At launch, the lone Volkswagen Atlas available in the United States was the more powerful 3.6-liter V6, a Tennessee-built $34,425 three-row crossover with 276 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque. All-wheel drive is an $1,800 option. The Atlas was rated at 18 miles per gallon in the city; 25 on the highway. City fuel economy for AWD models dropped by a single mpg; highway mpg fell to 23.
Now we know how much money you can save by purchasing the front-wheel-drive-only Volkswagen Atlas 2.0T, which suffers a loss of 41 horsepower but generates very nearly as much torque as the V6 (258 lb-ft) and does so 1,150-rpm closer to idle.
Not surprisingly, a small, modern, turbocharged engine is barely more efficient than the larger, naturally aspirated V6.
According to the EPA, the front-wheel-drive Atlas 2.0T is rated at 22 miles per gallon in the city, a substantial improvement over the V6’s 18-mpg rating. But highway fuel economy ticks up by only one mpg to 26. By the EPA’s estimate, you’ll save just $300 on fuel annually by choosing the 2.0T.Of course, that’s not the only money you’ll save by selecting the base model Atlas. Volkswagen originally said the V6 would be a $1,400 option on the $31,425 Atlas S. To date, the basic Atlas V6 has been the $34,425 Launch Edition. Promised late availability of the S trim has yet to materialize, though inventory is building up. There are nearly 6,000 copies of the Atlas in Cars.com’s inventory.
With rising inventory comes rising sales. The Atlas went into production in December, according to Automotive News, but after sales began in May, volume has been held quite low. August was the Atlas’s best month so far — 2,807 were sold.
But you can see the tide beginning to turn for Volkswagen’s small utility vehicle lineup. In addition to the 2,807 Atlas sales, Volkswagen of America also reported 2,516 sales of the new 2018 Tiguan and 1,005 sales of the old Tiguan, set to become the Tiguan Limited. That drove the utility vehicle division’s share of Volkswagen’s U.S. volume up to 21 percent in August 2017 from 12 percent a year ago.
Speaking of the Tiguan, the heavier Atlas’s far more powerful 2.0T — the 2018 Tiguan’s makes just 184 horsepower and 221 lb-ft of torque — is very nearly as fuel efficient. The front-wheel-drive Tiguan is rated at the same 22 mpg city and one-ups the Atlas only with its 27 mpg highway rating.
H/T to Peter!