As far as American thinking is from ours, so few American cars are sold here. They are dominated by large SUVs such as Jeep and Dodge, which have no competition in Europe. However, American models of global brands are also increasing. The Volkswagen Atlas is one of the most interesting. It fills the generous dimensions with a well-known technique that can be used even by local repair shops. It is powered by a characterful, if somewhat thirsty, six-cylinder engine.
European brands have been trying to break into the American market for decades. In vain. In the conditions there, our cars are unnecessarily small and economical at the expense of comfort. Only those who adapt to the big country will find success. The Japanese understood it first, then the Koreans.
It was only a few years ago that Volkswagen became popular among European brands. Its managers there made a car a class larger than the Tiguan, and the MQB modular platform allowed it to be built at a reasonable cost. That’s how Atlas was born. It’s over five meters tall, has endless room and is made in the funky town of Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Before they could finish it, the Dieselgate affair hit and it looked like Volkswagen would not cut corners in America. That is, at least until it switches completely to battery drive. But the opposite happened. Eighty thousand Atlases are sold a year, only a quarter less than Tiguans.
That’s not a big number for America, but it is for a modest Volkswagen store. It is as important a commodity to him as the Grand Cherokee is to the American branch of Stellantis.
The design reveals the country of origin quite clearly. If it weren’t for the logo on the hood, you’d almost mistake such a chunky piece of iron for a Ford Explorer or Chevrolet Traverse. Under the hood, however, the engine from the Czech police Superbs of the previous generation growls, the Passat-like shoulders peek out from below, and every Octavia user will feel right at home after sitting inside. You will find the familiar buttons in the same places.
Americans don’t pay much attention to interior design, and Volkswagen caters to them. Large plastic surfaces are not attractive to the eye or to the touch, and some controllers have more play. But the comfortable armchairs and the omnipresent excess of space make up for it.
The Atlas has three rows of seats and behind the last row there is room for luggage. The second row can be pushed forward to a large extent. Then you can comfortably stretch into the third row and sit in it more comfortably than in most European SUVs, as the seats are not anchored so low.
Then you can play with folding individual seats or entire rows and create a space in which to live. When you try to park in the center of Prague, the European question comes to mind, what is the need of such a size. But just a trip outside the city and you will answer the American question: why drive anything smaller?
The driver’s sandwich matches the American concept of life the most. The tall build and long, bushy bow look fearless. The overview of the surrounding traffic is excellent – at least here, where you can also see the Nissan Qashqai and Skoda Yeti from above. Be careful, however, that you can’t see anything directly in front of the car. Extreme caution is required where children are around.
The chassis, which does not care even about large dents and holes, looks just as sovereign. Perhaps the designers had no idea that long wheel lifts and twenty-one-inch rims with high-profile tires would be just as useful on Czech roads as among the cornfields of Nebraska. Atlas springs compliantly, doesn’t let anything make it nervous and doesn’t even jump on big bumps.
All this is crowned by the honey-smooth thrust and captivating bubbling of the six-cylinder 3.6 FSI, known from the previous generation Passat and Superb. It is not a racer, but with its muscular engagement in the middle and upper range, it adds effortless sovereignty to the ride. Especially in tandem with the eight-speed planetary automatic, which American Volkswagens pack instead of the jumpy DSG. The gearbox starts up with smooth grace, shifts smoothly and lets the engine whine around 1200 rpm under a light foot.
Unfortunately, even this does not keep the average consumption below 12 liters. Although this is a lirt to two less than in the Jeep Grand Cherokee, but for higher efficiency you have to look for direct injection into the cylinders, more sensitive to quality fuel and sensitive to short cold drives. America’s abundance of space includes such bills, forget about diesel.
Volkswagen Atlas 3.6 V6 FSI
Engine: petrol 6-cylinder, 3597 cm3
Power: 206 kW at 6200 rpm
Torque: 360 Nm at 2500 – 5000 rpm
Top speed: 190 km/h
Acceleration 0-100 km/h: 8.9 s
Combined consumption: 12.4 l/100 km
Luggage compartment volume: 583 to 2740 l
The Atlas is not in the standard offer of the European Volkswagen network and does not have a fixed price. Enlightened brand sellers, however, have them imported in small quantities individually, because this format has its clientele here as well. That’s how our example found itself in Das Weltauto’s range of verified used Volkswagens. After two years and 11,000 kilometers, it costs 1.8 million crowns, which corresponds to other cars of a similar design, led by the Jeep Grand Cherokee.
The advantage of the Atlas is the proven and reliable mechanics known from European Volkswagen models, which can be handled by both branded and independent repair shops. Within the Das Weltauto network, it is even possible to purchase an extended warranty. However, specific parts are sent from the USA, which usually takes a month, sometimes even two. The prices are illustrated by the original bumper without paint for 23,000 crowns and the headlight for 44,000 crowns.