class; though nothing quite to the level of the Mazda CX-9’s up-level Signature. 

 All but base trim get an 8.0-inch touchscreen display with varying levels of features.  Operation is intuitive, and response is much quicker that previous VW systems. Apple Car Play an Android Auto are included. 

 No doubt helped along by the available panoramic sunroof, the interior certainly does convey spaciousness. Yet, Atlas drives like a much smaller vehicle with light, crisp steering. No lumbering ute here, and a good stablemate to the compact Tiguan.

 And believe it or not, the Atlas is actually built on the same MQB architecture as the Tiguan, and the Golf. 

 Three adults will find good room in the second row, and a pair of grownups can even ride in the 3rd row. Furthermore, access to that 3rd row is fantastically easy.

 As for cargo, you’ll find almost a minivan’s worth of space. Raise the available power liftgate for 20.6 cubic-ft. behind the 3rd row, that’s more than Pilot, less than Explorer. There’s 55.5 cubic-ft. behind the 2nd row, and its 96.8 cubic-ft. max with all seats folded totally flat. That betters both the Pilot and Explorer, and even the Chevrolet Tahoe.

 Towing capacity is 5,000-lbs with the 6-cylinder. 

 The nimble nature that we felt on the street was more than evident through our slalom course as well.  There’s a very tight and sold feel, along with an eager to turn-in chassis; though there was a little more body roll than we expected.

 The VR6 engine has been around for a couple of decades now, and power delivery does indeed feel very old school.  It took us 7.9-seconds to hit 60; with the full ¼-mile trip taking 16.0-seconds at 89 miles-per-hour.

 Shifts from the 8-speed automatic are very smooth, and engine noise is well restrained.   

 With all-wheel-drive, Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 17-City, 23-Highway, and 19-Combined.  And, 19 was our  average on a mixed driving loop. 

 So, the Energy Impact Score rates poor; burning 17.3-barrels of oil yearly, while emitting 7.5 tons of CO2. 

 Like most larger 3-row utes, the Atlas delivers the basics for just over $30,000, and you’ll pay close to 50 for the best of everything. But, our well outfitted V6 SEL tester, at $40,085, met all of our family needs and seemed like a genuine bargain to boot. All-wheel drive is $1800 more.

 It took a while to get here, but early indicators are the 2018 Volkswagen Atlas was worth the wait. It’s the American-sized 3-row SUV that the VW faithful have been waiting for. IT’s packed full with a tremendous amount of space, comfort, and capability that will surely make it attractive to just about anybody in the market for a larger crossover.  VW is clearly “in it to win it.”


  • Engine: 3.6-liter VR6
  • Horsepower: 276
  • Torque: 266 lb-ft.
  • 0-60 mph: 7.9 seconds
  • 1/4 mile: 16.0 seconds @ 89 mph
  • EPA: 17 mpg city / 23 mpg highway
  • Energy Impact: 17.3 barrels of oil/yr
  • CO2 Emissions: 7.5 tons/yr
2024 PHEV Roundup 1

2024 PHEV Roundup

You Don’t Have To Go Full EV To Live The EV Lifestyle

Episode 4338
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

You’ve heard us say many times that PHEVs– plug-in hybrid electrics– rather than BEVs– pure battery electrics– are a sound choice for many folks thinking about owning an electric vehicle. Well, buyers do seem to have gotten the message, as while recent sales of all-electric BEVs are down, PHEVs are suddenly skyrocketing. So, we thought we’d give you a close look at the range of PHEVs that are available today.

An EV when you want it, a fuel-efficient hybrid when you don’t; that’s the reason that PHEVs are so appealing, and why we feel they’re the perfect starter vehicle for this time of transition from internal combustion to all-electric. So, buckle up for an alphabetical rundown of all the mainstream PHEVs that are currently available.

BMW has many plug-in options, starting around $46,000 with the 2.0-liter I4-based 330e sedan and its 22 miles of EV range. There’s also a 750e sedan with more than 30 miles of EV range, and an xDrive50e X5 utility with closer to 40 miles of EV range, plus a high-performance XM with 738 horsepower. For partner Mini, a small 1.5-liter I4-based setup is available in the Cooper SE Countryman ALL4 utility with 18 miles of EV range, going for around $42,000.

Ford has been in the plug-in game for some time, and currently gets a great 37 miles of EV range out of their 2.5-liter I4-based setup which is available in both the Escape for about $36,000, and in its upscale Lincoln Corsair counterpart which goes for around $55,000.

Hyundai offers a pair of plug-in SUVs, the Santa Fe priced at around $43,000 and the Tucson which goes for about $40,000; both use a 1.6-liter I4 turbo engine. It shares with their corporate cousins over at Kia. The Sorento, which starts around $51,000, and the Sportage, beginning at $40,000, along with Kia’s Niro at $35,000. All get more than 30 miles of EV Range.

For the high-rollers, Land Rover has a six-cylinder P550e plug-in option for both the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport with 51 miles of range, starting around $119,000.

Mazda is very new to the plug-in game, with their inline-six based setup just recently becoming available in the new CX-70 and CX-90 SUVs, both with 26 miles of electric-only range, starting at $41,000.

Mercedes-Benz has offered quite a few PHEVs over the years, though currently their lineup only consists of the $70,000 GLE450e SUV with a 2.0-liter I4 and 48 miles of EV range; and a $128,000 3.0-liter I6 S580e sedan with 46 miles of range. Though a high-performance 671 horsepower AMG C 63 S E Performance will be blasting onto the scene soon.

We’re very familiar with this second-gen Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, having had both generations as part of our long-term fleet. The current Outlander PHEV goes for $41,000 and gets 38 miles of EV range from its 2.4-liter I4-based setup.

Stellantis has a wide array of PHEVs available across their many brands, starting with the 3.6-liter V6 Pentastar-packing Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid. It arrived way back in 2017 and currently delivers 32 miles of EV range for $40,000.

More recently, they’ve added the technology to the Jeep brand with 4Xe versions of the Jeep Wrangler for $52,000 and the Grand Cherokee at $61,000. And their most recent setup has just arrived in the compact crossover segment with 33 miles of battery in both the $45,000 Alfa Romeo Tonale and the $42,000 Dodge Hornet R/T.

All of this started with the Toyota Prius of course, which you can now get a Prime version of for $34,000 with a 2.0-liter I4 and 40 miles of range. The RAV4 Prime goes for $45,000 getting 42 miles. Plus, there’s a trio of Lexus PHEV’s rolling with bigger batteries on board, the NX450h+, the RX450h+, and the TX550h+, starting around $58,000.

Volkswagen PHEVs stick to their premium brands, starting with the $58,000 2.0-liter I4-based Audi Q5 55TFSI e quattro SUV with 22 miles of battery range.

Bentley adds electric-motor assistance to a 2.9-liter twin-turbo V6 for both the $206,000 Bentayga SUV, which gets 18 miles of EV range, and the $217,000 Flying Spur sedan, which stretches it to 21 miles. That same setup is available at Porsche in E-hybrid versions of both the $93,000 Cayenne SUV and $110,000 Panamera sedan, getting up to 19 miles on battery power.

Finally, Volvo has had a plug-in version of their turbocharged 2.0-liter I4 since the T8 arrived with the XC90 back in 2016. Now with a Recharge label, an updated version is available in just about every vehicle in their lineup; the S60 and S90 sedans, XC60 and XC90 SUVS, and yes even in the V60 wagon, starting around $53,000 with up to 40 EV miles.

So, there you have it, the Bs-to-Vs of PHEVs. They really are an easy way to live the EV lifestyle today, without going all the way.