The Volkswagen Atlas SUV has earned a reputation as an ideal choice for families. Cars.com, in awarding its 2021 Family Car of the Year honor to Atlas, says that “the Atlas combines space and drivability in a way its rivals have yet to beat.”
Now, with an array of enhancements for model-year 2021, including new wheel and headlight designs, as well as new driver-assistance technology available on certain trim levels, the Atlas has even more family appeal.
Recently Volkswagen Life organized a video call with three Atlas-owning parents—Libby of Zionsville, Ind.; Lon of San Diego, Calif.; and Courtney of Post Falls, Idaho—to find out why they chose the Atlas. Here are some highlights from the conversation.
Tell us a little about yourself.
Libby: I have one daughter—she’s 8 months old—and two large Labrador Retrievers. I have a background in marketing and PR. My husband is back in the office but still works remotely sometimes, and we fight over who gets to drive the Atlas.
Lon: I’ve got two kids going on 4 and 7. I do IT systems administration, and as a hobby I organize a fairly large European car show here in Southern California. My wife commutes to work in the Atlas. At the moment my oldest is homeschooling, so I’m handling the home stuff.
Courtney: I’m married to my husband Will. I have a 13-year-old son and a 4-year-old son, and I’m a stay-at-home mom. My 13-year-old’s in school, but I’m home all day with my 4-year-old. We like to get together with friends and have dinners. And we’re avid campers.
Why did you decide to get an Atlas?
Libby: The day after my daughter was born, we piled 200 lbs. of dog and a baby in a midsize SUV—I won’t say the brand—and realized we had lost our minds. As soon as I test drove the Atlas, I knew that was the one. I knew we wouldn’t have to keep buying a bigger car if we have another kid in the future. It didn’t feel like a big car to me. It was kind of a cool mom car.
Lon: The Volkswagen was top on our list because I have a couple of other Volkswagen [cars]. But I always like to be an informed shopper, so I looked at a bunch of other cars. [The Atlas] checked all the boxes. The third row was by far the most comfortable. It’s one of the best vehicles that we could find that carried our whole family.
Courtney: I had a different SUV—smaller, no third row. And with my two boys, we need that extra room. I did a lot of research online before we test drove [the Atlas], and I bought it right on the spot. When you put the third row down, there’s so much space. It’s a great car; I love the way it drives, the way it feels.
Now that you’ve owned it for a while, what
are some of your favorite things about it?
Libby: We’ve driven to Florida, and if a 16-hour car trip can be enjoyable with a 5-month-old, the Atlas is the way to do it. There’s just so much room.
Lon: Interior volume, interior size is what we got it for. We have two [child safety] seats and you can actually get to the third row with the car seat still there. It’s such a well-balanced car; it just drives very well.
Courtney: It doesn’t feel like I’m driving a huge SUV that’s too big for me to drive. The space is ample and my kids can [fit] easily. My 4-year-old’s car seat fits perfect in there. My oldest, my 13-year-old, loves it. When his friends came over and we were going on a drive, he was bragging to his friends, showing them all the features.
Any experience with the driver-assistance technology in the Atlas?
Libby: Being able to have Adaptive Cruise Control is such a nice luxury because it automatically senses when a car slows down in front of you.
Lon: [With] lane changing, it’s so good to be aware of somebody to the left or right of you. It just works so well.
Courtney: I love the [rear traffic alert]. Never had one of those before. Having that extra feature is amazing.
Any examples of when you’ve really loaded
up the cargo area?
Libby: On the road trip to Florida, both times, we took a baby bouncer, a stroller, suitcases, diapers, toys, pretty much everything you can imagine. We actually had room to spare, even in the second row.
Lon: I had to do a [pre-pandemic] car show in central California. I brought a couple of my friends, and I loaded up all the show gear—sound system, tent canopies. We had it fully loaded with stuff and it’s amazing how comfortable [it is].
Courtney: I did some major cleaning of our house and garage, and I had to [go] to our storage unit. I was able to get pretty much everything in one load, with the third row down.
What advice would you give to parents who might be considering the Atlas as a family vehicle?
Libby: I would tell them it’s the perfect size.
Lon: I would highly recommend the Atlas. It makes so much sense for anybody that has kids or a family that needs to travel.
Courtney: Buy it! One of my girlfriends in California [has] three little kids and she’s been looking for a new car. I was telling her, I can’t see myself ever growing out of it. Hopefully I convinced her.
Driver Assistance features are not substitutes for attentive driving. See Owner’s Manual for further details and important limitations.
Always ensure your pet is properly secured and kept away from airbag deployment zones, including any side-curtain airbags. See your Owner Manual for additional information.
Always ensure that child restraint system is positioned correctly, is securely attached to vehicle, and does not contact any of the safety belt buckles. See owner’s literature for details.
Do not rely exclusively on Blind Spot Monitor. Always check surrounding traffic and use your turn signal. The feature’s function may be limited and depends on many factors. See Owner’s Manual for details.
Always ensure cargo is properly secured. See Owner’s Manual for details.