Volkswagen Atlas is the Maytag of SUVs

Think of this VW as a rolling appliance

Volkswagen Atlas side, front viewTrust me, heart-pounding passion is never a part of the decision-making when it comes to buying a new fridge-freezer.

And while you might opt for stainless-steel instead of snowy-white for the front, generally sleek styling and cool, hip design aren’t major fridge-freezer considerations either.

You want it to be reliable and dependable. You want it to do what it says on the box. And you don’t want it to cost an arm and a leg. Nothing more, nothing less.

Volkswagen Atlas front, front wheels

Which are precisely the qualities of Volkswagen’s Chattanooga-built Atlas three-row, box-on-wheels SUV.

No, the sight of a new Atlas cruising down the road won’t set your pulse racing. Chances are you won’t even notice it. Park it in a lot and when you come back, you might not even remember where you left it.

Even the driving part verges on somnolent. Power and performance are sufficient, while dynamically the Atlas is kind of up there with an Amazon Sprinter.

Volkswagen Atlas side view

I exaggerate. Fact is, the Atlas is exactly what the vast majority of American families will consider the perfect template for an exceptional people mover.

Volkswagen Atlas frontHere’s a full-bodied SUV with truly-impressive, stretch-out seating for seven. And with those seats folded, there’s enough load space to bring home the entire contents of an average-sized Best Buy.

Add to all this, bulletproof build quality, proven dependability backed by a fine warranty, plus great interior fit and finish, and the Atlas checks a multitude of boxes.

Volkswagen introduced its XXL-sized Atlas back in 2017 as a 2018 model. A couple of months ago it got a mild, mid-life freshening which, I thought, made it worth taking another look.

I just spent the week driving the mid-range Atlas 2.0T SE 4Motion, out the door and off the lot at a big-bang-for-the-buck $38,000, or just over $41,000 nicely loaded.

Volkswagen Atlas driver and passenger seats. steering wheel

Of course you could splurge on the top-of-the-range V6-powered SEL Premium R-Line version at $51,900 and be very happy. It’s all about choices.

But when it comes to the Atlas, I reckon less is more, and middle-of-the-road is all you really need.  Why buy a $41,000 Meneghini La Cambusa fridge-freezer when a $1,000 Whirlpool  33 will do pretty much the same job.

Volkswagen Atlas TSI engineTake the VW’s choice of engines. Yes, you can spend the extra $1,400 to upgrade to the 276-horsepower 3.5-liter V6. But fact is, the 235-horsepower 2.0-liter Turbo four-cylinder delivers pretty much the same performance with better fuel economy.

And yes, the $1,900 4Motion all-wheel drive will give you a little extra piece of mind if it ever snows in Florida, but standard front-wheel drive gets the job done just perfectly.

For me, load-carrying, family-hauling sport-utes don’t really need to be sporty. Yes, once in a while it’s nice to get a little speed through that freeway on-ramp.

Volkswagen Atlas folding rear row

But remember at that very moment, the contents of your Trader Joe’s grocery bags will dump on to the load area floor, and your Starbucks mocha latte will likely leap out of the cupholder.

Where the Atlas excels, however, is in its peace, quiet, smoothness and refinement. At 75mph on I-75, the loudest sound you’ll likely hear is grandma snoring in the back seat.

And the modest styling changes for 2021.5, as VW calls it, do perk-up the Atlas’s curbside appeal. The revised front and rear bumpers and new LED headlights add a little visual boldness, while the new three-bar grille mirrors that of the sportier Atlas Cross Sport coupe.

Volkswagen Atlas rear

If you want even more visual chutzpah, check the box for the R-Line package you can get with the SE or SEL models.

But in the end, there are just too many more modern, more inspiring, more luxurious offerings out there that cost about the same as the VW. Kia’s award-winning Telluride and its Hyundai Palisade sibling, Mazda fine-driving CX-9, Jeep’s impressive new Grand Cherokee L.

What you have with the Atlas is the true Maytag of mid-size SUVs. And that’s no bad thing.

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