2021 Volkswagen Atlas shrugged off gasoline economic system
Atlas the Titan was condemned by Zeus to hold the burden of the heavens on his shoulders. Atlas the SUV carries the burden of households in its spacious confines, however is condemned by poor gasoline economic system.
Up to date for 2021 with a rugged Basecamp look bundle, a bolder design, and a turbo-4 now out there with all-wheel drive, the Volkswagen Atlas three-row crossover SUV seats as much as seven individuals and loads of gear.
However relating to effectivity, Atlas shrugged. The V-6 with all-wheel drive I examined had an EPA-rated 18 mpg mixed. That’s worst within the mid-size three-row SUV class. No marvel the irascible Zeus did what he did. It’s one purpose the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas earned a middling TCC Ranking of 5.6 out of 10.
Placing that ranking to the take a look at within the 2021 Atlas V6 SEL Premium, I discovered that its giant, quiet cabin and easy, mild trip offset the dearth of energy and effectivity. The ache on the pump throughout an extended vacation street journey was actual, however I appreciated how a lot the passengers and I have been capable of stretch our legs and repose. However at $50,410 for the highest SEL Premium, the Atlas incurred a big burden.
Right here’s the great, the unhealthy, and the grossly inefficient.
Hit: Quiet and comfortable street tripper
Launched for 2018, the largest Volkswagen can be one in all its bestselling automobiles as a result of it has a number of attributes that make it nice on the street. Other than some wind noise coming from the huge aspect mirrors, the cabin is as quiet as a nap. And sure, there have been a few these over the course of 800 miles.
The unbiased suspension on all 4 wheels retains the trip regular, and even on the tester’s enticing 20-inch wheels, the presence of the street was saved at a distance inside.
Miss: Underpowered V-6
The large information for 2021 is the expanded roll out of a 235-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo-4. Commonplace with front-wheel drive final yr, the extra environment friendly engine now comes out there with all-wheel drive (for $1,900) throughout the lineup.
I didn’t take a look at it however I battle to know how nicely it might carry out based mostly on the anemic energy of the carryover 276-hp 3.6-liter V-6 in my tester. The V-6 strained to hold the 4,502-pound weight of the Atlas on its dual-overhead camshaft shoulders. It’s at the least 150 kilos heavier than the longer, taller 2021 Chevrolet Traverse, and the 4 driving modes don’t present a lot variation. Passing strikes round tractor trailers on single-lane highways require extra advance planning than ordinary, and may solely be performed on lengthy, flat straightaways.
The 8-speed computerized may be notched into guide mode within the middle console to present the motive force a bit extra management over the restricted energy bands. With out manually downshifting just a few gears, passing strikes may be dangerous. Sure state troopers may agree.
Miss: Grossly inefficient
Volkswagen isn’t the one automaker to drop in a turbo-4 in a three-row crossover for higher effectivity. The Subaru Ascent and Mazda CX-9 use turbo-4s with a great mix of energy and effectivity. The smaller engine within the Atlas nearly matches the effectivity of these opponents with 22 mpg mixed in front- or all-wheel drive.
That makes it a great choice, on paper at the least, as a result of the V-6 within the Atlas feels much less highly effective than the Ascent or CX-9 and it’s terribly inefficient with an EPA-rated 16 mpg metropolis, 22 freeway, 18 mixed. The bigger Traverse with all-wheel drive will get 17/25/20 mpg, and the equally spacious Honda Pilot will get 19/26/22 mpg. Not solely is the V-6 Atlas the worst within the mid-size three-row SUV class (even the Durango will get 21 mpg mixed), it’s just one mpg higher than the ginormous truck-based 2021 Chevy Suburban full-size SUV. The 18.6-gallon tank leans to the small aspect for the category, as nicely, which ends up in extra stops on the pump.
I couldn’t match EPA estimates, nonetheless; the journey meter mentioned the Atlas averaged 20.7 mpg at a median pace of 61 mph for greater than 500 miles.
Regardless of a big middle console, the large Atlas makes for a comfortable, roomy street tripper. The refreshed entrance and rear bumpers appear to broaden the Atlas, and that’s mirrored inside with a large horizontal format of the cockpit. The SEL Premium comes with a 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with an influence lumbar restricted to back and front changes, so it received’t relieve all postures or proportions. The entrance seats are cozy sufficient, even when they lack a number of the cushier softness of its rivals’ high trims.
Ample head room and leg room profit the primary two rows, and sliding the second row again and reclining the seat backs makes for some high quality napping. The tester had eight seats, with a 60/40 cut up within the second row and 50/50 cut up within the third. I had the smaller aspect of the second row folded down for additional cargo room however it wasn’t needed; with 55.5 cubic ft of cargo house with the third row folded down, there was loads of room for coolers, meals, and drink for a celebration of 4. The bigger Traverse has 57.8 cubic ft, whereas the Honda Pilot has simply 46.0 cubic ft with the third row down. A household of 4 might journey in consolation without having a cargo provider up high or a hitch to lug as much as 5,000 kilos.
The third row is greatest left to children, and that comes on the expense of second-row consolation. It’s typical for the category. Three grade schoolers might slot in again, however for anybody older it higher be a quick carpool journey.
Miss: It’s as uninteresting as re-reading Ayn Rand as an grownup
The bolder, broader fashion on the entrance and rear challenge a extra truck-like confidence, however the subdued styling fails to face out. This might be a great factor for extra conservative tastes. No large display screen dominates the cabin, no fancy thrives provoke a double take. It’s all very inconspicuous.
The 2021 Atlas excels at roominess and luxury, however in case you don’t want that third row, contemplate the five-seat Atlas Cross Sport. It’s shorter, lighter, however equally as roomy. It’s additionally extra environment friendly.
2021 Volkswagen Atlas SEL Premium
Base value: $32,565, together with $1,020 vacation spot
Value as examined: $50,410
Drivetrain: 276-hp 3.6-liter V-6 with 8-speed computerized transmission in all-wheel drive
EPA gasoline economic system: 16/22/18 mpg
The hits: Quiet, cozy, roomy.
The misses: Underpowered, inefficient, conservative.