Volkswagen has created one of its largest SUVs yet with the U.S. market in mind. It received its debut in Santa Monica, Calif. Video by Chris Woodyard, USA TODAY
SANTA MONICA, Calif. — Volkswagen may be known for small cars like the Beetle, but now it’s offering something on the large end of the scale — a new seven-passenger crossover SUV that it calls the Atlas.
The 2018 model marks a broadening of the Volkswagen line at a time when cheap gasoline is luring automakers to build larger vehicles, especially SUVs. Those big sport utilities come with higher price tags that make them more profitable, an irresistible lure for Volkwagen as it is paying out billions of dollars in the fallout from its diesel car emissions scandal.
At 16.5 feet long, Atlas would be a three-row SUV that’s bigger than the brand’s present largest offering, the Touareg SUV, although it still would be considered a midsize. Atlas will be made at Volkswagen’s plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., with plans to export it to certain markets where large SUVs are as popular as they are in the U.S., like Russia and Middle East.
“This is the biggest and boldest Volkswagen we have ever built in the United States, delivering the distinctive design and craftsmanship we’re known for, now with room for seven,” said Hinrich Woebcken, CEO of the North America for Volkswagen. “The Atlas marks a brand new journey for Volkswagen to enter into the heart of the American market.”
To underscore the American journey connection, the unveiling of the Atlas took place under a tent on the wooden Santa Monica Pier, west of Los Angeles and the end of fabled Route 66.
Coming to showrooms next spring, Atlas will be offered with either a 2-liter turbocharged, direct-injected four-cylinder engine producing 238 horsepower or a 3.6-liter V-6 engine with 280 horsepower. Both will be paired with an eight-speed transmission. Woebcken said, at least initially, he expects the six-cylinder engine will be the most popular.
VW plans to equip Atlas with an array of safety gear, including a new system that applies brakes after an initial crash is detected. VW says the Automatic Post-Collision Braking System is aimed at limiting additional damage in a crash. Woebcken touted the easy access to the third row of seats, a big problem in a lot of SUVs. And he says the SUV will be among the roomiest. “It’s enormous in there,” he says.
Even as it offers a big new SUV, Volkswagen has said repeatedly that it is going to concentrate more on building electric cars and other fuel-efficient vehicles. It says it will have 30 electrified models by 2025.
Article Courtesy of: http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/cars/2016/10/27/volkswagen-atlas-large-suv/92844214/