2021 Volkswagen Atlas

#2
in Suvs
2021 MODEL
$31,545 - $50,695
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Overall Rating

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2021 Volkswagen Atlas Complete In-depth Review & Buying Guide

Updated on: July 10, 2020
Amratya Nigam's image

Amratya Nigam

Automotive Journalist

Volkswagen has earned a reputation for itself when it comes to build quality or reliability, but the SUV segment is one place where the German manufacturer has struggled always. The 2020 Atlas, though, gave a good fight, it failed to make a mark in the segment, especially owing to its dated looks. Nevertheless, this year, VW finally got on its feet and gave the Atlas a complete makeover for the 2021 model year, welcoming the all-new 2021 VW Atlas in a refreshed avatar which is sure to impress young buyers too.

2021 vw atlas side view wallpaper
The all-new 2021 VW Atlas is 3 inches longer than its predecessor

VW developed the Atlas SUV specifically for the American car market, which is also the biggest VW ever. Going against their conservative architectural traditions, the 2021 VW Atlas now showcases a brawnier stance and more swollen-up dimensions. Popularly known for its calm and composed ride quality, this refreshed SUV now makes even a stronger point by keeping the prices intact, with the base trim of the 2021 VW Atlas starting at $31,545, going all the way up till $50,695. That said, with all-new styling, better-loaded interior, and bang on pricing, should you go ahead with the 2021 VW Atlas? Let's move ahead and find out. 

Also Read:

Has the VW Atlas proven to be a reliable SUV?

Is the VW Atlas extensive to live with?

See detailed review »

Pros

Attractive Exterior

Spacious Cabin with improved third row space

Best-in-class fuel economy figures

Good build quality

Unchanged prices despite refreshment

Cons

Difficult to access third row

Sluggish 2.0L motor

Expensive top trims

What's New?

Updated exterior with refreshed dimensions and new VW badge

SEL Premium R-Line is a new trim extending the top end lineup

2.0L Turbo Engine is now available in an AWD trim as well

More standard features than the 2020 model

Feature-list gets even bigger with more available options


2021 Volkswagen Atlas Latest Update

Features

vehicle bio

base price

$31545

bodystyle

SUV

passenger capacity

7

engine type

displacement

220

horsepower

276 hp @ 6200 rpm

torque

266 lb-ft @ 2750 rpm

transmission

8-speed Automatic

chassis

suspension front

Strut

suspension rear

Multi-Link

dimensions

wheelbase

117.3 in.

length

200.7 in.

width

78.4 in.

height

70.1 in.

curb weight

4248 lbs.

ground clearance

8.0 in.

capacity

passenger volume

153.7 cu ft.

performance

zero to 60 mph

7.2 sec.

standing ¼-mile

14.9 sec.

fuel economy

city/combined/highway

18/20/22 mpg

warranty

basic warranty

4yr. /50,000mi.

drivetrain warranty

4yr. /50,000mi.

corrosion warranty

7yr. /100,000 mi.


Pictures

Exterior
Interior

Styles

2021 Volkswagen Atlas in Absolute Black color
Absolute Black

Vehicle images are guides only and may not reflect the model's exact specifications/features– exact specifications/features should be confirmed with the seller.

Ratings

Features

8.1

Engine And Performance

7.2

Fuel Economy

6.6

Interior

8.9

Exterior

7.2

Safety

8.5

Competition

9.5

8.3

OVERALL RATING

Trims and Configurations

MSRP


2021 Volkswagen Atlas S

S

power
N/A
fuel
N/A
mpg
combined

$31,545 - $33,445


Style Prices MPG Engine Transmission Drivetrain Seats Colors
S 4MOTION 4dr SUV AWD (2.0L 4cyl 8A) Starting at $33,445 MSRP TBD TBD
N/A N/A N/A
S 4dr SUV (2.0L 4cyl 8A) Starting at $31,545 MSRP (22/24/26) 235 hp @ 4500 rpm, 2L, Inline 4, premium unleaded
8-Speed Automatic w/Tiptronic front wheel drive 7

2021 Volkswagen Atlas SE

SE

power
276 hp @ 6200 rpm
fuel
Premium unleaded
mpg
24 combined

$34,895 - $36,795


Style Prices MPG Engine Transmission Drivetrain Seats Colors
SE 4dr SUV (2.0L 4cyl 8A) Starting at $34,895 MSRP (22/24/26) 235 hp @ 4500 rpm, 2L, Inline 4, premium unleaded
8-speed automatic front wheel drive 7
SE 4MOTION 4dr SUV AWD (2.0L 4cyl 8A) Starting at $36,795 MSRP (22/24/26) 276 hp @ 6200 rpm, 3.6L, V-6, premium unleaded
8-Speed Automatic w/Tiptronic front wheel drive 7

2021 Volkswagen Atlas SE w/Technology

SE w/Technology

power
276 hp @ 6200 rpm
fuel
Premium unleaded
mpg
24 combined

$36,895 - $40,195


Style Prices MPG Engine Transmission Drivetrain Seats Colors
SE w/Technology 4dr SUV (3.6L 6cyl 8A) Starting at $38,295 MSRP (22/24/26) 276 hp @ 6200 rpm, 3.6L, V-6, premium unleaded
8-Speed Automatic w/Tiptronic front wheel drive 7
SE 4MOTION w/Technology 4dr SUV AWD (3.6L 6cyl 8A) Starting at $40,195 MSRP TBD TBD
N/A N/A N/A
SE 4MOTION w/Technology 4dr SUV AWD (2.0L 4cyl 8A) Starting at $38,795 MSRP (22/24/26) 276 hp @ 6200 rpm, 3.6L, V-6, premium unleaded
8-Speed Automatic w/Tiptronic all wheel drive 7
SE w/Technology 4dr SUV (2.0L 4cyl 8A) Starting at $36,895 MSRP (22/24/26) 276 hp @ 6200 rpm, 3.6L, V-6, premium unleaded
8-Speed Automatic w/Tiptronic all wheel drive 7

2021 Volkswagen Atlas SE w/Technology R-Line

SE w/Technology R-Line

power
276 hp @ 6200 rpm
fuel
Premium unleaded
mpg
24 combined

$39,695 - $41,595


Style Prices MPG Engine Transmission Drivetrain Seats Colors
SE 4MOTION w/Technology R-Line 4dr SUV AWD (3.6L 6cyl 8A) Starting at $41,595 MSRP TBD TBD
N/A N/A N/A
SE w/Technology R-Line 4dr SUV (3.6L 6cyl 8A) Starting at $39,695 MSRP (22/24/26) 276 hp @ 6200 rpm, 3.6L, V-6, premium unleaded
8-Speed Automatic w/Tiptronic all wheel drive 7

2021 Volkswagen Atlas SEL

SEL

power
276 hp @ 6200 rpm
fuel
Premium unleaded
mpg
22 combined

$42,295 - $42,395


Style Prices MPG Engine Transmission Drivetrain Seats Colors
SEL 4MOTION 4dr SUV AWD (2.0L 4cyl 8A) Starting at $42,395 MSRP (20/22/24) 276 hp @ 6200 rpm, 3.6L, V-6, premium unleaded
8-Speed Automatic w/Tiptronic front wheel drive 7
SEL 4dr SUV (3.6L 6cyl 8A) Starting at $42,295 MSRP (17/19/23) 235 hp @ 4500 rpm, 2L, Inline 4, regular unleaded
8-speed automatic front wheel drive 7

2021 Volkswagen Atlas SEL R-Line

SEL R-Line

power
276 hp @ 6200 rpm
fuel
Regular unleaded
mpg
18 combined

$43,995 - $45,895


Style Prices MPG Engine Transmission Drivetrain Seats Colors
SEL R-Line 4MOTION 4dr SUV AWD (3.6L 6cyl 8A) Starting at $45,895 MSRP (16/18/22) 276 hp @ 6200 rpm, 3.6L, V-6, regular unleaded
8-Speed Automatic w/Tiptronic all wheel drive 7
SEL R-Line 4dr SUV (3.6L 6cyl 8A) Starting at $43,995 MSRP (17/19/23) 276 hp @ 6200 rpm, 3.6L, V-6, regular unleaded
8-speed automatic front wheel drive 7

2021 Volkswagen Atlas SEL Premium

SEL Premium

power
N/A
fuel
Regular unleaded
mpg
18 combined

$47,195 - $50,695


Style Prices MPG Engine Transmission Drivetrain Seats Colors
SEL Premium 4MOTION 4dr SUV AWD (2.0L 4cyl 8A) Starting at $47,195 MSRP (20/22/24) premium unleaded
N/A N/A 7
SEL Premium 4MOTION 4dr SUV AWD (3.6L 6cyl 8A) Starting at $48,995 MSRP (16/18/22) 276 hp @ 6200 rpm, 3.6L, V-6, regular unleaded
8-Speed Automatic w/Tiptronic all wheel drive 7
SEL Premium R-Line 4MOTION 4dr SUV AWD (3.6L 6cyl 8A) Starting at $50,695 MSRP (16/18/22) regular unleaded
N/A N/A 7

Expert Review

8.3

Overall Rating


Unveiled in the 2020 Chicago Auto Show alongside the VW Atlas Cross Sport, the new 2021 VW Atlas also brings a new design to its interiors. The added length to its wheelbase further enhances the experience in the roomy third row. On the engine front, the 2021 VW Atlas will retain both of its engines from the predecessor - the fuel economy-friendly 2.0L Turbo, and the highway mile-munching 3.6L V6 motor. However, this time VW has enabled the AWD configuration with the smaller 2.0L motor as well, making things more intriguing.

The Atlas, though a big SUV by German standards, failed to impress the lot as the American midsize SUVs still offered a more practical third row. Nevertheless, this issue has been addressed by VW in the 2021 Atlas, thanks to the 3-inch increase in the length of the SUV. However, is it enough to take on the likes of the giant - Chevrolet Traverse and the most popular choices of the segment - Toyota Highlander and Honda Pilot? The answer's right below! 

2021 VW Atlas front view
2021 VW Atlas rear view

8.1/10
Features

 

7.2/10
Engine and Performance

 

6.6/10
Fuel Economy

 

8.9/10
Interior

 

7.2/10
Exterior

 

8.5/10
Safety

 

9.5/10
Competition

 
 

2021 Volkswagen Atlas Features

8.1/10

Volkswagen has given every buyer a reason to get the 2021 Atlas. The 2021 Atlas is divided into 9 configurations, offering a mix of all the spices that make driving a pleasure. The Atlas offers two engine options - a 2.0L Turbo motor, and a 3.6L, V6 one. Both these motors can be had in AWD and FWD configurations. Having said that, the 2021 VW Atlas starts at $31,545 for the base S trim and goes up all the way to a sticker price of $50,695 for the top-end trim - SEL Premium R-line. For a more detailed analysis of the 2021 VW Atlas's trim pricing, please follow the table below.   

2021 VW Atlas Trims

S

SE

SE w/Tech

SE w/Tech R-Line

SEL

SEL R-Line

SEL Premium

SEL Premium R-Line

MSRP (2.0L, FWD)

$31,545

$34,895

$36,895

-

-

-

-

-

MSRP (2.0L, AWD)(4Motion)

$33,445

$36,795

$38,795

-

$42,395

-

$47,195

-

MSRP (V6, FWD)

-

-

$38,295

$39,695

$42,295

$43,995

-

-

MSRP (V6, AWD)(4Motion)

-

-

$40,195

$41,595

$44,195

$45,895

$48,995

$50,695

Split into 4 trims, 2 drivetrains, and 2 engine options, Volkswagen has ensured that there's an Atlas for all types of buyers. The S and SE trims are utility focussed trims with some stand-out features like Rain sensing wipers, dual-zone climate control, cruise control, all-led headlamps, 4G Wi-Fi Hotspot, and many more. The SE trim also offers two special packages - Tech and R-Line. The Tech brings a plethora of luxury features, while the R-line spec takes things a sportier way with bigger alloy wheels and exterior ornaments.

The Basecamp Package blends a go-anywhere attitude into the 2021 VW Atlas's persona

The SEL trim brings luxury into perspective with a little more advanced features such as automatic three-zone climate control, in-car navigation system, bigger alloy wheels, and others. There's also an R-Line package available with this trim as well. Moreover, the top-trim SEL Premium is also available as an R-Line trim with all the features as standard. However, please take note that the SEL Premium R-Line is available on order only. There's also a new Basecamp package available with the 2021 VW Atlas that brings offroad tires and wheels, along with raised ground clearance as well.

2021 VW Atlas Trims

S

SE

SE w/Tech

SE w/Tech R-Line

SEL

SEL R-Line

SEL Premium

SEL Premium R-Line

Key Features

all-LED head/tail lamps adds/replaces features of S trim: adds/replaces features of SE trim: adds/replaces features of SE w/Tech trim: adds/replaces features of SE trim: adds/replaces features of SEL trim: adds/replaces features of SEL  trim: adds/replaces features of SEL Premium trim:
  Over-head roof rails in black color Powered Tailgate Powered Tailgate with Easy Open feature Refreshed front and rear bumpers along with R-Line badge Over-head roof rails in silver color Refreshed front and rear bumpers along with R-Line badge Leather seating surfaces with available contrast stitching Refreshed front and rear bumpers along with R-Line badge
  Cloth seating surfaces in a quilt-like design 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat Eight-way power passenger seat Rear Diffuser in black color Dual-pane panoramic sunroof with a powered sunshade Air-intake scoops on the hood Fender® Premium Audio System with 12 speakers Park Assist with Traffic Jam Assist
  18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels Second-row middle armrest with integrated cup holders 20-inch aluminum-alloy wheels 20-inch alloy wheels with a Diamond cut finish Three-stage driver's seat memory function 21-inch machine-finished alloy wheels Dynamic Road Sign Display, remote start 21-inch machine-finished alloy wheels
  6.5-inch capacitive touchscreen display Leatherette seating surfaces 8.0-inch capacitive touchscreen display       8.0-inch Discover Media touchscreen system with navigation Volkswagen Digital Cockpit

Which Trim of the 2021 VW Atlas Should You Buy?

If you are going to spend most of your time ferrying your kids to school or going to the office, the SE w/Tech trim with a 2.0L turbo motor should suffice to your needs. This trim in its FWD configuration can ensure good performance and still manage a respectable fuel economy.

If you're a regular interstate driver, get the SEL R-Line trim in an AWD setup. This will get you a gullible freeway companion which can churn miles all day long with no pressure whatsoever. The R-Line also brings a plethora of luxury and sporty features to the Atlas, fuelling the purist in you occasionally.

2021 Volkswagen Atlas Engine and Performance

7.2/10

The all-new VW Atlas brings no surprises under the hood and carries forward the same engines from the 2020 VW Atlas. The 2021 VW Atlas will offer two engine options - a 2.0L, Turbocharged, inline-4 motor that produces 235 HP of power and 258 lb-ft of torque, and the more powerful 3.6L, Naturally Aspirated, V6 unit that produces 276 HP of power and 266 lb-ft of torque. The transmission duties are carried out by the same tried and tested 8-speed automatic torque converted gearbox which is inclined towards a better fuel economy. It likes to upshift pretty quickly.

The 2021 Atlas doesn't bring any surprises under the hood, especially with the V6 motor

There are two drivetrain options on offer with the 2021 VW Atlas as well - FWD and AWD. Yes, they were available with the 2020 Atlas as well, however, this time the potent 2.0L motor can also be mated to an AWD drivetrain. This makes for an economical yet capable performer, balancing fuel economy with adequate performance. The 8-speed auto shifter isn't very promising, however, thanks to the "S" mode, you can get your 2021 Atlas to hold gears as well.

The various ride modes in the 2021 VW Atlas tinker with the throttle response

There are various pre-mapped modes, popularly known as "Ride Modes", in the 2021 VW Atlas AWD trims, giving you some control over the engine's behavior. The swivel wheel lets you switch to each mode quickly enabling a change in the throttle response and the intrusiveness of the safety systems. The dedicated modes are - Snow, Road, Hill, and Off-road. While the Atlas is no off-roader, VW has packed enough juice into the 2021 Atlas to conquer the occasional hurdles comfortably.

Models

2021 Volkswagen Atlas (SE w/Tech V6 AWD)

2020 Honda Pilot (LX AWD)

2020 Chevrolet Traverse (LS AWD)

2020 Toyota Highlander (L AWD)

MSRP

$40,195

$33,550

$34,900

$36,200

Engine

3.6L, Naturally Aspirated, V6

3.5L, Naturally Aspirated, V6

3.6L, Naturally Aspirated, V6

3.5L, Naturally Aspirated, V6

Drivetrain

AWD

AWD

AWD

AWD

Transmission

8-speed Automatic

6-speed Automatic

9-Speed Automatic

8-speed Automatic

Power

276 hp @ 6200 rpm

280 hp @ 6000 rpm

305 hp @ 6800 rpm

295 hp @ 6600 rpm

Torque

266 lb-ft @ 2750 rpm

262 hp @ 4700 rpm

260 lb-ft @ 2800 rpm

263 lb-ft @ 4700 rpm

The Atlas's most affordable V6 AWD trim still remains to be the most expensive deal in comparison to its rivals. Considering the likes of the utterly reliable and affordable - Honda Pilot, the Atlas seems to be an off-beat choice. Moreover, the other Japanese - Toyota Highlander, undercuts the Atlas's price tag and still offers more performance and better ride quality. That said, let's not forget that the 2021 VW Atlas brings along a plethora of standard features, especially in its V6 SWD configuration, that none of its rivals can match.

How fast is the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas from 0-60 MPH?

The 2021 VW Atlas is not subjected to many changes under the hood, which is why its V6 trim should offer a 0-60 MPH timing of around 7.2 seconds while the quarter-mile should be achievable in 14.9 seconds. The 2.0L motor of the Atlas should clear the 60 MPH barrier in 9.3 seconds and the quarter-mile mark in 17 seconds flat. That said, the 2021 VW Atlas is also a bit heavier than its predecessor, but the increase in its track width enabling better friction should compensate for that, maintaining the same resultant timings.

The 2021 VW Atlas feels more sure-footed than its predecessor

The Atlas's trusted 8-speed automatic is quick to respond, however, the weight of the SUV is pretty prominent on slamming the accelerator. The gearbox mimics the DCT boxes very well, offering seamless and fast shifts. The Tiptronic mode isn't the most fun thing. As a consolation though, it lets you hold on to a gear for a while before upshifting automatically. The 2.0L motor does require some execution and planning before performing overtakes.

Models

2021 Volkswagen Atlas (SE w/Tech V6 AWD)

2020 Honda Pilot (LX AWD)

2020 Chevrolet Traverse (LS AWD)

2020 Toyota Highlander (L AWD)

0-60 MPH

7.2 sec

6.3 sec

7.1 sec

7.2 sec

Quarter-Mile

14.9 sec

14.4 sec

15.5 sec

N/A

Top-Speed

N/A

130 MPH

130 MPH

112 MPH

Engine

3.6L, Naturally Aspirated, V6

3.5L, Naturally Aspirated, V6

3.6L, Naturally Aspirated, V6

3.5L, Naturally Aspirated, V6

Emissions (Tons/yr of CO2 Emissions @ 15k mi/yr)

8.1

8.0

8.4

7.6

The Atlas's fuel-hungry V6 trim is the slowest in the competition, making the 2021 model better suited for cruising. If you like slamming the accelerator more often, the Honda Pilot should intrigue you more. The Toyota Highlander, though with better acceleration timings, has a minimal top speed of 112 MPH. Though none of the US freeways let you go up to that speed, it's nice to know if you have the option.  

How does the 2021 VW Atlas ride and handle?

Since the length, breadth, and height of the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas has increased, this enables a better track width of the tires and enables a quicker off the ground feel. The steering is pretty accurate and light at low speeds but the weight gradually increases with the speed. The suspension setup is a bit stiffer than before and tackling curves is much more fun in the new Atlas now. As the hood as been set a bit more upright than the 2020 model, people with small height can easily navigate the SUV through tight spots.

The 2021 VW Atlas is an avid freeway cruiser offering a remarkable ride quality

For the passengers at the back, you won't really mind the sluggish nature of the engine. There is a bit of cabin roll that could you unsettling, but you can always ask the driver to go easy on the curves. Minor potholes and abruptions are well sustained below the cabin itself, but the suspension isn't as boat-like as the Chevrolet Traverse. The Honda Pilot also offers an equally good ride quality, but the 2021 Atlas also offers some rugged attitude, packing the ability to take on some serious jungle terrain.

How good are the 2021 VW Atlas's brakes?

Volkswagen is infamous for its stiff suspension setup, but this feature comes in handy under panic braking as it inspires more confidence to the driver. The 2021 VW Atlas shall retain the same disc-brake setup as the 2020 model, hence the braking factor should further increase. While the 2020 model could come to a halt from 60-0 MPH in 165 ft, the 2021 VW Atlas should achieve the same feat in an even lesser distance, thanks to the increase in track width.

The 2021 VW Atlas's 13.2-inch brake rotor masked behind the 21-inch wheels 

The 2021 Atlas also comes laden with a plethora of brake-related safety features that kee[p an eye of the "stopping" performance of the SUV. Some of the basic features tampering with the braking system are ABS, Traction Control, Adaptive Cruise Control, and many more. Do remember, all of the features we just mentioned are offered as standard even with the base-spec 2021 Atlas. The ABS is a bit too intrusive, however, new drivers can rest assured that these systems won't let you lose control of the Atlas.

Models

2021 Volkswagen Atlas (SE w/Tech V6 AWD)

2020 Honda Pilot (LX AWD)

2020 Chevrolet Traverse (LS AWD)

2020 Toyota Highlander (L AWD)

Brake Rotors: Front

13.2 in

12.6 in

12.6 in

N/A

Brake Rotors: Rear

12.2 in

13.0 in

12.4 in

N/A

Curb Weight

4612 lbs

4217 lbs

4362 lbs

4134 lbs

60-0 MPH

165 ft.

142 ft.

197 ft.

N/A

The 2021 VW Atlas, though the heaviest in the segment, consists of impressive braking power. The Honda Pilot offers the timidest braking response shooting a lot of confidence into the driver. The Traverse, being the Hulk, takes its own sweet time to slow down. The soft-est suspension setup of the Bow-Tie SUV drags it down here in this segment because of the terrifying nose-dive.

Also Read:

What's new in the 2021 Toyota Highlander?

See why is the Honda Pilot one of the best-selling cars of the segment

2021 Volkswagen Atlas Fuel Economy

6.6/10

As both motors - the 2.0L, and the 3.6L V6, are going to be retained with the 2021 Atlas, its fuel economy is expected to be the same as well. Hence, the 2021 VW Atlas should be good for 20 MPG in the city and 24 MPG on the highway in its 2.0L, FWD configuration. With a fuel economy of 18 MPG in the city and 22 MPG on the highway, the 3.6L V6 powerhouse of the 2021 Atlas isn't very generous when it comes to sipping fuel. The AWD variants are not expected to affect the fuel economy by a difference of more than a couple of MPGs.

The 2021 Atlas's driver's console keeps you aware of its fuel conditions

Irrespective of the engine or the configuration you pick, every Atlas gets the same 18.6-gallon fuel tank, which is a bit less than usual. The smaller 2.0L motor of the new 2021 Atlas can get you a combined range of 410 miles. If that's already isn't less for you, the V6 motor can only manage a meager 372 miles of combined range. Nevertheless, Atlas's infotainment and the driver's console carry a lot of important fuel-related data, keeping you well-aware of the SUVs fuel requirements.

Models

2021 Volkswagen Atlas (SE w/Tech V6 AWD)

2020 Honda Pilot (LX AWD)

2020 Chevrolet Traverse (LS AWD)

2020 Toyota Highlander (L AWD)

MPG (City)

18

18

17

20

MPG (Highway)

22

26

25

27

MPG (Combined)

20

21

20

23

Fuel Capacity (Gallons)

18.6

19.5

19.4

17.9

Range (City/Highway/Combined)(Miles)

335/410/372

351/507/410

330/485/338

358/483/412

If you're an occasional highway driver and more of a city guy with a big family, the Atlas cannot make more sense for you, considering it needs more frequent fuel breaks. In that sense, the Traverse as well remains out of the question unless fuel economy isn't a deciding factor for you. The Toyota Highlander seems to be the most frugal of the lot, but the case is lost due to the puny fuel tank.

2021 Volkswagen Atlas Interior

8.9/10

Welcome to the most interesting part of the 2021 VW Atlas - its interiors. Well, we have a lot to tell you. Apart from the all-new VW badge grabbing eyes on the re-designed steering wheel, the all-new Atlas brings a refreshed interior, with dual-tone colors and soft-touch plastics enhancing the overall feel. The A-pillars of the Atlas have been inclined further a bit, imparting wider visibility to the driver inside. That's one clever change for sure!

The refreshed interior of the 2021 VW Atlas now looks more like a modern urban SUV

The same old hierarchy, ranging from the cloth-wrapped seating surfaces in the base model to the leatherette ones in the middle trims, and then to the real ones in the top trims, the 2021 Atlas is no different. However, the comfort factor, just like the older models, has never been a point of concern for the previous owners. That said, certain features such as heating and ventilation, memory seats, adjustable steering column, and many others, join the standard feature-list as you move up the trim ladder.

Models

2021 Volkswagen Atlas (SE w/Tech V6 AWD)

2020 Honda Pilot (LX AWD)

2020 Chevrolet Traverse (LS AWD)

2020 Toyota Highlander (L AWD)

Seating Capacity

7

8

8

8

First Row (Headroom/Shoulder Room/Leg Room, in inches)

41.3/61.5/41.5

40.1/62.0/40.9

41.3/62.1/41

41/59/44.2

Second Row (Headroom/Shoulder Room/Leg Room, in inches)

40.4/60.8/37.6

40.2/62.0/38.4

40/62.2/38.4

40/60/38.4

Third Row (Headroom/Shoulder Room/Leg Room, in inches)

38.3/54.9/33.7

38.9/57.6/31.9

38.2/57.5/33.5

N/A

Although the 2021 Atlas is a bit more spacious than its predecessor, there's no comparing the passenger volume with the mighty Chevrolet Traverse. You could fit a bean bag in that behemoth for every passenger. That said, the Atlas is still the third most spacious vehicle in the discussion here besides the Toyota Highlander, and just ahead of the smaller Honda Pilot.

What's new in the 2021 VW Atlas's interiors?

The 2021 VW Atlas has been blessed with a plethora of features as standard across the trim levels. That said, the new major changes introduced with the 2021 model in the interior are:

  • All-new steering wheel with the new VW badge
  • Optional contrast stitching option on the seats and doors
  • The 8-inch Composition Media infotainment system now extends still SE trim, with the base trim still sticking to the 6.5-inch unit
  • Car-Net telematics system with in-car 4G Wi-Fi hotspot capabilities now standard across the whole range

What's the infotainment in the 2021 VW Atlas?

The new Atlas will feature the very familiar MIB-II infotainment system that runs commonly across the VW family. The special secret behind the 8.0-inch touchscreen's smooth touch responsiveness in the 2021 VW Atlas is - VW has used the "capacitive touchscreen" technology rather than the conventional resistive touch tech found in its rivals. This technology enables gesture and multipoint touches like swipe, zoom in, or out. The touch response and the fluidity of this 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment are fascinating indeed. However, this is a bit more premium unit, that is limited to the top trims - SE, SEL, or SEL Premium.

The 2021 VW Atlas features the same 8.0-inch MIB II infotainemnt system

The Atlas's base trim S is loaded with a 6.5-inch infotainment system that is just a derivative of the bigger 8.0-inch unit. The colors aren't as sharp and its limited feature-list could really tempt you to stretch to the SE trim at least. The 8.0-inch unit on the SEL and above trims feature Discover Media System (w/Navigation) and the one on the SE trims feature Composition Media Unit. That said, some of the infotainment features in the 2021 VW Atlas that should appeal to the masses are:

  • Bluetooth® Music Streaming technology for compatible devices with the ability to connect 2 phones simultaneously
  • App-Connect smartphone integration
  • Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto™
  • MirrorLink®
  • SiriusXM® radio for a three-month trial period
  • one-shot voice and typed destination entry with search and auto-complete
  • 480-watt, 12-speaker, 12-channel amplifier Fender Premium Audio System

Apart from the infotainment in the middle, the higher trims of the 2021 VW Atlas's lineup also get a standard driver's digital console. This display console refers to the LED display that replaces the analog meter in the lower trims such as the S, SE, and SEL. Other than performing some basic functions like displaying tacho and speedometer, it also offers various essential functions like fuel economy, navigation data with 2.5D map display, vehicle performance and vital stats, door position indicator, and other active safety systems.

With the new driver's console in the 2021 VW Atlas, navigating to places has gotten easier

This unit has previously been experienced by the Golf R owners, which has been discontinued now. Nevertheless, the Golf GTi still gets it and so does the 2021 Atlas. This display is purely a blessing as it can also control various other functions of the SUV including the head infotainment system. You can interact with this display with the controls mounted on the steering wheel, thus giving you a private control, on your own private infotainment system.

What's the Cargo Capacity of the 2021 VW Atlas?

Given the fact that the new Atlas has increased in length, it has not affected the initial cargo capacity as opposed to the 2020 model. The 2021 VW Atlas's cargo capacity stands at 20.6 cu.ft behind the third row, 55.5 cu.ft with the third row folded, and 96.8 cu.ft  with all rows folded. With such numbers, the Atlas defies the German standards and holds the recognition of the largest VW in their chambers.

With 96.8 cu.ft of total cargo volume, the 2021 VW Atlas is all about utility

The entire loading/unloading experience imparted by the 2021 Atlas's cleverly placed tailgate is impressive. It lifts high and the opening is wide enough. The almost-flat boot lip enables easy slide-in of your luggage and doesn't need you to pick it higher as is the case in some of its rivals. The top trims -SEL and SEL Premium, also feature the easy-open sequence where you get the luxury of opening the tailgate just by waving your leg below it. A powered button to close the tailgate further helps the case.

Models

2021 Volkswagen Atlas (SE w/Tech V6 AWD)

2020 Honda Pilot (LX AWD)

2020 Chevrolet Traverse (LS AWD)

2020 Toyota Highlander (L AWD)

Cargo Capacity

20.6 cu.ft.

18.5 cu.ft.

23.0 cu.ft.

16.1 cu.ft.

Cargo Capacity (with 3rd row folded) 

55.5 cu.ft.

55.9 cu.ft.

57.8 cu.ft.

40.6 cu.ft.

Cargo Capacity (With All Seats folded) 

96.8 cu.ft.

109 cu.ft.

98.2 cu.ft.

73.3 cu.ft.

Unless the gigantic Chevy Traverse is brought under the question, the 2021 Atlas remains to be the next most spacious SUV in the segment. Further backed up by a reliable powertrain, the Atlas makes a stronger point only if its high price wasn't a barrier. The Toyota Highlander loses this competition straightaway, with lesser space than the otherwise small Honda Pilot.

2021 Volkswagen Atlas Exterior

7.2/10

The 2021 VW Atlas has been refreshed style-wise, bringing it closer to a modern urban SUV as opposed to the 2020 model's old-school exterior. The front bumper has been completely redesigned introducing more tempting lines that add to the character of the SUV. The front of the 2021 Atlas is inspired by its younger sibling - the 2020 Atlas Cross Sport. However, if observed, the broader headlamps and the more upright A-pillar imparts a big-brother attitude to the Atlas over the Cross Sport. Chrome has been reasonably used to highlight the masculinity of the 2021 new Atlas.

The 2021 VW Atlas's exterior should appeal to young buyers

The side view of the SUV is now mesmerizing to look at, thanks to the double-lined massive wheel arches screaming for attention. With the base trim S, it all starts with a puny (by Atlas's standards) 18-inch wheels, and these swell up to 20 inches in the SEL trims. The rear is pretty much reminiscent of the old Atlas itself, with the old VW Tiguan-inspired taillamps making their presence conspicuous. However, the restyled bumpers certainly increase the SUV's appeal. The roof rails are now standard on every Atlas, however, their color changes to black in the base-spec trims - S and SE.

 

The R-Line trims take things the sporty way, introducing black inserts here and there. The blacked-out front splitter and the rear diffuser draws out the purist in you, and not to forget - the R-Line variants bless the 2021 Atlas with massive 21-inch wheels wrapped with low-profile sporty tires. Talk about style! There's also a Basecamp Accessory package on offer with the 2021 Atlas that raises the ground clearance by 1 inch and introduce high profile off-road tires to the urban SUV, bringing put the offroad characteristics louder than before. Ofcourse, some interior enhancements are also done.

Models

2021 Volkswagen Atlas (SE w/Tech V6 AWD)

2020 Honda Pilot (LX AWD)

2020 Chevrolet Traverse (LS AWD)

2020 Toyota Highlander (L AWD)

Curb Weight 

4248 lbs

4217 lbs

4362 lbs

4330 lbs

Length 

200.7 in

196.5 in

204.3 in

194.9 in

Width 

78.4 in

78.6 in

78.6 in

76.0 in

Height 

70.1 in

70.6 in

70.7 in

68.1 in

Ground Clearance 

8.0 in

7.3 in

N/A

8.0 in

Wheelbase 

117.3 in

111 in

120.9 in

112.2 in

The 2021 Atlas now sits 3 inches longer, 0.1 inches wider, and 0.1 inches higher than the 2020 model. The Curb weight has managed to remain the same and this brings an advantage for the Atlas, as the rest of the competition is pretty heavy if not equal. The Honda Pilot, as you can already expect by its puny dimensions, is the lightest contender here undercutting the 2021 Atlas's weight by a 20 lbs. The Highlander, despite having small dimensions, is the heaviest in the business here.

2021 Volkswagen Atlas Safety

8.5/10

Advanced safety features like Forward Collision Warning, Autonomous Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Monitoring (Front Assist), Blind Spot Monitor, and Rear Traffic Alert are standard across all trims.

The 2021 Atlas trims will include safety features like blind-spot monitoring, mechanized emergency braking, and alerts for rear cross-traffic. Owners can even opt for features like adaptive cruise control and active lane control at an additional price or with a higher trim. The standard models will come with the following features:

  • Blind-spot monitoring
  • Mechanized emergency braking
  • Alerts for rear cross-traffic

2021 Volkswagen Atlas Competition

9.5/10

2021 Volkswagen Atlas vs 2020 Honda Pilot

The base trim of 2021 Atlas is less costly than the 2020 Pilot and offers better mileage in the city. Meanwhile, the Pilot provides more horsepower and torque and comes at a lower curb weight than the Atlas. 

2021 Volkswagen Atlas vs 2020 Chevrolet Traverse

The 2021 Atlas has lower emission and price than the 2020 Traverse. But the Traverse compensates it with better horsepower, torque, AWD, and 0-60 mph acceleration against the Atlas. 

2021 Volkswagen Atlas vs 2020 Toyota Highlander

The 2021 Atlas has a bigger fuel tank capacity and city mile range than the 2020 Highlander. It even comes at a lower price than the Highlander. However, the latter provides better horsepower, torque, and highway mile range than the former.

2021 Volkswagen Atlas Final Verdict

The 2021 Volkswagen Atlas has many improvements, but it still doesn’t match its competitors under many categories. These mainly include horsepower, torque, acceleration time, and driving around edgy corners. 

But it compensates for its setbacks with a range of comfort, convenience, and a redesigned outlook. Therefore, anyone who can overlook the flaws and make a note of the benefits should opt for this sporty SUV. 

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2021 Volkswagen Atlas Overall Reviews


Nicky Collins

Nicky Collins 2020 Volkswagen Atlas SE w/Technology 4dr SUV (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 8A)

10

User Overall Rating

Posted On: July 13, 2020

A good car with some bad things

Overall Review -

10

Overview Rating

Go for the 3.6L.

8/10

Features

8/10

Interior

10/10

Design

10/10

Safety

10/10

Reliability

7/10

Deal Value

8/10

Dealer Review


Emily Hardy

Emily Hardy 2020 Volkswagen Atlas SEL Premium 4MOTION 4dr SUV AWD (3.6L 6cyl 8A)

9

User Overall Rating

Posted On: June 8, 2020

Great car but...

Overall Review -

9

Overview Rating

There is nothing that this misses out on apart from good gas mileage.

9/10

Features

8/10

Interior

10/10

Design

10/10

Safety

8/10

Reliability

9/10

Deal Value

10/10

Dealer Review

Top User Reviews


10

User Overall Rating

"A good car with some bad things"

Buying a smaller engine- Not a great decision. It is underpowered and for an SUV this capable it is not the best choice.
by Nicky Collins

9

User Overall Rating

"Great car but..."

There is always risk buying an unproven car like Atlas. I wanted to wait some time before I bought it but I just couldn’t wait any longer. Bought it. Now that I have it and I start to see the flaws a little by little. Flaw might be a big word for the situation but let’s see what I’m talking about and you can judge it yourself. Gas mileage is not the best. Yes I bought the bigger engine and I...
by Emily Hardy