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The 2021 Volkswagen Atlas is a mid-sized crossover SUV with a lot to offer. As one would expect, there is a lot of space for cargo and passengers in the Atlas. There is actually a lot more room inside of this vehicle than the overall size would have you believe possible. This is a testament to good engineering. There are a lot of good reasons to check out a Volkswagen Atlas and a few reasons why it may not be the best choice for you.
What's New for 2021?
The Atlas is a relatively new vehicle in Volkswagen's lineup. It first rolled off of the assembly line back in 2018. The 2021 models are still part of this first generation of the Atlas. The new models will get an updated front end and rear bodywork. There are a few upgraded interior appointments, but otherwise no major changes here.
Top 10 Reasons to Buy a 2021 Volkswagen Atlas – The Pros
1. Plenty of Cargo Space
One of the best reasons to buy a 2021 Volkswagen Atlas is for all of the cargo space that it provides. With the seats properly configured, the Atlas gives you a whopping 98.6 cubic feet of storage space. There are a lot of options for hauling around your cargo. The second and third seat rows can be folded down flat. This helps when you need maximum cargo space or when you just need to transport a large item. The Remote Power Liftgate makes loading and unloading your stuff a whole lot easier.
2. A Roomy Interior
The latest Volkswagen Atlas offers three full rows of seats. That's unusual for a mid-sized crossover vehicle. In this configuration, it can comfortably seat up to seven people. There is also a two-row version for owners who need more room for cargo than passengers. This version of the Atlas can accommodate up to five people. The interior feels massive with plenty of head, leg and elbow room at every row.
3. Great Steering and Handling
Steering and handling is far above average for the Volkswagen Atlas. It has steering dynamics more akin to a sedan than a mid-sized crossover SUV. Steering is tight, responsive and accurate. The Atlas feels great at highway speeds and downright nimble when zipping around the city.
4. 4Motion All-Wheel Drive
The Atlas offers all-wheel drive (AWD) which plays a big part in the excellent handling of the vehicle. This makes the Atlas a safer vehicle on wet or slick pavement too. It even gives this crossover SUV respectable off-road capabilities. Volkswagen's 4Motion AWD gives drivers four different modes which can be selected with the turn of a dial. The modes are Snow, On-Road, Off-Road and Off-Road Custom. This allows the driver to fine-tune the AWD performance to match their current situation.
5. Good Performance From the V6 Engine
Volkswagen gives you the choice of two different engines for the 2021 Atlas. There's a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder, but the real star of the show is the 3.6-liter V6. This engine produces 276 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque. That's plenty enough power and torque so that you'll never feel bogged down, even with a carload of passengers or cargo.
6. Surprisingly High Towing Capacity
The horsepower and torque of the larger engine does more than just provide good acceleration. It also gives the Volkswagen Atlas surprisingly good towing capabilities. This powerful SUV can tow up to 5,000 pounds. That's plenty enough weight to pull along a small trailer or boat for your next trip.
7. VW Car-Net Remote Access
This unique feature allows you to control your Volkswagen Atlas from a distance. Volkswagen provides an app that you can download to your smartphone for free. You will then be able to remotely start your vehicle, lock or unlock the doors, flash your headlights, honk your horn and more, right from your phone.
8. The Modern High-Tech Infotainment System
The modern infotainment system in the Atlas comes equipped with an 8-inch color display. The system offers voice-command technology so you can make calls and access features without ever taking your hands off of the steering wheel. The sound system provides AM/FM/HD radio and a CD player that is MP3 and WMA compatible.
The system also features Bluetooth technology for easy connectivity with your smartphone. You can even get a WiFi Hotspot for multiple devices to use at the same time. Several USB ports offer yet another option for connectivity as well as charging ports for your devices.
9. Good Crash-Test Ratings
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, or IIHS for short, does a number of different crash tests on vehicles to measure how safe they are. They conduct six main tests for what they call their "Crashworthiness," score. The organization gives the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas a "Good," rating in each of these six different test categories.
10. A Lot of Standard Safety Features
Safety is an important category for every potential new-car buyer. Not only does the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas fare well in crash tests, but it also offers a lot of standard safety equipment and driver-assist technology. The front end of the Atlas has been designed to mitigate the force of an accidental impact. Volkswagen calls this "crash optimization."
There are Side Curtain Protection Head Airbags for the front and rear. There is also a front and side Airbag Supplemental Restraint System for the driver and front passenger. Electronic Stability Control and ABS brakes are standard on all models of the Atlas. There's also a ton of driver-assist tech such as the Automatic Post-Collision Braking System and Blind-Spot Monitoring.
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Reasons Not to Buy a 2021 Volkswagen Atlas – The Cons
1. The Fuel Economy Could Be Better
The fuel efficiency of the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas is not the best for this class of vehicle. There are a lot of competing mid-sized SUVs that do better in this category. The actual numbers will vary depending on the engine and your trim level. The 4-cylinder model should get you around 22 miles-per-gallon. The V6 will only get you a combined fuel-economy rating of 18 miles-per-gallon.
2. Sluggish Acceleration From the Base Engine
The V6 engine is great, but the same can't be said for the base-model 4-cylinder. The horsepower rating is fine, but acceleration is just downright sluggish with this engine. It takes a long time to work its way up to 60 miles-per-hour. Fortunately, the V6 is available on certain trims if performance is a priority for you.
3. A Plain and Basic Interior
The 2021 Volkswagen Atlas has comfortable seats and a ton of features and amenities in the interior. The look and feel is just kind of bland. The materials are on the cheap side, though the fit and finish are fine. It gets the job done, but it's not pretty.
How It Stacks up To the Competition:
2021 Volkswagen Atlas vs 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe
The Chevrolet Tahoe is one of the main competitors for the Volkswagen Atlas in 2021. The Tahoe seats eight people, one more than the Atlas. The Atlas, however, has a little bit more cargo space. The Tahoe has significantly more horsepower and better acceleration. It also happens to be significantly more expensive than the Atlas. Both come with a good amount of standard features and safety equipment. Unless you need the extra seat for passengers, the Volkswagen Atlas is the better value.
2021 Volkswagen Atlas vs 2021 Honda Pilot
Honda has a great reputation for building quality vehicles. One such vehicle is the Honda Pilot, and it's a serious contender for best mid-sized SUV. Like the Volkswagen Atlas, it offers a V6 engine. The Honda engine produces 280 horsepower with 262 pound-feet of torque. The Volkswagen makes 276 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque. Both offer very similar performances. The Honda has a more refined interior. The Volkswagen offers way more cargo space and a bigger overall interior. Once again, the Volkswagen Atlas is less expensive and the better bargain.
2021 Volkswagen Atlas vs 2021 Toyota Sequoia
The first thing to note when comparing the Volkswagen Atlas to the 2021 Toyota Sequoia is the difference in cost. The Toyota has a significantly higher starting price and it only gets higher as you add on options or move up through the trim levels. Once again, both vehicles offer a similar amount of standard features. They both have nice infotainment systems and a lot of safety features too. The Toyota offers more power and a better interior. The Volkswagen offers a bigger interior and more practicality with a larger cargo area. The price difference yet again makes the Atlas the smarter purchase here.
If you are in the market for a new mid-sized crossover SUV, you can't go wrong by choosing the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas. Volkswagen gives owners a lot of standard comfort and convenience features as well as a ton of modern technology. That makes the Atlas a good value. The driver-assist tech and safety features all make this a safe vehicle to own and drive. There is a ton of room for cargo in the Atlas, and it can even tow a trailer and do some light off-road activities. It's an economical and practical choice for a new vehicle.
• Why buy a 2020 Volkswagen Atlas? w/ pros vs cons