Atlas Shrugged: Volkswagen’s SUV Drops the Four-Pot in Most Trims

The three-row Atlas was the midsize utility vehicle Volkswagen needed, but the model’s entry-level 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder is apparently the engine Volkswagen doesn’t want.

For 2019, the Atlas seems some unusual rejigging occur at the bottom end of the trim ladder. Unless you’re totally stoked with the idea of having the least amount of power going to the fewest number of wheels, you’ll end up paying more.

According to 2019 Atlas order guides seen by CarsDirect, Volkswagen plants to drop the 235 hp 2.0T engine from all but one trim level — the base S model. Last year, SE and SEL buyers could get their hands on a four-banger.

As it drops four-cylinder availability in favor of the brand’s 276 hp 3.6-liter V6, VW has also eliminated the front-drive Atlas S V6 model. This means getting into a six-cylinder requires an extra expenditure for all-wheel drive (it’s a $3,200 climb from the $31,890 MSRP of the four-cylinder S). If six cylinders is a necessity but AWD isn’t, you’ll find yourself leapfrogging that model to land on the $36,490 front-drive SE V6.

It’s an odd grouping — you’ll have to spend an additional $4,600 for a front-drive V6, but $1,400 less if you’re in the mood for an AWD V6.

Four-cylinder Atlases were always thin on the ground; the manufacturer made most turbo trims available as factory order only. With this 2019 trim reshuffling, VW can continue marketing the base model’s competitive entry price while boosting the line’s profitability.

A key product for the U.S. market, Atlas sales began in May 2017. Over the first nine months of 2018, 43,002 American buyers drove home in a new Atlas, with the model representing over 16 percent of the brand’s U.S. volume. Coupled with sales of the smaller Tiguan and its outgoing Tiguan Limited predecessor, as well as the remaining Touaregs populating U.S. lots, SUVs made up 47 percent of Volkswagen’s 2018 U.S. sales.

a version of this article first appeared on thetruthaboutcars.com