The pricing for the Atlas starts at $40,095 in Canada, $31,555 in the US.
The large, midsize three-row SUV is a seriously roomy and attractive family vehicle.
The 4-cylinder engine is a near-no-compromise powertrain.
The Volkswagen Atlas was introduced in 2017 for the 2018 model year. In little time, the largest Volkswagen vehicle ever sold in North America carved itself a sizeable chunk of the busy and popular midsize three-row SUV segment.
Of the many versions of the Volkswagen Atlas offered, as reviewers, we’ve only ever had access to top trim models equipped with the 3.6-litre V6 engine. In fact, amongst us all at Motor Illustrated, we’ve driven and reviewed the big SUV more than a half-dozen times. When the opportunity to drive a Comfortline model equipped with the 2.0-litre turbocharged engine, we could not pass it up.
Although upper trims such as the Highline and Execline are popular, the Comfortline version is the most value-packed especially when fitted with the boosted engine. Of the lot of competitors like the Chevrolet Traverse, Dodge Durango, Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot, Hyundai Palisade and Kia Telluride, Jeep Grand Cherokee L, Toyota Highlander, Nissan Pathfinder, Mazda CX-9, the Volkswagen Atlas is one of only four to offer a 4-cylinder powertrain when including the Highlander’s hybrid version.
Does the 2.0T make it a risky purchase? Will hamper performance or deliver any real-world benefits? Read on:
Why you should buy a 2021 Volkswagen Atlas with the 2.0T engine:
The Atlas’ 2021 facelift sharpens the big VW’s looks with a statelier presence.
The 2.0T delivers a delightful 258 lb.-ft. of torque at very low engine speeds.
The V6, a $2,200 option, provides only eight lb.-ft. more torque and at higher engine speeds.
Out of the box, the Atlas 2.0T can tow up to 2,000 lbs.
The included and standard 8-speed automatic transmission never misses a beat whether driven hard or when cruising.
The Comfortline, at $44,495 with the 2.0T, features adaptive cruise control, keyless start, and entry, a power tailgate, an 8-inch display, and much more.
The cabin remains extremely spacious. Compared to several of its contemporaries, the Atlas’ boxier design makes the available space, especially in the third row and trunk, far more accessible.
Sliding aboard, specifically in the second and third rows, is a breeze thanks to the huge doors.
The Atlas features plenty of storage upfront and throughout the cabin.
The second-row seat is designed to tip forward without removing the child’s seat. A very useful aspect when the third row is often used.
The Comfortline’s standard 18-inch wheels ensure a very comfortable ride without compromising handling.
Why you should not buy a 2021 Volkswagen Atlas with the 2.0T engine:
The Atlas equipped with the V6 can tow up to 5,000 lbs.
At higher engines speeds, the V6’s 276 horsepower, compared to the 2.0T’s 235, help with passing maneuvers.
The turbocharged 2.0-litre 4-cylinder engine does not provide any tangible fuel consumption savings. The real-world difference hovers around the 1L/100km mark depending on driving habits.
The 2021 Volkswagen Atlas might not be the most reliable midsize three-row SUV but it is one of the more enjoyable to drive. Perhaps more importantly, it can effortlessly handle a family of five and their numerous and daily activities.
Whether or not to pay the extra $2,200 CDN for the V6 comes down to only one aspect: Towing. Unless regularly dragging a boat or some other type of trailer, the 2.0T manages all other driving duties with ease. In fact, the 258 lbs of torque are on tap at a very low 1,600 rpm (compared to 3,500 rpm for the V6) meaning brisk and effortless acceleration from traffic lights.