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VW thinks big with Atlas SUV

Charles Fleming, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Automotive News

Like a lot of automakers, Volkswagen is betting big on SUVs, especially in the American consumer market, where utility vehicles now far outsell sedans.

The company invested a reported $900 million in its Chattanooga, Tenn., plant to build Atlases, mostly for the U.S. market. (The SUVs will be exported to the Middle East, Russia, Canada and Mexico, and are also being built in China.)

The Tennessee factory is said to be capable of producing 250,000 Atlas and Passat vehicles a year.

A Volkswagen spokesperson said it was too soon to make any predictions about Atlas sales. But VW moved 4,000 of the big SUVs in the U.S. last month.

VW divides its SUVs into classes. Tiguan Limited is its "compact SUV," Tiguan its "stylish SUV," Atlas its "family SUV" and Touareg its "luxury SUV."

The company divides its Atlases into classes as well. VW offers 12 different trim levels, starting with the basic S model at $31,425 and rising to the loaded V-6 SEL Premium with 4Motion at $49,415.

That puts the Atlas well in line with its Japanese, Korean and American competition, and rather below similar vehicles offered by other European automakers.

If U.S. car shoppers have forgotten or forgiven VW's diesel transgressions, this big bug could be a popular people mover.


Times' take: VW's first full-size SUV is a functional family wagon


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