SANTA MONICA, California — Just a few miles from the Edmunds office complex, Volkswagen chose the iconic Santa Monica Pier to unveil its latest offering, the 2018 Atlas. This three-row midsize SUV is poised to challenge such popular vehicles as the Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander. It will be offered with two engine choices: a 238-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder or a 280-hp 3.6-liter six-cylinder. An eight-speed transmission will send power to the front wheels or all four wheels using VW's 4Motion system (but only with the six-cylinder).
Inside, there's enough space to comfortably transport seven adults, with cargo space behind the third row that is comparable to other SUVs in this class. When we drove an early prototype a few months ago around Volkswagen's Chattanooga, Tennessee, plant where the Atlas will be built, we noted the cabin's roominess and smooth ride quality. Furthermore, the V6 easily propelled the midsize SUV up to highway speeds in relative silence.
All of the typical features will also be available, from advanced safety systems to the latest infotainment options. Pricing will be competitive with its rivals, so expect the Volkswagen Atlas to cost between $35,000 to $45,000 when it hits showrooms in the spring of 2017.