Updated 2021 Atlas to be Unveiled at Chicago Auto Show

The Atlas is getting ready for its mid-cycle refresh and if that seems a little early to you then you’re very astute. Volkswagen US is speeding up its model cycle by about a year and the all-American Atlas is the first vehicle to benefit from this hurried cadence.

And speaking of news so good it’ll make you say “Huh. Okay,” the Atlas’s refresh is predictable, if positive.

Although the wheelbase hasn’t changed, the Atlas does grow by about 3-inches in length due to new crash structures that lead to safety improvements for pedestrians.

The looks improve, too, to keep the Atlas in step with the Atlas Cross Sport. Although we can only show you these sketches, we were invited to a sneak peek at the SUV today and can report that the changes are an improvement.

With a new grille, new lights (LEDs front and back), and a new bumper dominating the new look. Again, just imagine the Cross Sport with some minor tweaks to imply brawn.

The improvements continue inside where, in our estimation, they’ll do the most good. An 8-inch touchscreen will help you control the car in every trim except base. More importantly, time and effort have gone into making the trim and materials a little better. This is a mild improvement, but an important one.

Volkswagen is also adding Traffic Jam Assist and Road Sign Detection to the updated model to help you down the road.

Although the drivelines will remain largely unchanged (a familiar four-pot and VR6) the 4-cylinder will now be available with 4Motion.

Although VW President Scott Keogh has been quoted as saying that he predicts a rebellion against SUVs, that rebellion clearly hasn’t arrived yet, so the updated Atlas and the Atlas Cross Sport will be crucially important to VW US. Sales in the wider SUV market continue to grow and the Atlas and Tiguan have helped VW’s conquest rate improve by 20%—meaning new customers are coming into the fold and therefore sales are growing. Volkswagen was quick to add, though, that they have no plans of pulling out of the sedan market and repeated their fealty to the sanctified GTI and R.

The all-important Atlas, though, will be unveiled at the Chicago Auto Show, says VW, and will be making it to market in May.