The 2018 Atlas is long-overdue: VW has needed a proper, 7-seater SUV for some time. More than that, it’s needed a proper, 7-seater SUV that is built with the American market foremost in mind. The Tiguan is too small; the Touareg too expensive: enter the Volkswagen North American Region (NAR) and a big SUV that, while it’ll be sold elsewhere in the world, really has America’s best-selling Ford Explorer in its crosshairs.
In operation for about a year now, VW NAR is basically a self-contained automaker – covering the US, Canada, and Mexico – with the autonomy to make decisions for the region. It’s the team responsible for shaping the 2018 Atlas to American tastes and, courtesy of a $900m investment from VW, will begin production of the SUV in Chattanooga, TN, alongside the Passat. While the Atlas took its initial inspiration from the CrossBlue concept of 2013, from there it grew in size and scope.
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