2024 Volkswagen Atlas SEL - Review by Bruce Hotchkiss +VIDEO
Extremely good looking but it could be a bit smarter
West Coast Bureau
THE AUTO CHANNEL
I last drove a VW Atlas three model years ago. Visually it hasn't changed that much; it's tweaked here and there but it is still a handsome SUV.
The 2.0-liter, turbocharged, 4-cylinder engine has more power now - 269 hp versus the 2021's 235 hp. The torque output of 2763 lb-ft is at 1,600 rpm. The V6 is no longer an option. The only transmission is an 8-speed automatic with Tiptonic 4Motion (manual shift option and AWD). Towing capacity is up to 5,000 lbs. The powertrain combination provided more than ample power to move the 4,600 lb. SUV from 0-60 mph in 7.3 seconds. The EPA fuel economy rating is 19-mpg around town and 25-mpg on the highway.
For some reason that escapes me VW decided the interior controls, primarily sound system and climate control, no longer needed to be simple. If you read my review of the 2021 Atlas you will see that I found the controls "straight-forward and easy to use." No more. Take the seat heater/ventilation switch for instance.
At first it looks fairly easy, just touch the icons on the main screen and presto!
But no it isn't that easy. Press the icon on the main screen and it takes you to - wait for it - an icon on another screen!
Yes, you have to tap two, count them, two icons to set or adjust the seat heating or cooling. Why?
The climate control temperature controls, although not labelled, were fairly easy to use, just press the blue stripe for cooler or the red stripe (not the Jamaican Beer) for warmer.
But how do you turn the sound system volume up or down? There are arrows pointing left or right just below the screen or on the steering wheel but they aren't labeled.
It seemed to me that every single control was just more difficult to use than they needed to be - take the sunroof control. Please.
Just slide your finger over the switch to open or close the sunroof. What could be easier? I could get the sunscreen to slide part way back and the sunroof to flip up but that was it. I could not get the sunscreen to close! I admit my fingers do not always work on touch controls but come on!
Then there is the smart phone chargers. I have a 2-year old iPhone. It will charge on the wireless chargers but not always unless I remove the protective case I use. Otherwise I have to plug it in using a standard USB port. The Atlas had these mini charge ports but I use the full-size USB style.
I'll say this as clearly as I can - Keep It Simple, Stupid! Not every prospective customer is a technophile. I do not need to take my eyes off the road to find the controls I need. So until I can just think a different temperature, volume, radio station and it automatically happens (you know like how Amazon, Facebook, Google know what I was thinking about buying) please - PLEASE - make your controls easy to find and use.
Okay Bruce calm down, take a deep breath. Overall I liked the Atlas, it is a good size, can carry your vacation gear, and it's fairly economical.
The SEL has seating for 6 - 2, 2, and 2. The seats are not cushy but they were comfortable.
The center seats were almost as comfy as the fronts.
The very rear seats were not bad; often the rear most seats are only for wee ones but an adult could sit in the Atlas' (as long as they can climb back there) and be comfortable.
There is up to 96.8 cubic feet of storage capacity with the rear seats folded down; that's a lot of space. The Atlas drove just fine. I could live with an Atlas if I could just operate all the controls.
A Volkswagen Atlas SE starts at $37,725, the SEL as tested was $48,445 (no options) so with destination, tax and license you're around $55,000. I see a fair number of VW SUVs where I live so that should tell you something.