2019 Volkswagen Atlas SEL 4MOTION Test Drive

The 2019 Volkswagen Atlas SEL Premium is an impressive SUV great for families. 

2019 Volkswagen Atlas SEL 4MOTION OVERVIEW

The Volkswagen Atlas was introduced in 2018 as an American-built three-row family-sized crossover SUV with a spacious interior in three rows and comfortable seating for seven adults. It is based on the award-winning Modular Transverse Matrix (MOB) architecture, and it is the largest, most dynamic Volkswagen vehicle ever assembled in America. It is built alongside the Passat at VW’s Chattanooga, TN assembly plant.

There are a variety of trim level choices, with two engines to choose from and one may choose either a FWD configuration or VW’s 4Motion all-wheel-drive system for select models.

Engine choices include a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder turbocharged four-cylinder engine or a 3.6-liter V-6. Motive force for both is geared to the driving wheels via an 8-speed automatic transmission with clutch-pack center, differential, adaptive torque distribution and Driving Mode selection, consisting of Onroad, Snow, Off-road and Custom Off-road settings. Within the “On road” setting, additional options are offered: Normal, Sport, Comfort and Individual, which alter operating parameters for drive systems like the engine, transmission, steering and Adaptive Cruise Control, as well as traction-assistance systems such as Hill Descent Assist and Hill Start Assist.

Trim levels or model include: the base S, SE, SE with Technology package, SEL and the flagship SEL Premium. A new trim is being introduced this year – the 2020 Atlas Cross Sport – a five passenger version with upgraded infotainment software.

We’ll review here the carryover 2019 VW Atlas SEL Premium with 4MOTION.



My test Volkswagen Atlas SUV was in SEL Premium trim, powered by the 3.6-liter V6 with 276 horsepower and 266 pound feet of torque, and with 4Motion. It wore an exterior finish of Terra Brown metallic, while the interior was executed in Bone and Charcoal, with wood grain trim elements on the doors and console.. The base sticker was set at $48,395., with a final tally of $49,390. After adding the destination charge.


Atlas styling is evolved from the 2013 CrossBlue concept vehicle. In a word, it is clean and conservative – more functional than luxurious, with more interior space than most of its competitors. The interior space is huge, including a spacious cargo area, and access to the third row is easy.

Visually, the VW Atlas displays a blunt, bold “in-your-face” exterior presence, beginning with the front end that is almost Range Rover-like in its impact. In profile, striking character lines run from nose to tail, featuring athletic, pronounced fender arches above the wheel wells. The sculpted hood meets the sharply angled windshield, and the roof curves gently downward at the rear, which is broad, powerful and distinctive. Essentially, it displays a predominantly boxy image with some rounded corners.


The cabin reflects Volkswagen’s classic imagery, with a clean and functional styling execution and a focus on premium ambience. The three-row seating provides seating for up to seven adults to travel in comfort, and the innovative second row has a 7.7-inch fore and aft sliding range, tilting and folding forward even with child seats in place.

Atlas features Car-Net infotainment and connectivity with standard smartphone integration supporting Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink. Car-Net also provides security and Service, as well as guidance and information.

Atlas SEL Premium models up the ante in terms of content, with the 12.3-inch VW Digital Cockpit instrumentation, 20-inch alloy wheels, navigation, LED taillights, power folding door mirrors, door mirrors with puddle lights, leather seating surfaces, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, automatic High Beam Control (Light Assist) and Ambient lighting. Also added are driver assistance and infotainment features such as: Parking Steering Assistant, Area View Camera, and the Fender® Premium Audio System with a 12-channel, 480-watt amplifier and 12 speakers.

SEL Premium models feature a power tailgate with Easy Open that works in conjunction with KESSY® keyless access to enable opening of the tailgate with just a kick of the foot below the rear bumper, providing the key is in range.

All Atlas models feature full LED front lighting, including low beams, high beams, turn signal indicators, Daytime Running Lights and side marker lights

LED taillights are standard on SEL Premium models. Overhead, a large panoramic sunroof measuring 4.46 feet by 2.85 feet, with a two-part glass opening system and powered sunshade, is offered on SEL Premium models.


Driving over back roads or on the freeway, the Atlas performed admirably. The 3.6-liter V6 provided adequate power and without hesitation. The transmission shift points were customizable within the Drive Mode Select and the ride quality was smooth and comfortable and the Atlas remained flat and stable through dips and twists.

For a vehicle of its size and taking into consideration, the feature and equipment content, this Atlas is an attractive and affordable gem. Yes, I know that attractiveness is in the eyes of the beholder, but how sexy can one get with an SUV. The styling leans to the masculine side, with its athleticism, but the amenities are sure to please the feminine consumer as well.

There were no off-road tests conducted, but rock-crawling not withstanding, the Atlas should certainly handle non-paved surfaces without a problem. The handling characteristics were positive and instantly responsive. For those consumers who need to tow recreational toys, the towing capacity is 5,000 lbs. with factory installed towing hardware but drops to 2,000 lbs. for aftermarket systems.


 In the final analysis, the Volkswagen Atlas in SEL Premium trim with 4Motion represents a strong move forward for the American marketplace. In VW parlance, “Life’s as Big as You Make It” and the Atlas is big and bold and should prove to be a winner In the SUV marketplace. There’s a good range of collision-avoidance safety tech that earned good marks in federal and independent safety testing. The only downside is that fuel economy should be better.

SPECIFICATIONS 2019 Volkswagen Atlas SEL 4Motion

Base Price:             $48,395.
Price as Tested:        $49,390.

Engine Type and Size:   3.6-liter, DOHC, 24-valve narrow angle V6 with FSI Direct Fuel Injection

Horsepower (bhp):       276 @ 6,200 rpm
Torque (ft./ lbs.):     266 @ 2,750 rpm

Transmission:           Eight-speed automatic with Tiptronic.

Drive Train:            Transversely mounted front engine / 4MOTION™ permanent all-wheel drive system with eight-speed automatic transmission, clutch-pack center, differential, adaptive torque distribution and Driving Mode selection.

Suspension:             Front – Strut-type with lower control arms, coil springs, telescopic dampers and anti-roll bar.
Rear – Multilink with coil springs and telescopic dampers.

Brakes:                 Power-assisted dual circuit four-wheel discs (vented front) 4-wheel standard ABS with EBD and ESC.

Tires:            Continental CrossContact LX Sport 255/50 R20 105T235/50 R20 105T mounted on 5-Tri-spoke silver painted alloy wheels.

Wheelbase:             117.3  inches
Length Overall:        198.3  inches
Width:                  78.3  inches – w/o mirrors
Height:                 70.0  inches
Curb Weight:           4,502  lbs.
Turning Circle:         38.1  ft.
Approach Angle:         20.4 degrees
Departure Angle:        22.4 degrees
Breakover Angle:        17.5  degrees
Fuel Capacity:          18.6  gallons – (approx)
EPA Mileage Estimates:    17  mpg city / 23-mpg highway
Drag Coefficient:       0.34
0 – 60 mph:             Not tested

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