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2020 Volkswagen Atlas


Save money. Use the U.S. News Best Price Program to find the best local prices on the Atlas.

$31,545 - 49,195 MSRP

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2020 Volkswagen Atlas Review

The 2020 Volkswagen Atlas earns a spot in the top half of our midsize SUV rankings, thanks to its balanced ride, great fuel economy estimates, and spacious seats. However, its underpowered engines and lackluster cabin materials are disappointing.

Pros & Cons

  • Roomy seats in every row
  • Cavernous cargo bay
  • User-friendly infotainment system
  • Carlike handling
  • Great fuel economy
  • Underpowered engines
  • Some downmarket cabin materials

New for 2020

  • Two-row Atlas Cross Sport model debuts
  • Reshuffling of some features and trims
  • Updated Car-Net service

Research & Ratings

Currently, the Volkswagen Atlas has a score of 7.9 out of 10, which is based on our evaluation of 35 pieces of research and data.

7.9

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 7.8
Performance: 6.8
Interior: 8.5
Safety: 9.7
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

 Is the Volkswagen Atlas a Good SUV?

Yes, the 2020 Volkswagen Atlas is a good SUV and one of the best midsize SUVs for large families. It’s incredibly spacious, with adult-friendly seating in all three rows and tons of cargo room. It also comes with a generous list of state-of-the-art features, making it a great buy for the money. However, a vehicle this heavy could use a lot more power under the hood.

Should I Buy the Volkswagen Atlas?

The Atlas is worth buying for a number of reasons. Its long list of appealing and innovative standard tech and safety features combined with its below-average base price make it a great value in the class. It also has more cargo and seating space than most of its rivals, of which only a few have an adult-friendly third row like the Atlas.

Still, many competitors offer stronger engines and nicer cabin materials than the Atlas. The Mazda CX-9 isn't as roomy as the Volkswagen, but it has many of the same standard features and a more upscale interior. It’s also one of the most fun-to-drive three-row SUVs available. The Hyundai Santa Fe is another great option. It has high-quality cabin materials and a soft ride, and its starting price is lower than the Atlas’ by about $5,400.

Compare the Atlas, CX-9, and Santa Fe »

Should I Buy a New or Used Volkswagen Atlas?

Unless you're interested in the new two-row Atlas Cross Sport, consider shopping for an older model to save some money. The Atlas launched as a brand-new vehicle for 2018 and has seen few major changes since.

Aside from the introduction of the Cross Sport to the Atlas lineup, the most notable change for 2020 is the enhancement of VW’s Car-Net service. Car-Net now comes standard with a Wi-Fi hot spot and includes mobile connectivity functions that allow you to start, stop, lock, and unlock the vehicle via a smartphone app. You can also access vehicle maintenance records, find a parking spot, and send destinations to your navigation system (in properly equipped models).

For 2019, VW added blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control, and automatic emergency braking to the standard features list. These features were optional in 2018 models.

If you're considering an older model, be sure to read our 2018 Atlas and 2019 Atlas reviews to help make your decision. Also, check out our Used Car Deals page to learn about savings and discounts you can find on used vehicles.

Compare the 2018, 2019, and 2020 Atlas »

We Did the Research for You: 35 Reviews Analyzed

We’ve analyzed 35 VW Atlas reviews, in addition to hard data points like predicted reliability ratings, fuel economy estimates, and safety ratings to help you make a smart car-buying decision.

This 2020 Atlas review incorporates applicable research for all models in this generation, which launched for 2018.

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News Best Cars has been ranking and reviewing cars, trucks, and SUVs since 2007, and our team has decades of experience in the auto industry. While we’re passionate about cars, we’re even more committed to providing helpful consumer advice. To maintain objectivity, we don’t accept expensive gifts or trips from automakers.

How Much Does the Volkswagen Atlas Cost?

The three-row 2020 Volkswagen Atlas starts at $31,545, which is below average for the midsize SUV class. The price reaches $49,195 for the highest trim level. At the time of writing, there is no official pricing for the two-row Atlas Cross Sport.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Volkswagen dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Volkswagen deals page.

Volkswagen Atlas Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Volkswagen Atlas or Volkswagen Tiguan?

The biggest difference between these Volkswagen SUVs is size. Like the Atlas, the compact Volkswagen Tiguan offers two- and three-row configurations, a comparable features list, and a comfortable ride. On the downside, both VWs have weak engines. The Tiguan does have a lower price than the Atlas, and it has a better predicted reliability rating. Choose the Atlas for more cargo and seating space, or go with the Tiguan if you don’t plan on using the third row regularly.

Which Is Better: Volkswagen Atlas or Mazda CX-9?

The Mazda CX-9 offers most of what the Atlas lacks. It has a strong engine, sharp steering, a standard adjustable suspension system, and little body roll. The CX-9’s cabin boasts premium materials throughout, and it has an impressive number of features, though not as many as the Atlas. The Mazda is the way to go, as long as you don’t need tons of cargo space and don’t plan to seat adults in the third row very often.

Compare the Atlas, Tiguan, and CX-9 »

Atlas Interior

How Many People Does the Atlas Seat?

In its standard configuration, the Atlas seats seven people in three rows. The Atlas Cross Sport seats five people in two rows. There’s plenty of space no matter where you’re seated in the standard Atlas, and even adults have generous legroom in the third row. The sliding second row provides additional flexibility. Also, the cabin is well-insulated from outside noise.

Atlas and Child Car Seats

The Atlas has three complete sets of LATCH connectors for the second-row seats, as well as upper tether anchors for the third-row outboard seats. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave this system the second-worst rating of Marginal for ease of use. The lower anchors are set too deep in the seats, and it requires a lot of force to attach the car-seat straps.

Atlas Interior Quality

The interior of this VW features premium materials, though most are relegated to the front of the cabin. The second and third rows have more plastics. On the plus side, this makes it a bit easier to clean up if you have messy kids.

Atlas Cargo Space

The Atlas has more cargo space than most SUVs in its class. It has 20.6 cubic feet of space behind the third row, 55.5 cubic feet behind the second row, and 96.8 cubic feet with the second and third rows folded down.

Atlas Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

The Volkswagen Atlas comes with an abundance of useful, high-tech features. These include a 6.5-inch touch screen, Mirror Link, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a six-speaker stereo, Bluetooth, a USB port, and VW’s next-generation Car-Net service with a Wi-Fi hot spot.

Options include an 8-inch touch screen, voice recognition, navigation, HD Radio, satellite radio, a 12-speaker Fender premium stereo, three extra USB ports, and Volkswagen’s Digital Cockpit with a 12.3-inch display.

The Atlas earns praise for its plentiful in-cabin technology. Infotainment controls are clearly labeled and easy to use. The available VW Digital Cockpit replaces the traditional gauge cluster and displays navigation, climate settings, vehicle information, and more. The upgraded VW Car-Net service also offers a wealth of handy features that allow you to interact with your vehicle remotely via a smartphone app.

For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay? and What Is Android Auto?

Read more about interior »

Atlas Performance

Atlas Engine: Underpowered

The Volkswagen Atlas comes with a 235-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. This engine feels underpowered, especially if you are traveling with several passengers. The available 276-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 offers a little more oomph, but it isn’t particularly potent when compared with other V6s in the class.

Atlas Gas Mileage: Above Average

Atlas models with the base engine and front-wheel drive get an EPA-estimated 20 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway. Those are above-average estimates for the midsize SUV class. The Atlas Cross Sport returns 21/24 mpg city/highway. Models with the V6 see a drop to 17/23 mpg for both the three-row Atlas and the two-row Cross Sport. V6 models equipped with all-wheel drive get 1 mpg less in the city and on the highway.

Atlas Ride and Handling: Comfortable and Composed

The 2020 Atlas offers a great ride, and it’s relatively poised for its size, especially around corners. Steering is responsive. That said, there are sportier-handling SUVs in the class, like the Mazda CX-9, if that’s what you’re after.

Atlas Towing Capacity

When properly equipped, the Atlas can tow up to 5,000 pounds.

Read more about performance »

Atlas Reliability

Is the Volkswagen Atlas Reliable?

J.D. Power gives the 2020 Atlas a predicted reliability rating of three out of five, which is about average.

Volkswagen Atlas Warranty

Volkswagen covers the Atlas with a limited four-year/50,000-mile warranty.

Read more about reliability »

How Much Does It Cost to Insure a Volkswagen Atlas?

The cost of insuring a Volkswagen Atlas will depend on a variety of factors, including your deductible, the level of coverage that you want, and the type of insurance that you choose. Your age, gender, location, credit score, and driving record can also have an impact on your insurance rates. Check out our car insurance guide to find the best policy for you.

Atlas Safety

Atlas Crash Test Results

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2020 Volkswagen Atlas an overall safety rating of five out of five stars. It earned five stars in the frontal and side crash tests and four stars in the rollover evaluation.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the 2020 Atlas the highest rating of Good in all six crash evaluations. The Atlas’ standard headlights received the lowest rating of Poor for how well they illuminate the road ahead, while headlights in the Atlas SEL Premium trim received the second-lowest rating of Marginal. For its standard front crash prevention features, the Atlas earned the top rating of Superior.

Atlas Safety Features

The 2020 Volkswagen Atlas comes with a rearview camera, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, a post-collision braking system, forward collision warning, and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection. Available safety features include front and rear parking sensors, a surround-view parking camera system, parallel park assist, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, and automatic high-beam headlights.

Read more about safety »

Atlas Dimensions and Weight

The Atlas is 16.5 feet long. The curb weight for the 2020 Atlas hasn’t been announced yet, but the 2019 model ranges from 4,222 to 4,502 pounds.

Where Is the 2020 Volkswagen Atlas Built?

Volkswagen builds the 2020 Atlas in Tennessee.

Which Volkswagen Atlas Model Is Right for Me?

The three-row 2020 Volkswagen Atlas comes in seven trims: S, SE, SE with Technology, SE with Technology R-Line, SEL, SEL R-Line, and SEL Premium. Front-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is available in all trims.

The two-row Atlas Cross Sport has sportier styling than the larger Atlas, and it adds an eighth trim: the SEL Premium R-Line. The Cross Sport features the same powertrain options as the standard Atlas model. Pricing on the Atlas Cross Sport has not been released at the time of writing.

The base 2020 Volkswagen Atlas S is a great value. It has a below-average price for the midsize SUV class and comes with an impressive number of tech and safety features. However, this model’s turbocharged four-cylinder engine can feel underpowered, so you may want to upgrade to at least the Atlas SE to get the optional V6 engine.

All SEL-designated trims include VW’s Digital Cockpit, and all R-Line-designated models come standard with a 3.6-liter V6 engine.

Volkswagen Atlas S

The base Atlas S (starting MSRP: $31,545) is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. Standard features include cloth upholstery, a 6.5-inch touch screen, Mirror Link, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a six-speaker stereo, Bluetooth, a USB port, and VW’s Car-Net service with a Wi-Fi hot spot.

The Atlas S also comes with several driver assistance features, including a rearview camera, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, a post-collision braking system, forward collision warning, and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection.

Volkswagen Atlas SE

The Atlas SE starts at $34,695. The SE adds an 8-inch touch screen, voice recognition, three additional USB ports, satellite radio, HD Radio, tri-zone automatic climate control, heated washer nozzles, proximity keyless entry, heated front seats, a 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, synthetic leather upholstery, and fog lights.

Volkswagen Atlas SE with Technology

The Atlas SE with Technology has a starting price of $37,045 and gains remote start, a 115-volt household-style power outlet, and a power liftgate.

Volkswagen Atlas SE with Technology R-Line

The Atlas SE with Technology R-Line ($40,645) upgrades the engine to a 3.6-liter V6 and adds a hands-free power liftgate, active blind spot monitoring, and park distance control.

Volkswagen Atlas SEL

The Atlas SEL is priced at $40,795 and comes with a lot of high-tech goodies, including navigation and VW’s Digital Cockpit with a 12.3-inch display. A heated steering wheel is also standard.

Volkswagen Atlas SEL R-Line

The Atlas SEL R-Line starts at $44,295. It features the 3.6-liter V6 engine but is otherwise nearly identical to the Atlas SEL.

Volkswagen Atlas SEL Premium

The Atlas SEL Premium, priced at $49,195, comes with the V6 engine and all-wheel drive. It adds power-folding side mirrors with puddle lights, ambient lighting, genuine leather upholstery, heated rear seats, ventilated front seats, and a 12-speaker Fender audio system. It also gains some safety features, including park assist, automatic high-beam headlights, and an overhead-view camera.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Volkswagen dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Volkswagen deals page.

See 2020 Volkswagen Atlas specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2020 Volkswagen Atlas stands out in the midsize SUV class for its incredible roominess, offering an abundance of both seating and cargo space. With lots of features and a comfortable ride, it’s a great vehicle for large, tech-savvy families. However, it isn’t quite as upscale or quick as most rivals.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "A competent SUV lacking the upscale feeling of some of its rivals." -- Car and Driver
  • "While it's the product of a European automaker, the Atlas was designed and developed in the US for the US market. Built in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the Atlas appeals to American sensibilities with regard to space, equipment and overall demeanor." -- Autotrader
  • “And it really is Volkswagen’s first rodeo in the 7-seater crossover-SUV arena. But it’s staying in the saddle thanks to competitive pricing, tempting technology, a dash of Euro flair in both the design and the driving experience, plus some good old-fashioned hospitality in the form of an accommodating and well-thought-out cabin.” -- Kelley Blue Book (2019) 

Buying

Expert Advice

Last Updated: May 13, 2020

Consistently Low Demand: The Volkswagen Atlas is currently sitting in the lower half of the competitive midsize SUV segment in sales. Relative to 2019, Atlas sales have remained steady so far in 2020.

Research more buying advice »
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2020 Volkswagen Atlas

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