ATLAS (SEL) Tires: 255/50R20 all season; wheelbase: 117.3 inches; length: 198.3 inches; width: 78.3 inches; height: 70 inches; steering: rack and pinion, electromechanical; fuel capacity: 18.6 gallons; city: 17 mpg; highway: 23 mpg; base price: $48,395; website:

Introduced in 2018, the fairly new Atlas is the largest VW on the road today, eclipsing its younger sibling, the Tiguan. Under the hood sits a sole 3.6-liter V-6 engine putting out 276 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 266 pounds-feet of torque at 2,750 rpm.

For a vehicle weighing nearly 4,700 lbs., it’s quick off the mark, responding with agility in any situation. The midsize SUV offers an eight-speed auto gearbox. Ensconced on the unitary body is a robust independent four-wheel suspension. Tow capacity is a remarkable 5,000 pounds.

Available as a front-wheel or all-wheel drive (our trim), this replacement for the Touareg appears to be attracting lots of attention, all good. Horizontal LED headlights and daytime running lights flank chrome bars with the centered VW insignia. The attractive cabin of the SUV epitomizes European styling and flair with a simple but elegant instrument panel of large analog speedometer and tachometer gauges and a centered driver information center.

The 60/40 second row seat tilts and slides 7.7 inches forward effortlessly while the 50/50 third row is big enough for two adults to sit comfortably. Passenger volume is commendable at 153.7 cubic feet while you get an astonishing 96.8 cubic feet behind the front row with all rear seats down.

Like the sun coming down on you? Open up the 4.4 by 2.8-foot panoramic sunroof. Amenities include an 8-inch touch screen for audio, nav and phone controls, tri-zone auto a/c with second-row air vents, three-spoke leather steering column, front heated/cooled seats and a power liftgate.

Dual front and side airbags, a side curtain airbag for both rows, four-wheel antilock brakes with brake assist, Electronic Stability Protection with anti-slip regulation and engine brake assist, traction control, lane departure and forward collision warning, blind-spot monitor, front/rear park distance control, hill start assist and descent control, adaptive cruise control, overhead and rearview camera, tire pressure monitoring system and daytime running lights are standard.

Competition is fierce in the midsize SUV segment, but this fairly new ride has been receiving rave reviews from its owners. Apart from a potent powertrain and good looks, a roomy third row seat and generous cargo hold should ensure that the VW Atlas becomes a frontrunner.

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