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Volkswagen's largest SUV is well designed, comfortable on pavement and capable of serious off-road driving, thanks to the company's 4Motion all-wheel-drive system

COURTESY VOLKSWAGEN - Although Volkswagn has formally unveiled its all new Atlas mid-size, seven-passengr SUV, many details have yet to be released, like prices and mileages.Volkswagen has unveiled its all-new seven-passenger mid-size SUV, to be known as the “Atlas.” Many technical details have not yet been announced, but we were able to drive the new SUV before its release.

The Atlas is larger than VW’s five-passenger Touareg, and has plenty of room to carry seven adults. In our driving test, two 6-foot, 260-pound men fit easily into the third row seats, while two more can sit comfortably in the second row. Getting into and out of the third row is easy thanks to an innovative second-row seat that tips forward with both the seat base and back, providing ample space to pass. One feature that is especially family-friendly is that the second row seat can tip forward without removing an installed child safety seat.

Up front, the Atlas is spacious and comfortable. Leather upholstery is an option, along with all the usual comfort and convenience features. VW is providing Apple CarPlay, Android Autio, plenty of USB ports, and an optional 115-volt outlet for the second-row seats. To help get you down the road, the Atlas includes standard LED headlights and LED daytime running lights, plus optional LED taillights for visibility.

COURTESY VOLKSWAGEN - The styling and materials in Volskwagen's new mid-size Atlas SUV are up to the same high standards as the company's other vehicles. Getting into the third row of seats is rmarkably easy, thanks to a second row that fols forward, even with a child safety seat still attached.The Atlas is available with your choice of two gasoline engines. You can have a 2.0-liter turbocharged and direct-injected four-cylinder with 238 horsepower or a 3.6-liter V6 engine with 280 horsepower. Both engines are mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Buyers can choose front-wheel-drive with either engine, or 4Motion all-wheel-drive with the V6. EPA fuel economy estimates will be released ahead of the consumer launch in the Spring of 2017.

VW is offering several advanced safety features with this vehicle. The Atlas is available with adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, blind spot monitoring with rear traffic alert, active lane keeping, and parking assistance. Also, the Atlas offers automatic post-collision braking. Most collisions are a series of events that follow an initial impact, so post-collision braking will apply the brakes during a crash to help reduce residual kinetic energy to prevent or minimize secondary collisions.

Even though it’s family-friendly, the new Atlas is also a capable SUV. We drove the Atlas on an off-road course to test VW’s 4Motion all-wheel-drive system. You don’t need any special expertise to navigate a trail, snow, or mud in this vehicle. The Atlas just goes where you point it and it traverses some pretty rough terrain with no drama at all.

COURTESY VOLKSWAGEN - Volkswagen has been slow to bring such a large SUV to market, but we found the new Atlas to be competitive both on and off road.The Atlas is built in VW’s Chattanooga, Tennessee manufacturing center. The factory employs 3,200 people to produce the VW Passat and Atlas for the North American market. If you’re looking for a new SUV you can take to the mall or to the ski slopes, the Atlas definitely deserves your consideration.

2018 Volkswagen Atlas

Base price: TBA

Price as tested: TBA

Type: Mid-Size SUV

Engines: 2.0-liter turbocharged (238 hp), 3.6-liter V6 (280 hp)

Transmission: 8-speed automatic

EPA estimated mileage: TBA

Road noise: Below average

Curb weight: TBA

Final assembly: Chattanooga, Tennessee

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