5 Coolest things about the 2020 Golf

Herndon, VA — Volkswagen of America continues the 5 coolest things video series highlighting the most interesting things you may not know about models from the 2020 lineup—from the entry-level Jetta to the top-of-the-line Arteon. Today’s vehicle: the 2020 Volkswagen Golf.

  1. 45 years of history. Golf celebrated its 45th birthday last year, making it one of VW’s longest-running model in the States. The successor to the legendary Beetle has sold more than 35 million units worldwide through seven generations. That means that a new Golf has been ordered somewhere in the world every 41 seconds, every day, without interruption, since the start of production in 1974.
  1. One value-packed trim for 2020. It offers more standard content than in 2019, and is equipped with standard leatherette seating surfaces, 16-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, a panoramic tilt-and-slide sunroof, KESSY® keyless access with push-button start, and heated front seats.
  1. Manual transmission? Check. In a world of disappearing three-pedal vehicles, Volkswagen still has a handful of offerings for 2020 that let you row the gears, including Jetta and Golf, along with their sporty siblings Jetta GLI and Golf GTI.
  1. Cargo-friendly hatch. Not all small cars are created equal, but the Golf packs surprising utility into its petite frame with a 60/40 split-fold rear seat, complete with a the center pass-through for long items, and an adjustable rear cargo floor, that can be moved up or down nearly four inches. With the rear seats folded, there’s enough room to fit a full-size bicycle.
  1. Clean rear-view camera. Having a rear-view camera isn’t anything to write home about—in fact, they have been federally mandated since 2018. However, Golf hides its camera behind the logo on the tailgate so it’s crystal clear. The logo flips up when you put the car in reverse, to reveal the camera and the view behind you, and flips back down once you put the car in drive or park.


About Volkswagen

Founded in 1955, Volkswagen of America, Inc. is an operating unit of Volkswagen Group of America and a subsidiary of Volkswagen AG, with headquarters in Herndon, Virginia. Volkswagen’s operations in the United States include research and development, parts and vehicle processing, parts distribution centers, sales, marketing and service offices, financial service centers, and its state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The Volkswagen Group is one of the world’s largest producers of passenger cars and Europe’s largest automaker. Volkswagen sells the Arteon, Atlas, Atlas Cross Sport, Golf, Golf GTI, Jetta, Jetta GLI, Passat, and Tiguan vehicles through more than 600 independent U.S. dealers. Visit Volkswagen online at http://www.vw.com or media.vw.com to learn more.

“KESSY”, “VW”, “Volkswagen”, all model names and the Volkswagen logo are registered trademarks of Volkswagen AG. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

This information and any vehicle specifications are preliminary and subject to change.

Features and technical data apply to models offered in the USA. They may differ in other countries.

When using KESSY keyless access or remote start, do not leave vehicle unattended with the engine running, particularly in enclosed spaces. See Owner’s Manual for further details and important warnings about the keyless ignition feature.

Always ensure cargo is properly secured.  See owner’s manual for details.

A Florida father-son mechanic duo restores vintage Volkswagens

Gregg and Dalton Ammerman in their garage in Ocala, Fla.

Gregg Ammerman has loved vintage Volkswagens ever since he purchased his very first car, a watermelon green Super Beetle, in 1982. His passion for the brand has grown over time, and now the former Army mechanic shares his love for car restoration with his youngest son, Dalton Ammerman.

The father-and-son duo began restoring cars over five years ago, starting with a yellow 1978 Karmann Convertible Super Beetle in 2015. Together, the Ammermans worked on the car for months, with Gregg leading the mechanical efforts and Dalton, then just an eighth-grader, recording their progress and posting videos on the family’s social media channels.

“That was the car that made me fall in love with Volkswagens,” said Dalton. “I would come home from school, help out with the convertible and listen to music with my mom and dad.” When it was finally completed, they showed off the masterpiece at over fifty car shows before selling it.

“After that… I had to get one for myself,” said Dalton. He worked nights and weekends to save up for his first car, an old 1972 Beetle, that he bought nearby in central Florida. “I knew it would be a lot of work to fix it up, but that was part of the fun,” he said.

Dalton Ammerman worked nights and weekends to save up for his first car, a 1972 Beetle. After its successful restoration, it was totaled after its first drive.

Dalton and his father spent a full year restoring the Beetle together, including replacing the engine, adding a handmade shifter, re-painting the car black, red and light yellow, and adding brand-new brakes, tires and a stereo system.

Once it was as good as new, Gregg and Dalton took the restored Beetle out for its maiden voyage. With Gregg behind the wheel, both Ammermans enjoyed their work of art – but it didn’t last long. After about 25 minutes, another vehicle driving the wrong way down a one-way street collided with the newly restored Beetle. It was totaled after its first drive.

“The most important thing was that we were both safe,” said Gregg. “We got knocked around and were pretty scared, but we were okay.”

The father-and-son team were heartbroken and shaken, but they knew the accident would not discourage their love of restoration. In fact, Gregg doubled down on his hobby and began restoring Volkswagens full-time. Dalton began investing in more video equipment to record the family’s vehicle restoration efforts for social media.

The Ammermans pose with one of their restoration projects in their garage in Ocala, Fla.

“Although Dalton is mechanically inclined, his true talent is with recording the restoration process and editing the footage,” said Gregg. “I’m glad he’s found his own path, and I’m glad that we’ve been able to take both our talents and become invested in something together.”

With Gregg’s mechanical skills and Dalton’s videography, their social media channels have since attracted hundreds of followers and created a community of Volkswagen enthusiasts.

“We love to connect with other families who are working on restoration projects,” Dalton said. “Without social media, we never would have known there were so many bug-lovers like us around Florida.”

The father-and-son duo at work on a restoration project in Ocala, Fla.

Nearly two years since the accident, the father-and-son duo is busier than ever. Gregg sometimes must turn away restoration projects because there is too much work for the two-person team.

“This work has been the love of my life,” said Gregg. “There’s nothing like the nostalgia of a Volkswagen Beetle, and I love being able to take drivers back to the feeling of when the car was new. It’s a blessing to share these projects with my son.”

Dalton plans to continue helping his dad while he attends college just thirty minutes away from home next year. “This is something we’ll do together for as long as we can,” he said.

#TBT: One million vehicles strong – three times over

The 1 millionth Beetle leaves the production line

At any car factory, the one-millionth vehicle serves as a milestone of success. With Volkswagen of America’s Chattanooga plant hitting that mark last week, it’s worth looking back at some memorable moments for Volkswagen production– and what’s coming next.

Sixty-five years ago this August, the one-millionth Volkswagen rolled off the assembly line in Wolfsburg. Following World War II, the Volkswagen factory started slowly producing the Beetle and the Bus, but by 1955 the Beetle was on its way to becoming one of the best-selling vehicles ever. To celebrate the moment, the lucky one-millionth Beetle was painted gold, with bumpers lined in rhinestones. The car rolled off the assembly line in a celebration with nearly 150,000 people joining in for the festivities. The golden, one-millionth Beetle now makes its home in Wolfsburg’s AutoStadt Museum.

Worldwide popularity of the Beetle led Volkswagen to open its first plant in Mexico in 1967, in Puebla, southeast of Mexico City. From there, Volkswagen began building Beetles that quickly became known as the “vocho” in Mexico. While sales in the United States ended in the 1970s, the original Beetle remained a popular and economical choice in Mexico. In September 1980, a red Beetle marked the one-millionth vehicle produced at the factory, with a celebration that gathered Mexican government officials, Volkswagen executives, local business partners, and hundreds of employees together. The original Beetle would remain in production there until 2003.

Eight years later, in May 2011, the first Volkswagen assembled in Chattanooga – an all-new Passat sedan – rolled off the production line. It’s taken just nine years for the Chattanooga factory to produce its one-millionth vehicle, with more than 800,000 Passat, 100,000 Atlas vehicles, and thousands of the recently launched 5-seater Atlas Cross Sport vehicles.

The Chattanooga plant will also be Volkswagen’s North American base for assembling electric vehicles, with the ID.4 SUV slated as the plant’s first electric model. The next million vehicles out of Chattanooga will be quite different than the milestone vehicles that have come before.

Beetle production at Wolfsburg

Road trip in style with the right Volkswagen Atlas accessories

As shelter in place orders are beginning to lift across the country, vacation planning is becoming a reality for many. According to a recent poll, 24% of Americans say they are planning a vacation and 35% say that their first trip after stay-at-home orders lift will be a day trip or experience of some kind that is close to home.

It’s no secret that the Volkswagen Atlas has plenty of standard and available features that make it a standout when it comes to comfort, technology, safety, and visibility among other things. For Atlas owners, now is the time to ensure your family hauler is equipped with road-trip accessories that can make the family vacation go from okay to awesome.

Universal Tablet Holder – Rear seat occupants can set their device in an available universal tablet holder for hands-free entertainment. When paired with an existing data plan,1 the Car-Net Hotspot2 allows a 4G LTE-enabled connection on up to four compatible connected devices simultaneously, so family members can get connected and entertained. The holder also features two shopping hooks that are integrated into the base unit for added utility.

Floor and Trunk Liners – Muddy Buddy® floor liners are custom-molded to help protect interior carpet in the front, back and sides of the vehicle’s footwell. To help protect the cargo area from dirt and spills, the Muddy Buddy® Cargo Liner is molded and designed with a raised edge and extends up to the third-row seat backs. These easy-to-clean surfaces help keep interior carpets mess-free. The liner also features a skid-resistant finish that can stop items from shifting while on the road.

Cargo Organization – For added practicality, a four-piece CargoTech® Cargo Containment System is available and sold separately. These strong plastic blocks are helpful in keeping items in place that may otherwise roll around in the expansive cargo area. A retractable Privacy Cover is also available to keep luggage and other packed items hidden. To further protect contents, a Security Console Safe by Tuffy® holds sensitive gear and personal items securely while away from the vehicle.

Trailer Hitch Attachments – If you aren’t towing a trailer, there are two hitch mounted options3 available for carrying bikes. Both by Thule®, the modern platform hitch bike rack can carry up to two bikes, while another hitch-mounted hanging rack can carry up to four bikes. If towing is planned, Atlas can handle up to 5,000 lbs. on a factory-installed hitch.4

Volkswagen Atlas rooptop cargo options

Rooftop Cargo Options – Roof-mounted cargo boxes, cargo baskets and various Thule® attachments provide additional transport options when there just isn’t enough room inside the vehicle. Recreational equipment including skis, snowboards, surfboards, bikes or a kayak can be stored on top of the Atlas with Thule® carrier attachments.

If general storage space is needed for luggage, camping gear or other cargo, there are a few options to choose from. The Urban Loader® attachment adds up to 17.7 cubic feet of space and a maximum load capacity of 110 lbs.

The Cargo Box Carrier has an aerodynamic design to help limit wind noise, adds 12 cubic feet of space and shares the same load capacity as the Urban Loader®.

And finally, the Thule® Canyon Basket Carrier has a low-profile design, easy loading and unloading accessibility, and can hold up to 150 lbs. A separately sold Thule® Stretch Cargo Net ensures everything stays in place while tackling the open road.

All roof rack attachments require base carrier bars sold separately. All accessories sold separately. Proper installation of accessories is required. Professional installation may be recommended. See owner’s literature and dealer for details.

How the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas is built for families


It’s no secret that sport utility vehicles have become the family hauler of choice among Americans, far outpacing sedans, wagons and minivans. Last year, just under half of all vehicles sold in the United States were some form of SUV, a trend that has only grown in recent years.

First introduced in 2017, the Atlas remains the largest Volkswagen ever sold in America, and, since its launch, also one of the best-selling.

Here are the key ingredients for the success and improvements for the 2021 Atlas model year:

With seven standard seats, the 2021 Atlas allows for the whole family to ride along comfortably.

Room for everyone

With seven seats standard, Atlas allows for the whole family to ride along comfortably, whether heading to school, a soccer game, or on vacation. For the warmer months, the large SUV has three-zone climate control, allowing passengers (including the kids) to adjust heating and cooling to their own needs.

If you are unaccustomed to driving with multiple children, the 17 available cupholders in the Atlas may seem a bit much. But those cupholders don’t just hold beverages; they also hold crayons, phones, snacks and everything else a child needs to stay happy and entertained along the journey.


A car-seat friendly SUV

Knowing families are on the go and car safety seats can be a hassle, the all-new Atlas offers easy installation of several styles of car-seats, including an average-size infant seat, convertible seat, harnessed booster and backless booster. Because of its bench-style seating in the second row and overall vehicle width, Atlas allows for three child seats in the second row, making it a welcoming SUV for young families. With an available built-in rear sunshade, kids can also grab some shut-eye on road trips without being disturbed by the sun.

Safety features 

To help protect occupants, the Atlas provides a combination of both passive and active safety systems. It features six airbags as standard, along with electronic safety systems such as an Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) and Electronic Stability Control (ESC).

Driver Assistance features

Standard driver-assistance technology includes Front Assist, which is designed to warn drivers of potential frontal collisions with vehicles and pedestrians, and in some cases provide automatic braking assistance. Available systems like Park Distance Control and Parking Steering Assistant (Park Assist) – which can automatically steer the car into parallel and perpendicular parking spaces – help you when you arrive and depart.

The 2021 Atlas also broadens its available driver’s assistance technology to help make the commute easier. Traffic Jam Assist can make driving in stop-and-go conditions and traffic jams less stressful by using the available Lane Assist and ACC systems to help steer, accelerate and brake automatically up to speeds of 37 mph. Dynamic Road Sign Display can detect road signs, like speed limits, and display them for the driver.

The 20.6 cubic feet of cargo behind the third row of the 2021 Atlas ensures that families will have enough room for what’s on today’s to-do list.

Ample cargo space for today’s to-do list

Whether it’s hockey practice or heading out for the weekly grocery store run, the 20.6 cubic feet of cargo behind the third row of the Atlas ensures that families will have enough room for what’s on today’s to-do list. For those trips that require more luggage or gear, families can fold down the third row for access to 55.5 cubic feet of cargo space.

Peace of mind for parents of new drivers

Volkswagen Car-Net® comes standard on every Atlas and includes a variety of Remote Access services at no additional charge for five years. Family Guardian services and Roadside Call Assist provide added peace-of-mind to parents with teen drivers. Speed alert notifies the owner when the pre-determined maximum speed limit is exceeded, and boundary alert lets the owner know when the vehicle has traveled outside of a pre-set virtual boundary. Curfew Alert notifies the owner if the vehicle is driven outside the specified timeframe.

The Car-Net app allows users to control who receives notifications by designating primary and secondary users, with varying levels of control and functionality for each. Notifications can come in the form of text messages, emails, or push notifications from the mobile app itself. If the vehicle is disabled, Roadside Call Assist is available at the touch of the wrench button.

The Car-Net Hotspot on the 2021 Atlas allows passengers to access the internet with up to four connected devices simultaneously, including compatible tablets, smartphones, laptops, gaming devices, and more— at 4G LTE-enabled speed.

Entertainment for the ride there

With the available Car-Net Hotspot, the 2021 Atlas allows parents to provide entertainment to the kids during the ride. Car-Net Hotspot allows passengers to access the internet with up to four connected devices simultaneously, including compatible tablets, smartphones, laptops, gaming devices, and more— at 4G LTE-enabled speed. Existing Verizon Wireless customers with an unlimited mobile data plan can simply add their Volkswagen vehicle as a new line item to their existing plan, and non-Verizon customers can set up a prepaid plan for $20/month before taxes and fees.

To help keep the whole family’s devices up and running, the 2021 Atlas also boasts five available USB ports in the first and second rows.

Easy on the family budget

With the 2021 Atlas starting at $31,545 MSRP, families can get all these benefits and more for an approachable price.

Dealerships perform acts of kindness during COVID-19 crisis

Volkswagen of Bismarck in North Dakota team members prepare gift bags for frontline heroes in their community.

From organizing senior meal deliveries to leading donation drives, Volkswagen dealerships across the country are doing their part to help find new and inventive ways to support their neighbors during these difficult times. Below are three examples of dealerships driving something bigger in their local communities.

Since March, Volkswagen of Bismarck in North Dakota has donated more than $30,000 towards COVID-19 relief efforts in its community. The team has purchased gift cards in $500 chunks at locally owned businesses and donated them in $50 increments to local hospital workers, police officers, firefighters and emergency medical staff.

“We call them our frontline heroes,” says Volkswagen of Bismarck brand marketing manager Jenna Adam.

In addition to gift cards, the dealership has provided complimentary rental vehicles to local restaurants to use for delivery services. “A little effort can go such a long way for these small businesses,” said Adam. “Our community has always been there for us and we wanted to show we are here for them, always.”

Volkswagen of Bismarck in North Dakota donated $30,000 to their local hospital workers, police officers, firefighters and emergency medical staff. Gift cards were placed in colorful gift bags.

At Tom’s River Volkswagen in New Jersey, owner Tom McMenamin received a tip from one of his employees that senior citizens were struggling with a lack of access to essential goods. He and his team developed a daily delivery service for four local retirement communities. Manned by three dedicated attendants six hours a day, the service has already helped more than 200 families.

“No matter what the situation is – bad or good – there’s always some light that can come from it,” says McMenamin. “Many of the individuals we’ve helped have loved ones that live far away and are not able to provide them with the help they need, which includes access to life-saving medicines.”

Vic Bailey Volkswagen in Spartanburg, S.C., has donated more than 500 pounds of non-perishable food items to a local disaster relief program after hearing food banks and pantries across the country were suffering from a disruption in food donations and volunteers.

The dealership launched the drive in early April and challenged their community to fill the cargo area of an Atlas with items to help support the most vulnerable members of their community affected by the pandemic.

“I honestly didn’t check [the trunk] for several days because I was nervous that people wouldn’t participate,” said Vic Bailey Volkswagen general manager Hal Foster. “But when I walked past the trunk, I was shocked. It was already filled with items.”

Vic Bailey Volkswagen collected and donated more than 500 pounds of non-perishable food items to a local disaster relief program.

Within days, the dealership had to put the third row down to allow for more room. Soon after, the second had to come down. “I think there’s a lot of value in times like these … when we, as a community, focus our attention on others rather than ourselves,” Foster says.

While the drive will continue to run through April, the team has already collected triple the amount of food items they typically raise around Thanksgiving.

“Volkswagen is interested in doing more than selling cars to people,” said Foster. “Volkswagen is interested in partnering with people and doing life together, which in turn gives us the drive to do something bigger every day for our community.”

“Drive Bigger is not just a slogan,” he added. “It’s a call to action – and we are showing up.”

How the latest 4Motion® with Active Control all-wheel drive system helps keep the Atlas on track


Last year, nearly 8 million vehicles sold in America came with some form of all-wheel-drive. In northern states, all-wheel or four-wheel drive has long been considered essential for winter travel. Even in southern states, all-wheel drive has gained in popularity as a peace-of-mind feature for wild weather days.

But as anyone who’s driven on snowy or muddy roads knows, there’s more to getting going than simply which wheel does the work. This is why the available 4Motion® with Active Control system on the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas and 2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport uses sensors and smart software to direct traction to where it’s needed most.

Volkswagen first introduced an all-wheel-drive system for America on the 1986 Quantum Syncro wagon, followed closely by the Syncro model of the Vanagon. Since then, Volkswagen has offered some form of all-wheel drive in several models across its lineup, from the Golf Alltrack and Golf R to the Arteon and Tiguan.

All-wheel drive does not mean all wheels drive all the time. That’s actually a good way to burn fuel unnecessarily; instead, the 4Motion system uses an advanced electronic clutch on the rear axle that leaves the rear wheels spinning freely and the front wheels powering the Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport in everyday driving.

The 4Motion with Active Control system on the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas and 2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport uses sensors and smart software to direct traction to where it’s most needed.

Even when it’s not engaged, the 4Motion system measures the wheel speed multiple times a second, looking for signs of wheel slip. The 4Motion software has been designed to engage before the vehicle’s front wheels lose traction. The electronically controlled clutch can engage in a fraction of a second, sending up to 50 percent of the engine’s power to the rear axle as needed. If an individual wheel begins to slip, the Electronic Stability Control can slow it down, sending more power to the wheel on the opposite side with traction.

The Active Control system gives drivers a tool to set how the Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport interact with different types of surfaces, varying engine power, transmission shifts and other parameters. Beyond the “Onroad” mode for everyday driving, Active Control also offers Snow, Offroad and Offroad Custom modes.

In “Snow” mode, Active Control employs a more aggressive approach to stopping wheelspin, by employing transmission shifts earlier to help optimize traction, and reducing engine power when the Traction Control System detects slippage. The system is designed to be most sensitive when cornering, and traction is of paramount importance.

In “Offroad,” Active Control manages the throttle and transmission similar to “Snow” mode but adds manual transmission control with Tiptronic® and relaxes the wheelspin settings and customizes the ABS system to provide better traction and stopping distances on loose dirt. Hill Descent Control is automatically activated on gradients more than 10 percent.

For the first time, the 4Motion with Active Control is available with either four-cylinder or V6 for the 2021 Atlas, as it is with the 2020 Atlas Cross Sport. Either way, the technology has decades of experience in keeping you on track.

How Volkswagen owners are supporting COVID-19 relief efforts

Amid the COVID-19 crisis, Volkswagen drivers across the nation are pitching in to help their neighbors.

After seeing a call-out on social media in mid-March for extra assistance to support Mercer County’s Meals on Wheels chapter in New Jersey, Nate Byrnes immediately volunteered. An aspiring doctor, the 21-year-old biology student wanted to give back to his community in a significant and safe way.

Millions of elderly Americans depend on the nonprofit’s home-delivered hot meals for daily nourishment. But about three-quarters of the organization’s regular volunteers are 55 years and older –people most at risk from continued social contact. The rate of new elderly residents requesting meal delivery has tripled in the past month, so the group was looking for college-aged help.

Using his 2005 Jetta, Byrnes has been able to make 15 runs and deliver more than 200 meals to those in need all while juggling his daily schoolwork. He’s also secured a job at a construction company to assist with symptom-based screening and received his emergency medical technician certification.

“Being able to drive around and do something tangible to help the situation – besides staying home, which is probably the best thing you can do – feels really good,” Byrnes said.

He says the best part of volunteering has been meeting other volunteers and new neighbors through the program. “I plan to keep volunteering even after this is all over,” said Byrnes.

Melanie Moore in Cincinnati similarly felt compelled to action amid the crisis and found new ways to give back to her community during this difficult time. The former schoolteacher turned entrepreneur operates a mobile bookstore out of a teal 1962 Volkswagen Transporter and typically sells her inventory online and at area coffee shops and pop-ups.

Charity has always been a major component of Moore’s business, Cincy Book Bus; she donates all profits to purchase books for children in low-income schools.

“I usually fill up the truck with books I plan to donate and drive directly to the school so kids can come up and pick out their books in person,” Moore said. “It’s one of my favorite things to see how excited the children get about the Book Bus. The old gal is really the star of the show.”

Since COVID-19, Moore has taken the bulk of her business online. She accepts virtual book orders through her website and ships them across the United States. During the crisis, she has discovered new and inventive ways to promote literacy and connection during this time of separation.

Her partnership with the local Blue Manatee Literacy Project and Book Store has enabled her to continue her charity work and get free books into the hands of kids who need them the most. “I could get the books cheaper from my supplier, but for every book I buy through them they donate a book back to the community,” says Moore.

As a result, she’s been able to donate $1,000 worth of new books to be distributed through the Cincinnati Public Schools meal program, which offers free and reduced-price lunches to students. The program is still operational and delivering meals to students three days a week despite recent school closures.

She has also been able to stock a library for Casa de Paz (House of Peace), a safe house for Latina women and their children who have suffered trauma and abuse, and offered to gift wrap books with hand-written notes for free with book orders placed through her website for Mother’s Day.

“Books can bring comfort and relief. They can transport you to another place and time – at least for a little while – and provide an escape from the stresses of today,” says Moore. “We need that feeling of peace and content, especially right now.”

Alleviate stress and boredom with Volkswagen’s new coloring book

Volkswagen has released a mini coloring book featuring six new and classic models to help children and their families alleviate boredom and flex their creative muscles. Wannabe artists of all ages can personalize their own Beetle or create a one-of-a-kind Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport.

Whether you have kids and are looking for a fun activity to do together as a family, or a Volkswagen enthusiast looking for ways to help pass the time, simply download and print out the pages, grab some pencils, markers, or crayons, and start scribbling away.

Fans are encouraged to share their finished masterpieces with Volkswagen on Instagram by tagging @VW.

Horsepower, torque and how two engines are better than one

Every vehicle for sale in America comes with a set of statistics, and among the most closely watched are engine horsepower and torque. Yet many people probably couldn’t correctly spell out the difference between the two.

Put simply: Torque is a measure of the force that turns your wheels, and horsepower is the rate at which an engine can produce that force. You feel torque when you accelerate from a stop; you feel horsepower when you’re building speed on a highway. And to illustrate the relationship between the two, consider the two engines available in the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas and 2020 Atlas Cross Sport.

Each of Volkswagen’s midsize SUVs come with a choice of two engines—a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder or the 3.6-liter VR6. New for the Atlas this year, the four-cylinder engine can be added to any trim level.

The EA888 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder.

Both engines feature modern, efficient gasoline combustion technology—a double-overhead camshaft connected to four valves per cylinder, with variable valve timing and fuel directly injected into the combustion chambers. Each is relatively compact and lightweight; the cast-iron block of the four-cylinder weighs just 72 lbs. And both feature stop/start technology to help with fuel efficiency, with available optional remote start.

The results: The four-cylinder turbo makes 235 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque (achieved with premium fuel). The 3.6-liter VR6 makes 276 horsepower and 266 lb.-ft. of torque. Each pair with an eight-speed automatic transmission and available 4Motion all-wheel-drive system with Active Control.

In a bigger-is-better world, the 2.0-liter four-cylinder might seem small for a seven-seat SUV like the 2021 Atlas. Over the past several years, turbocharged four-cylinder engines have been showing up in pickups and larger vehicles for better fuel economy compared to larger engines—along with some complaints about turbo lag and engine strain at higher loads. The EA888, a version of the engine in the Volkswagen Golf GTI and Golf R, neatly avoids those issues with a quick-spooling turbocharger.

The 3.2-liter VR6

But it’s the difference in how each engine delivers its torque that plays an essential role in the character of the SUV it’s in—and what its owners really need it for. Thanks to its design, the 2.0-liter hits its maximum 258 lb.-ft. of torque at 1,600 rpm and holds it steady through 4,500 rpm. If you’ve ever heard the phrase “flat torque curve,” that’s the definition of one.

In action, it means that the 2.0-liter can deliver a steady flow of energy in a wide band of driving needs—from pulling away at a stop sign to merging on a highway. For many buyers, the drivability and lower fuel consumption of the 2-liter turbo engine makes it the right choice.

Why then offer the VR6? Some buyers will still want that extra dose of power, and the VR6 makes for a more capable towing package. Whether you need to tow a trailer or just haul your family, the Atlas family has the right engine for that.