After just three short years on the American market, the Volkswagen Atlas has received a refreshing upgrade for the 2021 model year.

The automotive manufacturer has added a new look to the front end, bringing it more in line with the new Atlas Cross Sport, a smaller version of the now very popular Atlas.

We have had a soft spot in our hearts for the VW line since we owned a Diesel Golf that got over 55 miles per gallon as well as a very upscale Jetta GLI, and seeing the line grow up and produce a seven-passenger vehicle gave us goose bumps.

We had our first chance at the new Atlas a couple of years ago in the winter of 2018, just after the release of the largest vehicle every made by VW in late 2017.

At the time, our son, Landon, was looking for something larger as his family has just grown from three to four with the arrival of our second grandchild, Hayden. The VW was on his list.

We had the opportunity to take a drive with him and the family up to Midway to see the ice castles that are created there every year. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to get four adults and two car seats into the SUV, along with all the stuff we needed for the day trip.

It was a great fit, although, at the time one, of the adults had to sit in the rear-most seat as the car seats took up two of the center row seats with Grandma Deanne in the middle, which — of course — is right where she wanted to be.

This time, we figured it would be great to go out on some kind of a ride with the kids — as the grandkids had now grown — and see if the Atlas would still make a good fit for a family of four with the grandparents along for the ride.

The newly-refreshed Atlas was even more than perfect at this point as Jensen, our oldest grandson, was able to take up occupancy in the third row of seats in his booster chair. This allowed for Deanne and Michelle, our daughter-in-law, to be in the second row and Landon, our son, to be up front.

Having the new Atlas over the Thanksgiving holiday allowed us to go for an extended ride through Salt Lake City, up over Parleys Canyon and back home through Heber. It was a great ride, and having adults in the back seat to keep Hayden entertained and Jensen by himself in the back was even better to avoid any sibling arguments.

Getting into the rear-most seats was made even easier as the second row of seats split 60/40 with each section on a 7.7-inch slider that allows the seat to tip and slide forward, even with a child’s seat installed. This was great since Jensen always wanted to use the same door as his sister.

One of our favorite parts of the updated Atlas proved to be the new digital cockpit that Volkswagen is putting into their new vehicles. This new dashboard is a large, 10-inch, high-definition LED screen that makes up the dashboard and is fully configurable.

We love the way we can add navigation in the center of the speedometer and tachometer so the driver does not have to look to the side for directions; they are there front and center all the time. That and the fact that the technology is really cool.

Up front, the seats were also heated — with them coming up to a fantastically warm temperature on the cold mornings — and most important, the steering wheel also had a heated feature. The front seats were also cooled for the summer months when the black leatherette seats could get very warm.

The SEL trim also features an upgraded 12-speaker Fender Audio system that proved to be everything we would have expected form a company like Fender.

New this year to the Volkswagen technology package is what they refer to as Car-Net, which allows owners to get connected to their vehicles via a downloadable app. Free for the first 5 years, app users can lock and unlock the SUV, remote start and stop, honk the horn, flash the lights, and even provide the last parked location, fuel level, and mileage.

Volkswagen also hopes to have an app for smart watches release sometime this year that will have all of the same features. This is great new tech for VW and can be a life saver when looking for a parked car when you forgot where it really was — or maybe you just want to know where your teenage driver really went for the night.

Also new to VW is a hotspot, which is included for a monthly subscription, something we have found valuable on longer road trips when there was more than one person using a device in the vehicle as the feature allows for four devices to be up at the same time.

The new full-sized Atlas turned out to be the perfect family vehicle — especially for our family during our Thanksgiving outing — room for seven and their stuff to arrive in comfort. We were impressed with the space and ease of use in this newly refreshed SUV.

Base Price: $48,995

Price as Driven: $48,995