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2020 Volkswagen Atlas Performance

U.S. News Best Price Program

2020 Volkswagen Atlas Performance Review


Performance: 6.8

The 2020 Volkswagen Atlas has admirable handling, a cushioned ride, responsive steering, and stable cornering. Its engines are less impressive, however. The base four-cylinder feels underpowered, and the available V6 is only marginally peppier. The eight-speed automatic transmission works well though. Fuel economy estimates are great for the midsize SUV class.

  • "This is one of the roomiest vehicles in its class but also one of the slowest." -- Autotrader
  • "The V-6 feels and sounds refined, transmitting nary a shiver into the cabin. Though the Atlas fairly sauntered from zero to 60 mph in our testing—7.9 seconds for an all-wheel-drive V-6 model and 7.2 seconds for a four-cylinder front-wheel-drive one—out on the road it rarely feels underpowered." -- Car and Driver
  • "The basic 4-cylinder engine … is adequate for suburban duties, but anyone planning longer drives might want to consider the V6. Then again, the Atlas is not light (around 4,500 pounds) … so even this option is hardly a speed demon." -- Kelley Blue Book (2019)

Acceleration and Power

The Volkswagen Atlas comes with two engine choices. A 235-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter engine is standard, and its power proves unsatisfying on the highway. The available 276-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 offers a little more enthusiasm, but it isn't as potent as the V6s in many rivals. The eight-speed automatic transmission shifts quickly and smoothly.

Fuel economy numbers are great for models with the base engine, with estimates of 20 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway. The Atlas Cross Sport gets 1 extra mpg in the city. The Atlas is one of the few Volkswagen models that take nonpremium gas, so you’ll save some money at the pump.

  • "The main downside to the Atlas is that neither of its available engines has much muscle." -- Autotrader
  • "While its base four-cylinder engine is underpowered when there's a full load of people and cargo, the optional V-6 provides acceptable motivation." -- Car and Driver
  • "While the powertrain feels lively in everyday driving situations, benefitting from the tested V6 engine's rich torque and the eight-speed automatic transmission's smooth and responsive shifts, it's no rocket ship -- it trails its competitors in the 0 to 60 mph dash at 8.7 seconds." -- Consumer Reports

Handling and Braking

The 2020 Atlas strikes a great balance between ride comfort and agility. The Atlas is surprisingly composed for its size. It handles corners with confidence and stability and responds quickly to steering inputs. Still, some drivers may prefer slightly smaller rivals that have sportier handling. Front-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is available.

  • "Comfort and serenity are the hallmarks of the Atlas' driving experience. Driving manners are stable and composed, and the high driving position will please many." -- Autotrader
  • "While it's not as fun to drive as the Mazda CX-9, the Atlas responds obediently to steering inputs and never feels clumsy. It is composed on the highway and feels nimble in the city. Ride comfort is smooth, and all but the harshest potholes are absorbed and dispensed with." -- Car and Driver
  • "Judging by the Atlas's size and weight, one might expect it to be ungainly, but that's not the case. Its handling is quite capable and surprisingly adept at cornering both on winding roads and on our track. Still, the Atlas doesn't possess VW's typical sporty character, because that isn't a priority for most buyers in this category." -- Consumer Reports
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2020 Volkswagen Atlas

MSRP: $31,545 - $49,195

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