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2021 Volkswagen Atlas Trim Levels with Comparisons & Configurations.

2021 Volkswagen Atlas Trim Levels, Configurations & Comparisons: S vs SE, SEL vs Premium
Reviewed & fact checked by
James Murdoch

What 2021 Volkswagen Atlas Trim Level Should you Buy? What is the Difference Between Trims?

Shopping for a new car can be an exciting, new adventure. Once you set your eyes upon the new Volkswagen Atlas, it is likely you will have this feeling of ease and relief that you have found your dream car. Yet, the decision-making does not stop there. Despite your selection of the Volkswagen Atlas for purchase, you must also decide on a trim level option that provides everything you want in your new vehicle. In fact, the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas SUV offers so many options that sorting through them can take some assistance, yet it is an ode to this vehicle's dedication to providing a wide array of choices for buyers.

Oftentimes, dealership staff will mention available trim levels during test drives or in general discussion of the Atlas. Yet, other times you may find that selecting the model you love the most comes as an afterthought. Comparing the amenities that different between each Volkswagen Atlas trim level is key to attaining ultimate satisfaction in your new vehicle. While the basis of the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas is similar across all models, many different interior, exterior, and design elements exist that separate them in a functional and appearance-based manner. Ultimately it is up to the buyer to decide which features are the best fit for their lifestyle, but help is available to help navigate through details that are the most important to you.

In the 2021 model lineup, there are four different models available for the Volkswagen Atlas. The S, SE, SEL, and SEL Premium are the options that buyers must choose from in their new Atlas. The decisions do not stop there, either. In addition to these trim levels, various packages are also available as an upgrade. Packages that focus on technology, premium features, 4-wheel drive accompaniments, or R-line amenities. The options are endless in the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas.

Compare the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas S vs. SE Trim Levels. What is the Difference?

The 2021 Volkswagen Atlas S and SE are the two most economical and basic models that are offered for this SUV. The S model offers the most rudimentary amenities, which are still signature offerings of Volkswagen models. Though it may be the base model, the Volkswagen Atlas S is still well-equipped and stylish. Complete with a 2.0-liter turbo engine, Bluetooth technology compatibility, Blind Spot Monitoring, 18-inch wheels, and daytime running lights, the Volkswagen Atlas S is convenient and economical.

Going from the Volkswagen S to the SE model adds a few additional features and available upgrades, but they do come at a cost. Increasing the MSRP by $3,000-$5,000, the SE model incorporates a few welcomed upgrades and amenities that are an addition to the S model Atlas. Adding in a 10-way power driver's seat that is heated, three-zone automatic climate control, wireless charging, multiple USB ports, and a power liftgate, the Volkswagen Atlas SE trim enhances the look and feel of this accommodating SUV.

Though the differences between the 2021 Volkswagen S and SE are minimal, buyers can opt for a few more convenience features by moving up a trim level. While the base S model is more than comfortable and efficient, the SE model simply adds in a few more advanced features that some buyers may prefer. In fact, customers can add on a Technology or Technology with R-Line Package to the SE model as an upgrade.

For Volkswagen models, all-wheel drive capability is labeled as "4Motion" technology. Available on all models, beginning with the Atlas S, a 4Motion package is available for all trim levels. The advantage of this setup is that consumers have the option to upgrade to all-wheel drive in all trim levels, yet not all models offer all the associated amenities to compliment the AWD option. Therefore, both the S and SE models offer 4Motion packaging, but the SE incorporates additional inclusions to amplify its

Compare the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas SE vs. SEL Trims. What is the Difference?

Delving even further into customization options, the SEL further heightens the number and variety of available features up for selection. Increasing the MSRP by nearly $10,000, buyers expect substantial differences between the SE and SEL models. While there is always the potential for disappointment, most buyers are completely satisfied with the additional amenities that the SEL has to offer.

The SE model begins to incorporate more options and technology into its innate design. In fact, the Atlas SE offers a Technology and Technology R-Line Package that allow for a choice between front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive drivetrain setups. With the Technology Package that offers a 2.0-liter engine or V6 powertrain, more options begin to emerge for consumers interested in the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas SE model.

Moving into a more technological-based design, the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas SEL relies on the Volkswagen Digital Cockpit to maximize driver controls and notification efforts. Discover Media is responsible for navigation for the SEL, which is a notable upgrade from the underlying trim level offerings. Throughout the SEL model, technology is acknowledged in the simplest ways. From side mirrors with a memory feature to heated windshield washer nozzles to a panoramic sunroof, the SEL is well-equipped with modern enhancements.

Another notable change between the lower trim levels and the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas SEL is its introduction of a new powertrain setup. Boasting a V6 engine with a towing package and 8-speed automatic transmission pairing, the SEL model ramps up the power potential of this SUV. Complete with Tiptronic and Sport Mode, the transmission of the SEL is versatile and encouraging. Buyers will also find an optional R-Line upgrade in the Atlas SEL model, which contributes sporty exterior accents, larger wheels, and stainless-steel features to complete the bold look of the R-Line package inclusion.

Compare the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas SEL vs. SEL Premium Trim Levels. What is the Difference?

When comparing the top trim levels for the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas, even the most minute details make a huge difference. These two exceptional models incorporate the best technology and design elements available to impress consumers who prefer speed and aesthetics over functionality and cost. Building on the sturdy foundation of the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas SEL, the SEL Premium takes customization and premium features to new heights.

As the highest-priced and most exclusive trim level, the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas SEL Premium has more options and features than any other model option. Understandably so, customers have high expectations for this Atlas model. The SEL model is available with either a 2.0-liter turbo or V6 engine with an all-wheel drive drivetrain. As a base SEL or SEL R-Line, the attributes of this model can be customized to meet the exterior look that each customer is looking for.

The 2021 Volkswagen Atlas SEL Premium comes equipped with 20-inch wheels, exquisite leather seats, heated and ventilated front and rear seats, elegant ambient lighting, and a premium Fender Audio System. Moving on to the Premium R-Line, buyers will also upgrade to 21-inch wheels, signature R-Line accents, a sporty look, and stainless-steel features. All these upgrades are not available or only available at an additional cost as upgrades for underlying models. There is no doubt that the Atlas SEL Premium is the best Volkswagen has to offer for this SUV.

Not only does the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas SEL Premium boast a variety of amenities, it also offers excellent fuel economy. At 24 hwy MPG and 20 city MPG, the Atlas is equipped for both city commute and lengthy road trips. A 3.6L V6 engine helps this vehicle maintain its fuel efficiency long-term, and power steering with variable assistance helps drivers maintain control of this SUV at all times. Not only does the Atlas SEL Premium offer upscale interior and exterior elements, but it is also fully capable of going anywhere you need it to, as well.

Which Trim to Choose?

Some buyers will find it refreshing that every 2021 Volkswagen Atlas comes equipped with a specific set of standard features, which differentiates it from other SUV models. These included standard features consist of driver-assistive safety features, like blind-spot monitoring, rear traffic alert, automatic emergency braking, and forward collision warning. Every Atlas model is also equipped with Car-Net telematic technology and Wi-Fi capabilities, which help this model to be preferred over others from the base model.

Every buyer will have their own preference in vehicle look, amenities, functionality, and upgrades that must be taken into consideration when selecting a model for purchase. To ensure a consumer's overall happiness with their new 2021 Volkswagen Atlas, it is important to consider what they are looking for in a new SUV and pair them with the model that best meets those expectations. Therefore, buyers who simply love the look and feel of the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas will be satisfied with the more economical, but less-equipped, base S model. This model incorporates all the most basic, standard features at an affordable cost.

However, consumers who are in search of additional upgrades and more customization will find the SE and SEL models are more appropriate for their requirements. SE models boast additional customization options that are not available with other trim levels. Captain's Chairs are included in the SE Technology Package, as well as a panoramic sunroof and V6 Towing Package. Though they come at an additional cost, these upgrades are also available in the SE R-Line Package alongside a sunroof with electric tilt-and-slide, factory trailer hitch, and alternator upgrade.

Still yet, some consumers will only be happy with the best of the best, and this is solely available in the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas SEL Premium model. Versatility stems from this model's differing engine types, design elements, and upscale improvements that customers can choose from. The SEL Premium trim level is the highest-priced Volkswagen Atlas model, but it is also the most advanced in many ways. This vehicle model is a great option for buyers who are looking for ultimate comfort, convenience, and potential in their new VW SUV. However, despite its upgrades and luxury amenities, the cost of this model is out of reach for many consumers.

Overall, there is no perfect model selection for each VW customer. The pros and cons of each trim level must be considered thoroughly to ensure the selected Atlas model will meet the expectations of every customer. Elements that are governed by powertrain, technology, safety, and design attributes are some of the major categories that need to be considered before completing the purchase of a new 2021 Volkswagen Atlas. While online research can help differentiate between these features, knowledgeable sales professionals at a dealership can help, too. Though we know you will love the new 2021 Volkswagen Atlas regardless of the trim level that is chosen, your vehicle can further be personalized through trim level options to truly make this SUV your own.

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Compare the 2020 Volkswagen Atlas Trim Levels