At­las built for Canada

Roomy and com­fort­able SUV is calm and re­spon­sive to drive, even on an icy lake in Que­bec

StarMetro Calgary - - DAILY LIFE - Jim Ken­zie

Volk­swa­gen has toyed with SUVs in the past. Un­til its re­cent makeover, Tiguan was too small for most SUV in­ten­ders, while the now-de­parted-fromCanada Touareg was too pricey and not re­ally big enough.

So now comes At­las, a de­signed-and-built-in-NorthAmer­ica six/seven-seat mid-to­large-sized SUV that starts at $35,690. The name is sup­posed to rep­re­sent the myth­i­cal gi­ant who held the world on his shoul­ders. But maybe it’s re­ally just short for “at last.”

At­las is based on the MQB plat­form, which isn’t re­ally so much a plat­form as a set of struc­tural com­po­nents that can be sized up or down to build a wide va­ri­ety of ve­hi­cles, from the big At­las to the com­pact Golf. This con­cept saves engi­neer­ing time and cost, and helps en­sure that the oily and struc­tural bits are well-tested and ro­bust.

VW brought us to this lovely re­mote set­ting a cou­ple of hours north by north­east of Mon­treal, where Johnny Depp stayed dur­ing the shoot­ing of his 2004 flick Se­cret Win­dow.

Step­ping into At­las, you see that this truck is spa­cious. The front seats felt sup­port­ive and com­fort­able. The mid­dle row is de­cently sized for three adults. In the two higher grades, you can opt for two cap­tain’s chairs in place of the three-seat bench. WWW.THES­TAR.COM

On the road, At­las seemed to shrink around us, han­dling any­thing we could throw at it with a calm de­meanour.

We not only got to drive At­las on some cool roads, but also on some hope­fully coole­nough ice on Lac Sa­ca­comie. We ran the SUV through a big slalom course, kick­ing up snow just for the fun of it.

At­las is one of the rare ve­hi­cles VW seems to have de­signed just for our mar­ket, al­though it is likely to get wider dis­tri­bu­tion.

How does VW’s Golf R com­pare on the ice? Find out at thes­tar.com/au­tos

. VOLK­SWA­GEN CANADA

The new At­las is de­signed and built in North Amer­ica.

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