As we bid “auf wiedersehen” to our long-term Volkswagen Atlas, we’ve had few qualms about VW’s three-row SUV. The Atlas dominated rival three-row SUVs in a Cars.com comparison test in 2017 before going on to win our top vehicle award for 2018 — and, since December 2017, we’ve owned an all-wheel-drive SEL example with Tourmaline Blue Metallic paint and Shetland (gray) vinyl upholstery.
It’s served us well, though with a few annoyances.
After a full year and nearly 12,000 miles of driving, out-of-pocket maintenance and repairs amount to some extra coolant, one tire repair and a regular service appointment with an oil change, at a total cost of about $155. Add atop that the $1,888 we spent on fuel. At no cost to us were a handful of recall repairs and a sunshade repair for the panoramic moonroof. The sunshade was really the only thing out of the ordinary, but Volkswagen covered it under warranty.
Would we buy the Atlas again? We posed the question to editors who substantially drove the car. Most said yes.
“What made the Atlas standout during our Best of 2018 voting continues to help the Atlas shine,” Editor-in-Chief Jennifer Newman said. “It’s a three-row SUV with a livable third row, and despite its large size, the Atlas feels nimble in busy parking lots and city streets.”
Others echoed the sentiment. Managing Editor Joe Bruzek noted annoyances with the sensitivity of the SUV’s lane departure steering assist but commended overall seating and cargo space, which “remains unrivaled in its class of three-row SUVs.”
Despite the size, the Atlas “drives like a sedan, with the agility and responsiveness of a car half its size and weight,” Bruzek continued.
Perhaps the greatest feather in the Atlas’ cap came against its latest competitor, the all-new 2019 Subaru Ascent. We tested the two back-to-back, and the Atlas, well, ascended to the task.
That said, we still aren’t fans of Volkswagen’s touch-sensitive stereo controls, and our longstanding annoyance remains gas. In nearly 12,000 miles, Cars.com averaged 18.6 mpg in the Atlas — in line with its 19 mpg combined EPA rating, but still low for the competitive class.
In the six months and 18 tanks since we instituted the practice of filling up the SUV only when it’s close to empty, we averaged just 281 miles per tank with 15.1 gallons added. That’s well short of the 18.6 gallons and 353 miles that a full tank and EPA-combined fuel economy should get us. It’s not quite Jackson Browne, but the Atlas’ fuel needle always seems running toward empty.
2018 Volkswagen Atlas SEL AWD
- Long-Term Mileage
- EPA rating city/highway/combined: 17/23/19 mpg
- Recommended fuel: Regular
- Highest single-tank average: 24.2 mpg
- Lowest single-tank average: 12.7 mpg
- Average gas mileage: 18.5 mpg
- Current mileage: 11,747
- Total cost of fuel: $1,887.54
- Longest mileage range observed: 367.0 miles
That’s a wrap on the Atlas, but we’re still plugging away in another long-term car: the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica. Read more about that here, and check out our long-term Atlas coverage below:
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