VW:

Atlas Crossover Hits Mark – or Doesn’t

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The all new Volkswagen Atlas crossover SUV (XSUV) launches in late May in the United States.  It is being dropped into the highly competitive mid-size crossover SUV market dominated by the Ford Explorer and the Honda Pilot.  Those two vehicles are Atlas’ strongest competitors.

Volkswagen, like Hyundai, can be criticized for being late to the American-style XSUV market.  Sure VW has had the Touareg and Tiguan crossovers in the market, but neither have the volume potential of the Atlas.  Atlas is produced at VW’s 300,000 unit assembly plant in Chattanooga, TN.  Atlas shares Chattanooga capacity with the Passat that sold 73,000 units in the USA in 2016.  Clearly, VW has room in Chattanooga for the Atlas and perhaps one or two additional entries. 

The Atlas is sized right for its competitive set.  It is almost exactly the size of the very successful Ford Explorer on the outside, but has a much longer wheelbase.  It makes great use of its interior space yielding much more cargo capacity than the vehicles compared above.  The front seat area is spacious and the cockpit is well laid out.  Ergonomics are first rate.  The second row can accommodate three large child seats and is adjustable for better legroom.  The third row seat is accessible, but only for small children or adults for short trips.

Source: George Peterson, AutoPacific

The Atlas is styled like you would expect a VW XSUV to be.  The front end styling is definitely a VW face with standard LED lighting and accent lights – distinguishable from afar.  The muscular bodysides communicate capability with a strong character line connecting the front and rear wheel openings.  The taillamps are connected by a chrome strip that highlights the rear styling and gives an upscale image.  The liftgate opens to the very large cargo area which is flat when all the rear seats are folded.

Driving the V6 Atlas crossover is pleasant, but not particularly exciting.  That is a good thing for a XSUV targeted at family car usage.  Ride quality is good, but there is a bit too much body lean on the twisty roads in Texas’ Hill Country around San Antonio.  Quiteness with its 20-inch tires is poor on many road surfaces.  When you find that elusive stretch of absolutely smooth asphalt, quietness is superb.  On rougher road surfaces you cannot carry on a conversation.

Source: George Peterson

In search of the Atlas’ unique selling proposition you conclude that the reconfigurable VW Digital Cockpit may be it.  The 12-inch wide instrument cluster can can change to provide several different information displays.  Unlike some reconfigurable systems, you cannot change the overall appearance, just the information shown.  The 8-inch center stack display is intuitive and turn by turn driving directions can be displayed on the instrument cluster at the swipe of a finger.  Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard.

The Atlas crossover has a complete suite of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems available.

Checking prices, the price for a FWD 4-cylinder Atlas S is $30,500.  An AWD V6

Atlas SEL Premium is $48,490.  So, the price is in line with competition.

Who will buy the Atlas?  The Atlas crossover is selling in a growing segment but there are two giants among its seven-passenger competition – Explorer and Pilot .  Both Explorer and Pilot have a loyal buyer base and they may be the superior products.  Volkswagen has a buyer base that loves the brand (let’s not discuss “Dieselgate”) and will likely consider the Atlas for their family hauler.  The question is can VW dealers position the Atlas as superior to its strong competitors or will they have to hope for VW loyalists coming in looking for aggressive prices?


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Volkswagen XL1 – Most Fuel Efficient Car – 261mpg!

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About 20 American journalists and analysts had a chance to drive the Volkswagen XL1 at the Autostadt near Volkswagen headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany.  Only 20 of the planned 250 vehicles have been completed to date and five were on hand for our drives.  A Volkswagen engineer guided each drive through Wolfsburg and even included a short autobahn blast hitting the car’s top speed limited to 160kmh (about 99mph).

261 MPG! The XL1 is very special.  First, it looks totally cool and highly aerodynamic.  Volkswagen has been developing a car to achieve the European objective of 1 liter of fuel consumed per 100 kilometers driven for over a decade now.  This equates to 238mpg using United States gallons.  The XL1 actually beats this.  It gets 0.9L/100km fuel efficiency (about 261mpg!). With its 10L (2.6-gallons) fuel tank this translates to a cruising range of over 600-miles on a tank of diesel.

How does it do this?  A combination of small size, great aerodynamics (Cd=0.189), plug-in-hybrid 2-cylinder turbo-diesel powertrain and a carbon fiber body that weighs only 197lbs.  To save weight, VW forgoes an on-board charger – at least for the first 50 in their production run.  Adding an on-board charger (which would allow the car to be charged at a public charge station rather than a dedicated charger likely in someone’s garage) would add 8kg (about 18lbs) to the weight of the car.  VW is considering adding a charger to the last 200 of the vehicles.

Staggered Seating The seating package uses a trick out of the smart fortwo design.  The seat in the two passenger car are staggered with the passenger seated slightly to the rear of the driver so shoulders won’t touch.  The XL1 certainly is not spacious, but for a hyper-miler it may be just the ticket.  Seeing the XL1 out in traffic reinforces just how small the car has to get to achieve such great fuel consumption.  It is tiny.  It is about an inch lower than a Lamborghini – and those come up about to your waist.  In traffic, it is dwarfed by other cars – even the small VW Polo and Lupo models driving around Wolfsburg.  To its credit, and for better aerodynamics, the rear of the body is lengthened and yields a trunk of 4.2 cubic feet – about twice the size of the first generation Mazda Miata.

Advanced Powertrain The XL1 is a rear engine, rear wheel drive car.  The diesel is hard-mounted just behind the passenger compartment.  Given that location it is very obvious when the diesel kicks in.  At least in the early models, NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) is sacrificed to achieve a total weight of 1723 pounds.  The diesel is relatively noisy and with only two cylinders it vibrates quite a bit.  The 5.5kw battery pack is mounted in front of the driver and on electric-only power the car will go 31 miles.  XL1 uses a DSG (automatic) transmission from VW’s new MQB platform.  If you really step on it, the XL1 will achieve a 0-60mph time of 12.7 seconds.  With no power steering, the rear engined car is a bit heavy feeling but not objectionable.

Rear View Cameras – a Bit Uncomfortable Probably the most uncomfortable part of driving XL1 is rear visibility.  VW has received an exemption from the EU to use rear view cameras instead of outside rear view mirrors.  The viewing screens are mounted in the door trim panels just forward of the armrests.  You have to look down left or right to see the traffic behind you.  Takes a bit to get used to the design.  You never really know where the traffic is in your blind spot.


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VW Passat – AutoPacific’s 2012 Ideal Vehicle Award Winner

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AutoPacific’s Ideal Vehicle Award (IVA) recognizes the vehicle that best hits the target its buyers demand.  Winning an IVA shows the product planners, engineers and designers of the manufacturer understand what their target customers want and have created the vehicle to best meet their demands.

Passat Edges Out Kia Optima for IVA Win: The all-new 2012 Volkswagen Passat comes closest to the ideal of any Premium Mid-Size Car.  The Passat edges out the Kia Optima by six points to win its class.   Having eighty-percent or more of owners rating a characteristic ideal is outstanding.  Achieving a score of ninety-percent is even more impressive.  Ninety-percent or more of Passat owners rate these characteristics ideal:  exterior size, passenger roominess and cargo space.  Each of these is a size- or space-related attribute showing that Volkswagen aimed the Passat directly at the sweet spot Americans love – lots of space.  Eighty-percent or more of Passat owners find these additional characteristics ideal:  interior lighting, wheels, driver’s seat comfort, ride and handling, power and acceleration and safety features.

The Volkswagen Passat also was Best In Class in AutoPacific’s 2012 Vehicle Satisfaction Award research.

A Few Shortfalls – Some Could Have Been Corrected by Selecting Available Options: About 32% want more or better infotainment and entertainment technology.  About 30% want the Passat to be easier to get into and out of.  About 30% want more interior storage compartments than now.  About 26% want more daring exterior styling than the Passat presently has.  About 26% want more power and acceleration.  While the visibility from the Passat is pretty good, 21% of its owners want better driver’s seat visibility.

You can find an Autobytel review of this IVA award winner at  http://www.autobytel.com/auto-news/awards/consumer-s-ideal-cars-revealed-in-2012-iva-awards-112116/

For a complete summary of all AutoPacific 2012 Ideal Vehicle Award results contact karin.turner@vehiclevoice.com and title your email “IVA Results”.  A copy of the results will be emailed to you within 48-hours.


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VW Golf – Wins AutoPacific’s Ideal Vehicle Award for Compact Cars

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AutoPacific’s Ideal Vehicle Award (IVA) recognizes the vehicle that best hits the target its buyers demand.  Winning an IVA shows the product planners, engineers and designers of the manufacturer understand what their target customers want and have created the vehicle to best meet their demands.

Golf Edges Kia Forte for IVA Win: The 2012 Volkswagen Golf comes closest to the ideal of any Compact Car.  The Golf edges out the second place Kia Forte by 21 rating points to win this highly competitive class.   Having eighty-percent or more of owners rating a characteristic ideal is outstanding.  Achieving a score of ninety-percent is even more impressive.  Ninety-percent or more of Golf owners rate exterior size, interior lighting, passenger roominess, exterior styling, driver’s seat comfort, ride and handling and safety features ideal.  Eighty-percent or more of Golf owners find these additional characteristics ideal:  cargo space, wheels and tires.

A Few Shortfalls – Most are Related to Size and Style, but Infotainment can be Improved. About 35% of Golf owners want the car to be easier to get into and out of.  Going hand-in-hand with ingress/egress, about 26% of the owners want better driver’s seat visibility.  This may be due to the Golf’s high mix of 3-door hatchbacks that have a longer door, tougher rear seat access and a thick C-Pillar restricting visibility.  About 32% want more interior storage compartments.  While 20% want better infotainment technology, about 12% want the technology in the car to be easier to use.

You can find an Autobytel review of this IVA award winner at  http://www.autobytel.com/auto-news/awards/consumer-s-ideal-cars-revealed-in-2012-iva-awards-112116/

For a complete summary of all AutoPacific 2012 Ideal Vehicle Award results contact karin.turner@vehiclevoice.com and title your email “IVA Results”.  A copy of the results will be emailed to you within 48-hours.


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2012 VW GTi Most Satisfying Premium Compact Car

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Best in Class 2012 Premium Compact Car:  Volkswagen GTi

2012 Volkswagen GTi Wins AutoPacific Vehicle Satisfaction Award

Owners of the Volkswagen GTi give the car top satisfaction marks in its class.  GTi owners gave the GTi top satisfaction ratings for 29 of the 48 attributes contributing to AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Award research, including:  Exterior Size, Seating Capacity, Rear Seat Comfort, Flexible Seating, Cargo Space (GTi is a hatchback), Ease of Loading Cargo, Image, Vehicle’s Reputation, Interior Styling, Feel of Interior Fabrics and Materials, Power and Acceleration, Braking, Handling, Fun to Drive, Reliable/Dependable, Ride, Controls Easy to Understand, Controls Have Quality Feel, Instrument Layout, Cupholder Design and Size, Tire Brand, Size and Appearance, Wheel Size and Style, Infotainment Technology, Feeling Safe While Driving, Safety Features, Safety Rating, Overall Quality, Price, and Collision Avoidance Technology.  With a possible high of 5.0 rating points on each of the 48 characteristics, GTi owners rate the car at 4.6 rating points or higher on:  Exterior Size, Seating Capacity, Image, Vehicle’s Reputation, Interior Styling, Power and Acceleration, Braking, Handling, Fun to Drive (4.95 – almost perfect), Reliable Dependable, Feeling Safe While Driving, Safety features, Safety Ratings, Overall Quality.  The lowest ratings are for Environmental Friendliness, Recyclability and Interior Storage.  Clearly owners perceive the GTi to be a very safe car with great dynamics at a reasonable price.


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2012 Volkswagen Tiguan Most Satisfying Compact Crossover SUV

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Best In Class 2012 Compact Crossover SUV:  Volkswagen Tiguan

2012 VW Tiguan Wins AutoPacific Vehicle Satisfaction Award

Owners of the 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan Compact Crossover SUV give the vehicle top ratings in sixteen of forty-eight categories in AutoPacific’s 2012 Vehicle Satisfaction Award research.  Owners give the Tiguan top ratings for:  Seating Capacity, Flexible Seating, Vehicle’s Reputation, Interior Styling, Interior Materials, Quality Feeling of Controls, Brand of Audio System, Visibility, Cupholders, Tire Size/Brand/Appearance, Environmental Friendliness, Infotainment Technology, Feeling Safe While Driving, Safety Features, Safety Ratings, Overall Quality and Durability.  With a maximum score of 5.0 satisfaction rating points, a score of 4.5 or higher is considered very good.  Tiguan owners rated their vehicle at 4.5 or higher in:  Overall Satisfaction, Seating Capacity, Vehicle’s Reputation, Brand’s Reputation, Exterior Color, Exterior Styling, Interior Styling, Interior Materials, Handling, Fun to Drive, Reliability, Visibility, Feeling Safe While Driving, Safety Features, Safety Ratings and Overall Quality.  There are five ratings under 4.0 satisfaction rating points:  Cargo Space, Fuel Economy, Cruising Range, Recyclability and Collision Avoidance Technology.  This is a very strong performance by Tiguan showing VW’s strengths in interior and exterior styling and materials selection are clearly appreciated by its owner group.


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2012 VW Passat: How to Enjoy 140 Horsepower

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When was the last time you can honestly say that you’ve driven a full-size car with 140 horsepower and it has been more than adequate?  Maybe the 1986 Ford Taurus with the venerable Vulcan V6?  Well, I was given the opportunity for some seat time with a 2012 Passat TDI clean diesel and it is Volkswagen’s newest sedan to hit American soil, err, actually be built on American soil.  While the styling may not be anything to get excited about at first glance; like a jelly donut, it’s what is inside that counts.


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2012 Volkswagen CC: Four Doors…And Real Style

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It’s almost become cliche.  How many automakers have tried to tell you that their four-door mid-size sedans are sleek, sporty, and stylish?  In the end, most of them are plain, boring, and eminently forgettable, at least in terms of looks.  That’s where the Volkswagen CC truly stands out.


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Short Take: Volkswagen Golf blue-e-motion

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Volkswagen is excited with the work they have completed thus far on the Golf blue-e-motion battery electric vehicle.  So excited, in fact, that I was recently able to drive one in Germany.


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2009 Volkswagen Jetta: Motorist Choice Award Winner

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VW_09_JettaTDI_3.jpg“Pulling ahead of the competition in the Mid-Size Car segment, the Volkswagen Jetta wins AutoPacific’s 2009 Motorist Choice Award. This after winning AutoPacific’s Ideal Vehicle and Owner Recommendation Awards. Jetta offers a touch of class and German engineering not found in the competition which, when added to the high ratings for powertrain and safety, makes it a Motorist Choice.” — AutoPacific
“The Jetta has best-in-segment ownership costs. The Jetta has the highest retained value and lowest fuel costs in the segment.” — IntelliChoice
Owner Satisfaction Highlights
* Cargo Space / Capacity
* Powertrain and Acceleration
* Braking
* Handling
* Fun to Drive
* Feeling Safe While Driving
Cost-of-Ownership Strengths
* Best-in-Segment Ownership Costs
* Best Retained Value
* Lowest Fuel Costs


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