The Upside of Upsizing: The 2018 Volkswagen Atlas V6 SEL with 4Motion

Front 3/4 view of 2018 Volkswgen Atlas SEL
The 2018 Volkswagen Atlas SEL.
Volkswagen, once a purveyor of a line of cars that were very different from each other (Beetle, Squareback, Hatchback, Bus, Thing and Karmann Ghia) is now doing what most manufacturers do---offering the same sausage in different lengths.  That's certainly the case in its SUVs, where the shape and styling of the Tiguan can be found in a larger size known as the Atlas.

Rear 3/4 view of 2018 Volkswagen Atlas SEL
2018 Volkswagen Atlas.
Where the Tiguan offers you two rows of seats, with the Atlas, you get three.  You also get a 3.6-liter V6, assuming you order an Atlas V6 SEL with 4Motion like our tester, instead of the turbo 2.0-liter four in the Tiguan.  There's a fuel economy premium to be paid, though, as the V6 Atlas is estimated at 17 city/23 highway to the Tiguan's 22/27.

In both base price ($42,940) and as-tested price ($44,860, with the only option being $995 for 20-inch black wheels, plus $925 destination charge), the Atlas is about seven thousand dollars more than the fully-loaded Tiguan 2.0T SEL Premium we reviewed in July.

For that money, you get an eight-speed automatic transmission, 4Motion all-wheel drive with Active Control, anti-lock brakes, anti-slip regulation and engine brake assist, electronic brake force distribution and hydraulic brake assist, electronic stability control and electronic differential lock, intelligent crash response, tire pressure monitoring, 18-inch alloy wheels, heated, foldable, power side mirrors with memory, a power tilt and slide panoramic sunroof, three-zone automatic climate control with vents for all three rows, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a heated 10-way power driver's seat with lumbar support and memory, an eight-way power passenger seat, V-Tex leatherette seating surfaces, a rear view camera system, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning and autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian monitoring, park distance control, lane departure warning, blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, remote engine start and keyless access, an eight-speaker sound system, remote power liftgate and a HomeLink integrated garage door opener.

Interior view of 2018 Volkswagen Atlas SEL
2018 Volkswagen Atlas SEL interior.
Beyond deciding whether you need five seats or seven, the Atlas does convey a more premium feeling than even the top-of-the-line Tiguan.  If you're old enough to have driven 90s-era Mercedes, the solidity and quiet of the Atlas will seem very familiar to you. 

With kids grown, but one grandchild born and (perhaps, presumably and please) more to come, I'm in that odd middle.  Tiguan for what is now or Atlas for what the future may bring?   As good as the Tiguan is, if I were playing with my own money, I'd go for the Atlas.  Call it future-proofing.