The Volkswagen Atlas debuted in 2017 as VW’s answer to full-size SUV competitors on the market growing bigger and bigger. Rather than keep all their eggs in the Touareg and Tiguan namesakes, VW decided to go bigger and smaller with the Atlas and eventually Taos. But we’re not here to talk about their ‘market viability’ as a semi-luxury SUV based on VW’s now well-established MQB modular platform. No, we’re here to talk about what VW never actually intended the Atlas to do: go anywhere you want it to take you. Continuing our Overlanding theme, the VW Atlas is the next family-hauler turned rugged off-roader and the subject of this week’s Tuned In.
Like every other car on the road, before you start giving it new capabilities, you should ensure everything works the way it should. Assembled by ECS kits are the best way to get entire service and maintenance jobs knocked out easily. Everything you need to handle whatever service you’re tackling is included in each kit, so you’re covered from start to finish without the worry that you’ll have to run to the parts store or make another order. Naturally, we suggest engine and drivetrain fluid services, filter replacements, and at least checking your braking and suspension systems since you’ll be in there anyway. Starting with fresh consumables sets a nice foundation so you can rely on your Atlas for the weekly grocery trip or for an adventure on the trail.
Speaking of your engine, there are a few things we suggest upgrading rather than simply replacing. Brand new parts are good, but improved parts are even better! Especially when they give you more benefits than just working as they should. While the Atlas isn’t exactly the first car that comes to mind when we think of ‘performance,’ we’ve still developed a couple key upgrades that will help you both enjoy your time behind the wheel and add some power that might come in handy getting yourself unstuck on the trail.
Since there were two engine options in North America for the Atlas, we’ll break it down a bit. First, for the 2.0T-powered Atlas, we offer our in-house developed Luft-Technik intake system, atmospheric diverter valve spacer, MQB big-bore turbo inlet pipe, and silicone turbo outlet pipe. Combined, you’ll notice both improved performance and some hearty turbo noises that will certainly bring a smile to your face on the road or in the bush. With these basic intake modifications, you can bring some more power out of your MQB 2.0T that will help your full-size SUV do more than stay out of it’s own way.
For the VR6-powered Atlas, we offer a tweaked Luft-Technik intake that helps to maximize the efficiency of your narrow-angle V6 for optimal performance. Under the car, our resonator delete pipe offers better exhaust tone with a simple and easy upgrade.
Whichever engine option you have, we’ve got you covered with some choice VW Atlas mods to make your family hauler stand out in the carpool line or at the base camp.
Finally, some actually overland-themed upgrades! When you’re off the beaten path, the path tends to beat you up, even if you’ve got ground clearance to spare. There will be something on the trail that takes a stab at your oil pan, and the flimsy plastic splash guard that is equipped to your Atlas from the factory just won’t cut it. You need something dedicated to protecting your Atlas from whatever you might encounter on the trail. Our specifically designed overland skid plate kit offers underbody armor that will give you confidence to send it down the trail without the worry that something might abruptly end your fun by disemboweling your poor Atlas. Our overland skid plates are intended to be tough, rugged, and abused, so don’t be afraid to have full confidence on the trail that your Atlas is thoroughly protected from potential day-ruiners.
Oh boy, now the REALLY fun stuff! You read that title right, we’ve got lift kits for your Atlas. What more do we need to say about them besides the obvious? Lifting your Atlas is easy with our in-house developed suspension lift kits to give your SUV more ground clearance and room to run beefier tires. These kits are about as easy as we could make them to give your Atlas enough room to clear 32” tires all around, which is about as much as you can expect to run without truly sacrificing in other areas of the car’s performance.
Speaking of wheels and tires, it’s a good idea to consider what you want to run ahead of time so you can make it all play nicely together. For the tires, you’re limited to 32” on all four corners with our lift kit, so that should be your absolute ceiling unless you’re prepared to make some irreversible changes to your Atlas’ body. For wheels, we have the usual selection of Alzor wheels if you want to stay on the VW bolt pattern, but might we suggest an alternative? Read on to the next section to see what we mean.
Something new we’ve introduced recently are the VW to Jeep wheel adapters. Available in three offsets for your preference of fitment, these adapters allow you to run Jeep wheels, or any aftermarket wheels with a 5×127 PCD, for more options. This doesn’t sound all that cool until you realize that most of the 5×112 wheel options for your Atlas are big wheels designed for low-profile tires. That just won’t cut it offroad, which is why we created these unique adapters to let you have your choice of off road-oriented wheels. Just make sure you account for brake clearance when you do your measurements!
Well, for now, that’s all we have for the Atlas 2.0T and VR6 options! But with more ground clearance, wheel options, and some improved engine performance, among other things, you’re well on your way to building out a seriously competent overlander from a rather odd platform. One thing’s for sure, you’re not going to find many other Atlas drivers outside of an REI parking lot, so you’ll definitely have the uniqueness trophy out on the trail! Now go out and adventure, dammit!