2021 VW Atlas boasts new-look design, more powertrain options

It's nearly three inches longer than the outgoing model

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The seven-seater Volkswagen Atlas is receiving a mid-cycle update at the 2020 Chicago Auto Show. The company's biggest model will enter the 2021 model year with a new look inspired by the Atlas Cross Sport.

Stylists changed every part of the front end to bring the VW Atlas in line with its smaller sibling. It's now characterized by a wide grille accented by three bright slats and sharper-looking headlights with LED inserts. The tweaks made to the rear end are more subtle and largely limited to slightly shorter lights connected by a longer strip of trim. The redesigned bumpers make the 2021 Atlas nearly three inches longer than the 2020 model.

The company then turned its attention to the interior, where it kept the outgoing model's basic design but upgraded it with a new steering wheel, optional contrast stitching, and more technology. Every model with the exception of the entry-level S variant now comes with an 8.0-inch touchscreen that displays the next generation of Volkswagen's Car-Net infotainment system. In-car Wi-Fi is available if motorists pay a monthly data plan, and the software is compatible with an app that's been updated for the 2021 model year. Owners will also have several digital subscription options to choose from, though they won't be detailed until closer to the car's launch.

Traffic jam assist and dynamic road sign display, two technologies inaugurated by the Cross Sport, are available. They join the growing list of standard and optional electronic driving aids including forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, and a 360-degree view camera.

The Atlas still comes standard with a turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that delivers 235 horsepower, and the optional 3.6-liter V6 that puts 276 horses under the driver's right foot also carries over for 2021. The big news is that buyers can order the smaller engine with the company's 4Motion all-wheel drive system. Front-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission now come standard regardless of cylinder count, and the Atlas can tow up to 5,000 pounds when it's configured with the V6 and equipped with the optional towing package.

Built in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas will go on sale across the United States in the spring of 2020. Pricing hasn't been announced yet. To add context, the 2020 model starts at $30,895.

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Volkswagen Atlas Information

Volkswagen Atlas

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