Volkswagen’s Atlas benefits from an exterior and interior refresh for 2021, but the German brand plans to further improve its three-row crossover SUV midway through the model year. The 2021.5 Volkswagen Atlas may not look any different from the 2021 version, but the newer, half-year model’s additional technology features arguably make it worth waiting for.
Credit the late arrival of VW’s MIB3 infotainment system that comes standard on all 2021.5 Atlas trims, save for the entry-level S. While MIB3’s touchscreen may not look different from the units used by 2021 Atlas models running Volkswagen’s second-gen MIB infotainment system, its functionality improves in a number of notable ways.
Thank wireless Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and SiriusXM with 360L compatibility, as well as improvements to the infotainment system’s voice command functions and enhancements to the in-dash navigation system, which includes reworked maps and routing options. Those not able to wait for MIB3 in their Atlas, however, can experience the feature in most variants of the sleeker but less spacious 2021 Atlas Cross Sport right out of the gate.
Atlas customers jumping up the higher-end SEL and SEL Premium trims have even more reason to skip over the 2021 Atlas and wait for the 2021.5 model. That’s because these Atlas variants add VW’s Travel Assist and Emergency Assist safety and convenience features. The former setup uses the crossover’s adaptive cruise control and lane-centering tech to assist the driver with steering, accelerating, and braking at speeds as high as 95 mph, while the latter brings the vehicle to a halt if the system suspects the driver is no longer paying attention to the road ahead (multiple warnings remind the driver to grab hold of the wheel before Emergency Assist formally stops a so-equipped Atlas).
Admittedly, the Atlas is far from our favorite three-row crossover. That said, if you’re determined to own this massive VW, then you might want to ignore the 2021 Atlas and wait for the 2021.5’s additional tech features. Unless you’re looking at a base Atlas S. In which case, feel free to snag a 2021 model.