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How Well Does A Volkswagen Atlas Drive In The Snow? (Answered)

This is one question that comes to the mind of every car buyer who resides in an area with severe winter conditions and moderate to heavy snowfall. Most people who buy cars don’t pay much attention to this aspect unless they encounter such conditions in their area frequently.

Volkswagen Atlas is a mid-size SUV that VW Group introduced in 2017 offered various trim levels and a great package for drivers looking for an ideal winter commuter. It handles winters and snow conditions fairly well. High ground clearance and various driver assists make it a complete winter package.

SUVs are the vehicle of choice for drivers who experience less than ideal conditions right off the bat. Winters and snowfall pose a pretty challenging situation for drivers regardless of the vehicle they drive. However, SUVs are the go-to option if one prefers more control over his car in such conditions.

SUVs default to characteristics designed at handling a wide array of terrains. Up and down the rocky mountains, inclines, forests, and all sorts of anti-driver conditions can be easily handled by SUVs with far less input from the driver compared to a sedan. Let’s find out how the Volkswagen Atlas performs in such conditions.

The trims offered for VW Atlas are S, SE, SE with Technology, SE with Technology R-Line, SEL, SEL R-Line, SEL Premium, and SEL Premium R-Line. The prices start from $ 31,555 makes it a good option in the Mid-size SUV Segment. Depending on budget, one can customize the Atlas to one’s liking.

Also read: Types Of Gas A Volkswagen Atlas Takes (Explained)

Experience Of Volkswagen Atlas Owners

Like any vehicle, the numbers tell a very vague story about the vehicle’s capability to handle different terrains, and thus numbers alone mean nothing for drivers. The best way to determine whether a vehicle is a good winter-fit or not is to have an opportunity to drive it in winters and snow before drawing any conclusions.

Since the American-made VW Atlas is an SUV and, by default, it is presumed to perform well in winters, nothing can tell the story as transparently as having to experience it hands-on. So far on the internet, there have been quite a few forums where drivers have shared fairly positive feedback about the Atlas. A driver from Manhattan says:

“Just picked up my Atlas a few days ago. I am lucky enough to have a blizzard today in NJ.

Drove the car into Manhattan, no problem. Went home, the snow was already 6 inches deep. The Atlas just cruised thru it like a hot knife cutting thru butter.”


Another driver from Utah had a similar experience with the Atlas, and he says:

“Finally got snow in Utah, so I took the atlas out on the deepest steepest roads I could find by my house, and they are extremely steep.

I’m thoroughly impressed, driving through foot deep snow on steep mountain roads was no problem. For the ultimate test, I stopped on a steep incline and attempted to start moving again. It was slick and steep enough I almost started sliding backward. Up till this point it had done great in snow mode, but I couldn’t get going again on the incline. So after a few attempts to get moving again, I threw it in off-road mode and it clawed right up that hill with authority and almost no wheel spin! That was what impressed me the most. And all with the stock cross contacts to boot!”


In short, the driver feedback about the VW Atlas is stellar and is a medal for the Atlas in itself. I wanted to quote more drivers since the feedback is quite impressive about the VW Atlas but let us talk about other factors contributing to its snow-worthiness.

Also, read Volkswagen Atlas And Its Most Common Problems!

Does Volkswagen Atlas Have Snow Tires?

Volkswagen Atlas comes pre-installed with All-season tires as standard. The Atlas comes with 18 Inch alloys as standard with the 245/60-18 tires. The “60” aspect ratio offers enough room for the tires to enhance traction in winters when it is needed the most. With 245 mm width, the tires are already designed for immense grip.

There are a lot of situations where the all-season tires will be more than sufficient. But who doesn’t like extra grip and traction? Especially in Winters. The way to achieve this is straightforward. Many winter tires options can be chosen from and make your VW Atlas an even better winter warrior.

If you want to buy snow tires, we advise you to use Tirerack. They have a great tool that allows you to find the perfect fit for your exact model, so you won’t have to worry about fitment issues. Furthermore, they also offer free shipping on most of their orders. Check out their store here!

All-Season tires and Winter/Snow tires are made with different rubber compounds. The rubber compounds used for Winter and snow tires are more resistant to temperature drops and thus maintain their grip in regions where the temperatures frequently drop below 45 degrees.

The rubber compound on the winter and snow tires is resistant to hardening and stays soft at much lower temperatures than all-season tires. This allows for better grip and traction in icy winter conditions. People in states as cold as Alaska get the tires changed almost immediately after buying their cars and switch to winter tires.

Therefore, as the objective for any winter driver is to get better traction and grip, it is a good idea to have the stock tires replaced with winter and snow tires.

What Drive System Does A Volkswagen Atlas Have?

The VW Atlas comes with a Front Wheel Drive system as standard. This means that most of the engine and axle weight is transferred to the front tires of the Atlas. This further means more grip at the front tires, making it very easy to drive in winters compared to sedans and other types of 4 wheel vehicles.

The FWD is offered as standard in the Atlas. The variants with the All-Wheel Drive system are SEL, SEL Premium, and SEL Premium R-line. The AWD is a further enhancement to the already capable VW Atlas. An All-Wheel Drive system offers better grip at all 4 tires since all four wheels drive the vehicle.

Since the Atlas is already a competent winter commuter, adding the extra traction and grip of the AWD system further enhances its winter prowess. An all-wheel-drive system is great for every terrain, and especially in winters, it really shines. It allows for traction at all four ends of the vehicle, and power and brakeforce distribution make it a great winter package.

What Electronics System Help The Volkswagen Atlas In The Snow?

To make the VW Atlas a true winter-worthy choice, Volkswagen has tried to leave no stones unturned. They have a plethora of different technologies to assist the driver to a point where very minimal worry is left behind and is replaced by the joy of being in control even in conditions as severe as winters and snow.

Anti-lock Braking System (ABS)

The ABS is nothing new. It has been around for decades now. It is designed to prevent the wheel from locking under heavy braking, thereby keeping the tires gripping the road under braking. All traction is lost if the wheels are locked because the tires are jammed in a certain position and disallow the driver to maneuver the vehicle safely.

With the ABS, the braking pressure is applied and revoked intermittently to keep the wheel in rotation. This allows for re-building the lost traction at the tires, and the driver can steer the vehicle away from a likely collision.

Electronic Brake-pressure Distribution (EBD)

Electronic Brake-pressure (Brakeforce) Distribution systems are designed to channel the brakeforce to the wheel that requires it the most. This robust system intelligently determines which wheels require the most brakeforce and spreads it in an optimal pattern to all four wheels.

This system plays a key role in eliminating the chances of the vehicle slipping on snow due to peaks and troughs in the brakeforce distribution. If the right-rear tire requires more braking force, the EBD system will channel it to the rear-right tire. And this is standard for all four wheels.

Anti-Slip Regulation (ASR)

For the most part, the factor that determines a vehicle’s stability is the grip of its tires. If that is lost, the vehicle can’t drive. With the use of the Anti-Slip Regulation system, you can address this issue very easily. This system is designed to aid the driver in conditions that are not very driver-friendly.

The main function of ASR is to prevent the wheels from slipping under various conditions. With the use of this system, the vehicle’s drive wheels get the best possible traction under slippery conditions. This system works in conjunction with other technical aspects of vehicle safety and ensures maximum grip at the drive wheels at all times.

In case the vehicle is in a steep incline or on a slippery surface such as wet grass, the ASR system maintains the traction at the drive wheels so that you can maneuver the vehicle with ease and less driver input. ASR works intelligently and independently to ensure that all drive wheels are in a rotation state, allowing for better grip.

Electronic Stability Control (ESC)

The ESC is tasked with ensuring vehicle stability by detecting and minimizing loss of traction. At detecting a loss of traction, the ESC applies brakes, and this way brings the vehicle back into the driver’s control, and he can steer the vehicle in the direction they want.

This system continuously fights oversteer and understeer to keep the vehicle planted on the road. This is what most drivers face while cornering in winters and snow, making this situation a nightmare. The ESC prevents this and makes sure that the vehicle stays in the driver’s control by minimizing the amount of oversteer and understeer.

Disabling ECS Will Help You In Snow? It would help if you never disabled the ESC by any means. There are only two instances where you can turn off the ECS.

  1. If you want to perform the rocking maneuver, where you rock the vehicle back and forth in case you are stuck in snow.
  2. If you want to have an accident.

Other than these two instances, you should never turn it off.

Weight Distribution

The weight distribution differs in each trim level, and on top of that can differ even among the same trim levels due to different packages and add ons. We will be giving an average front/rear weight distribution.

2021 ModelsWeight Distribution F/R

Ground Clearance (in): 8.0

The Volkswagen Atlas is a mid-size SUV. SUVs are known for higher ground clearance and thus are a good vehicle for winters and snow conditions. The Atlas has a ground clearance of 8.0 inches. This is an ideal ground clearance height that allows for great performance in winters and snow.

In situations where drivers see more than 6 inches of snow, the Atlas is a great choice since it offers a ground clearance number, making it less of a chore to drive through snow. This works in conjunction with the car’s wheelbase to make it an even better choice for winters.

Wheelbase (in):117.3

As the Atlas is a mid-size SUV, it has a longer wheelbase than most daily drivers. At the wheelbase of 117.3 inches, the Atlas can easily prove to be a worthy winter daily driver. The longer wheelbase allows for lesser chances of sliding or spinning by allowing the driver more time to correct a situation if it were to occur.

Usually, cars with longer wheelbases are ideal for incline and slippery surfaces. The VW Atlas fits right into this very category. Sedans have a shorter wheelbase and are thus more likely to get out of the driver’s control in winter and snow. The longer wheelbase certainly comes in handy.

With a longer wheelbase, fatter tires, all types of anti-slip and traction-enhancing technology, and high ground clearance, the VW Atlas is an obvious choice for residents of colder regions. Since the wheelbase is what we are discussing, it is important to note that it also helps keep the vehicle on the ground in an incline, and it is much harder to flip over a vehicle with a longer wheelbase.

What Traction Device You Can Use On The Volkswagen Atlas?

For vehicles driven in cold weather, you can use various tire devices to enhance traction further. One such device is a traction chain. The Atlas comes with 245/60-18 size tires as standard. Adding a traction chain to a tire of this size can easily help with improving traction. has plenty of these traction chains available for purchase for as low as $39.00 each. You can check out the link for the one we would like to suggest, or you may also choose to explore other options.

Happy driving.