With style so often counting for more than substance, it’s nice to find a vehicle with the substance to supplement middle-of-the-road style. While it may sound like a slight for the 2024 Volkswagen Atlas, being described as “very good” at what you’re supposed to be, is no slight. Find out more in the review.
Capable of seating seven, the 2024 Volkswagen Atlas is spacious, comfortable and more agile than you’d expect it to be. The VW also offers significant towing capability. Going into its seventh year of production, Atlas has also gained a number of key updates as part of the marque’s effort to make its largest SUV more competitive.
What’s new for ’24?
Upgrades for the 2024 model year begin with a new front fascia and headlights. Fresh wheel designs bring a set of 21s for the R-Line trim package.
The VR6 option and the base 4-cylinder have been laid to rest, leaving a turbocharged inline 4 as the sole powerplant. Front drive remains standard; all wheel drive can be had as an option. Rounding things out, a new taillight treatment enhances the going away look of the big VW SUV.
Four CAN be greater than six
Turbocharging 2.0-liter inline 4-cylinder engines has become so ubiquitous, it’s easy to forget VW was one of the first automakers to blaze this trail.
In this case, 269 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque are extracted. An 8-speed automatic transmission links the engine to either the front wheels or all four if you opt for VW’s 4Motion all-wheel drive system.
As mentioned above, buyers had the option of a VR6 engine in previous years, as well as a normally aspirated 4. Those days are gone as Volkswagen’s VR6 has finally been retired altogether after a 32-year run. Happily though, the turbo 4 delivers stronger performance than the 6-cylinder and better fuel economy as well.
The 4-cylinder engine’s throttle response has also been improved and the transmission offers crisper shifts than before.
Practicality over style
If you’re looking for ultra-plush interior accommodations in a VW SUV, you’d best head over to your friendly neighborhood Audi dealer. The Atlas is more about utility than appearance in that regard. Okay, that’s not entirely fair, the interior treatment does look nice — it’s just not as plush as its luxury-oriented Audi cousin’s.
Atlas is more family oriented, so the materials employed are easy to clean and extra durable. Perhaps down-to-Earth is the best phrase to employ here.
With that said, an effort has been made to give the 2024 Atlas a more upscale ambiance. Material choices are nicer than before, and hard plastics are kept to a minimum. Wood trim, brushed metal and faux carbon fiber trim can be had now as well. A newly standard heated steering wheel and ventilated seats are backed up by a 12-inch infotainment touchscreen.
Useful options include remote start, USB charging for third row occupants, captain’s chairs for the second row and a towing package, which endows Atlas with the capability of pulling up to 5,000 pounds in its wake.
What’s more, you’ll find lots of storage, including the ability to accommodate four carry-on suitcases with the third row deployed. Fold the rearmost seats away and you’ll unleash 38 cubic feet of cargo capacity.
Tech game is strong
Along with the aforementioned 12-inch touch screen, CarPlay and Android compatibility are standard. The base audio system features six speakers. Wireless charging is included in the base price too.
On the safety front, you’ll get forward-collision warning and automated emergency braking, along with blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert as standard equipment. Smart cruise control and lane centering are optional.
With that said, the touch-sensitive controls leave a bit to be desired in terms of responsiveness. As hard as manufacturers try (any many of them have done so over the years) there is no replacing knobs and buttons for oft-employed functions. It can be frustrating when you need to access a feature only to find it buried two or three menus deep in the interface.
Family hauler not back road brawler
While Atlas’ agility is remarkable for its size and its ride quality is admirable, the fact remains this is a large and heavy vehicle. You’ll feel it when you try to thread the VW into corners with any degree of heat. It’s best to look at the Atlas as safe, solid and comfortable family transportation. We strongly recommend sticking to a Jetta GLI or a Golf GTI if you want superior road holding with a VW badge.
Overall, the 2024 Volkswagen Atlas is looking pretty good as a 7-year-old. It remains one of the most capacious models in its category. The engine is more fuel-efficient now and the VW can still tow up to 5,000 pounds. Ride quality is good and comfort is abundant.
What’s more, the Atlas has a substantive look and will deal with soft roads with ease. We’d prefer to have left the touch-sensitive controls by the wayside, but that’s the only knock we have against what is otherwise a competent offering in the segment.