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2024 Volkswagen Atlas First Drive: Welcome Tweaks

2024 Volkswagen Atlas | Photo: D.Rufiange
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Daniel Rufiange
VW sells more Tiguans and Taos, but the Atlas remains important for the manufacturer.

•    Auto123 gets in a first drive of the 2024 Volkswagen Atlas and 2024 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport.

Saugerties, NY - Launched on the North American market in 2017 for the 2018 model-year, the Volkswagen Atlas benefits for 2024 from its most important upgrade to date, which will tide it until a new generation is offered. That next edition could be either gasoline-powered (which VW confirmed to us is a real possibility) or electric.

The first VW model truly designed for the North American market, the Atlas has been essential to the company's success in North America. Volkswagen has sold 564,000 of them since 2017, including 62,000 in Canada. In its class, the Atlas has proven more popular than big players like the Honda Pilot and the Kia Telluride and Hyundai Palisade duo. It does trail the Toyota Highlander, Ford Explorer and Jeep Grand Cherokee.

2024 Volkswagen Atlas and 2024 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport: What's new?

Changes fall into three different categories: esthetic, mechanical and structural. In the case of the design, we can also divide it in two: what's changed on the outside, and on the inside.

The invisible change for 2024 is to the vehicle's architecture. The platform is the same, but the electrical structure has been modified to take it into the next few years. And what are we referring to? A simple example. The new architecture allows Volkswagen to offer head-up display, which was not possible before. An electric architecture makes it possible to add functionalities, safety features and so on. With an electric model, this can affect range, recharging capacities, etc.

The 2024 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport
The 2024 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport | Photo: D.Rufiange

Design of the 2024 Volkswagen Atlas and 2024 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport

The styling of the Atlas (and its cousin, the Atlas Cross Sport) doesn't change drastically for the new year, but there are enough tweaks to easily distinguish the 2024 from the 2023. Most notable are new headlamps, bigger new grille, redesigned bumper and the addition of an LED light strip linking the front light clusters - a fashionable trend throughout the industry. Oh yes, the Volkswagen logo also sparkles at dusk.

At the rear, the changes are scarcer, but no less remarkable, notably thanks to the light strip linking the headlamps. This is of greater benefit to the Atlas Cross Sport, whose rear-end design left many stunned. The new signature is more successful and unobtrusive.

Interior of the 2024 Volkswagen Atlas
Interior of the 2024 Volkswagen Atlas | Photo: D.Rufiange
Seating in the 2024 Volkswagen Atlas
Seating in the 2024 Volkswagen Atlas | Photo: D.Rufiange

Interior of the 2024 Volkswagen Atlas and 2024 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport

The biggest changes are to be found on board. Volkswagen has tackled two elements: quality and presentation.

In the first case, the approach was straightforward: drape certain surfaces in higher-end, softer materials. The quilted leather on the top-of-the-range version, for example, is a real eye-catcher.

As for presentation, the dashboard design has been updated, and so has the technology. In place of the traditional instrument cluster and integrated 6.5 or 8.0-inch multimedia screen previously found in the centre of the dashboard, we now find a 10.25-inch digital display surface for driving information, followed by a 12-inch unit for the multimedia system.

Fans of buttons will be disappointed to note that several have been removed in favour of a more streamlined presentation... and touch-sensitive buttons, notably at the base of the console screen. I had no trouble using them on this first contact, which is encouraging.

Screens in the 2024 Volkswagen Atlas
Screens in the 2024 Volkswagen Atlas | Photo: Volkswagen

In other changes, the traditional gear selector has been replaced by a small electronically controlled device, which frees up space under the surface of the centre console for more storage. The air vents have also been either redesigned or relocated. Ambient lighting in 30 colours also adds to the presentation.

In short, it's impossible to confuse the interior of a 2023 model with that of a 2024.

As far as equipment is concerned, there have been some minor adjustments, but nothing major.

The new 2024 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport
The new 2024 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport | Photo: D.Rufiange

The engine of the 2024 Volkswagen Atlas and 2024 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport

In 2023, buyers could choose between two engine options with the Atlas: a 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder or a 3.6L V6.

Forget the latter, it's been forced into retirement. All that's left is the 4-cylinder, but it benefits from major adjustments, including the addition of a new turbocharger. Power output increases as a result from 235 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque to 269 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque.

Volkswagen guarantees 28-percent more torque at higher revs, which translates into improved performance. We're not talking about a model with sporting pretensions, but responsiveness is better than it was. Take note, the Atlas offers the same 5,000-lb towing capacity as before.

2024 Volkswagen Atlas Peak Edition
2024 Volkswagen Atlas Peak Edition | Photo: Volkswagen

A new version
A new variant joins the Atlas lineup for 2024. The Peak Edition comes with off-road-oriented elements, but above all aesthetic touches such as black accents, body appliques (black or silver) and 18-inch off-road tires. It sits closer to the bottom of the range than the top.

Pricing of the 2024 Volkswagen Atlas and 2024 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport

  • 2024 Atlas Comfortline                $49,995
  • 2024 Atlas Peak Edition             $53,995
  • 2024 Atlas Highline                    $56,995
  • 2024 Atlas Cross Sport Comfortline      $48,895
  • 2024 Atlas Cross Sport Highline          $55,895
  • 2024 Atlas Cross Sport R-Line           $58,895
2024 Volkswagen Atlas, front
2024 Volkswagen Atlas, front | Photo: D.Rufiange

Driving the 2024 Volkswagen Atlas and 2024 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport

Behind the wheel, when accelerating, I noticed that power delivery wasn't perfectly linear when the pedal was depressed to around 50 percent. At full throttle, it's convincing, and at low speed, everything's uneventful. All in all, a good job and an effective marriage with the 8-speed automatic gearbox fitted to the model.

Finally, a word about the difference between the two versions on the road. It's minimal, but smoothness and comfort are a notch better on board the Atlas than the Cross Sport. Chassis calibrations are the same, nothing having changed on that front for 2024.

2024 Volkswagen Atlas, wheel
2024 Volkswagen Atlas, wheel | Photo: D.Rufiange

Your questions about the 2024 Volkswagen Atlas

Do the two vehicles behave in the same way on the road?
The differences between the two models are minimal. Keep in mind that the Atlas is about 150 lb heavier, which gives the impression that its chassis is calibrated differently. Volkswagen says no.

Which of the two models sells more?
The Atlas accounts for about 65 percent of sales.

Will the next generation of the Atlas be electric?
It's not impossible, but Volkswagen has to respond to demand. So it's quite possible that when the time comes to renew it, around 2028, we'll still have a gasoline-powered model.

Strong points
Interesting mechanical adjustments
Improved interior quality and appearance
Interior space and storage

Weak points
Nothing "Volkswagen" about the driving experience
Cross Sport: what's the point of a less practical version?
Abundance of touch-sensitive buttons

2024 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport, profile
2024 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport, profile | Photo: D.Rufiange

Competitors of the 2024 Volkswagen Atlas

Competitors of the 2024 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport

Specifications sheet of 2024 Volkswagen Atlas Comfortline

Specifications sheet of 2024 Volkswagen Atlas Peak Edition

Specifications sheet of 2024 Volkswagen Atlas Highline

Specifications sheet of 2024 Volkswagen Atlas Execline

 

 

2024 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport, VW logo
2024 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport, VW logo | Photo: D.Rufiange

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2024 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport pictures
Daniel Rufiange
Daniel Rufiange
Automotive expert
  • Over 17 years' experience as an automotive journalist
  • More than 75 test drives in the past year
  • Participation in over 250 new vehicle launches in the presence of the brand's technical specialists