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The 2018 Atlas is Volkswagen’s New SUV

This just in: The Atlas is Volkswagen’s new seven-passenger SUV. The Car Guide attended the model’s world premiere in the Santa Monica area. Why did they present it there and not at the L.A. Auto Show? Basically, they wanted the undivided attention of the specialized press because Volkswagen’s aspirations for the Atlas are huge.

It makes sense. After all, do you know what type of vehicle is most popular in the U.S.? SUVs, of course! For the first time, SUV sales have surpassed those of touring cars—and the trend is only expected to increase.

While some manufacturers are busy introducing SUVs in all segments, Volkswagen is preparing to launch an SUV in a segment that is already mature, namely the seven-passenger SUV category. Late to the party? For sure. But Volkswagen says they’ve had the chance to study the competition, allowing them to get in the game with a highly competitive vehicle.

What we know so far
The 2018 Volkswagen Atlas will challenge some very popular models, including the Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander, Ford Explorer and Dodge Durango. It will be built on the MQB platform, which is the same one used for the Golf lineup, only stretched.

In fact, the Atlas is very long, allowing more than decent space for rear passengers. Adults will be able to sit in back without trouble and there will be a new system that allows you to make your way to the very back, even if there’s a kid’s car seat in the middle row. This feature will set the Atlas apart from its rivals, says Thomas Tetzlaff, PR rep for Volkswagen Canada.

Price-wise, this vehicle will be positioned between the Tiguan and the Touareg. It will offer off-road capabilities, but not to the same degree as the Touareg. Volkswagen wants to maximize its utilitarian vocation, while maintaining the brand’s signature driving pleasure. The Atlas will be the brand’s minivan, a role previously played by the Routan (and we all know how that went).

If it weren’t for the logo, it would be hard to know that this SUV was a member of the Volkswagen family. It is mostly devoid of the brand’s telltale features and the exterior is both classic and square. It was designed in North America, especially for our market.

What about the engines? The front-wheel drive versions will be equipped with the same turbocharged, 2.0-litre four-cylinder found in the GTI, delivering 238 horsepower. The 4MOTION all-wheel-drive versions will come with a 280-horsepower, 3.6-litre VR6. The only available transmission will be an eight-speed automatic. There’s no diesel (who knows why?) or hybrid for the time being, even though this technology was developed for the CrossBlue concept that the vehicle is based on.

When it is introduced, the four trim levels will be the Trendline, Comfortline, Highline and Execline.

The Volkswagen Atlas will be available for sale in Canada by the end of May 2017 as a 2018 model. The prices have yet to be announced, but they should be in line with the competition.

The Car Guide was one of the few media guests given the chance to drive a camouflaged version of the Atlas. Here’s what we thought about it!

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