The midsize SUV's design required two years of work to reach completion.
VW signaled its intentions towards making a large SUV to cater the North American market almost four years ago in Detroit with the CrossBlue concept. Fast forward to present day, the production version billed “Atlas” is receiving its public debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show, following a launch event organized last month on the Santa Monica Pier.
In the second episode part of a web series explaining the Atlas’ origins, VW is talking about how the SUV’s design came to life based on how Americans live with their cars nowadays. According to Klaus Bischoff, Head of Volkswagen Design, in the initial phase the vehicle was too European and small, so they had to go back to the drawing board and make it larger to better tailor to North American tastes. Bischoff goes on to specify that “size does matter, especially for families,” and they wanted to better accentuate the SUV’s big footprint by making it look wide and imposing without overdoing it since that would have made it too aggressive and unsuitable for the targeted crowd.
The same theme was carried over on the inside where the Atlas' cabin is family-friendly, with uncomplicated switchgear and a functional layout with a high-tech look granted by the all-digital instrument cluster. Capable of hosting up to seven people, the spacious interior offers comfortable seating even for those on the rearmost seats, with VW saying those are providing the same level of comfort as the second-row seats. In addition, accessing the third-row seats will be a breeze, even if car seats will be installed in the second row.
In terms of power, buyers will get to pick between either a turbocharged 2.0-litre engine with 238 horsepower or a naturally-aspirated 3.6-litre VR6 with 280 hp. Both are coupled to an eight-speed automatic transmission, which in the case of the turbo engine sends power to the front wheels whereas the V6-equipped model has a 4Motion all-wheel drive setup.
Launching next spring, the Atlas will ride on the largest iteration of the company’s very flexible MQB platform and will be assembled alongside the Passat at the Chattanooga, Tennessee plant following an investment of $900 million USD (about $1.2-billion CAD).