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Old 08-07-2019, 10:40 AM   #1
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Volkswagen Atlas Towing

I have towed my U-Haul 13' trailer (2000 lb fully loaded, approx 200 lb tongue weight) with a Jeep Cherokee 6 cyl for a decade or so. After what seemed like a crazy amount of research and comparisons I recently bought a VW Atlas, V-6, factory towing package, 5000 lb tow rating. We do not need to drive fast so the modest hp with 8 speed trans seemed like a reasonable setup for us.

We towed the U-Haul this past weekend about 50 miles from home and it towed very nicely. Minimal highway, gentle rolling hills.

Upon further study I read in the owners manual that weight distribution hitches are not allowed. Not a big concern since I do not plan on ever needing one but it was an unexpected surprise.

I guess I am suddenly wondering if I made a bad choice. We wanted a 3 row seat SUV as we have 2 new grand children and are looking forward to taking them camping with us in the coming years.

The Atlas is a fantastic vehicle, efficient interior space. We would like to upsize to a 16ish' with a bathroom but not bigger, still much lower weight than the tow rating.

Does anyone here have any experience towing with an Atlas? Good or bad?
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Old 08-07-2019, 11:01 AM   #2
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Just curious about the WDH... "not permitted" or "not recommended"? Quite a few vehicles in this class don't encourage WDH use but stop short of prohibiting its use. My Pilot manual says, "Use of WDH is not recommended because improper adjustment can adversely affect steering and handling."

I know quite a few Pilot owners disregard the warning, apparently without issue. I'm not one- don't need it for our 13' Scamp.

Our Pilot, which I think has similar performance numbers, is a good match for our 13’er since we travel with 4 people and a couple of bicycles in addition to the usual camping gear. A 16’er is about 800# heavier, so it’ll take the long grades a bit slower. But it’ll do the job. I don’t think you made a mistake at all!
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Old 08-07-2019, 11:22 AM   #3
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It apparently has a payload of 13 billion trillion tons, so towing the trailer of your choice should be no problem.


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Old 08-07-2019, 01:06 PM   #4
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Thanks for the input Jon.

The manual is very direct:

"
Never install a "weight-distributing" or "load-equalizing" trailer hitch on your vehicle. The vehicle is not designed for this kind of trailer hitch."
Also:
"Your Volkswagen was mainly designed for carrying passengers. If you poan to tow a trailer, please remember your vehicle will be performing a job for which it was not primarily intended..."
The Pilot was our very close second choice. All of this class of 3 row seat SUVs have very similar gross weight and tow ratings. I certainly understand the position the companies take to downplay the towing capacities, they are not heavy trucks. I suspect that I will be very satisfied with the towing ability for what and how I will be towing. Just had an attack of potential buyer's remorse.
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Old 08-07-2019, 07:10 PM   #5
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I put 140,000 towing miles on a Toyota Highlander that had 5000 lb tow rating. You should be fine.
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Old 08-07-2019, 09:43 PM   #6
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Cut the chase and get one of the "New" "fixed" VW Touareg TDIs rated 7700 lbs.
I just bought one and it is a good tow vehicle and a very nice ride!
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Old 08-07-2019, 10:54 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by redbarron55 View Post
Cut the chase and get one of the "New" "fixed" VW Touareg TDIs rated 7700 lbs.
I just bought one and it is a good tow vehicle and a very nice ride!

What does the manual say about weight distribution hitch?
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Old 08-08-2019, 10:27 AM   #8
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Happy with Nissan Pathfinder

I almost bought the new atlas but the Pathfinder for 2018 upped tow cap to 6000# and the trade in deal was way better with Nissan than VW. I can use my WDH with Nissan but did not know VW does not endorse it. I think I made a good choice.
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Old 08-08-2019, 12:20 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glenn Baglo View Post
What does the manual say about weight distribution hitch?
The manual really doesn't cover it well but the hitch itself gives ratings .
The build sheet has different numbers, but the WDH is OK and the pin weight is hidher.
When I get home I will post it.
I think the std rating is 700 lbs with 7700 trailer weight and WDH is 1100 with 7700 lbs trailer weight.
It is more than most pickup trucks.
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Old 08-08-2019, 01:11 PM   #10
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Hitch Weight - Beware

I have a VW Touareg that can tow 7,716 lb, but has a max hitch weight of 616 lb, which is far less than 10% of the maximum towable trailer weight. Like the Atlas handbook the Toureg states that a WDH must not be used, and that on multiple pages. Can Am in London, Ontario do a mod kit to strengthen the hitch and supposedly make the vehicle suitable for greater hitch weights. The problem appears to be how the hitch is installed under the vehicle. It does not fare well when turning and places too much strain on the mounting bolts. The same is applicable to BMW and Mercedes SUV's I hear.

I really looked into this, because I wanted to buy a travel trailer with an empty weight in excess of 5,000 lb, so that when loaded I would be near to the 6-6500 lbs. But this I cannot do without a WDH, which VW do not permit. Funnily enough the earlier Touregs could have a hitch weight of 770 lb and a WDH was permitted.

So, your Atlas may well be OK with a WDH, as modified by Can Am, but the real issue is what happens if you get into an accident while towing a trailer? It has been suggested that the legal implications of exceeding the hitch weight and using a WDH, which are strongly disapproved in the handbook, could be very expensive.

All the best and good luck. Senecio
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Old 08-08-2019, 01:26 PM   #11
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Here is the official specifications from the VIN decode from my 2012 Touareg.
This would be the official ratings for this car.
Dead Weight Hitch 5000 lbs - 500 lbs pin weight
Weight Distributing hitch 7700 lbs. max tongue weight 1150 lbs.
If you check the ratings for MOST vehicles the max rating for dead weight is 5000 lbs for class III hitches.

Class III hitches used as weight carrying are rated up to 6000 lbs. gross trailer weight (GTW) with a maximum trailer tongue weight (TW) of 600 lbs.

Class III hitches used for weight distributing are rated up to 10,000 lbs. gross trailer weight (GTW) with a maximum trailer tongue weight (TW) of 1000 lbs.

If you look at the OEM hitch on the Touareg you will find that it is thicker and sturdier than most pickup hitches.

The testing for the Euro spec hitches is pretty severe as a friend who has a factory that manufacturers the US hitches that are added to BMWs made here can attest.
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Old 08-08-2019, 01:44 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Senecio View Post
I have a VW Touareg that can tow 7,716 lb, but has a max hitch weight of 616 lb, which is far less than 10% of the maximum towable trailer weight.
616 lbs equates to 8%, which is coincidentally the lower specified range that Subaru recommended for our 08 Outback. Guess the European and Asian manufacturers are OK with 8% tongue weight, which worked fine for us with a properly loaded 16' Scamp weighing 2500 lbs loaded, since they also limited the tongue weight to 200 lbs.
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Old 08-08-2019, 02:02 PM   #13
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The hitch rating is likely way more than the vehicle.
The number that matters is the lesser of the two.
See pic. Enlarge it so you can read it.
Attached Thumbnails
WDHitch capacity.jpg   WDHitch specs1.jpg  

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Old 08-08-2019, 02:05 PM   #14
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VW Changed the Specs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by redbarron55 View Post
Here is the official specifications from the VIN decode from my 2012 Touareg.
This would be the official ratings for this car.
Dead Weight Hitch 5000 lbs - 500 lbs pin weight
Weight Distributing hitch 7700 lbs. max tongue weight 1150 lbs.
If you check the ratings for MOST vehicles the max rating for dead weight is 5000 lbs for class III hitches.

Class III hitches used as weight carrying are rated up to 6000 lbs. gross trailer weight (GTW) with a maximum trailer tongue weight (TW) of 600 lbs.

Class III hitches used for weight distributing are rated up to 10,000 lbs. gross trailer weight (GTW) with a maximum trailer tongue weight (TW) of 1000 lbs.

If you look at the OEM hitch on the Touareg you will find that it is thicker and sturdier than most pickup hitches.

The testing for the Euro spec hitches is pretty severe as a friend who has a factory that manufacturers the US hitches that are added to BMWs made here can attest.
Hi Red Baron,

My Toureg is a 2017 V6 gas vehicle. I checked with VW in Ontario and with VW in Germany. The latter ignored me. But it is true the specs were down graded from your 2012 model. So hitch weight is 616 lb regardless.

All the best, Senecio
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Old 08-08-2019, 02:29 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by redbarron55 View Post
Cut the chase and get one of the "New" "fixed" VW Touareg TDIs rated 7700 lbs.
I just bought one and it is a good tow vehicle and a very nice ride!
We have had two Touareg TDI diesels, '12 and'16, and have towed our Casita SD 17 all over the country without WD hitch and without issue. Sorry. No third row seat. The Touareg is a far superior tow vehicle being full-time all-wheel drive whereas the atlas is basically front wheel drive with part-time rear wheel activation. (The Touareg is so good that I took the opportunity to get what amounted to a free one as a result of the diesel scandal).
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Old 08-08-2019, 07:50 PM   #16
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You always know the thread is dying when the conversation turns to lawyering. Of course, if you are going to drive, you really should

"pass the bar" and not stop for a drink...
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Old 08-09-2019, 07:01 AM   #17
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Volkswagen Atlas Towing

This thread derailed when the conversation stopped being about the Atlas. The Touareg is a nice vehicle and a robust tug, but it’s a different class of vehicle, it’s not what the OP already owns and asked about, and it’s certainly not necessary to tow a 13’ U-Haul or even a 16’ Scamp.

A 13’ U-Haul, fully loaded, weighs about a third of the Atlas’s tow rating, and a 16’ Scamp with bath about half. That’s conservative by even the most hawkish standards, plenty of margin to throw a couple of grandkids in the back seat, and no cause for calling in the lawyers.

Doesn’t seem like there are many active Atlas owners on the forum. It’s come up before, but’s as a fairly recent addition to the 3-row crossover field, not a lot of field experience yet. A “Site Search/Google” (bottom of the search menu) on “VW Atlas” might turn up a post or two with actual first-hand towing experience or an owner you could reach out to by private message.

There’s probably an Atlas owner’s forum somewhere out there on the web too, and I’ll bet it has some threads about towing.

Best wishes!
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Old 08-09-2019, 08:01 AM   #18
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Thanks Jon. I did some searching on this forum but did not find any Atlas related threads. Will look again as my searching skills are generally, frustratingly, not the best.

I did learn a few things about the Atlas that my fairly extensive research did not reveal. I did not know that the AWD is primarily FWD, only engaging the rear wheels when, I presume, the front wheels spin. I read many reviews but rarely do the get into any detailed technical discussions.

So, I would still like to hear from any members that have an Atlas and use it for towing.
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Old 08-09-2019, 08:18 AM   #19
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I got the actual towing limits for my (******) from checking the factory VIN number on the web.
The owner's manual is very vague on the towing and most manufacturers don't really push towing and the vehicles capabilities and limitations for anything but their trucks.
VW tests all of their vehicles with factory tow hitches to meet SAE J2807 so the ratings should be fair and you would be good to go within them.
The VW (********) was retested to SAE J2807 and no changes to the rating were made.
The test trailers are not "aero" but square boxes loaded to SAE specs with defined loading so their drag is pretty high.
The stability of the rig is also tested under specific conditions that make sure that the front wheel loading is adequate for safe operation.
If the Atlas is rated for 5000 lbs it will most likely do do that safely.
My (*******) states that weight Distribution Hitches are not allowed, but both the hitch
and the Manufacturer's specs list ratings for it. So....
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