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NOT ALWAYS RELIABLE

VW has struggled over the years to improve customer feedback reported by Consumer Reports. Things still aren't going well.

 

CLIFF LEPPKE'S CYBER SEAT

VW’s ID. Buzz Debut Announced; 2021 U.S. Vehicle Sales Trends

VW’s top boss, Herbert Diess, announced on Twitter the debut date for its Microbus-like ID. Buzz electric vehicle (also called I.D. Buzz or ID. BUZZ).  It’s March 9, 2022.  VW debuted the ID. Buzz concept vehicle at the 2017 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

VWoA’s Scott Keogh says the Buzz is most anticipated VW model since the New Beetle. He claims the three-row ID. Buzz should arrive Stateside in late 2023 or early 2024.  No word yet on when you can order one.  So, you’ll have to sit on your hands and let VW work on its magic Bus or Buzz.  

Things Change:  U.S. 2021 Vehicle Sales Report

GM’s 90-year rule as America’s top-selling carmaker came to an end in 2022.  Toyota moved ahead of GM in U.S. sales.  And Hyundai/Kia advanced ahead of Honda taking fifth place in last year’s rocky sales race.  In luxury cars, Tesla zoomed past Lexus, Mercedes-Benz and Audi to claim second place, behind BMW.  

VW, meanwhile, posted a 15% sales increase (375,030), while Audi posted a 5% increase (196,038). 

Analysts say last year’s new vehicle sales reflect uncertainty due to production problems such as parts and labor shortages.  VW, for example, cut back Jetta output in order to get its Taos SUVs transported to its dealers.  Atlas was VW’s top selling model (115,687); the Q5 was Audi’s top seller (60,301). VW delivered 16,742  ID.4 EVs while Audi moved 10,921 e-trons

 

CLIFF LEPPKE'S VW REVIEWS

2021 VW Atlas SEL Basecamp: A La Carte Brawny Poser

Literary critic Susan Sontag wrote the primer on Camp.  She says Camp is relishing in style for style’s sake, deliberately artificial, too much to be real.

VW’s Basecamp treatment (dealer-installed) lets you decide whether you’ll cross the line from camp to Sontag’s Camp, akin to turning Barbie’s Ken into GI’s Joe.  The fee for going Basecamp varies—about $4,500 as tested.  Less for just the Basecamp bumper bits.

Air Design USA dresses the bumper inserts and body cladding with the now cliché mountain/mesa cliche graphics.  VW supplies a new grille flanked by new-smaller IQ.Light (LED matrix) headlamps. Fake exhaust outlets embellish the rear.

For shoes, try:  Fifteen 52’s 17-inch special alloy wheels.  Clad with Continental tires, the Atlas nails everyday driving ease.  There’s better dry-road road sense then you’d expect.

Basecamp is all show, no meaningful mechanical upgrades.   VW recommends a trailer kit, though. Go full Basecamp and you get special fender badges.  As such, the Atlas doesn’t seem as outrageous or corny as Disco-era Camp: opera windows, hood ornaments and padded vinyl roofs.

The 2021 Atlas’ forte is its voluminous interior.  All seven perches in VW’s chariot are adult-sized, although the well-stuffed aft folding chairs are slab-like.  The middle-split row kneels for third-row access.  VW snubs the driver—no overhead grab handle.

From the driver’s throne, notice VW’s newly minted steering wheel, fresh logo and fancy switchgear.  Lots of buttons are gerrymandered into the hub or spokes.  While some are awkwardly shaped, their elevations help you manipulate them by feel.  For toasty hands, click the steering wheel’s heat button.

In SEL trim, you get VW’s Digital Cockpit and other items poached from VW’s passenger cars.  These look out of scale.  But you can configure gauges to suit.

While video Cockpit is chic, the dashboard and door panel inserts are plastic-icky—unacceptable when the MSRP with Basecamp finery tops $50K.  At night, LED ambient lighting, strung from the dashboard into the doors, adds interest.  And VW’s contrasting stitching on seats and door panels lighten the noirish interior.

A knob lets you customize the 4Motion driveline.  Plus, you adjust the ID Drive’s level of intervention—a now mostly standard driver-assist pack.  On a dry highways, the Atlas has nicely weighted steering and some road sense.  Expect modest wind rush, good ride damping but some suspension pounding.  Body roll is obvious.  The Atlas’ size makes tight maneuvers difficult.  Parking aids, in contrast, are helpful.

In the go department, the 3.6-liter V-6 narrow-angle mill mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission is adequate.  It hums pleasantly and eked out 17 mpg during wintry weather.  A start/stop feature reduces idling.

Loading via the easy-open liftgate requires a stretch beyond the bumper.  All aft seats fold flat for generous luggage space.  Should you want to stow and go in a brawny poser, head to your VW dealer for an Atlas.  The parts department has Basecamp accessories.

WHAT IS THE VWCA?

The VWCA (Volkswagen Club of America) is a not-for-profit hobby club for owners and enthusiasts of Volkswagen and Audi automobiles. Founded in 1955, the Club has followed the evolution of Volkswagen from the early air-cooled Beetle to the latest models to roll off the assembly line. We are not owned by, affiliated with or sponsored by Volkswagen AG or Volkswagen of America, the Importer. The Club is operated and managed solely by volunteer members who contribute their time and energy in pursuit of our motto, "to help Volkswagen and Audi owners enjoy their cars to the fullest." Read about the club's history.

 

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