2021 Volkswagen Atlas V6 SEL Premium with Basecamp Package
Class: Midsize Crossover SUV
Miles driven: 226
Fuel used: 12.6 gallons
|CG Report Card
|Room and Comfort
|Power and Performance
|Fit and Finish
|Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.
|Big & Tall Comfort
|Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. "Big" rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, "Tall" rating based on 6'6"-tall male tester.
Real-world fuel economy: 17.9 mpg
Driving mix: 35% city, 65% highway
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 16/22/18 (city, highway, combined)
Base price: $48,995 (not including $1020 destination charge)
Options on test vehicle: Basecamp Package (dealer-installed; estimated price $4000)
Price as tested: $54,015 (est.)
The great: Cavernous interior provides ample space for both passengers and cargo
The good: Clean, easy-to-use control-panel layout; nicely balanced driving manners; distinctive style of Basecamp package’s add-ons
The not so good: Plus-size dimensions can make close-quarters maneuvering something of a chore; so-so fuel economy for the class
The Volkswagen Atlas debuted for 2018 as one of the largest vehicles that VW has ever offered in North America: a “plus-sized” three-row midsize SUV positioned to compete directly with established rivals such as the Chevrolet Traverse, Honda Pilot, and Toyota Highlander. For the 2020 model year, the Atlas gained a stablemate named Atlas Cross Sport—essentially a two-row version of the Atlas that’s about five inches shorter overall and wears a lower, sleeker roofline.
For 2021, the three-row Atlas gets a number of revisions, such as an updated infotainment system, broadened availability of its 235-hp turbocharged 4-cylinder powerplant and 4Motion all-wheel drive, and freshened front and rear styling. (The updated look brings the Atlas’s exterior design more in sync with its Atlas Cross Sport sibling.) For a full test-drive review of a 2021 Atlas V6 SEL Premium, click here.
The subject of this Quick Spin report is also a 2021 Atlas V6 SEL Premium, but this one is outfitted with another new addition for the 2021 model year: the “Basecamp” styling package, a collection of aftermarket accessories that are intended to give the Atlas a more rugged, overland-style vibe. The production Atlas Basecamp sticks fairly closely to the look of Volkswagen’s original Atlas Basecamp Concept, a one-off show vehicle that was displayed at the 2019 New York Auto Show and 2019 SEMA Show.
Included in the Basecamp package are a two-tone satin-silver and metallic front bumper guard, textured anthracite fender flares with integrated splash guards, satin-silver door rocker panels, and a satin-silver rear valance with trailer-hitch access. The crowning touch is a set of 17-inch Traverse MX wheels by aftermarket wheelmaker Fifteen52. The wheels are available in a Frosted Graphite or Radiant Silver finish and are designed for use on 245/70R17 all-terrain tires; our test vehicle was fitted with a set of Continental TerrainContact A/T tires.
All the Basecamp body accessories are designed and produced by Air Design, an aftermarket design/production company based in Oceanside, California. The body components are available individually, but if you want those little front-fender-mounted Basecamp badges, you’ll have to spring for the whole package. And what will that whole package set you back, in addition to the purchase price of the Atlas itself? Well, since these are dealer-installed accessories, it depends a bit on the dealer. The body-styling package is $2500, the Fifteen52 wheels retail for $1000 for a set of four, and a set of all-terrain tires will likely run in the $600-$800 range. So, you’ll likely be looking at a total upgrade cost approaching $4000 installed, though some dealers might work out a “take-off” credit for the original factory-installed wheels and tires.
That’s a lot of money for equipment that doesn’t move the needle much in terms of functionality, but the Basecamp gear does give the Atlas a distinctive, “custom” look that you’re not likely to see on every street corner. And, those fastidiously designed Fifteen52 17-inch wheels and all-terrain rubber should be able to handle off-road bumps and rocks better than the Atlas SEL Premium’s standard 20-inch wheels and tires.
What’s more, the basic Atlas’s attributes carry over unharmed. The cabin offers lots of space for five in the front and middle rows, with third-row seats that are acceptable for occupancy by grown-ups. There’s as much as 96.8 cubic feet of cargo space available (with middle and rear seats retracted) on a flat load floor. The top-level SEL Premium models are jammed with a wide array of driver-assistance and safety technologies to go with amenities like leather upholstery and premium audio.
Dealer-installed special-edition packages with this level of aftermarket-industry involvement are quite rare in the new-vehicle world, and they typically don’t hang around for very long, or get produced in large numbers. Those factors will only make the Atlas Basecamp more interesting as the years go by.
2021 Volkswagen Atlas Basecamp Gallery
(Click below for enlarged images)