Road Test: 2018 Volkswagen e-Golf

Road Test: 2018 Volkswagen e-Golf

The Best Value EV available today?

In 2018 the battery electric vehicle (BEV) revolution is firmly in place, with BEVs here to stay. There is now a myriad of BEVs for the buyer to choose from, but now the question is—Which one is the best value today?

BEVs primarily fall into three categories:

2018 Volkswagen e-Golf

Outstanding in its field

  1. Short-range or “1st Generation” BEVs that have a range under 110 miles,
  2. Mid-range BEVs that have official ranges of 125 to 200 miles, and
  3. Long-range BEVs that have published mileage ranges more than 200 miles.

Pricing for short and mid-range BEVs start under $35K, and long-range cars start between $40K and $65K.

Add to this all BEVs are not sold nationally; with some only sold in the 16 states that have adopted California’s more stringent emission standards.

But if you live in one of these 16 states and are in the market for a best-in-class BEV, may I suggest that you consider the 2018 Volkswagen e-Golf.

A Golf Is a Golf

We’ve just spent the last week living with the 2018 Volkswagen e-Golf and came away very impressed.  Now we have to admit that we are a big fan of the VW Golf and the author has owned many Golfs over the years including his current daily driver a VW GTI.  But we are also a big proponent of BEVs and have a high bar to reach when it comes to five-door hatchbacks regardless if they are ICE or BEVs.

The MQB platform is the basis of e-Golf, which is Volkswagen’s first serious effort into BEVs.  It’s also the basis of all Golf vehicles as well as its newest SUVs like the Atlas and Tiguan. The e-Golf’s chassis has the battery under the car so that it does not take up any interior or cargo space.  It’s quite a feat of engineering that also keeps the Golf’s center of gravity right where it needs to be.

2018 Volkswagen e-Golf

Motors in the e-Golf quietly motivate the EV

The current e-Golf came to market in 2014 with a range of only 80 miles, but for 2017 the car was upgraded with a larger motor and a more substantial battery that boasted an EPA rated range of 126 miles.  But does the revised e-Golf only have a real-world range of 126 miles?  Our experience and those of our colleagues would suggest that the real world range is an outstanding 177 or more miles.  We consistently enjoyed mileage more than the EPA rated miles and drove the e-Golf at least 150 miles several times! It looks like Volkswagen is sandbagging the range on the e-Golf.

The range of the e-Golf puts it squarely in the mid-range BEV category with the 2018 Nissan Leaf.  While the 2017-18 e-Golf and the 2018 Leaf are similar in many ways, the e-Golf has a more powerful 7.2 kW on-board charger, and an SAE DC fast-charger that is also more powerful than the Leaf’s and can do an 80 percent charge in an hour.  The e-Golf’s electric motor is 134 hp.

Ah, German Engineering

The German-built e-Golf build quality is typical of VW, rock solid with no rattles or creaks.  The Golf’s legendary chassis tuning provides a ride that is firm but compliant and soaks up the bumps with grace and style.  At speed, the e-Golf is eerily quiet, with no wind noise or road noise at all.  The 16-inch all-season Continental tires provided a very smooth and silent ride.

The 2018 Volkswagen e-Golf’s battery is rated at 35.8 kWh and is air-cooled like the Leaf’s, and seems to stand up to the heat generated by fast-charging very well.  Our e-Golf tester stood up to multiple fast-charges with no slowdown in charging speeds.

While Volkswagen’s MSRP pricing for the e-Golf is similar to the Leaf with a fully equipped e-Golf SEL model topping out at about $39,100 and a fully equipped Leaf SL MSRP coming in at about $38,200, incentives from both manufacturers make street pricing about the same.

The Inside Story

2018 Volkswagen e-Golf

Inside it’s classic Golf

The cockpit of the e-Golf is much like other Golf variants, but utilizes VWs top-tier configurable digital cockpit instrument cluster and an 8.0-inch glass touchscreen display.  Apple Carplay and Android Auto are standard.

The 2018 Volkswagen e-Golf is an excellent effort by Volkswagen for its first foray into the world of BEVs.  It bears serious consideration by anyone looking for a mid-range Battery Electric Vehicle.  After VW’s diesel scandal, they have seen the light, and are all-in on EVs.  They will be launching a dedicated EV platform called MEB for the next generation of BEVs expected to be available starting in the next two years. That makes us all the more excited to see what they have up their sleeve!

Highs

  • Solid nimble handling
  • Rock solid workmanship
  • Range that outperforms its ratings
  • Robust Charging

Lows

  • Available only in 16 states
  • Pricier than a regular Golf
  • Only EV that VW offers today

Related Stories You Might Enjoy: VW Golf & EV News

Road Test: 2018 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack

Flash Drive: 2017 Volkswagen e-Golf

News: EV Onslaught to Begin in 2020

Road Test: 2017 Volkswagen e-Golf (John’s view)

Road Test: 2017 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen

Road Test: 2017 Volkswagen e-Golf (Steve’s view)

News: Volkswagen Introduces I.D. Crozz to EV Lineup

News: Volkswagen Microbus to Return as an Electric

First Drive: 2017 Volkswagen e-Golf

Road Test: 2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI

+ Other EV Contenders

Top 10 Electric Cars

News: 2019 Hyundai Kona Electric Coming with BIG Battery

Flash Drive: 2018 Nissan Leaf (Steve’s view)

News: Nissan IMx Electric CUV One of Eight New EVs

Flash Drive: Tesla Model 3 Long Range

Road Test: 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

Personal: One Year with My Chevrolet Bolt EV

News: Kia Niro EV Showcased at 218 CES

Flash Drive: 2018 Nissan Leaf (John’s view)

Flash Drive: 2017 Honda Clarity Electric

News: Honda Takes Wraps Off Sports EV Concept

Disclosure:

Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition, we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.

Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class, which leads us to emphasize electric cars, plug-in hybrids, hybrids and diesels. We also feature those efficient gas-powered vehicles that are among the top mpg vehicles in their class. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at publisher@cleanfleetreport.com.

Comparison Test: 2018 Volkswagen Atlas V6 SEL Premium 4Motion vs. Atlas 2.0T SE

Comparison Test: 2018 Volkswagen Atlas V6 SEL Premium 4Motion vs. Atlas 2.0T SE

VW’s Seven-Passenger Large SUV Siblings

Volkswagen is a latecomer with its three-row Atlas SUV. Designed for the American market, the Atlas lives up to its name–it’s big, which is a good thing if you need to seat up-to seven people. For most, this is something very few of us do on a regular basis. However, if you have a growing family and need the extra storage space for all their (and their friends’) gear, the 2018 Atlas should be on your wish list.

2018 Volkswagen Atlas

VW wants to play with the big boys

VW designed the Atlas interior to be open and inviting, even for passengers venturing into the third row. You need to be a Cirque du Soleil contortionist to access or comfortably sit in the far back of many seven-passenger SUVs. Not so with the Atlas, as VW has made the access easy with fold-and-slide second row seats, and a third row bench with good thigh support and a comfortable angle for the seat back. Maybe six-footers would not want to spend a few hundred miles back there, but anyone shorter would do just fine. A nice feature is that a child car seat can remain attached to the second row when it slides forward for access to the third row. The Nissan Pathfinder has this same convenience.

The beauty of the Atlas interior is how efficient the space is. Achieved by having near squared-off sides and a tall roof, shoulder room is expansive and leg room is good for even the tallest passengers. If you do not want a second row bench seat, Captain’s Chairs are a $625 option.

Available in five trim levels, you can get into a nicely equipped base 2018 Atlas S for about $31,000. This is a compliment to VW, knowing they have to be aggressive on pricing and content to gain awareness in the crowded large SUV segment. As for discriminating consumers, they will be rewarded with a well-built vehicle that can accommodate the complete family.

2.0L Turbo or 3.6L V6/FWD or 4Motion AWD

Clean Fleet Report had the opportunity to drive two Atlases (Atlasi?)—the Atlas SE with the 2.0-liter turbocharged I4 and front-wheel drive (FWD), and the Atlas SEL Premium with the 3.6L V6 with 4Motion (VW’s term for all-wheel drive). Both models had an eight-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission. Volkswagen’s 4Motion is a permanent all-wheel-drive system engineered to eliminate wheel spin under almost all conditions. It’s also designed to automatically decouple the rear wheels when the driving load and conditions don’t require the additional traction, saving fuel. It also comes with four drive modes: Highway, Off-road, Snow and Custom. So, what are the differences between the two engines and drive systems?

2018 Volkswagen Atlas

Ready to take the whole gang on or off-road

Here are some stats to get started.

  • 2.0L Turbocharged I4
  • 235 horsepower (hp)
  • 258 pounds-feet (lb.-ft.) torque
  • 22 mpg city/26 highway/24 combined (EPA)

 

  • 3.6L V6
  • 276 hp
  • 266 lb.-ft. torque
  • 17/23/19

It is clear from these numbers that an Atlas, with either engine, is not winning any fuel economy ribbons. Of course, the big trade-off that places an * next to the fuel economy is being able to transport up-to seven people and their gear. Had it not been for the recent diesel scandal, VW most likely would have offered the Atlas with its 3.0L TDI engine, which would have lifted the fuel economy numbers into the low 30 mpg range. The 18.6 gallon fuel tank means that, at a 25 mpg average, your family road trip could rack up more than 450 miles before refilling the tank.

The choice for performance between the two engines is a toss-up. The V6 accelerates smoothly, pulls strong and will be your primary choice if you plan on doing any towing, as it is rated up to 5,000 pounds. Both engines have Stop/Start technology that, while noticeable when the engine kicked in, it was not jarring or loud. The 2.0L Turbo gave peppy performance with good low-end torque, and a bit better fuel economy.

In what we believe afflicted only the car we were driving, Clean Fleet Report’s 2.0L Turbo suffered from stumbling upon acceleration from a stop. No matter how hard we tried, we were unable to find a pressure on the accelerator pedal that would result in a smooth launch. Was this a combination of the Stop/Start, turbo lag, the differential locking or the transmission searching for a gear? We never could figure it out. But, once off the line the 2.0L turbocharged four cylinder was a joy to drive. The turbo did exactly what turbos do by giving instant power when needed, out performing the V6 in all timed categories. We especially liked how we were able to merge onto Southern California freeway traffic with ease and confidence with both engines.

Driving Experience: On the Road

The 2018 Volkswagen Atlas is balanced nicely and grips the road well. However, the suspension on the 2.0L Turbo FWD was soft, at times suffering from a rolling, sloppy feel. The V6 4Motion did not have this issue, possibly because it weighed-in at 4,502 lbs., while the 2.0L came at 4,222 lbs. (280 lbs. lighter). In both vehicles there was noticeable body roll on hard corners at high speed, but it did not affect confidence because it was easy to predict. Plus taking those corners a bit slower was a good idea anyway.

2018 Volkswagen Atlas

The two models are similar, but with different capabilities

Both FWD and 4Motion Atlas models have identical independent suspensions of front struts, coil springs and an anti-roll bar, while the rear has multi-link with coil springs and telescopic dampers. The 2.0L had 245/60R Continental Cross Contact all-season tires on 18-inch alloy wheels, while the 3.6L had the same tires but on 20-inch alloy wheels.

Driving Experience: Exterior

A couple of years back Volkswagen began standardizing its vehicles on the MQB (Modular Transverse Matrix) architecture. The 2018 Atlas, at 200-inches in length, is easily the largest VW to be adapted to this platform. So how to design a large SUV that did not actually look so large? VW accomplished this nicely with a classic design of pleasing proportions that should hold up for many years. The Atlas is modern with soft, clean lines, but also bold in that it holds a commanding presence on the road.

Volkswagen CrossBlue

VW showed where it was going in the CrossBlue concept SUV

First shown in 2013 as the CrossBlue concept vehicle, Volkswagen retained much of the CrossBlue design by not squaring-off the corners or adding all sorts of scoops and vents. The Atlas is refreshing, clean and simple. The very respectful 0.34 drag coefficient helped the Atlas cut quietly through the wind, even at freeway speeds.

Driving Experience: Interior

The 2018 Atlas has a neat and pleasant interior with a clean fit and finish. Nothing fancy, trendy or quirky. The usual German simplicity, with a good mix of soft and hard plastics, was complimented by tasteful wood-grained and brushed aluminum trim. The white backlighting for the dash gauges added a premium element, which went along with the overall quality materials used throughout the interior.

The center stack features VW’s Car-Net infotainment (information and entertainment) system. Our Atlas SE model had an 8.0-inch color touchscreen for the eight-speaker audio system

2018 Volkswagen Atlas

The VW interiors had an upscale feel

for the AM/FM/HD radio and CD player, with MP3 playback. Also part of the infotainment system is SiriusXM, Bluetooth for telephone and streaming music, and VW’s Media Device Interface (MDI), which includes a SD card and USB slots. Clean Fleet Report’s Atlas SEL Premium had the same screen, but with a Fender audio system and its 12 speakers and subwoofer. Clean Fleet Report is a big fan of knobs. VW makes it easy to operate the radio and the multi-zone climate control system with the turn of a few well placed knobs.

Our Atlas SE had seats covered in VW’s V-Tex Leatherette while the SEL got leather for the front and outward second row seats. Leatherette is a durable fabric technology that is comfortable to the touch and provides good air circulation. Both had heated and power adjustable front seats. There was a good choice of seat settings that, when combined with the height adjustable and telescoping steering column, made it easy to find a comfortable position for the driver. Separating the front seats is a center console offering ample storage and an USB charge-only port. A nice upgrade is the multi-function steering wheel wrapped in leather.

The 60/40 split-folding second row seats were heated on the SEL. Both models had the convenient fold-and-slide second row that made getting to the 50/50 split-folding third row an ease. Storage configurations abound, all depending on how many seats are folded. If you are looking to tote an eight-foot kayak or surfboard, the Atlas can handle it.

Interior conveniences, standard or optional, include remote start, a power tilting and sliding sunroof, remote power lift gate, power windows, keyless access, multi-function steering wheel with audio and telephone controls, power adjustable and manual folding heated exterior mirrors, multiple power ports, front and rear reading lights and carpeted floor mats.

Safety and Convenience

The 2018 Volkswagen Atlas has standard or available safety features such as eight airbags, tire pressure monitoring system and an Intelligent Crash Response System (ICRS). In case of an accident, the ICRS turns off the fuel pump, unlocks the doors and activates the hazard lights. But the real stand-out coming from Volkswagen is its Automatic Post-Collision Braking System, which is pretty self-explanatory. Working in conjunction with the airbag sensors in a collision, the brakes are applied automatically after an accident so your car does not continue moving where it could strike another vehicle or object.

2018 Volkswagen Atlas

There’s room for big stuff in back

Additional safety features include adaptive cruise control, power-assisted anti-lock brakes, park assist, stability control, overhead view and rear view cameras, blind spot monitor, lane departure warning, rear traffic alert, forward collision warning and autonomous emergency braking. If you have never driven a car with these last two safety features, have your Volkswagen sales representative demonstrate them to you on the highway. Once you have used them, you will feel naked when driving a car that is not similarly equipped.

The 2018 Volkswagen Atlas earned a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety and a 5 Star Overall rating by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. These are the highest ratings by each organization.

Pricing and Warranties

The 2018 Volkswagen Atlas ranges in base price from $30,750 to $48,740. Clean Fleet Report’s Atlas with the 2.0L Turbo and FWD had an MSRP of $33,590, and the 3.6L V6 with 4Motion came in at $48,490. All prices are before any options and the $925 Destination Fee.

The 2018 Volkswagen Atlas comes with these warranties:

  • New Vehicle/Powertrain – 72 months/72,000 miles
  • Corrosion Perforation – 84 months/100,000 miles
  • 24 Hour Roadside Assistance – 36 months/36,000 miles         

Observations: 2018 Volkswagen Atlas V6 4Motion and Atlas 2.0L Turbo FWD

Volkswagen is in the same position as all auto manufactures needing to get the attention of consumers to even consider buying their cars, trucks and SUVs. In the case of the 2018 Atlas, the task for VW is even greater as several competing well-known large SUVs are already on the market . So the question looms of why an Atlas should be in your driveway?

2018 Volkswagen Atlas

A third row for adults!

To start, you won’t be disappointed owning an Atlas as the build quality on Volkswagens is second to none. Choosing either engine, front wheel or all-wheel drive, will be based on your lifestyle and where you live. Will you be going off pavement or pulling a trailer? With the Atlas, Volkswagen gives you good options when needing to transport up-to seven people.

The only way you will know is by going to your local Volkswagen dealer and take all three engine and drive models out on the open highway, around town and if necessary for your intended use, off-road. You may feel the front-wheel-drive Atlas suits your commuting and around town needs, while the Atlas 4Motion fits your adventurous lifestyle just a bit better.

Whatever you end up buying, Happy Driving!

Related Stories You Might Enjoy: Atlas & Other VW Road Tests

Road Test: 2018 Volkswagen Atlas V6

Road Test: 2018 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack

Flash Drive: 2017 Volkswagen e-Golf

News: Volkswagen EV Onslaught to Begin in 2020

Road Test: 2017 Volkswagen e-Golf

Road Test: 2017 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen

News: Volkswagen Introduces I.D. Crozz to EV Lineup

News: Volkswagen Microbus to Return as an Electric

Competitive Three-Row SUVs

Road Test: 2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

Road Test: 2017 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

Road Test: 2017 Nissan Pathfinder

News: 2018 Lexus RX 450hL Hybrid

Road Test: 2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid

Road Test: 2017 Mitsubishi Outlander

Top 10 Best MPG AWD SUVs/Crossovers

First Drive: Tesla Model X P100D

Disclosure:

Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition, we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.

Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class, which leads us to emphasize electric cars, plug-in hybrids, hybrids and diesels. We also feature those efficient gas-powered vehicles that are among the top mpg vehicles in their class. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at publisher@cleanfleetreport.com.

 

 

Road Test: 2018 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack

Road Test: 2018 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack

A Great Crossover Wagon Gets Even Better

Volkswagen has been hard at work beefing up its CUV/SUV offerings over the last 12 months. In 2017 they replaced their German-built Touareg with their first US-built full-sized SUV, the Atlas, introduced an updated Tiguan with American-sized version and introduced an upscale version of the Golf SportWagen named the Alltrack.

2018 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack

Don’t call it an off-road station wagon

The Alltrack, introduced in 2017 is a compact AWD station wagon that is designed to compete in the space occupied by the likes of Subaru, Volvo, Audi and Mitsubishi. Granted that US buyers are somewhat averse to the name “Station Wagon,” so VW has revamped the Golf wagon with increased ride height, aggressive body cladding, and VW’s 4Motion AWD system, along with other upscale content.

For 2018, the Volkswagen Golf Alltrack continues to improve with added content, new styling, added safety features and lower pricing.

Here’s what’s new for 2018

The 2018 Alltrack is still available in three trims, S, SE, and SEL.

The base S receives new LED taillights, front daytime running lights (DRLs) and automatic headlights with a rain sensor. Inside, the S has a new MIB II infotainment system with VW CarNet, Apple Carplay, Android Auto and Off-road display, with a 6.5-inch color screen.

The 2018 Alltrack SE adds forward collision warning and autonomous emergency braking (front assist), as a standard driver assistance feature along with pedestrian monitoring and blind spot monitor with rear traffic alert.

2018 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack

The upgraded, refined interior is full of tech

SE trims also upgrade to an 8.0-inch Composition Media touchscreen infotainment display.

The top-of-line 2018 Golf Alltrack SEL gains a new 8.0-inch Discover Media touchscreen infotainment and navigation display, as well as LED headlights with the Adaptive Front-lighting System. Safety systems that were previously optional are now standard equipment, including:

-Forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking and pedestrian monitoring (front assist),

-Adaptive cruise control (ACC), lane departure warning (lane assist),

-Front and rear park distance control with maneuver braking (ParkPilot),

-Parking steering assistant (park assist) and high beam control (light assist), and

-Standard blind spot monitor with rear traffic alert.

The Power Behind Alltrack

The Alltrack is still powered by a 1.8-liter turbocharged direct injection four-cylinder power plant, which is a destroked version of the 2.0-liter EA888 engine found in the GTI. The Alltrack has 170 horsepower and 199 pounds-feet of torque on tap. This engine is a VW tuner’s favorite engine with a vast number of aftermarket parts to increase both

2018 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack

Steady power comes from a turbo four

horsepower and torque. The Alltrack offers two choices of transmission with a six-speed manual transmission or VW’s silky smooth six-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic with Tiptronic and paddle shifters.

Delivering power to the road is through VW’s 4Motion AWD system that uses electronic controls to provide power to whichever wheels have the most traction in a variety of terrains via a center differential. On regular road conditions, the differential disconnects the rear drive for maximum fuel economy. Utilizing the stability controls, individual wheels can be locked to prevent slipping while power is transferred seamlessly to the wheel on the opposite side. Up to 50 percent of the drive torque can be transferred to the rear wheels. Hill descent control, an “Off-Road Mode” and increased ground clearance provide exceptional performance on a variety of terrains. The Alltrack borrows VW’s XDS+ cross differential system from the GTI and Golf R. XDS+ is an electronic version of a mechanical limited slip differential for all four wheels for maximum traction.

The Alltrack unibody chassis is beefed up over the regular Golf wagon with two solid-mounted sub-frames, one for each set of drive wheels. The suspension is unique to the Alltrack with a .06-inch increased ride height and tuned shocks, springs and front and rear roll bars for ride comfort on regular roads, but increased travel and rebound control for off-road conditions.

The Key Numbers

For 2018 EPA ratings keep the Alltrack in the AWD 30-MPG Club with scores of 21 city/30 highway/24 combined for the six-speed and 22/30/25 for the automatic. We observed an average of 28.6 MPG during our test of the 2018 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack. With the addition of a 14.5-gallon fuel tank, range is increased.

2018 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack

If you squint, it becomes a crossover

Pricing for the 2018 Alltrack is slightly less than the 2017 version mainly due to the shifting of content. The only options for the S and SE trims are the choice of transmission. The SEL only offers the six-speed DSG.

Alltrack S – Six-speed manual $25,955 / Six-speed DSG $27,055

Alltrack SE – Six-speed manual $29,765 / Six-speed DSG $30,865

Alltrack SEL – Six-speed DSG $35,660

The destination charge for all trims is $850

The 2018 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack is a worthy competitor to the other CUV wagons on the market today. The build quality is solid, power is smooth, but a bit buzzy at higher RPMs, and the transmissions are flawless. If you are in the market for a small station wagon with some off-road moxie, then make sure the Alltrack is on your consideration list!

Related Stories You Might Enjoy: Other Volkswagen News

Road Test: 2018 Volkswagen Atlas

Flash Drive: 2017 Volkswagen e-Golf (Michael’s view)

News: Volkswagen EV Onslaught to Begin in 2020

Road Test: 2017 Volkswagen e-Golf (John’s view)

Road Test: 2017 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen (Michael’s view)

Road Test: 2017 Volkswagen e-Golf (Steve’s view)

News: Volkswagen Introduces I.D. Crozz

Road Test: 2017 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack (Larry’s view)

News: Volkswagen Microbus to Return as Electric

Comparison Road Test: 2017 Volkswagen SportWagen & Alltrack (John’s view)

First Drive: 2017 Volkswagen e-Golf (Steve’s view)

Road Test: 2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI

Disclosure:

Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition, we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.

Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class, which leads us to emphasize electric cars, plug-in hybrids, hybrids and diesels. We also feature those efficient gas-powered vehicles that are among the top mpg vehicles in their class. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at publisher@cleanfleetreport.com.

Road Test: 2018 Volkswagen Atlas V6

Road Test: 2018 Volkswagen Atlas V6

Is This Your Best Buy SUV?

Volkswagen has proven that being late to the full-sized, three-row SUV party is not such a bad thing. Despite VW’s attempts at SUVs with the Touareg and Tiguan, which were both quality SUVs, neither really captured the heart of the American SUV buyer. Volkswagen’s latest attempt, the Atlas, is poised to become a best-selling SUV because it hits all of the hot buttons the typical SUV buyer has. It doesn’t break new fuel economy ground, but it acquits itself well against a broad array of competition while delivering the goods in terms of price, utility and features. 

2018 Volkswagen Atlas

It’s a space ship in back

The new Atlas is a real full-sized three-row crossover that seats seven full-sized adults. The Atlas is just the right size at over 200 inches, and over 90 cubic feet of space in the rear with both back seat rows down, 53 cubic feet with the 3rd row down and and 21 cubic feet of space with both rows of seat up. All of this cargo space is available with a perfectly flat floor.

The Atlas is a massive box on 18-inch wheels, the interior is beautiful and spacious with tons of room in the middle and back seats. Ammenties include 17 cup holders, and all sorts of bins and storage in the doors and side areas.

Parts Bin Value

The Atlas draws from the VW part’s bin to maximize its value with the base Atlas starting at just $30,750. Yet at this price it’s no stripper, it uses VW’s tried and true two-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, a state of the art eight-speaker infotainment system, LED headlights, dual-zone climate control and front wheel drive. An eight-speed transmission is standard on all Atlas trim levels. And that model will deliver 26 mpg on the highway.

2018 Volkswagen Atlas

Inside, the Atlas has an upscale feel

The Atlas has a total of 12 levels of trim starting with the $30,750 two-wheel drive 2.0L Turbo up  to the $48,740 3.6L V6 4Motion SEL trim with a digital cockpit and panoramic sunroof.

Our test vehicle was the mid-level trim the front wheel drive V6 SE with the Technology package that has an MSRP of $38,015., Add $1,800 for 4Motion AWD.

The Technology Package

The Technology package includes a rear-view camera system, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning and autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian monitoring. The package also includes lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, rear traffic alert, remote engine start, keyless access, SiriusXM, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, VW Car-Net, front and rear USB ports and much more.

2018 Volkswagen Atlas

The choice is there–we challenge you to find one that doesn’t fit

The Atlas sits on the VW MQB architecture that is also the underpinnings of the Golf and other VW vehicles. Because of that, the ride qualities of the Atlas are superb, with only a hint of body roll in some situations. It’s solid German engineering with big American roominess. The V6 has decent gas mileage for the size of the Atlas. EPA averages are 18 city/25 highway/20 combined. Our test vehicle averaged 23 mpg in mixed driving. Clean Fleet Report will be taking a look at the higher mpg versions of the Atlas soon.

With the variety of levels of trim and affordability available, there is an Atlas for every need and pocketbook. The Atlas is a home run for Volkswagen, and it should be at the top of the list for anyone considering a three-row SUV.

Related Stories You Might Enjoy: Other 3-Row SUVs

Road Test: 2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

Road Test: 2017 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

Road Test: 2017 Nissan Pathfinder

News: 2018 Lexus RX 450hL Hybrid

Road Test: 2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid

Road Test: 2017 Mitsubishi Outlander

Top 10 Best MPG AWD SUVs/Crossovers

First Drive: Tesla Model X P100D

Disclosure:

Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition, we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.

Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class, which leads us to emphasize electric cars, plug-in hybrids, hybrids and diesels. We also feature those efficient gas-powered vehicles that are among the top mpg vehicles in their class. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at publisher@cleanfleetreport.com.

Flash Drive: Delphi & Tula Teach an Engine to Dance

Flash Drive: Delphi & Tula Teach an Engine to Dance

48-Volt Hybrids+Advanced Cylinder Deactivation Is Coming

I have driven the car of the future. Not some distant, expensive, exotic future, but a future that is going to start to define the cars you drive over the next few years. To check off the usual suspects—the car didn’t fly, wasn’t self-driving and wasn’t even fully electric or fueled by hydrogen. But it was electrified with a small battery and contained an engine packed with brand-new software.

Delphi 48-volt

The car of the near-future still uses gas, but ups the efficiency quotient

The car was provided by one of the world’s top automotive suppliers—Delphi Technologies—and demonstrated a side of the “future car” discussion sometimes lost here in Silicon Valley where I reside. We are going through revolutionary times—yes—but the future may end up being defined by more incremental changes.

The changes inside the Volkswagen Passat I drove were born out of the software revolution and battery advances coming out of Silicon Valley and elsewhere in the automotive world, but their implementation in a car is subtle. The computer power in a modern automobile continues to grow. This software taps into it to wring more efficiency from a traditional engine at minimal cost. Dropping a battery into a car is old news at this point, but the costs of doing it has been dropping this past decade, while the power derived from a battery continues to grow.

Two Key Factors

Sometimes we may forget that car companies are not there just to turn out world-changing, dazzling new machines. For most auto companies–the bottom line is the bottom line. They’re in business to make money as well as cars, much as are the technology and supplier companies contributing the parts and pieces that make up a modern automobile. Electric cars are great, but they are expensive and are not yet selling at volumes high enough to drive down costs draatically.

Another factor are government regulations worldwide that are driving auto companies to lower-CO2 cars, with electrification is the logical path to get there. So, for a profit-driven automaker (and that’s all of them), the quest is to electrify and drive down emissions (and increase fuel efficiency) at the most reasonable cost.

Enter Suppliers   

Suppliers live to solve automakers problems. They recognize that while they have one foot in the present, solving immediate issues of cost and volume production, they also have to address longer term solutions. So Dephi has a division focused on full electric powertrains and plans to bring that into the mix during the coming years.

In the meantime, as CTO Mary Gustanski said at a recent media briefing: “In 2025 95 percent of all light-duty vehicles will still have internal combustion engines,” but will still have to meet stringent emissions regulations and remain affordable. Gustanski sees Delphi as having the value proposition that gives automakers the biggest fuel economy boost for the least cost. The technologies are:

  • Gas direct-injection engines
  • Engine control software to enhance efficiency of the engine
  • Proprietary Tula software that allows individual cylinder deactivation
  • Delphi 48-volt

    The key of the eDSF 48V system is it all fits under the hood

    A 48-volt mild hybrid system  

Gustanski added that Delphi’s secret sauce is system integration, which is where the cost is wrung out of the package. The Passat I drove with the system claimed to deliver at least a 15 percent CO2 reduction (they’re aiming for 20 percent) with increased low-end torque for improved acceleration and seamless start-stop operation. The incremental cost is in the hundreds of dollars to the OEM, according to Delphi. The company expects systems like this, incorporating 48-volt batteries, to grab 20 percent of the new car market by 2025.

Scott Bailey, Tula Technology’s CEO, called this “smarter fuel efficiency,” using the increased computer power found in a vehicle to “dynamically right-size the engine.” Its Dynamic Skip Fire (DSF) system uses algorithms added to the engine control software only run as many cylinders as are needed under each different driving situation. The driver controls the action via the accelerator. Ask for more power and it is there; coast down and the engine rests. The Tula software also factors in engine balance so its operation is transparent to the operator. 

We’ve had a trial run with the Tula software before and were impressed with its functionality. Adding in a 48-volt hybrid battery takes the system to a new level. The fuel economy gains may not be as dramatic as a plug-in hybrid, but the cost of the system promises to bring exceptional fuel economy and a better driving experience to a broad range of cars. Although neither Delphi or Tula would disclose the manufacturer, they said the DSF package as a stand-alone is already getting close to production while they expect the  eDSF package to follow soon after. But both supplier companies also added that they think they can wring even more efficiency out of the old ICE. So hang on.  

New Engine Tech 

In a competitive sport, there are at least two approaches to getting a win. One is to go for the knock-out punch, overwhelming your opponent with power, skill and strength. It’s risky and can be costly if you have a misstep. Think surprise knockout by a challenger going against an overconfident foe. A second strategy is the one for the long game–

Delphi 48-volt

The car of the future may be more like today’s — but better

if we’re sticking with the boxing analogy, think Ali’s rope-a-dope. Keep in the game by wearing down your opponent by being better, getting in a few more punches, playing a smarter and better game. 

The auto industry is no boxing match; it’s closer to a rugby scrum on some days, but the tactics above are often on display. Delphi Technologies, the automotive powertrain and propulsion portion of what once was Delphi (the other, now separate part is Aptiv, which is focused on mobility solutions, smart vehicle architectures and connected cars). While they are developing electric car technology,  they see a long game with the internal combustion engine and will be showcasing some of their latest counterpunches at CES next week. Their punch–take a sophisticated cylinder deactivation technology and mate it with 48-volt mild electrification for substantial fuel economy gains with no loss of performance.

Flash Drive: Clean Fleet Report “Flash Drives” are concise reviews of vehicles that include the major points and are easy and quick to read. A “Flash Drive” is often followed later by a comprehensive test drive review.

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Tech: New 48-Volt Mild Hybrids Coming

Disclosure:

Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition, we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.

Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class, which leads us to emphasize electric cars, plug-in hybrids, hybrids and diesels. We also feature those efficient gas-powered vehicles that are among the top mpg vehicles in their class. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at publisher@cleanfleetreport.com.