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2021 Volkswagen Atlas review: Sense and sensibility

by Dorothy Bidwill (2020-07-20)

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The Atlas loses a bit of visual bulk with its new face, but it looks far more contemporary now.

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

Vanity may come into play, but by and large, most people shopping for three-row crossovers want something versatile, sensible and Tour Quế Lâm từ Hà Nội affordable. A car in this segment needs to be able to do it all, from hauling hockey equipment to taking the whole family on a long road trip. These Swiss Army knives are immensely popular, even if they aren't the most exciting things on the block. The VW Atlas has always stuck to the no-nonsense side of things, and its 2021-model-year refresh helps it stand apart in an ever-growing crowd.


2021 Volkswagen Atlas



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LikeSharp new lookAmple third-row spaceSolid standard tech

Don't LikeBrittle ride on big wheelsNo third-row USBMiddling fuel economy

Familiar face, just fresher The prerefresh VW Atlas had a bit of an Isuzu Axiom look going with its blocky features and squarish headlights. But now that there's a new two-row Atlas Cross Sport in town, the O.G. got a nip-tuck to bring it up to date. It's most obvious up front, where the Cross Sport's face has been grafted onto the regular Atlas with great effect. The rear bumper is a little different, too, Tour Quế Lâm but it's harder to notice. My SEL-trim tester sports the $1,700 R-Line package, which ramps things up further with sportier bumpers, side skirts and honkin' 21-inch wheels. It's a good look, even if 21s seem kind of large for a mass-market crossover. The prerefresh Atlas' key design staples carry over, and I'm glad they do -- I don't know why, but I am obsessed with how aggressive its fenders are. If you've been inside any other Volkswagen in the last five years, the refreshed Atlas' cabin will be immediately familiar. From the HVAC switchgear to, uh, all the other switchgear, VW relies heavily on its parts bin inside, which has benefits from a familiarity standpoint but can feel a little stale at the same time. There's a new steering wheel (with VW's new logo), and I appreciate the fact that the switches feel premium. Plus, the heated steering wheel finally receives its own button, breaking free from the shackles of the heated-seat controls. The leatherette seats are supportive, and the Atlas' upright silhouette means there's plenty of visibility on all sides.

An upright design means there's loads of space inside the 2021 Atlas. The second row's tilt-and-slide function lets smaller passengers offer up a bit more legroom to the third row, but even in its default position, my 6-foot frame is decently comfortable way back there, with both headroom and legroom that would make longer trips tolerable. There's suitable cargo space behind the third row, thanks to the fact that the Atlas is about 3 inches longer than before, but lowering the seats when they aren't needed offers up positively cavernous amounts of storage for suitcases, sports equipment, you name it. Junk storage is ample, too, thanks to a deep center console and multiple cubbies scattered about the cabin.