Attention in the Volkswagen world is currently focused on electric models, but the Atlas and its smaller Atlas Cross Sport sibling are still combustion-powered. Moreover, they could remain combustion-powered for the next generation run, and if a report from Automotive News is accurate, that could be just a couple of years away.
The outlet claims Volkswagen will have redesigned Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport models for 2026. It’s unclear if that timeframe is for a debut or an on-sale date, nor does the report mention a source for this information. Motor1.com contacted VW seeking additional context, and we will certainly jump in with an update if extra information is received.
If we’re talking about a 2026 model-year Atlas, that would suggest a debut at some point in 2025. That’s a mighty quick turnaround considering the current model just received a refresh, and we do mean just. VW unveiled the 2024 Atlas in February 2023 and only recently reached dealerships. As such, we suspect 2026 could mark the next-generation debut, making it a 2027 model. That would give the current model a nine-year production run, certainly lengthy in the fast-moving world of SUVs.
That also gives VW a bit more time to see how Atlas buyers respond to the engine swap under the hood. Gone is the 3.6-liter V6, replaced by a turbocharged 2.0-liter that develops 269 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. It turns either the front wheels or all four with an eight-speed automatic transmission, and there’s no electrification in sight. Amid a growing portfolio of ID vehicles, the three-row Atlas and two-row Atlas Cross Sport are borderline analog.
There’s nothing analog about the interior, however. While exterior updates for 2024 are modest, VW went digital on the inside with a new 10.3-inch driver display and 12.0-inch center touchscreen. Wireless phone charging, wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and the automaker’s suite of IQ.Drive driver-assist tech are all standard.
Presently, the only EV sold by VW in North America is the ID.4. That will change next year with the ID. Buzz, not to mention the sizable ID.7 sedan. And as we saw at the recent IAA Mobility show in Germany, plans are in the works for an all-electric GTI.
Whether the Atlas remains solely combustion-powered for its next generation remains to be seen. With sales stats for both models combined, Atlas was the second-best seller in VW’s lineup for 2022 so there’s still plenty of interest in the SUV. But if it skips electrification this time around, it will almost certainly be the last of its kind before the industry goes fully electric.