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Not Even On Sale, Volkswagen’s Atlas Seems Like It Is Already A Success

Although the Volkswagen Atlas hasn't gone on sale yet, it still seems like a success as the automaker already has plans to market the American-made full-sized crossover in Russia and China.
Posted: November 21, 2016 - 2:03PM
Author: Marc Stern

Though it hasn’t officially gone on sale in the U.S. yet, the Chattanooga-built Atlas looks like it will be a homerun for Volkswagen. Plans already call for a version for the Russian market, Automotive News Europe announced Monday. According to a source, the Atlas will use a 2.0-liter four-cylinder diesel in Russia. The same source indicated a diesel version was unlikely in western Europe. That there are no plans for a diesel version in western Europe stands to reason, the ongoing Dieselgate emissions scandal still swirls around the automaker.

Considering Russian Market

Juergen Stackmann, VW brand’s sales, and marketing chief, answered with a non-answer when asked about the report. “Russia is one of the markets we’re considering” for the Atlas. Stackmanm made his comments on the large crossover while he was in Los Angeles for the auto show there.

The Atlas officially launched at the L.A. show. It is scheduled to go on sale next spring. A three-row crossover, the Atlas is the largest passenger vehicle VW has built. Its overall length is just a tad over 16.5-feet, and it is 77 inches wide. Putting this into perspective for VW aficionados, the Atlas is 10 inches longer than the Touareg and about 1.5 inches wider.

VW's Atlas Has Been Designed for the U.S. market

With sales of full-sized crossovers still booming, Stackmann said that the Atlas is “at the sweet spot” of the U.S. car market “at the moment.”

Though the Russian version will be diesel, the U.S. version will have two standard gasoline powerplants, a 2.0-liter, turbocharged four that cranks out 238 horsepower and a 3.6-liter VR6 that turns out 280 horsepower.

For those keeping score, the Atlas is a precedent-setting model for VW. If VW AG management had had its way, the Atlas would have been named the Teramont, following the automaker’s longtime habit of beginning the name of a line with a key letter. The crossover lineup starts with the letter T (Tiguan, Touareg and what would have been Teramont – still planned for China).

Distinctly American Style

Notice, though, that the Atlas has a distinctly American-style name and that’s because VW’s management realized that if it wanted sales success in the U.S., the hometown marketing team should handle the crossover. Marketeers, taking no chances on the opportunity to make a uniquely American model, thoroughly tested the name with dealers and customers.

The Atlas is based on the CrossBlue concept vehicle that appeared about three years ago on the auto show circuit. Built using the automaker’s MQB modular design platform – the same platform that was utilized in the Golf and Audi A3 – the conservatively styled Atlas sports LED headlights and daylight running lights. Also, LED taillights are an available option.

Atlas, built in the recently expanded Chattanooga assembly plant where the automaker invested $900 million, features the full Volkswagen technology and safety suite. Not only does it offer the Virtual Cockpit, but it also features both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The audio comes through a high-end Fender, 12-speaker sound system.