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Volkswagen entered the three-row SUV market in 2018 with the all-new Atlas. This impressive midsize crossover got high marks for its spacious interior and outstanding handling prowess. Although it just made its debut last year, the 2019 Volkswagen Atlas has received new standard safety tech in all of its seven trims as well as streamlined powertrain options across the board. Here's what you need to know about the many Atlas configurations if you're shopping for a six or seven-seater this year.
Compare the 2019 Volkswagen Atlas S and V6 S with 4MOTION® : - What is the difference?
The powertrain is the primary difference between the two entry-level 2019 Atlas trims. The S is the only Atlas model that comes with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine instead of a V6; it's paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission with sport mode. You'll get 235 horsepower and an EPA-estimated 20 city/26 highway miles per gallon with the base powertrain, which is outfitted with an automatic start-stop system to save fuel. These fuel economy numbers are about average for the midsize SUV class, but drop below average when you upgrade the engine.
The Atlas V6 S with 4MOTION is equipped with Volkswagen's 4MOTION four-wheel-drive system, ideal for those who want an SUV they can take on the trails. This system allows you to toggle between four selectable drive modes: Dry, Rainy, Snowy, and Rough. You can also select Sport mode when driving in Dry conditions. 4MOTION is designed to help VW models handle more smoothly by improving driver power and control. The system continuously analyzes driving conditions and sends power to the tires that most need it at any given moment.
The V6 gets 276 horses and 17/23 city/highway miles per gallon. This trim can be upgraded with an available tow hitch package, which gives the Atlas a towing capacity of 5,000 pounds.
Exterior equipment for both the S and V6 S includes 18-inch alloy wheels, heated power mirrors, silver roof rails, automatic LED headlights, LED daytime running lights, and automatic windshield wipers that sense rain and activate accordingly.
Inside both the S and V6 S, you'll find a rearview camera, dual-zone automatic climate control, a color driver information display, and a 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Bluetooth and USB connectivity. Volkswagen's software allows you to sync your smartphone seamlessly with the screen using Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and MirrorLink. Simply connect your phone to the system by following on-screen prompts for safe and easy access to apps, playlists, messages, and much more right on your vehicle's screen.
50/50 split-folding third-row seats or the standard 60/40 split-folding second-row seats allow you to maximize this SUV's cargo space (nearly 21 cubic feet, which expands to 55.5 and 96.8 cubic feet with the respective second and third rows folded flat).
Unlike most competitors, the Atlas can comfortably seat even tall adults in the third row, with nearly 34 inches of legroom. Parents of teens, take note. The second-row bench can slide up to 7.7 inches for easy access and safely tilts and slides even when a child is strapped into a safety seat.
New standard safety equipment for every Atlas trim includes pedestrian monitoring, forward collision warning with autonomous emergency braking, rear cross-traffic alert, and blind spot monitoring.
Compare the 2019 Atlas V6 S with 4MOTION® and SE Trims. What is the difference?
Although the SE shares an engine and transmission with the V6 S, it doesn't include 4MOTION four-wheel drive. It can, however, be upgraded with the tow hitch package.
The SE trim can be upgraded with second-row captain's chairs in place of the bench, which reduces the seating capacity to seven. The exterior has been upgraded with heated windshield wiper nozzles for fast defrosting in cold climates and fog lights with corner illumination at low speeds.
Inside the SE trim, two-zone automatic climate control is updated to a three-zone version. The 6.5-inch touchscreen is upgraded to a larger 8-inch screen. Other tech upgrades in the SE model include three additional USB ports for a total of two in front and two in back, as well as keyless access with push-button start, SiriusXM radio, and voice commands.
The cloth upholstery of the S trim is replaced with V-Tex leatherette. This material mimics the look and feel of real leather for a premium experience with enhanced durability over real leather. Drivers who choose the Atlas SE will also enjoy heated front seats and a power-adjustable driver's seat.
The SE with 4MOTION® is identical to the SE except for the inclusion of Volkswagen's four-wheel-drive system.
Compare the Atlas SE and SE with Technology - What is the difference?
The exterior of the SE with Technology has been upgraded with a remote opening and closing power liftgate with closing assistance, offering easy cargo loading even when your hands are full.
As for the interior, if you choose the latter trim you'll enjoy remote start, adaptive cruise control, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.
Choosing the SE with Technology trim also gives you access to options that include 20-inch silver alloy wheels and a panoramic sunroof, as well as the options offered on the standard SE.
Like the standard SE, the SE with Technology is available either with or without the 4MOTION four-wheel-drive system.
Compare the Atlas SE with Technology and SE with Technology R-Line Trims. What is the difference?
The R-Line version of this trim comes with distinctive R-Line bumpers and badging. Some of its unique styling cues include upgraded front and rear bumpers and side skirts, an R-Line infotainment screen logo and steering wheel clip, and stainless-steel sport pedal covers.
This trim does not offer the 20-inch alloy wheel upgrade. It is otherwise identical to the SE trim and like other trims can be equipped with either front-wheel drive or four-wheel drive.
Compare the 2019 Atlas SE with Technology R-Line and SEL - What is the difference?
The SEL trim brings back the 20-inch silver alloy wheel option and offers a black version of this upgrade as well. Standard equipment includes the hands-free liftgate, panoramic sunroof, trailer hitch, and parking distance control. This system, known as Park Assist, can automatically guide your SUV into both parallel and perpendicular parking spots.
Inside the Cabin, the SEL trim adds the Volkswagen Digital Cockpit system, an expansive 12.5-inch screen that can be customized so that the driver's most valued information is right at his or her fingertips. View and update system elements such as media, climate, navigation, and much more.
Other tech upgrades include a 12-volt power outlet in the front and in the rear, memory settings for the driver's seat, SiriusXM real-time traffic and travel service, and maneuver braking. This system automatically brakes the vehicle when you're reversing at low speeds and an object is detected behind the Atlas.
The SEL is also available in an R-Line version with the special badging, but without the available alternative wheel choices. You can also get the SEL trim with 4MOTION.
Compare the 2019 Atlas SEL and SEL Premium - What is the difference?
The SEL Premium is the top-of-the-line trim for the 2019 Atlas and comes standard with 4MOTION all-wheel drive and 20-inch triple spoke alloy wheels (with available 20-inch black alloy wheels as an upgrade).
In addition to the features included in lower 2019 Atlas trims, the SEL Premium is equipped with interior ambient lighting, leather upholstery in the first two rows (leatherette in the third), climate-controlled front seats with both heating and cooling functions, a Fender premium audio system, an overhead-view camera, and high-beam control.
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Which One Should You Choose?
Industry experts recommend avoiding the base Atlas S with the turbo-four, noting that it doesn't have quite enough power for a vehicle of this formidable size. If you want the ideal blend of technology and value, opt for the SE with Technology package. This has features you want like an upgraded touchscreen, adaptive cruise control, and remote start, without the added cost of the more luxurious high-end trims. If you want to go all out, however, the SEL Premium trim has some pretty nice equipment for those who prefer a fully-loaded ride.
The 2019 Volkswagen Atlas comes with one of the longest warranties among midsize SUVs: six years or 72,000 miles for the engines, transmissions, and optional all-wheel-drive system. Unlike competitor warranties, VW's is transferable, which may increase the value of your Atlas if you decide to sell in a couple years.
This vehicle also received the highest possible scores in all crash tests from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and a perfect five-star overall crash test rating from the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Even though it's a brand-new model as of 2018, the Atlas has earned no shortage of industry accolades in its short life. It was named the Best Large Utility in the 2018 MotorWeek Drivers’ Choice Awards, Best Three-Row SUV for Families by Parents Magazine and Edmunds, Best Family SUV by the New York Daily News Awards, Best New Midsize SUv Award from Good Housekeeping, Best of 2018 by Cars.com, and as a finalist for Motor Trend's prestigious SUV of the Year Award.
• Compare the 2018 Volkswagen Atlas Trim Levels