2018 Volkswagen Atlas

Change year or car

Change year or car


starting MSRP

2018 Volkswagen Atlas
2018 Volkswagen Atlas

Key specs

Base trim shown


The good:

  • Second-row comfort and flexibility
  • Cargo space
  • Crash-test ratings
  • Three child seats fit in second row
  • Multimedia screen is sharp and bright
  • Camera and parking-sensor integration

The bad:

  • V-6 power is underwhelming
  • Not enough hidden storage space
  • Steering is too light
  • Conservative styling
  • Advanced safety features not available on lower trim levels
  • All-wheel drive with V-6 only

10 trims

Starting msrp listed lowest to highest price

Wondering which trim is right for you?

Our 2018 Volkswagen Atlas trim comparison will help you decide.

Notable features

  • Brand-new model for 2018
  • Three-row, mid-size SUV seats six or seven
  • Two engine options
  • Built in the United States
  • Optional all-wheel drive
  • Six-year/72,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty

2018 Volkswagen Atlas review: Our expert's take

By Brian Wong

The verdict: With an emphasis on utility, the Atlas is a comfortable SUV with lots of interior room and well-executed high-tech features.  

Versus the competition: For those who often carry people or cargo, the Atlas offers greater interior flexibility and space than the competition.  

The newest vehicle from Volkswagen is also its biggest: the aptly named 2018 Atlas. Why does the name fit so well? Because its cavernous interior can carry passengers and cargo better than anything in its class.

The all-new Atlas competes in a crowded segment of three-row SUVs that are a step below full-size, truck-based behemoths like the Chevrolet Suburban and Ford Expedition. Its rivals include the Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot and Chevrolet Traverse. Compare the Atlas with those vehicles here.

I tested two versions of the Atlas, both with the optional V-6 engine and all-wheel drive: an SEL (priced at $43,615 including destination charges) and an SEL Premium ($49,415), the Atlas’ top trim level.

How It Drives

There are two engines available for the Volkswagen Atlas: The base engine is a 235-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that makes 258 pounds-feet of torque. Both models I drove were equipped with the optional 276-hp, 3.6-liter V-6 that makes 266 pounds-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic is the only transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard, while all-wheel drive is available on V-6 models.

I found the V-6 to be underwhelming. It doesn’t feel like it has quite enough oomph to propel the Atlas’ considerable girth with ease. It strains a bit during merges and passing maneuvers, but I found the transmission to be a willing kickdown partner in those instances.

In her video review, fellow editor Jennifer Geiger faulted the Atlas’ steering, saying it was too light on center — especially at speed, where keeping the SUV centered in its lane was difficult. I agree with her assessment; the steering wheel feels like it belongs on a smaller vehicle. However, thanks to the Atlas’ individual drive settings, I found a happy medium: I set the steering to Sport, which adds some heft, while keeping the powertrain at its Normal setting (the accelerator is too twitchy in Sport).

Fuel-economy ratings vary widely by engine. Four-cylinder models are EPA-rated 22/26/24 mpg city/highway/combined, beating FWD V-6 models (18/25/20 mpg) by a fair margin. AWD V-6 models come in slightly behind that, at 17/23/19 mpg. Both engines use regular gasoline. These figures lag most of the competition: The Toyota Highlander with a V-6 engine and all-wheel drive gets an estimated 20/26/22 mpg.

Interior Room Galore

The Volkswagen Atlas’ styling is very vertical. The sides seem to go up forever, and a sense of boxiness is the most prominent visual aesthetic of the whole package. Beyond looks, however, this approach clearly benefits cabin room for both cargo and occupants.

For occupants, the Atlas’ interior feels expansive in a way that’s uncommon for this class. While the third row especially tends to feel like an afterthought in many of the Atlas’ competitors, it’s spacious here and can comfortably fit adult passengers. This is thanks in large part to the second-row’s flexibility: It has 7.7 inches of fore/aft adjustment, which allows passengers to negotiate for legroom. Both sides offer easy third-row access thanks to tilt-and-slide functionality that works even with a forward-facing child-safety seat installed. As an added bonus, the seat locks once you tilt it forward, providing a point of balance when getting in and out — a feature my rapidly aging knees much appreciated.

The second row is also extremely kid-friendly, with space for three child-safety seats across the second-row bench. It got straight A’s in our Car Seat Check, earning it a spot on our Car Seat Honor Roll for 2017.

The Volkswagen Atlas offers 20.6 cubic feet of cargo room behind the third row, 55.5 cubic feet behind the second row and 96.8 cubic feet with both rows folded. If I had one nit to pick with the Atlas in regard to carrying cargo, it would be a lack of a hidden storage bin: There is a small spot under the rear cargo area to store small items, but a large purse or backpack won’t fit. I’d like a bit more privacy back there as an alternative to the retractable cargo cover.

Screen Savvy

There are two touchscreens available on the Volkswagen Atlas: a 6.5-inch screen that comes only on the base S trim, and a larger 8.0-inch screen. I experienced only the larger of the two, and it’s great. The screen has high resolution, is plenty bright even in sunlight and offers responsive menus. Volkswagen also did a good job with the graphics (the climate-control screen is particularly attractive). And in a great blend of old- and new-school features, there are both volume and tuning knobs flanking the touchscreen. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are both standard regardless of screen size.

Volkswagen also offers its Digital Cockpit, which is similar to Audi’s similarly named system: a 12.3-inch screen that replaces the traditional instrument panel behind the wheel. It’s available only on SEL Premium models. Its graphical dials can shrink to reveal a large screen showing navigation directions or other driver information.

Two USB ports and a 12-volt power outlet are standard up front, and two USB ports on the center console are standard on SE and higher trim levels. SEL trims add a 115-volt power outlet to the back of the center console.

Safety Squeeze

The all-new Volkswagen Atlas offers all the advanced safety features you expect on a new vehicle, including forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, front and rear parking sensors, and lane keep assist with lane centering. It even offers some extras, including a very good 360-degree camera system and an automatic parking system that works for both parallel and perpendicular parking spaces. The camera system can split the screen between a rear view and a 360-degree view, and either can be enlarged via a tap on the screen.

However, I find it disappointing that many of these features aren’t available on lower trim levels. S models can’t have any of the features mentioned above; it can’t even have blind spot warning. To get those other features means bumping up to at least the SE. To be fair, the Atlas isn’t the only vehicle in its class to do this (the Chevrolet Traverse is the biggest perpetrator). And excluding these features does keep the Atlas’ base price down ($31,425 for a FWD, four-cylinder S model). But safety should be trim-agnostic: Even if not all buyers want the features standard, a safer car should be available to them through options, not just by bumping up to a more expensive trim.


The 2018 VW Atlas is very good at what it does, with a combination of interior versatility and easy-to-use technology that overcomes its average driving experience. If you’re shopping for a three-row SUV and know you’ll use the third row consistently (especially if you have a young child who requires a child-safety seat), the Atlas deserves a long, hard look. And Volkswagen has made things easier on the wallet, as well: The Volkswagen Atlas gets a six-year/72,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty.

Cars.com’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with Cars.com’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of Cars.com’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.

Consumer reviews

Rating breakdown (out of 5):
  • Comfort 4.8
  • Interior design 4.7
  • Performance 4.5
  • Value for the money 4.5
  • Exterior styling 4.8
  • Reliability 4.6

Most recent consumer reviews


Might as well be a lemon

I am the second owner. The first flag should have been that the last owner sold it less than 2 years and 20k miles. The vehicle had several service appointments around 15k - "shift linkage repaired" and "front exhaust pipe replaced". The second flag: Four months after I got it, it was with the dealer for service for a month because the EPC light kept turning on and they couldn't get the fuel line part to fix it. They said it would become eligible for VW buy back and VW would reach out. They didn't. When I reached out to them, the dealer suddenly got the part and returned the car. The factory tires only survived for about 45k miles and then the steel belts started popping one after another. The third flag: At 67k, the EPC light starts coming on again. This time they say it's a fuel injector. At 81k, it's the check engine light, but similar behavior. Cylinder 2 misfire code, but they say there's no misfire it just needs a software update. Since VW has some of the lowest warranty mileage - 72k - they try and charge you for the software update! Looks like it's even worse on newer models! 50k now! It also turns out VW has a bunch of electronics hooked up to their 12v batteries like a hybrid or EV even though it's neither. Not possible to replace it yourself or the vehicle immobilizes. $450 for a simple battery replacement! I cannot recommend this car or brand to anyone.


Over 500 miles on a tank of gasoline

We sold the Tiguan and got the Atlas. It's so much more bang for your buck in the Atlas. We're averaging 27 mpg in the Atlas; we were only getting 29 in the Tiguan. The Atlas rides much smoother and the room is huge!!!


A great vehicle for me

This car is a wonder. With the rear camera., blind spot warning and lane assist i feel so safe. The cabin is spacious and not confining. Although I haven't had to use the 3d seat I am confident it is roomy and comfortable. Happy I bought it.

See all 229 consumer reviews


New car and Certified Pre-Owned programs by Volkswagen
New car program benefits
72 months/72,000 miles
84 months/100,000 miles
72 months/72,000 miles
Roadside assistance
36 months/36,000 miles
Certified Pre-Owned program benefits
Maximum age/mileage
MY 2016-MY 2017 vehicles/75,000 miles; MY 2018- MY 2019 vehicles/72,000 miles; MY 2020 and newer vehicles/75,000 miles
Basic warranty terms
Vehicles purchased on or after 1/5/21: MY 2017 & older, 2 yrs/24,000 miles (whichever is 1st) limited warranty; MY 2018-19, 1 yr/12,000 miles (whichever is 1st) limited warranty; MY 2020 & newer, 2 years/24,000 miles (whichever is 1st) limited warranty
Dealer certification required
100-plus point inspection
Roadside assistance
View all cpo program details

Have questions about warranties or CPO programs?

Compare the competitors

See all 2018 Volkswagen Atlas articles