The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has put the 2018 Volkswagen Atlas on the map for crashworthiness. IIHS named the all-new seven-passenger SUV a Top Safety Pick for 2017 when equipped with optional forward collision warning and auto emergency braking.
The Atlas received requisite good ratings in five crash-test categories, including moderate overlap front, small overlap front, side impact, roof strength and head restraints. The SUV also earned a superior rating for its auto emergency braking system, exceeding IIHS' required standard of advanced for front crash protection.
"In the 12-mph IIHS track test, the vehicle avoided a collision," IIHS said in a statement. "In the 25-mph test, the impact speed was reduced by 17 mph. The system also has a forward collision warning component that meets National Highway Traffic Safety Administration criteria."
The Atlas fell short of IIHS' top crashworthiness designation of Top Safety Pick Plus due to headlight ratings of marginal and poor. The latest addition to the battery of IIHS tests mandates that vehicles score good or acceptable for headlights in order to earn the coveted Plus award.
While the Top Safety Pick rating is certainly good news for the all-new SUV, the Atlas falls behind most rivals by failing to achieve a Plus rating. The 2017 versions of the Honda Pilot, Mazda CX-9 and Toyota Highlander all matched the Atlas' winning scores, but did it one better by earning acceptable scores for their headlights (across the board for the Highlander and only on certain trim levels for the Pilot and CX-9). The 2017 Ford Explorer, meanwhile, fell short of even a Top Safety Pick award due to a marginal rating in the stringent small overlap front test, a basic rating for front crash prevention and a poor headlights score.
The Atlas has not yet been tested by NHTSA in its Five-Star Safety Ratings program.