Photo by Vince Taroc.
Smaller SUVs have been more prevalent among commercial fleets, but with a growing acknowledgement by companies of personal use, some pharmaceutical and other fleets have begun offering larger SUVs that carry company supplies on weekdays and family members on weekends.
Volkswagen's entry into the three-row mid-size SUV segment with the 2018 Atlas should draw interest in this area, due to the vehicle's impressive cargo carrying capacity. As a bonus, the Atlas provides a quality ride, responsive steering feel, and solid handling.
The Atlas presents itself with a more truck-like look with its squared off look from the outside and gently-sloping hood that that call to mind a pickup truck, while you're perched in the driver's seat.
While the vehicle itself is a new entry for Volkswagen, the proven mechanicals have been brought to bear from other VW vehicles. The 3.6-liter V-6 offered at launch is the same engine offered in the Touareg and Passat — the transverse-mounted VR6 that delivers torque through an 8-speed transmission to a standard front-wheel or optional all-wheel 4Motion drivetrain. Volkswagen will also offer a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder.
Volkswagen is offering the 2018 Atlas in four trim grades, including S, SE, SEL, and SEL Premium. We tested the SE 4Motion powered by the V-6 that included the Technology package, which adds a rear-view camera, adaptive cruise control, automatic frontal braking, and a blind-spot monitor.
Cargo capacity sets this vehicle apart from some of the competitors. With both rows in the seated position, you have 21 cubic feet of space. With the third row folded down, available hauling space expands to 56 cubic feet. With all seating folded flat, the Atlas provides 97 cubic feet.
A fleet manager could acquire a base Atlas for $30,500. Our tested model would retail for $40,285. Volkswagen is offering a $1,000 fleet incentive on the vehicle.