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Standing Out: 2018 Volkswagen Atlas SE V6 FWD Test Drive

Press cars lead a tough life. They’re lent out to automotive journalists week after week, and during that time they are abused and evaluated within an inch of their lives. Test miles are like dog years to vehicles, which is why when I received this 2018 Volkswagen Atlas SE with over 15,000 miles on the clock, I was shocked to see that not only did it show zero signs of wear both inside and out, but that it was damn near flawless in every way.

For the full 2018 Volkswagen Atlas SE V6 FWD review, specs, pricing and data read on…

2018 Volkswagen Atlas SE V6 FWD Exterior

Making a full-size SUV stand out in the crowd is a daunting task for designers. Optimizing space means crafting a stylish shape out of what amounts to a big rectangle with four wheels attached at each corner. At times the designers get it right, but more often than not there always seems to be something left on the table. But this isn’t the case with the 2018 VW Atlas SE, as it combines smart design with engineered mechanics to form a beautiful SUV that’s sure to be a hit on American roadways.

The designers at Volkswagen have the concept of “simplicity in motion” down cold. The bodylines are simple yet elegant, the beltline is high without feeling bloated, and by utilizing contrasting materials and color tones, the Atlas, regardless of how you option it, will be hard pressed to look dated in the years to come. Sitting on a 117.3-inch wheelbase and riding on 18-inch alloys wearing 245/60-series all-season rubber, the Atlas appears smaller than its overall length of 198.3 inches would seem to dictate. The bodylines are bold and masculine, and give the Atlas a more truck-like demeanor, though they’re not so overdone that it feels like they need to be visiting the Grand Canyon on a weekly basis.

The subtle use of chrome on the front grille, roof rails, and rear tailgate lends a bit of elegance to the Atlas, while the blacked-out wheel arches and bumper treatments conjure up rugged imagery. Taken together, it all results in a full-size SUV that will be at home regardless of where it’s taken.

2018 Volkswagen Atlas SE V6 FWD Interior

We live in a time when manufacturers can over accessorize interiors, and leave some consumers craving intuitiveness and simplicity. The cabin of the 2018 VW Atlas SE does just this by using high-quality, wear-resistant materials and surfaces that, while not overly luxurious, provide those with active lifestyles a place to call home on a daily basis. The leatherette-covered front seats feature heat and electronic adjustability, while second-row seating offers mechanical recline along with forward and backward lever-actuated movements. A leather-covered flat bottom steering wheel with high-gloss black and chrome accents is standard Volkswagen, while faux wood on the dash and door cards adds a tinge of luxury.

VW’s large 6.5-inch color infotainment touchscreen sits center dash and offers up access to media controls, phone and vehicle settings along with VW’s App-Connect interface. Easy-to-use HVAC controls find there place directly beneath and are about as basic as basic gets — in the best way possible. Multiple USB and charging ports are also found throughout the cabin.

The real story, however, resides in just how large, and more importantly, useful the cabin is. The seconds and third row seats, for instance, fold completely flat allowing for over 96 cubic-feet of storage space. Second-row occupants are also treated to their own climate controls along with best-in-class legroom. And where third-row seating is generally reserved for those of a smaller stature, consumers will be impressed that adults can be accommodated in the way back without issue. A traditional gauge cluster relies on a large analog tachometer and speedometer , and there’s a center digital information screen thrown in for good measure. It should also be noted that interior wind noise at speed is minimal, which results in an extremely quiet cabin when you’re underway.

2018 Volkswagen Atlas SE V6 FWD Performance

Equipped with the optional (and recommended) 3.6-liter V6, our Atlas SE came to us with 276 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque. Power was fed to the front wheels (AWD is available) via a smooth shifting eight-speed automatic transmission, and when driven properly, the engine will return almost 25 mpg during motivated highway driving. EPA fuel economy ratings come in at 18-mpg city, 25 highway and 20 mpg in combined driving.*

Our front-wheel drive SE exhibited little in the way of torque steer and the Atlas always felt composed regardless of speed or road conditions. With a curb weight of 4,222-pounds owners will notice a bit of understeer when pushed, but this is a full-size SUV, not a sports car, thus there should be no surprises here. Maximum towing capacity is rated at 5,000-pounds (when properly equipped) which mean those with campers, toy haulers or small boats should be satisfied when it’s time for fun weekend activities. Brake tests were met with a firm pedal with low travel and provided confident stops time after time.

2018 Volkswagen Atlas SE V6 FWD Safety
The 2018 Volkswagen Atlas SE comes to us with such standard safety features as anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control, electronic brake-pressure distribution, engine brake assist, airbags throughout the cabin, anti-slip regulation, a standard backup camera, and more.

Additional safety features can be seen over at VW.com.

2018 Volkswagen Atlas SE V6 FWD Overall

With bold good looks, a torquey V6 engine and one of the best cabins in the full-size SUV segment, the 2018 Volkswagen Atlas SE V6 FWD excels where others fall short. And while some may wish for more glitz and glamour, the Atlas goes about its business by offering well-engineered utility and comfort in a reasonably priced package that’s a joy to live with. This is one that we’d definitely recommend checking out!

Drop by your local AutoNation Volkswagen dealer today to check one out!

*Fuel economy values (mpg) are EPA estimates. Actual mileage will vary and depends on several factors including driving habits and vehicle condition.

**Vehicle MSRP of $38,015.00 excludes taxes, title, transportation, options, and dealer fees.

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