2019 Volkswagen Atlas 2.0T SE AWD

Nation Squire for the Fashionable Period

Coming off my second consecutive Buick Enclave lease, I made a decision it was time so as to add a smidgen of effectivity to the first purpose merely being roomy sufficient for the household. This can be a automotive for my spouse and her driving is skewed closely towards metropolis driving in congested site visitors conditions. I’ve three youngsters who’re all concerned in year-round sporting actions and as of late the miles are piling up quick.

The household hauler is used fairly extensively, racking up about 20k miles per yr.  So, 15 mpg and 250 miles per fill-up simply weren’t slicing it anymore.  Inside house for my household of 5, which incorporates big offspring, is in fact job one.  My 14-year-old son is 6’2″ and my 11-year-old daughter is already 5’6″. They aren’t going to be shoehorned into the leap seats that some well-liked three-row automobiles go off as being match for human occupants … particularly on multi-hour journeys for journey sports activities, holidays, and many others.

My youngest sometimes occupies the third row however even she is approaching grown human standing. So, naturally, we averted the obvious and sensible alternative, driving straight previous these minivan dealerships proper to the ready arms of a big crossover. We tried the minivan factor up to now with a 2011 Honda Odyssey, and regardless of its sliding door sports activities automotive per se greatness within the eyes of some pundits on the interwebs, it was a contented day when the lease expired.  Sadly, that car most likely ruined us as future minivan consumers for all times.

We shopped a number of different fashions however stored coming again to the Atlas. We each favored it very a lot, inside and outside. This can be very spacious, coming in lower than a single dice behind the section inside quantity chief, the Chevy Traverse. Most different three-row contenders are at the least 10 cubic toes tighter than the Atlas’ 97.8 cubic toes of whole quantity behind the primary row (i.e. Explorer, Pilot, Ascent).  For these conserving observe, that’s nonetheless lagging considerably behind most minivans by over 40 cubic toes. So, whereas America’s largest crossovers are comparatively roomy, they’ll nonetheless set you again an entire Honda Civic hatchback price of cargo room for those who resolve you simply can’t deal with the optics of piloting a car with sliding doorways.

As you understand, one other space the place massive crossovers lag behind the sliding door set is gasoline financial system, which is the unlucky value of fake ruggedness. Regrettably, after researching the Atlas, I got here to study that the Atlas’ narrow-angle V6, on this specific utility, and particularly paired with AWD, will not be significantly environment friendly. With legendary thirst rivaling that of Captain Morgan, gasoline financial system is a frequent criticism documented relatively extensively on proprietor boards and media evaluations. However look forward to it … there’s a higher possibility. A quicker, extra environment friendly, cheaper possibility … and naturally sellers don’t inventory it and customers hardly ever purchase it.

The Gamper

When the Atlas launched in 2018, a 2.0T FWD was supplied throughout a number of trims within the Atlas’ lineup. By 2019, that possibility was reduce on all however the base S trim, which is relatively feature-deprived, as you would possibly count on. Quietly although, VW introduced the choice again midyear in 2019 on the SE and SE with Tech trims. So quiet in actual fact that for a lot of the yr, you couldn’t even configure one on VW’s personal web site. Much more unlucky, they had been merely not on the bottom anyplace within the Mitten State.

None of my native sellers had them and most salespeople had been shocked to search out that the choice even existed after they checked regional stock. After a little bit of looking, I managed to find a single dealership in Michigan that had a 2.0T SE with Tech. The story I heard was that Michigan sellers weren’t allotted any and this dealership truly swapped a number of V6 AWD’s for two.0T’s with a dealership a number of states away. In truth, a number of of the gross sales workers discovered these 2.0’s everlasting houses in their very own driveways.

Fortunately, this dealership had the precise coloration and choices configuration I needed. I don’t assume there was one other prefer it for 500 miles in any course. For the file, VW widens the two.0T providing even to AWD fashions for 2021.

I signed the dotted line on a 5-year observe at 0.9 p.c financing with VW credit score. The MSRP on the car was $38,600 and alter, which included second-row captain’s chairs and a 20-inch wheel improve, amongst different issues.

After negotiations that value got here down by roughly $5K with out an excessive amount of haggling, based mostly totally on present marketed promotions … a value that I feel is far more befitting the tall, FWD 4-cyl turbo station wagon that it’s. Thoughts you, 2019 additionally occurred to be the final yr VW will provide the post-Dieselgate 72K/6-year mea culpa bumper-to-bumper guarantee, which was an enormous promoting level, to be sincere. I consider it’s 4-year/50K going ahead.

The surface of the car is a well-recognized form. For my part, it’s by-product of each the Jeep Grand Cherokee and last-generation Ford Explorer in its total design execution, each of which have pleasing however conservative strains. The squared rear and the sheetmetal kink that runs the size of the car’s slabbed sides following the contour of the huge wheel arches give the Atlas simply sufficient persona to maintain it visually distinctive and considerably attention-grabbing to my eye. The 20-inch tri-5-spoke wheel improve helps the general look vs the bottom 18-inch wheels however are most likely good for actually nothing else, and as such are the tragically hip possibility for individuals who care about aesthetics.

Driving the two.0T back-to-back with the V6 AWD, you’ll discover a number of key variations in a short time. The VR6 has a well-recognized and admittedly extra pleasing sound and visceral feeling from the driving force’s seat. Coupled with AWD, it instantly feels extra substantial total. The two.0T, by comparability, appears like a 4-cyl whenever you apply the throttle and maxes out at 235 horsepower in comparison with 276 hp within the VR6.

There’s a slight turbo whine at low speeds and the two.0-liter can sound coarse below laborious acceleration, however I wouldn’t say it feels prefer it’s lower than the duty of motivating 4,300 lbs. The two.0 below the hood is identical unit as discovered within the GTI. I’d be kidding myself if I received vainness plates that learn “XXL GTI” (I clearly considered it for a second), however with 263 lb-ft of torque at 1,500 rpm, the two.0T out-torques the VR6 at decrease speeds and RPMs, giving it quite a lot of real-world usefulness, particularly for around-town driving, and it has shocking punch whenever you name on it.

The Gamper

The two.0T with FWD feels noticeably lighter and simpler to encourage than the VR6, whose extra heft regarding a bigger engine and AWD, are readily obvious. Certainly, evaluations of the 2 fashions reveal that the two.0T is able to beating the VR6 in a dash to 60mph by as much as 0.7 seconds. The roughly 500-pound weight distinction between the 2 fashions is instantly noticeable from the driving force’s seat. The two.0 feels downright sprightly compared at decrease speeds. I hate to make use of the acquainted cliché nevertheless it really drives smaller than it’s in each drivetrain configurations, however particularly in 2.0T.

With an total size of 198.3 inches, it’s decidedly not small and is available in at about 6 inches shorter than the Chevy Traverse and Chrysler Pacifica. Neither Atlas drivetrain configuration has the motivation or dealing with that makes you wish to search its limits and even push it laborious.

In a household hauler … that’s simply high quality. It is vitally snug and remarkably quiet when up to the mark, and to my ears, quieter even than the Buick Enclave it changed. The steering is mild and closely boosted but additionally direct and straightforward to level and shoot, including to the general ease of operation. Throttle tip-in for the two.0T is barely aggressive and if the wheels aren’t pointed straight, you’ll get the dreaded one-wheel peel from a cease in case you are too keen along with your proper foot. The Atlas is a cushty cruiser and manages to be a fairly good city runabout on the similar time. The Aisin 8-speed automated transmission is sort of nicely paired with this car, at the least in my expertise with the two.0T. Shifts are by no means harsh, it selects the proper gear rapidly when your proper foot asks and simply works seamlessly within the background.

It’s not all rainbows and sunshine, although. I typically really feel the suspension is nicely sorted in most conditions, however each time the entrance tires are hitting highway imperfections in tandem, the influence can really feel considerably harsh. Issues like a raised fringe of highway slab, pavement heaves, and parking-lot entrances positively upset the entrance suspension. I’m unsure how a lot the 20-inch rims contribute to that, however it’s a unusual end in a car that in any other case has a compliant and restrained setup. One other suspension shock is the propensity for a robust rebound over deep dips within the highway. The springboard impact can actually catch you off guard and doesn’t appear proportional to how the Atlas handles total.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out the auto begin/cease characteristic. It’s defeatable with a devoted button positioned below the local weather controls. I normally depart it working, until I’m in stop-and-go site visitors, the place it turns into insufferable. However when pulling up a site visitors mild, it really works seamlessly. Take your foot off the brake and the automotive is already began and inching ahead earlier than you may hit the accelerator. Regardless of it being a fairly good system, I nonetheless think about it an annoyance and put it within the “gripe” class.

The Gamper

Contained in the cabin is a cushty setting. The perforated leatherette is a convincing substitute for an precise dead-animal seating floor and it’s accessible on the upper SEL trim. Minimalism and restraint are the design themes, and so they work pretty nicely for my part.

The controls are fairly intuitive, straightforward to function and attain. The sprint is about again, leaving an open feeling upfront. Solely the driving force seat is energy operated within the SE. The seats are typically straightforward in your again and rear finish. Discovering a cushty seating place isn’t any downside and my spouse and I take advantage of the identical seating place regardless of our 6-inch peak distinction.

The second row may be very roomy with loads of legroom. The captain’s chairs have about 6 inches of journey that may additional accommodate the third-row passengers when needed. The third row itself is appropriate for normal-sized adults, even on longer journeys, and with out having to eat your knees within the course of.  The third-row headrests, when prolonged, eat into what’s in any other case glorious visibility throughout.

The SE trim provides a number of chargers, some USB and a few 12-volt, spattered about vs simply two upfront within the base mannequin, I consider. It additionally will get you a bigger 8-inch touchscreen vs the bottom mannequin, along with three-zone local weather management.

The tech bundle provides an auto-dimming mirror, distant begin, and adaptive cruise management with emergency braking. The automotive comes customary with LED headlights, LED working/accent lights, LED flip indicators, LED excessive beams, rain-sensing wipers, blind-spot monitor, and rear cross-traffic alert. It additionally has turning lamps whenever you reverse or rotate the wheel, which is a superb characteristic on any automotive.

The tech bundle additionally has lane-keep help. It really works supplied each side of the lane are marked by strains. It doesn’t middle although, so conserving your palms off the wheel will ship you forwards and backwards bouncing off lane markers till you regain consciousness. It doesn’t apply sufficient torque to the steering wheel to take a nook, although, so higher play in your telephone later and drive now. It should, nonetheless, make you a believer in flip indicators lest you get pleasure from preventing the wheel on unsignaled lane modifications. The adaptive cruise can come to a whole cease and take off once more. I haven’t personally examined that, however once more, one other nice characteristic for individuals who are vulnerable to go to sleep behind the wheel.

The bottom sound system is barely ample, you aren’t going to get wealthy sound at excessive quantity and I think about the speaker system as nearing the letdown column by way of high quality. The Atlas has keyless ignition, with SE fashions getting keyless entry and a rear energy liftgate. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are customary.

Although the inside seems good sufficient and is put collectively nicely, the fabric high quality will not be nice. There are a number of strategically positioned soft-touch supplies however in any other case, laborious plastics abound. Plastic trim meant to imitate different supplies fails to deceive the attention and easily seems like … extra plastic.

The general inside bundle is executed nicely. It’s confounding, although, that possibly just one or 200 {dollars} of additional price to VW might propel the inside to a completely totally different degree. I suppose us mere mortals can not hope to understand the methods of the bean counter.

The Gamper

The inside’s shortcomings are simply ignored, as it is a car with a mission in any case, and I’ve recovered from my intemperate dash-fondling youth to give attention to extra vital issues like charging ports for everybody’s machine and cupholders numbering within the teenagers. However for those who get pleasure from choosing nits, the inside materials high quality will certainly be one of many nits that get picked.

One space the place Atlas fails at its key mission is the third row. Although it has loads of consolation for passengers of all sizes, it solely holds two passengers. A big sacrifice to bear by the hands of styling, as the huge wheel arches, which couldn’t all presumably be wanted for suspension journey, intrude into the passenger house, thus stopping the Atlas from schlepping one extra passenger, the place a minivan or Chevy Traverse (and different opponents) handle the three-across feat.

Nonetheless, the Atlas is a reasonably viable minivan different for as much as seven passengers, or six for those who get the second-row captain’s chairs.  In FWD 2.0T guise, it has confirmed to be pretty environment friendly, averaging 24 mpg in primarily metropolis driving. The EPA estimate is 22/26. This previous summer time I took the household on trip to Northern Michigan for a 600-mile or so spherical journey. Packed to the ceiling with gear, a 16-cubic-foot cargo field on the roof, working the A/C at 80 mph freeway speeds. I averaged 25 mpg with what I’d estimate to be 1,100 lbs of individuals and stuff. My spouse extra not too long ago took the Atlas from Detroit to Chicago with only one child for a soccer match, the place the cooler climate and lighter load helped convey the mpgs as much as 27.

I’m very happy with the Atlas up to now and don’t really feel I had to surrender house or facilities to attain respectable effectivity. I used a few of the cash I saved by choosing the FWD 2.0T mannequin to purchase some Blizzaks this winter. I’m now a fairly large believer in winter tires after only one winter. General, I’d say that it was higher than AWD with customary all-season tires as I’ve completed up to now, however you do lose a few of that AWD pull from a cease. We solely received one actual heavy snow this yr and entrance wheels with Blizzaks managed, with out a lot drama, to drag the Atlas round in 7-8 inches of snow on unplowed neighborhood streets, even up average inclines.

The Atlas has had one guarantee restore in about 40,000 miles, to deal with noise from the steering rack.

Each the minivan and station wagon are alive and nicely. They now simply have hinged doorways and a bit of extra floor clearance, respectively. In truth, I confer with my Atlas as “minivan spec”. Calling them crossovers is in some way extra palatable in these instances the place operate has given method to life-style picture by way of intelligent advertising and packaging.  Ultimately, I feel we received the minivan we truly wanted no matter what you name it.

[Images provided by the author]

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