SUVs Rule the Bay

By Don Armstrong

VW Atlas
The all-new 2018 Volkswagen Atlas is just what VW and its followers needed, a mid/full-size SUV with 3-rows of seating that’s priced competitively. Designed and built in the good ol’ USA, the engineers knew exactly what to pen to get buyers back in the showroom; conservative styling that is distinctive and well-suited for the Bay Area family.

Its square-shouldered, big-bodied look is highlighted by a noticeable beltline crease that accentuates the wheel houses, a sharp detail that gives this big boy some VW character. The Atlas grille is pure VW, the tailgate is a Jeep piece.

One of VW’s admirable qualities can be found in its interior design. Some may call it stark, we like to think of it as an attractive alternative to some of its highly stylized competitors. The linear dash, straight-forward controls and industrial look are softened by solid coverings and handy, thoughtful placement.

We recommend the 276-horsepower V-6 powerplant mated to the 8-speed automatic transmission. The standard 4-cylinder may be fine for local excursions. The ride is firm, giving the Atlas a sport-like feel. 4-wheel drive and a ton of other options sweeten the pie

MSRP begins at $30,750.

Toyota Land Cruiser
Big, body-on-frame SUVs are the grandfathers of what has become the hot segment in showrooms, and the Toyota Land Cruiser ranks right up there in terms of capability. But, if off-roading or flaunting your deep pockets are not driving your purchase, this big boy may not be your cup of tea.

The Cruiser received an update a couple of years ago that brought it more inline with the competition. Most apparent is the new front fascia with its modern, luxurious tone; big chrome grille and state-of-the-art headlamps. At the rear is a split tailgate; the bottom half folds down while the upper portion is hinged at the top, a configuration that requires a long reach for far away cargo items.

The interior is stately, functional and fancy with big, comfortable buckets up front, a split bench second row and an outdated, storable affair for the third row. Once backs are folded down, the entire seat must then be lifted and locked to their respective sides. This arrangement takes up valuable cargo space and is cumbersome.

Under the hood is a thirsty 5.7-liter V-8 that delivers 381-horsepower and 401-lb.ft. of torque to the Land Cruiser’s full-time 4-wheel drive system.

Starts at $84,315.

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