Vw Atlas Years to Avoid – Why You Must Steer Clear of These Nagging Problems

Patrick Oziegbe
Updated On:

Are you in the market for a used Volkswagen Atlas but feeling overwhelmed by the many model years available? Well, fear not, because we’re here to help you make an informed decision.

As a relatively new and high-quality SUV, the Volkswagen Atlas can be an excellent choice for anyone in search of a reliable vehicle.

However, not all model years are created equal, and some have been reported to have issues that could cause you headaches down the road.

But don’t worry, we’ve got the inside scoop on which years to avoid and which ones to consider. In this article, we’ll take you through the different model years of the VW Atlas, highlighting the years with known problems and the ones that received higher reliability ratings from Consumer Reports.

So, buckle up and let’s explore which VW Atlas years are worth considering and which ones to steer clear of.

Vw Atlas years to avoid

Common Problems and Model Years to Avoid

In this section, we’ll focus on the 2018 and 2019 Volkswagen Atlas models and highlight the issues you may encounter.

2018 Volkswagen Atlas

The 2018 Volkswagen Atlas has experienced a range of problems, affecting its overall reliability. Some of the key issues include:

  • Fuel line leaks and poor fuel tank assembly: This problem can lead to fuel leaks and potential safety hazards and has really affected the reliability of this model.
  • Unlubricated brake caliper pins: This issue can cause excessive wear on the brake pads, leading to reduced braking performance and potential safety risks.
  • Airbag inflator issues: A malfunction in the airbags can pose a serious risk to passengers if the airbags don’t deploy properly during an accident.
  • Seatbelt buckle assembly problems: Specifically for the passenger’s side anchor, this issue can compromise passenger safety in the event of a crash.
  • Fractured coil springs: Suspension problems caused by fractured coil springs have been reported, which may lead to a bumpy and uncomfortable ride.

Considering these problems, the 2018 Volkswagen Atlas may not be the best model year to purchase.

RELATED: How Many Miles Will A VW Atlas Last and Average Atlas Life Expectancy?

2019 Volkswagen Atlas

While the 2019 VW Atlas might have some improvements compared to its 2018 counterpart, it’s still not exempt from issues. Some common problems for the 2019 model include:

  • Emergency brakes activating while driving: Reports state that this frightening problem has occurred for no apparent reason, posing safety concerns.
  • Transmission-related noises: Grinding noises and issues with the torque converter in 2019 models have been reported, potentially indicating transmission issues.
  • Wind noise: Some owners have complained about wind noise seeping into the cabin at higher speeds, which may be bothersome and distracting.

Keep in mind that every vehicle can experience some issues, but being informed about these common problems should help you make a more informed decision when considering a VW Atlas.

Comparison with Similar Vehicles

When comparing the VW Atlas to other vehicles in its segment, you’ll notice a few similarities and differences with some popular models, such as the Kia Telluride, Hyundai Palisade, Chevrolet Traverse, Hyundai Santa Fe, and Honda Pilot.

Kia Telluride

The Kia Telluride is a stylish and spacious offering that competes well against the VW Atlas. Both the Telluride and the Atlas are known for their roomy interiors and comfortable rides.

However, a key problem for the Telluride can be its transmission, with some users reporting minor hesitation issues.

Hyundai Palisade

Next up is the Hyundai Palisade, another strong competitor in the midsize SUV segment. The Palisade offers many similar features to the Atlas, such as generous passenger space and impressive ride quality.

One of the main issues you might encounter with the Palisade relates to its infotainment system, which can be glitchy and slow to respond at times.

Chevrolet Traverse

The Chevrolet Traverse is another option to consider. It boasts ample cargo space, making it quite similar to the Atlas in terms of practicality. Further your research on this article, best years for the Chevy Traverse cars.

However, the Traverse has faced some reported problems with its transmission, which could be a concern for potential buyers.

Hyundai Santa Fe

While the Hyundai Santa Fe is slightly smaller than the Atlas, it still offers a comfortable cruise for passengers.

One downside to the Santa Fe, however, can be its comparatively smaller third-row space, which may not be as accommodating for taller passengers.

Honda Pilot

Finally, the Honda Pilot is another capable midsize SUV, offering a smoother ride and similar amenities to the VW Atlas.

Although the Pilot is a strong option, one area needing improvement is its nine-speed automatic transmission, which can feel jerky and unrefined at times.

As you explore your options, keep in mind the differences and similarities between these vehicles and the VW Atlas as well vs Pilots best models to order.

Comparing potential issues can help you make an informed decision about which midsize SUV is right for you.

Key Features and Pros

One aspect that you’ll appreciate is the spacious interior that provides ample room and comfort for all passengers.

With its intuitive infotainment system and straightforward interior design, navigating and enjoying your ride will come easy.

Another significant advantage of the Atlas is its excellent handling. The SUV is designed to provide an agile and smooth driving experience, ensuring that you feel confident behind the wheel.

When it comes to towing capacity, the Atlas doesn’t disappoint. Capable of handling your larger hauling needs, the SUV is perfect for road trips and outdoor adventures.

Practicality is a key component of the Atlas, with plenty of cargo space available for any situation.

Regardless of whether you’re taking a short trip or embarking on a lengthy journey, you won’t have to worry about running out of room for your belongings.

If you’re considering a 2021 Volkswagen Atlas or later model years like the 2022 or 2023 Volkswagen Atlas, know that they come with good warranty terms.

This coverage ensures that you’ll have peace of mind during ownership and help mitigate any maintenance costs that may arise.

The seating in the Atlas ranks high in comfort, making long rides more enjoyable for both you and your passengers.

With ample legroom and interior space, the Atlas accommodates everyone’s needs so that you can travel in comfort.

However, it’s important to remember that some model years of the Atlas might fare better than others. The 2019 and 2020 Volkswagon Atlas are considered the best years based on Consumer Reports reliability ratings.

Ultimately, as you evaluate the VW Atlas, you’ll find that it offers a mix of features and advantages designed to cater to your needs, from interior space to towing capabilities.

Safety and Recalls

Between 2018 and 2020, there were several recalls related to the braking system and suspension of the Atlas.

While some years experienced more issues than others, being informed will help you make a better decision on which model year to avoid.

In 2018, the VW Atlas faced multiple recalls, with the NHTSA reporting 13 recalls for this year.

One notable safety issue was related to exterior lighting. A large number of vehicles were affected, with some 662,185 vehicles being recalled due to faulty lighting.

Another concern in the 2018 model was airbag functionality. In fact, 143,000 Atlas SUVs were recalled in the US because a faulty sensor on the front passenger side could switch the airbag system off under certain conditions.

While model years 2019 and 2020 saw improvements, there were still recalls to note.

In 2021, there were seven recalls for the VW Atlas, and this trend continued to some extent the following year with six recalls in 2021. These recalls mainly revolved around safety systems such as airbags, brakes, and suspension.

When it comes to performance and practicality, the VW Atlas offers a good mix of engines and fuel economy. However, keep in mind the earlier years encountered more safety issues and recalls.

The 2020 Volkswagen Atlas, in particular, addresses many previous concerns and offers improved cargo space and practicality.

This model year fares well in terms of safety, offering features such as exterior lighting, back-over prevention, and advanced driver assistance systems.

Despite the recalls, the Atlas has built a reputation for providing ample cargo space and practicality, making it a desirable choice for families.

Technology and Equipment

When considering the VW Atlas, you should be aware of the technology and equipment provided in different models, especially in the first-generation Atlas (2018-2019 model years) as it had some common issues.

The SEL Premium trim is the top-of-the-line model and comes with a plethora of features that can enhance your driving experience. Some notable amenities available in this trim include:

  • Volkswagen Digital Cockpit
  • Premium audio system
  • Heated and ventilated front seats
  • Advanced driver assistance features

Speaking of driver assistance, technology in the VW Atlas includes features such as Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Keeping Assist, and Park Assist.

These features are aimed at providing you with a more comfortable and safer driving experience.

It’s worth noting that some owners have reported issues with the windows in the 2021 Atlas, including erratic electrical operation leading to unexpected rolling up or down.

Regarding equipment, the Atlas comes with varying wheel options depending on the model and trim level.

Some Atlas trims come with 18-inch wheels, while others offer 20-inch alloy wheels. This can affect the overall look and performance of your Atlas, so it’s essential to consider this when making a decision.

The towing capacity in the Atlas can be considered above average in its class. Depending on the engine option you choose, the Atlas can tow up to 5,000 pounds. This could come in handy for those weekend adventures or moving small trailers.

Audi, being a part of the Volkswagen Group, shares some technology and design elements with the VW Atlas.

This could make your Atlas experience feel more premium and upscale while still maintaining the practicality and affordability that Volkswagen is known for.


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