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Would you consider an Atlas or Atlas Cross Sport to replace your Touareg?

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2016 Touareg VR6 Sport w/technology in dark flint gray metallic
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tl;dr: I had a 2020 (or 2021) Atlas SE V6 as a rental for a few days and it wasn't half bad (it wasn't all bad either). More than decent acceleration, very roomy, nicely equipped, a little too plain on the interior, suspension wasn't great but I could live with it.

Before I start, let me point out that I realize this is a Touareg forum and this thread is intended for Touareg reviews--I'm happy to leave a separate review of my 2016 VR6 if that satisfies the forum.

If you stopped reading at the tl;dr, then you'd think the Atlas was in fact terrible. It actually wasn't. I was combing through, walking the aisles of the National Rental lot at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport on December 30th and it was picked clean. They had a handful of really terrible cars left over--Malibu's, RAV4 Hybrid's, Honda Fit, Equinox, Sonata, etc. It was a who's who of mediocracy motoring. Finally, off in the distance I saw National's reserved SUV section and noticed the Atlas (which I could really only see the front end and thought maybe it was a Cross Sport). So I walked over to it and was approached by an employee who said I could take it and get the Emerald Aisle (mid-size Elantra or similar) rate.

I put my luggage in the back, hopped in, adjusted my mirrors, connected my phone to Apple CarPlay and drove to the checkout booth. First thing I noticed was acceleration. It had a very responsive gas pedal paired with the 274 horsepower V6; so much that when I turned out onto Texas Highway 71, its front wheel drivetrain became glaringly obvious and did some extra spinning for me. I was not amused and immediately wished I had 4Motion for the stability. The engine made a nice growl once I got out at highway speeds.

The Atlas SE took me through some curvy roads on my way to a friend's house and handled nicely. Road noise was similar to that of the Touareg, and the stereo helped drown some of that out. Suspension was decent. There were some bumps and potholes that the larger wheels glided over with ease. Later on in my trip though, I realized it doesn't handle rougher roads like a Touareg would. It was a little squirrelly, if that makes sense. Likely because of the front wheel drive, but its steering also felt very loose.

Interior-wise, it was more than enough space for me as a 6'5" driver. I didn't even have to put my seat all the way back, which is a change of pace for me. Passengers in the second row would have no issues with leg room. But the seats felt a little hard, maybe they soften up as they wear? The car had just over 200 miles on it when I got it, so I'm guessing I was the second renter. The stereo and climate control area was what you would expect of a watered down VW built for the US market--intuitive and simplistic, but maybe too simplistic. It wasn't visually appealing and didn't offer any sense of luxury like that of a Touareg or SUV in the same class. The backup camera and parking sensors worked well, and helped to get out of some tighter parking spots. From the driver perspective looking over the hood, you can tell it's beefier and boxier than that of any Touareg or Tiguan. Visibility looking out from every angle was good, although blind spot monitoring in the mirrors could be improved.

After living with the Atlas for a couple days and putting over 100 miles on it, my largest complaint was the auto-shutoff at red lights feature. This wasn't my first experience with a car with this feature, but it felt especially annoying in the front wheel drive Atlas. The delay between taking your foot off the brake and the engine restarting felt longer than that of an Audi A6 or Lexus RX. When it shut off, it was like someone took an inch off the front suspension. When it restarted, the whole car trembled. Eventually with enough stop and go traffic, the car will tell you that the driving conditions aren't appropriate for the auto-shutoff and will keep the car running at a red light. You can also shut this feature off every time you start the car, but this took me a day to find the button. (Yes, I mentioned the interior was simplistic but I hadn't fully scanned to find this button until day two.)

Overall, the Atlas was nice to drive in an urban environment through hilly, sometimes rough roads. If I had kids or was hauling people around regularly, I could see this being a great alternative to a Toyota Highlander, Chevy Traverse, Acura, Ford, or Nissan of a similar class. However, I would still rather drive my Touareg. The Atlas is no replacement for the build quality, practicality, and overall feel of the Touareg. Sure, it has updated technology--but that's not enough reason for me to buy the Atlas just yet. To get an Atlas with all of the features that came standard on our Touareg's, you will have to buy the SEL trim. This is another topic of annoyance for me that I won't delve into today. If I had to buy the Atlas to replace my Touareg, I would get an Atlas SEL with 4motion. But, I likely won't ever buy an Atlas as it seems too long for my garage, however I will consider the Cross Sport someday after an extended test drive or rental.
 
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The atlas is a cool ride but isn't in the same universe. I spent a few days with one.

Would I like to own an Atlas? Surely. Could I buy one to replace my Touareg? No. The handling, braking, tow capacity and engine are in different universes.

I could definitely see it becoming a daily driver or even a daily utilitarian use vehicle, but it is in no way a replacement of the Touareg
 

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I own a 2021 Atlas V6 SEL in addition to my Touareg. The Atlas is a people hauler pure and simple. It’s great and it’s obvious that it isn’t meant to be a Touareg replacement. Not to disparage your impressions above but this thread is pointlessly trying to compare two very different vehicles with different goals.

I traded in an 18 Tiguan (it was... fine) with a third row for the Atlas as two of my three kids didn’t fit in the third row anymore. The Atlas has a third row that even my 6’1 self can sit in if need be. It’s a great vehicle if you need the third row. I would definitely say that it’s nowhere near the build/material quality of my Touareg but that also is kind of the point as it’s A PEOPLE HAULER, lol. Every time I’m painstakingly removing and vacuuming crumbs out of the ventilated seat’s perforated leather in my Touareg, I am appreciative of how much easier it is to maintain the cleanliness in the aptly utilitarian Atlas. It has captains chairs in the second row so no one has to stand around and complain while they wait for the third row mouth breathers to load up. Three kids in my Touareg is occasionally done but there is usually a lot of fighting at some point; no one has to rub shoulders with anyone in the Atlas.

I also guarantee that you had an SE or lower trim as you didn’t mention the digital dash display, which makes my Touareg feel like the dinasour that it is technologically. So, yes, tech is waaaaaay better than my Touareg. How many USB ports does your Touareg even have? Apple CarPlay? Remote start? WiFi hotspot? Carnet? It’s staggering how much they pack in on these that is useful and makes my 16 Touareg feel outdated.

My Review: Get an Atlas if you need the third row and want something seriously spacious that looks good, has decent handling for how huge it is and is up to date with the latest tech. Otherwise, get a Touareg. Or in my case, get both. ;-)
 

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Under powered gas-only engine, less towing capability, Haldex-only AWD, cheaper and more “Americanized” interior, etc.
No thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I own a 2021 Atlas V6 SEL in addition to my Touareg. The Atlas is a people hauler pure and simple. It’s great and it’s obvious that it isn’t meant to be a Touareg replacement. Not to disparage your impressions above but this thread is pointlessly trying to compare two very different vehicles with different goals.

I traded in an 18 Tiguan (it was... fine) with a third row for the Atlas as two of my three kids didn’t fit in the third row anymore. The Atlas has a third row that even my 6’1 self can sit in if need be. It’s a great vehicle if you need the third row. I would definitely say that it’s nowhere near the build/material quality of my Touareg but that also is kind of the point as it’s A PEOPLE HAULER, lol. Every time I’m painstakingly removing and vacuuming crumbs out of the ventilated seat’s perforated leather in my Touareg, I am appreciative of how much easier it is to maintain the cleanliness in the aptly utilitarian Atlas. It has captains chairs in the second row so no one has to stand around and complain while they wait for the third row mouth breathers to load up. Three kids in my Touareg is occasionally done but there is usually a lot of fighting at some point; no one has to rub shoulders with anyone in the Atlas.

I also guarantee that you had an SE or lower trim as you didn’t mention the digital dash display, which makes my Touareg feel like the dinasour that it is technologically. So, yes, tech is waaaaaay better than my Touareg. How many USB ports does your Touareg even have? Apple CarPlay? Remote start? WiFi hotspot? Carnet? It’s staggering how much they pack in on these that is useful and makes my 16 Touareg feel outdated.

My Review: Get an Atlas if you need the third row and want something seriously spacious that looks good, has decent handling for how huge it is and is up to date with the latest tech. Otherwise, get a Touareg. Or in my case, get both. ;-)
You're right, each vehicle has a different goal. But at some point a North American owner may be faced with needing to replace their Touareg and the options for a new VW SUV are the Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport. Going back to VW and considering the Atlas and Cross Sport is a natural progression in my mind, unless you have Cayenne or Q7 money to spend. We're all putting miles on our Touareg's and eventually they'll be to the point where some of us won't consider trading a high-mileage Touareg for another high-mileage Touareg. I appreciate the Atlas for what it is, but wasn't expecting it to be so different from what we all here drive now.

It was an SE, and I was disappointed at the dash. I've seen the digital dash you're referring to and think that looks amazing. Yes, there are some tech features I wish I had in my Touareg. I wish I had CarPlay and at least one USB port.

If I had kids and needed the third row, I would certainly grab the Atlas. Question for you, is your Atlas AWD or 2WD? Curious if you had the same experience with the difference in acceleration between that and your Touareg.
 

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It’s 4motion and could totally see the fwd causing traction issues.

Sadly, I think we all may have to move to countries where the new Touareg is still available; however, if a Cayenne is out of budget, the newest Touareg is probably pushing it too.

I’m not confident that we’ll see a true replacement for the Touareg on our shores ever again as that will be reserved for the upscale VW brands like Audi and Porsche. The current EV transition probably won’t lead to anything like the Touareg any time soon either. Here’s to hoping it does though. 🍻
 

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The UK will never see the Atlas so the opening post was a good read to see what VW had replaced the Touareg with in the US from the point of view of a Touareg owner.
 

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The Atlas wouldn’t even fit on your roads TommiT. It truly makes my Touareg feel small and sporty, which is a nice feeling considering the reality that it is not either of those, lol.
 

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You're right, each vehicle has a different goal. But at some point a North American owner may be faced with needing to replace their Touareg and the options for a new VW SUV are the Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport. Going back to VW and considering the Atlas and Cross Sport is a natural progression in my mind, unless you have Cayenne or Q7 money to spend. We're all putting miles on our Touareg's and eventually they'll be to the point where some of us won't consider trading a high-mileage Touareg for another high-mileage Touareg. I appreciate the Atlas for what it is, but wasn't expecting it to be so different from what we all here drive now.

It was an SE, and I was disappointed at the dash. I've seen the digital dash you're referring to and think that looks amazing. Yes, there are some tech features I wish I had in my Touareg. I wish I had CarPlay and at least one USB port.

If I had kids and needed the third row, I would certainly grab the Atlas. Question for you, is your Atlas AWD or 2WD? Curious if you had the same experience with the difference in acceleration between that and your Touareg.

First of all I agree with everything Denker has to say


To answer your inquiry- Volkswagen does not import a Touareg replacement stateside. If you want exactly the utilitarian and purposing of the Touareg you'd need to consider a Q7, land rover discovery, a twin turbo Mercedes, a land cruiser, an armada, a navigator, an escalade, Porsche Cayenne, etc
With that said, each has its pros and cons vs the Touareg

My loaner Atlas was a vr6 and fwd. Huge traction issues but still slower than hell

The atlas in any engine trim is reasonably faster 0-60 and the low level (read, light) trim Atlas will smoke the hell out of a Touareg in the 1/4 mile while the slowest Atlas will simply just 'beat' the tdi Touareg by maybe half a second
 

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I’ll add, the 2.0t Atlas Cross Sport is the one to get if you want “fast.” An Apr tune on that motor would really seal the deal as my Alltrack with a stage 1 tune was really impressive. I test drove a 2.0t Atlas and it was surprisingly quick but I wanted the towing capability (however diminished from a Touareg) that isn’t available with that engine and trim.

Let’s just say that I’ve imagined an R-line trim 2.0t in my driveway a few times since we got the Atlas... then I drive my Touareg again and feel the torque of the TDI and forget about it for a little while longer.
 

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The 2.0t has endless power mods, just gotta tear into it (and void your warranty). The atlas IS a cool, cool ride and has the capacity to be a well handling, fast ride.
 

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I've been looking at the Rivian this evening: 750 bhp, 5 ton towing capacity, 3 feet wading depth, a large frunk, 0-60 in 3 seconds, and 0- 100 in 7...!

AND there's the possibility of a tank turn - the electric motors turn in opposite direction to spin the car around.

And you can get them in green.

Not quite sure how you get Vegan leather seats though!!
 

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I was impressed by the prototype Rivians used on Long Way Up.
 

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I test drove an Altas AWD right when they first came out. I felt it slow, had body roll like an F-150 and felt overall cheap. I have a 2020 Ram 1500 Laramie Crew Cab. It has higher quality materials and less body roll than the Atlas I drove. My old girl V8 super high mile Touareg pulled harder, felt tighter, and had a lot of the same features as the Atlas ( I drove an SE)

If I was in the market to replace my Touareg with a new version of the Touareg ( category wise) I would look at the Q7, Cayenne, and the Lexus LX.
 

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Not quite sure how you get Vegan leather seats though!!
The cattle only eat grass, so their hides are pretty vegan.
 
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You don’t necessarily have to void your warranty for a nice bump in power/driveability. Not as powerful as stage 1 but fair trade-off imho.

APR Plus - Tuning for your VW, Audi, Porsche, and more with a Limited Powertrain Warranty!
Unfortunately Volkswagen can monitor your flash count and they (or mothership) WILL eventually notice your count being off if you use APR, if not NOW, then when you have an issue and need to tap into warranty

I test drove an Altas AWD right when they first came out. I felt it slow, had body roll like an F-150 and felt overall cheap. I have a 2020 Ram 1500 Laramie Crew Cab. It has higher quality materials and less body roll than the Atlas I drove. My old girl V8 super high mile Touareg pulled harder, felt tighter, and had a lot of the same features as the Atlas ( I drove an SE)

If I was in the market to replace my Touareg with a new version of the Touareg ( category wise) I would look at the Q7, Cayenne, and the Lexus LX.
I hear what you're saying, the atlas definitely doesn't FEEL very surefooted, but a 2018 Atlas does .88g on the skidpad vs a 2020 ram 1500 doing .75g
 

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APR provides the warranty when you go with a “Plus” tune. My local VW dealer installs APR Plus tunes regularly and will even include it in the purchase. Doesn’t void anything per se, it just puts APR on the hook for the warranty coverage if a problem can be tied to the tune; which is a rare occurrence if APR is willing to back it. It’s not as robust as their stage 1 tune so it keeps everything well in the safe zone w/regard to how hard the tune pushes components.
 

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I hear you, my dealer did in house apr tuning for YEARS until recently. This just means the dealership is taking on some risk themselves.

Either way I'm not sure I'd count on APR to fulfill your warranty if your hpfp failed in that thing and they blame the tune lol
 

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You don’t necessarily have to void your warranty for a nice bump in power/driveability. Not as powerful as stage 1 but fair trade-off imho.

APR Plus - Tuning for your VW, Audi, Porsche, and more with a Limited Powertrain Warranty!
This is interesting. I haven't heard of APR-Plus. But $999 - wow that seems like a lot for a tune. Maybe I'm not up to date on current rates for APR tunes, but it seems like you're buying that warranty coverage bundled with the tune to me.

I don't think I'd go this route unless my VW dealer was also the APR dealer. Warranties are so awful to deal with as it is and I wouldn't be willing to get the run around between the VW Dealer and APR Dealer if there was a disagreement.
 
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