It started back in 2013 as the CrossBlue concept, a full size, seven passenger crossover SUV for the American market. Something that Volkswagen dealers could offer people looking for a Ford Explorer, a Honda Pilot, or a Toyota Highlander. The dealers have been clamoring for such a vehicle as they watched people turn their noses up at the Tiguan and Tuareg models they had to offer. Smaller and pricier than the competition, sales languished while the market for crossovers boomed.
The America dealers complained bitterly about clueless company executives back in Germany who couldn’t seem to get off the dime and get the CrossBlue into production. Now, their long wait is over. VW has approved production for what will be called the Atlas — a full seven passenger crossover SUV that is as long as the current Ford Explorer and longer than either the Pilot or Highlander. Production will begin in the spring.
“This is the biggest and boldest Volkswagen we have ever built in the United States, delivering the distinctive design and craftsmanship we’re known for, now with room for seven,” Hinrich Woebcken, CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, said in a statement. “The Atlas marks a brand new journey for Volkswagen to enter into the heart of the American market.”
The Atlas has three seats in its second row. The two outer seats slide forward and back independently of the middle seat. The third row seats two adults and can be accessed even with child seats installed in the second row. It will be built in VW’s Chattanooga factory, which will allow it to be priced in the “heart of the competitive SUV market.” Final pricing and fuel economy numbers have not yet been released.