If you are looking for a practical three-row SUV then you can’t really go wrong with the 2022 VW Atlas V6 SEL R Line, except there happens to be an awful lot of competition in this segment, and you are somewhat spoiled for choice.

What’s new for 2022?

The Atlas is now offered in six trims for the 2022 model year, the SE, SE w/ Technology, SEL, SEL R-Line, SEL R-Line Black (late availability), and SEL Premium R-Line.

The SE model now features an 8.0-inch Digital Cockpit. The SE w/ Technology models add USB-C ports for the third row and a standard trailer hitch for models equipped with the VR6® engine, as well as an optional 20-inch black wheel package.

4Motion is now standard on SEL models, as well as machined 20-inch wheels. An optional R-Line Black package features black 20-inch wheels, along with black R-Line styling elements. The R-Line is now standard on the SEL Premium, including 21-inch wheels.

MSRP for the Atlas 2.0-liter starts at $34,335 for front-wheel drive and $36,235 for 4Motion all-wheel drive. The powerful VR6 engine is available on the Atlas SE w/ Technology models and above, starting at $40,255 for front-wheel-drive models and $42,155 for 4Motion models. Destination is $1,295.

More Agressive Exterior

The 2022 Atlas looks good after its facelift last year with a hint of Jeep in the rear fenders and a satisfyingly aggressive grille. It certainly has a presence on the road, especially with the R-Line package, which includes a set of badges indicating such, a nice set of 21-inch alloys, R-Line bumpers, and stainless steel pedals.

It’s still the largest vehicle that VW has ever built, it’s big and blocky and most importantly has a 3rd row of seats, which actual humans will fit into. My tester had the optional captain’s chairs for the 2nd row ($695) which I prefer but if you have dogs they can feel free to move around the cabin due to the gap between the seats.

My tester was a fully equipped SEL R Line with a sticker price of $52,410 including the captain’s chairs. Front seats have eight-way power with memory settings, a Digital Cockpit gauge cluster, a heated steering wheel, and a panoramic sunroof. Bear in mind that the R-Line models like my tester are available to order only, meaning you won’t find them on a dealer lot.

Two engines are available for the Atlas. The base engine is a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine with 235 hp and 258-lb-ft, our tester had the optional 3.6-liter V6 engine which makes 276 hp at 6,200 rpm and 266 lb.-ft. of torque at 2,750 rpm. An 8-speed automatic transmission powers the front or all four wheels, you can order 4-Motion as my tester had, which transfers power to the rear wheels if needed.


I stayed in Sport mode mostly, I found it firms up response and avoids the transmission’s occasional hunting in normal mode.  We strapped on our test gear and with traction control off, and some wheel spin, we got to sixty in 7.9 seconds, a perfectly adequate result given the type of buyer it is aimed at and we all know pure numbers don’t always tell the real story.

The R-Line’s exclusive 21-inch rims are mounted with wide 265/45R-21 Pirelli Scorpion Zero All Season tires, and they definitely contribute to the big VW’s excellent stability. The suspension – struts up front, multi-link in the rear, offers a soft and supple ride but doesn’t feel nervous or twitchy at speed. The only negative is when navigating broken pavement, the suspension can misbehave and cause the ride to become somewhat flinty.

Throw it into a tight corner and it will get upset but in most turns the big VW stays the course, staying pretty flat even when pressed hard. Steering is light and reasonably communicative (In Sport mode) and overall there’s a very tight and sold feel to the Atlas. Cruising on the highway, the engine is quiet and unobtrusive and will happily rev to its redline. Brakes are strong and progressive and were fade-free after multiple stops from 70 mph during testing.

The SEL Premium trim offers a very impressive suite of safety applications including forward collision warning, pedestrian warning, autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning, and blind-spot monitoring.

We did test it out on a heavily wash-boarded truck trail, which was fairly flat with no big ruts, and the Atlas performed fairly well, soaking up most of the worst bumps, however, the suspension is still on the firm side and can be a tad jarring.


The EPA says the 2021 Atlas 3.6 liter V6 AWD should do 16 mpg in the city, 22 mpg on the highway, and 18 mpg combined, however, the best I could muster was 15.3 mpg, for which I blame a heavy right foot.


Inside the 2022 VW Atlas, it’s all very Germanic, but the plastics and overall quality are good if not better than what is on offer elsewhere. It doesn’t feel luxurious though it’s more functional and practical, it does what it says on the label.  If you opt for the top-of-the-line SEL Premium you get leather seats but I’ll be honest it’s not really worth it.

It’s an uncomplicated design inside, all controls are within easy reach, the 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system is easy to operate, and the driving position is easy to adjust with the optional power seats. Seat comfort is good if a little hard, however, they do provide impressive thigh support and side bolstering.

There are plenty of USB-C chargers throughout the cabin and the third row gets 2 of them but you have to ask the left passenger to plug your device in since they are both on one side. No fighting, kids!

New tech

The 2021.5 model brought in the MIB3 infotainment system which includes gesture control, wireless App-Connect, multi-phone pairing, and enhanced voice recognition. MIB3 features an illuminated USB-C input connecter that makes plugging in your smartphone’s charging cord easier than ever. The MIB3 system is also equipped with a redesigned navigation system, which features simplified map designs, quick access to frequented locations, more advanced route management, and more.

It’s fast, easy to use and it is backed up with physical buttons, thank goodness as it hasn’t inherited the capacitive touch system on the GTI and Golf R. One small issue the wireless charger would occasionally show a message on the screen that it was no longer charging and it was troublesome even when I took the case off.

Access to the rear

There’s plenty of room for second and third-row passengers and entry and exit to the 3rd row is a doddle thanks to a simple lever on the side of the 2nd-row seats. I have to say it is one of the easiest 3-row SUVs to get in and out of. Power is aplenty with an additional 2 USB-Cs for the third row although they are on the left-hand side so the other passenger will have to ask nicely for a quick plug-in.

Size matters

It’s huge and with all rows up, you’re looking at a very respectable 20.6 cu-ft. Drop the third row, and that expands to 55.5 cu-ft if you drop them all, you’re looking at a huge 96.8 cu-ft.  and it tops the charts in the 3rd-row department with an impressive class-leading 33.7 inches of legroom. Best of all the seats fold flat, they lock into place and if you option the captain’s chairs you get extra space between them.


The VW Atlas offers a lot of space, especially for the money, base prices start at $34,335 for front-wheel drive and $36,235 for 4Motion all-wheel drive with the 2.0 turbo-four engine. It’s a good drive, feels well built and the VR6 engine offers some sporty exhaust tunes when pressed. There are a host of vehicles that compete including the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Subaru Ascent, Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot, and the Kia Telluride, so you’ll need to do your homework, but the big VW is certainly one to consider if size matters.


2022 VW Atlas V6 SEL R-Line 4motion

BASE PRICE: $51,505
VEHICLE LAYOUT: Front-engine, FWD, 7-pass, 4-door SUV
ENGINE: 3.6L DOHC 24-valve V-6
POWER: 276-hp @ 6,200 rpm
TORQUE: 266-lb-ft @ 2,750 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 8-speed automatic
0-60 MPH: 7.9 sec

CURB WEIGHT: 4,800 lb

CARGO CAPACITY: Seats up: 20.6 cu ft, 1st row down: 55.5 cu ft, 2nd row down: 96.8 cu ft
PROS: Huge inside, competent handling
CONS: Needs a tad more power, thirsty