What's In A Name? The 2018 Volkswagen Atlas V6 SE

Front 3/4 view of 2018 Volkswagen Atlas
The 2018 Volkswagen Atlas.
The Volkswagen model name list is filled with exotic sounds---Scirocco, Touraeg, Tiguan.  And now there's Atlas.  Sounds big and familiar, doesn't it?  That's fitting, because for the first time, VW has built a full-size SUV that requires no adjustment in thinking for buyers of American SUVs.

Rear view of 2018 Volkswagen Atlas
2018 Volkswagen Atlas.
A decade ago, the then-new Touareg felt like what it was---a thoroughly German machine and a close cousin to Audi.  But the Atlas is an absolutely American-inspired vehicle, a seven-seater focused on lots of space for people and things. Basically, Volkswagen here is following the path to success blazed by the Honda Pilot.

The premium pricing of a decade ago has been put aside as well, in favor of a Costco mindset---look how much you can get for how little.  The base price of the base Atlas is $30,750.   That one comes with a two-liter turbo four-cylinder engine.  Stepping up to a V6 S model takes the price to $32,150.  Past that, there are another ten variations from which to choose, topping out with the V6 SEL Premium with 4Motion, which begins at $48,740.

Interior view of 2018 Volkswagen Atlas SE
2018 Volkswagen Atlas SE interior.
Our test vehicle was the V6 SE with Tech and 4Motion. 

For a base price of $39,140, you get a 276-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 engine, an eight-speed automatic transmission, leatherette interior with heated front seats (10-way power driver, four-way manual passenger), 4Motion all-wheel drive, a Climatronic three-zone automatic temperature control system, Front Assist with adaptive cruise control and pedestrian monitoring, stainless steel window trim, a remote opening and closing tailgate, silver roof rails, drive mode selection, power heated side mirrors with integrated turn signals, heated windshield washer nozzles, rain-sensing windshield wipers, a start-stop system, LED headlights and daytime running lights, halogen reflector foglamps, 18-inch alloy wheels, front and rear carpeted floormats, tilt-telescoping steering column, a premium color multifunction display, remote start, electric parking brake, self-dimming interior rear-view mirror,  six reading lights, 17 cupholders, VW's Car-Net app system, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, Bluetooth, a rear camera, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert,  four USB ports (data up front, charging only in the rear) and an eight-speaker audio system.

Which, as we said at the beginning, is a major value proposition.  And the driving experience is a very good one.  A solid, quality, German feel with big American room.  The V6 will cost you at the gas pump, with an EPA average of 17 city/23 highway, which is a shade under the Honda Pilot's 19/26, but still in the same range.  And, as always, your mileage may vary.

At its core, the 2018 Volkswagen Atlas is a smart move for VW.  It should be a contender for anyone shopping for a three-row SUV.