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2020 Volkswagen Atlas Pros vs Cons

Why Buy a 2020 Volkswagen Atlas?
Reviewed & fact checked by
James Murdoch

Are You Considering a 2020 Volkswagen Atlas? Here Are Some Reasons For and Against

The Volkswagen Atlas is relatively new to the market, having been released in 2018. As a mid-size SUV, it's in a class that has mass appeal. Does the 2020 Volkswagen Atlas have what it takes to make a name for itself in a crowded field? There are many categories in which the VW performs well, but there are a few limitations that keep it from shining in all areas.

What's New for 2020?

The 2020 Volkswagen Atlas looks almost identical to the previous model. That can be considered a good thing, since the Atlas has drawn many positive reviews for its design.

A few changes are related to technology and exterior features. Wi-Fi and the Car-Net system are now standard, raising the bar to make it easier for people to stay updated with social media, email, and vehicle performance. Starting with the SE with Technology model, the Atlas will ride on 20-inch wheels. The SEL Premium trim gets an upgrade to 21-inch wheels.

Additionally, the SE with Technology R-Line trim will see more enhancements. It will now come with front and rear parking sensors along with a power liftgate that can be very convenient to use.

Ten Reasons You May Like the 2020 Volkswagen Atlas – The Pros

1. Two Choices of Engine

Under the hood of a 2020 Volkswagen Atlas, there could be either a 2.0-liter turbo engine or a 3.6-liter V6. The turbo can generate up to 235 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. The V6 engine packs a greater punch, with 276 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque. This would be the option to choose for anyone who prioritizes performance.

The type of engine the Atlas has depends on the trim selected. The S, SE, and SE with Technology models run on the turbo, and the other models are powered by the V6.

2. Available All-Wheel Drive

Volkswagen's all-wheel drive system is called 4Motion. Notably, it's only offered in conjunction with the V6 engine. It comes with Active Control, a system operated through a simple dial. Active Control has four different drive modes: Dry, Rainy, Snowy, and Rough. By choosing between the various settings, drivers can optimize the vehicle to perform well given the conditions.

3. Capable of Towing Cargo

The 2020 Volkswagen Atlas can be equipped with a hitch so it can tow a trailer. When a V6 engine is powering the Atlas, towing capacity is fairly respectable at 5,000 pounds. This is welcome news for anyone who has to transport equipment for work or who has a lot of fun toys to bring along on adventures. 5,000 pounds can open up a lot of possibilities.

4. The Cabin Feels Roomy

Three rows of seats in the 2020 Volkswagen Atlas can accommodate a total of seven people. The front bucket seats are spacious, and the second row is comfortable as well, with 37.6 inches of leg room. Things are a bit smaller in the third row, but children and smaller riders should be fine with the 33.7 inches of leg room. It helps that only two seat belts are included in that back row so people can spread out a bit.

The storage area behind the third row measures 20.6 cubic feet. If that row is folded down, cargo capacity increases to 55.5 cubic feet. If both the second and third row are folded, there are many more possibilities for storing items. Cargo volume behind the first row of seats is 96.8 cubic feet. This is plenty of room for most items, but if lumbar or something very large needs to be transported, there's always the roof to take advantage of.

5. Personalized Settings

When there are multiple drivers getting behind the wheel of the Atlas at various times of the week, it can be hard for people to keep track of everything they need to change as they head out on the roads. Fortunately, the 2020 Volkswagen Atlas can come with the ability to memorize four different user profiles. Each driver can set a particular seat position and temperature setting in addition to his or her favorite radio stations. Once the user profile is selected, things will almost magically move themselves into place.

6. A Digital Cockpit

Since everything seems to be going digital, it makes sense that Volkswagen is pushing the limits by incorporating technology in smart ways on their vehicles. The 2020 Volkswagen Atlas has an available digital cockpit that displays standard information like speed and range in addition to other data. For example, the cockpit can turn into a widescreen map so that drivers don't have to take their eyes too far from the road while following directions.

7. Stay Connected

The Atlas can be hooked up to a Volkswagen Car-Net App-Connect system to give drivers greater control over their vehicles. App-Connect encompasses Android Auto and Apple CarPlay so smartphones can be easily accessed. It also includes MirrorLink, which allows many types of phones to be controlled through the vehicle's infotainment system.

App-Connect does much more, and it can be very useful in many situations since it provides a direct link from a phone to the vehicle. From a phone, a user can lock or unlock the doors or pinpoint the Atlas's exact parking location. App-Connect can notify drivers when it's time to keep up with maintenance tasks. It can also be used to set limits for teen drivers.

8. Far From a Minivan

With three rows of seating, the VW Atlas has a lot of versatility in terms of carrying people and equipment. This makes it somewhat similar to the family-friendly minivan, but it feels quite different at the same time. The Atlas looks muscular, with a strong and aggressive stance. It's tall and wide without being too bulky. All together, it feels sporty and modern.

9. Bringing Things to a Stop

Accidents can never be perfectly predicted, but with the Automatic Post-Collision Braking System, steps can be taken to minimize damage. After a collision, the VW can slow itself down. This can be crucial considering that there's the potential for another impact immediately after the initial collision.

10. Versatile Seating

There is the option to get captain's chairs in the second row if anyone wants to make the interior feel more open. Otherwise, the middle row consists of a 60/40 split-folding bench. In the back, the row is a 50/50 split bench, so one or both seats can be lowered when not needed.

Easy entry into the third row is key. In just a second or two, the second-row seats can be slid and tilted forward to provide more room for passengers to get in and out of the back.

Reasons You May Not Like the 2020 Volkswagen Atlas – The Cons

1. Not Very Efficient

The best that the 2020 Volkswagen Atlas can put up in regards to efficiency is 26 mpg on the highway and 20 mpg in the city. These numbers correspond to the models that use the turbo engine. When the V6 engine is operating, fuel economy drops to 24/17 (city/highway) mpg. The V6 with 4Motion is fairly close to its front-wheel drive counterpart, earning an estimated 23/17 (city/highway) mpg. These stats aren't terribly impressive and could make some eco-conscious consumers look elsewhere.

2. A Bumpy Ride

While the Atlas can come with all-wheel drive and has a "Rough" drive mode, it's really designed for regular streets more so than dirt trails. When the SUV is taken off the road, the ride can be a little jarring without a performance suspension smoothing things out.

3. Slow to Get Going

Horsepower isn't bad, but it's not that great either. There are many other SUVs that have more powerful engines. As a result of the modest engine in the Atlas, acceleration can feel a bit slow. It can take over seven seconds for an Atlas reach 60 miles per hour.

4. A Basic Interior

There aren't too many luxury features included in the Atlas. For instance, the base model only has a 6.5-inch touchscreen, which could feel small in comparison with some of the larger displays in the market. Cloth seats and basic materials used in the interior are certainly adequate, but nothing to gawk over. One would have to upgrade to a higher trim to get a sunroof or leather seats.

How It Stacks Up to the Competition:

The 2020 Volkswagen Atlas is competitively priced and offers many similar features to several other SUVs. With a few more inches of room in key places, the Atlas can feel a bit more comfortable than the Honda Pilot in terms of seating. It also features advanced technology, such as the digital cockpit. A Toyota Highlander doesn't have that feature, and this minor detail could sway a customer in favor of the VW.


The 2020 Volkswagen Atlas is a smart purchase because of how convenient and comfortable it is to drive. With seating for up to seven and a solid engine, the Atlas would be a complete package for many consumers looking for reliable mid-size SUVs.

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