Anyone towing with VW Atlas? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 01-16-2018, 01:37 PM   #1
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Anyone towing with VW Atlas?

Is anyone towing with a recent model VW Atlas? If so, which trim and does it have 4Motion or just regular FWD? What are you pulling with it and how does it perform?

TIA!
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Old 01-16-2018, 03:45 PM   #2
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Is anyone towing with a recent model VW Atlas? If so, which trim and does it have 4Motion or just regular FWD? What are you pulling with it and how does it perform?

TIA!
I would only use a FWD bassed crossover like that for towing the lightest of trailers.... they claim 5000 lb tow capability, but with a 1200 lb payload, the 700 lb typical hitch weight of a 5000 lb trailer would only leave you 500 lb for people and gear in the truck.

and a VW 8-speed automatic doesn't instill me with much confidence in its durability when used as a tug.
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Old 01-16-2018, 04:12 PM   #3
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Thanks John... I stumbled across some info about the Atlas today and was surprised VW offers what they promote as a decent tow-vehicle. They have "4Motion" AWD Atlas trim levels but they are out of my price range. If I was willing to spend $44K or more on a tug, I would get something other than a VW.
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Old 01-16-2018, 05:29 PM   #4
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Its specs are pretty much standard for the crowded 3-row crossover class: naturally aspirated 3.5-3.6L V6 putting out around 275-300hp, 6-8 speed conventional automatic. Pretty much every manufacturer makes one. VW has now joined the party* and Subaru's Ascent is coming next. The performance standout in the class is arguably the Ford Explorer Sport with the 3.5L Ecoboost engine (unless you count the Durango R/T V8).
*They've had the Touareg, of course, but it's more of an entry-premium SUV with a different market. The Atlas is their first attempt to go head-to-head with Explorer, Highlander, Pilot, Traverse, and the like.

I expect the Atlas to tow about as well as most of the others. I'm not quite as pessimistic as John- I believe they make suitable tow vehicles for mid-sized as well as small molded trailers, up to around 4000 pounds or so. But he's right- you have to consider payload. You can't expect to pack their roomy interiors full of people and cargo and still tow a 5000 pound trailer.

VW's in general have their strengths and weakness. Last one I owned was a 1966 Beetle, so I have nothing to say about this one. I haven't read any towing reports on FGRV yet, but there may be an early adopter lurking out there somewhere. If you're serious, you might also see if there is an owner's group, which likely has a section for towing.

Who wants to be first on FGRV?
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Old 01-16-2018, 05:40 PM   #5
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I was a big VW fan in the 70s, 80s, most of my cars were VWAG, the last one being a 1989 Jetta GLi, which I put a quarter million miles on in 8 years. Came time to look for a new car in the late 90s, and I didn't like the direction they were going at all, I think they've totally lost their way. Awesome styling, I thought the Golf and Jetta III and IV's were great looking, but they lost the light inexpensive sportiness of their older cars. my 89 jetta had hand crank windows and sunroof, short ratio 5-speed stick that you could shift faster than you could blink, strong simple durable efficient motor, great use of compact space, really comfortable (for the skinny person I was back then) real Recaro seats. newer models got saddled with dodgy electronics, too many gadgetty features, they got softened and padded and weighed down.

after VW, I ended up owning several Volvos, and more recently a couple early 90s Mercedes E class. and my Tacoma 4x4 tug and astrohauler (which replaced my 1992 Volvo 740 wagon).
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Old 01-16-2018, 05:56 PM   #6
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I've been building a spreadsheet, comparing various 2018 models *under $40K MSRP* that are AWD and have a TWR of at least 5000 lbs. So far, the Nissan Pathfinder S 4x4 (6000 lbs) and the Toyota Highlander LE 3.5L (5000 lbs) are the standouts based on TWR, payload, etc. I haven't test driven any of them yet - it will be interesting to see if there are any I really like or really dislike.

Others are the Honda Pilot (LX), Kia Sorento (LX V6 and EX V6), and Hyundai Santa Fe (SE 3.3L) - all of these have a TWR of 5000 lbs.
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Old 01-16-2018, 08:48 PM   #7
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Of course the Atlas would pull any reasonable sized fiberglass RV in safety and in comfort.
My concerns are VW's history of obstinate service departments and the high price of parts compared to its competition.
You should at least drive the Explorer, (not on your spreadsheet) just so you'll know what you missed.


One point...
When you are shopping around TN take note as to how many dealers for your prospective make are within a reasonable distance of your house. Check incentives and compare prices on the final negotiated price... not the list price. Also consider how long you typically keep a new car.

On the basis of using a spreadsheet alone, I have a prediction, let us know what you buy!
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Old 01-16-2018, 10:23 PM   #8
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I drove a 2008 Highlander 4WD (AWD, really, but they called it 4WD) for 185K miles, and 140K of those were put on while towing trailers. It was very reliable, and very capable with 16'-17' trailers in the 2500-3500 lb range.

They bumped the Pathfinder up to 6000 lbs tow rating? When I looked at them about 4 years ago, it was 5000. I wonder what (if anything) they have changed.
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Old 01-17-2018, 08:08 AM   #9
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The Pathfinder, alone in this class of vehicles, uses a CVT transmission. Nissan was an early adopter of the technology and has lots of experience (not all good, by some accounts). A 6000 pound tow rating with a CVT shows a lot of confidence they've now mastered it. Time will tell.

This has already been mentioned in another thread, but it's worth repeating here. One consideration to include in your spreadsheet is ease/cost of towing set-up. When I bought my last tow vehicle, the Highlander and Pilot were on my short list. The Pilot came ready to tow with a transmission cooler, integrated 7-pin trailer wiring, and receiver hitch- every model, every trim. The Highlander, zip. You first had to locate a unit with a V6 and the tow prep package (often a premium trim level), then the hitch and all the wiring had to be added aftermarket. That's a hidden extra cost for some models.
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Old 01-17-2018, 12:49 PM   #10
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Someone here may tow with an Audi Q7.

The Audi Q7 is built on the same platform as the VW Atlas. When researching, there was mention that the Q7 might be priced less, but that is not usually the case. They did note that VW just increased the price of the 2018 Atlas. The Atlas is made in Chattanooga, near you. A search will uncover many comparisons.
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Old 01-17-2018, 01:50 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by John in Santa Cruz View Post
I would only use a FWD bassed crossover like that for towing the lightest of trailers.... they claim 5000 lb tow capability, but with a 1200 lb payload, the 700 lb typical hitch weight of a 5000 lb trailer would only leave you 500 lb for people and gear in the truck.

and a VW 8-speed automatic doesn't instill me with much confidence in its durability when used as a tug.
People have been towing trailers much heavier than light weight fiberglass models with Audi Q7, Porsche Cayenne, and VW Touareg vehicles since they were introduced a decade ago. My Touareg TDI has a maximum tow capacity of 7700 lb with a maximum of 616 lb tongue loading. BMW X5, MB ML350 are similar capacities. Touareg is "4 motion" full time AWD and only distributes the % of torque front to back via a central torque sensing differential but all 4 wheels are always driven.
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Old 01-17-2018, 05:14 PM   #12
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VW Atlas TV

Just a few comments about VW products. I tow a 2017 Escape 19 with an Audi Q5 TDI with 4400 lb capacity and the 8 speed. It tows great but is pretty much maxed out chassis wise, GVWR, tongue weight, etc. I get 35 mpg without a trailer and 22 mpg with the Escape in tow. It has the same 8 speed trans as the 7700 lb tow triplets - Touareg/Cayenne/Q7 - and is now in the Atlas. This transmission is smooth and capable and is a sealed and service free unit up to some significant mileage, I think 100k or maybe higher. I also had a 2007 Passat with the 3.6 liter 280hp V6 offered in most of the above models including the Atlas. This is probably the best performing and efficient V6 (or 4 cyl) engine i’ve had among Infinity, Nissan, Ford and others. Not a bulletproof small block Chevy V8 like the one in my old 68 Camaro, but still pretty torquey and very smooth. I’ve also had good and reasonably affordable service from my local VW dealer. Audi dealer service is fantastic with “free Audi loaner” car wash, etc. but comes at a hefty price. Now that the warranty has expired I have a local mechanic who charges $80/hr instead of $100 at VW or $130 at Audi dealers. Also note that 2018 VW’s come with a 6 year 72k mile warranty as they try to woo back customers lost to the “diesel-gate” scandal. I’m not saying the Atlas is the best TV choice out there, but if you try it and like it as a daily driver for whatever reasons, I wouldn’t discount it as a tow vehicle.
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Old 01-17-2018, 07:37 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by BruceW View Post
Just a few comments about VW products. I tow a 2017 Escape 19 with an Audi Q5 TDI with 4400 lb capacity and the 8 speed. It tows great but is pretty much maxed out chassis wise, GVWR, tongue weight, etc. I get 35 mpg without a trailer and 22 mpg with the Escape in tow. It has the same 8 speed trans as the 7700 lb tow triplets - Touareg/Cayenne/Q7 - and is now in the Atlas. This transmission is smooth and capable and is a sealed and service free unit up to some significant mileage, I think 100k or maybe higher. I also had a 2007 Passat with the 3.6 liter 280hp V6 offered in most of the above models including the Atlas. This is probably the best performing and efficient V6 (or 4 cyl) engine i’ve had among Infinity, Nissan, Ford and others. Not a bulletproof small block Chevy V8 like the one in my old 68 Camaro, but still pretty torquey and very smooth. I’ve also had good and reasonably affordable service from my local VW dealer. Audi dealer service is fantastic with “free Audi loaner” car wash, etc. but comes at a hefty price. Now that the warranty has expired I have a local mechanic who charges $80/hr instead of $100 at VW or $130 at Audi dealers. Also note that 2018 VW’s come with a 6 year 72k mile warranty as they try to woo back customers lost to the “diesel-gate” scandal. I’m not saying the Atlas is the best TV choice out there, but if you try it and like it as a daily driver for whatever reasons, I wouldn’t discount it as a tow vehicle.
I've had a bunch of SBCs and I thought about finding out if they were bulletproof on many occasions... Thanks for the info!
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Old 01-17-2018, 09:49 PM   #14
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Methinks he didn't try the armor piercing rounds....
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