Volkswagen unveiled a brand new mid-sized SUV for the American market. We were there to take a closer look and share our first impressions with you. The 2018 Volkswagen Atlas was introduced on the Santa Monica Pier by Hinrich J. Woebcken, the new CEO of Volkswagen North America. He kept the introduction nice and short and let the car do the talking, just the way we like it!

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What is the new Volkswagen Atlas then? It is a 7-seater SUV produced in America for America. Mid-size might not quite do it justice size wise as with a length of nearly 200 inches and a width of 78 inches it is the size of an Audi Q7. Price wise it fills the gap between the Tiguan and the Touareg, with the front-wheel drive base model of the Atlas starting at just over 30,000 USD.

When the Volkswagen Atlas hits the dealerships next year it will come with two different engines: a two liter turbocharged four cylinder producing 238 horsepower and a 3.6 liter VR6 six cylinder with 280 horsepower. Both come with a 8-speed automatic transmission and the VR6 can be ordered with 4Motion all-wheel drive. Air suspension is not available which is a bit of a shame but at this price you can’t have it all.

The Volkswagen Atlas is based on the MQB platform like the Tiguan and Passat. Since it shares the same platform with these cars you will find some elements from both cars in the Atlas. The interior design is very clean and similar to the Passat. Optionally it can be equipped with Volkswagen’s Digital Cockpit which replaces the old-school speedometer and rev counter dials with a digital display that can display a plethora of information of your own liking.

The interior is very spacious and five of the seven seats can be folded down to your liking. Even in the third row there is space for adults and there is storage space and cup holders throughout the cabin. I’m very happy to see seat cooling being offered as an optional extra for the comfortable leather seats.

The 2018 Atlas can be equipped with a range of infotainment and assistance systems ranging from a Fender high-end audio system to Adaptive Cruise Control (a must!), lane assist, front assist, park assist and Volkswagen Car Net which includes support for Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink.

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From a exterior design perspective Volkswagen chose a very muscular design with broad horizontal lines along the front and rear and additional emphasis on the wheel arches. With standard LED lights in the front and optional LED lights in the rear it gives the Atlas a very cool look and it certainly looks a lot better than the similar sized Audi Q7.

The Volkswagen Atlas will be built in the Chattanooga plant along with the US-version of the Volkswagen Passat. Volkswagen invested an additional 900 million USD in this facility to increase capacity to over 250,000 cars a year.

With the 2018 Volkswagen Atlas, VW sets the tone for the company’s future in the United States – no more diesel but competitively priced vehicles tailored to the American market. At just over 30,000 USD you get good value for your money with a premium feel and bold SUV looks. I would be highly surprised if this car won’t become a big success.

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The 2018 Volkswagen Atlas will be available from the second half of next year in the United States. Following the US introduction the Atlas will also be built and sold in China along with a long-wheel base version of the Tiguan. The Volkswagen Atlas will not come to Europe.

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