The Teramont/Atlas is part of VW’s mounting campaign for global domination. Yes, the TDI fiasco has been, er, a bit of a setback for our sole inhabitable planet, but Wolfsburg finished licking its wounds long ago and returned licking its collective chops at the juicy sirloin of North American market share. The Touareg, it seems, just wasn’t going to cut it. Too round, too European, looked too much like it had free healthcare. Which isn’t to say the Teramont is simply a Detroit knock-off — that wouldn’t reflect the complete picture either. Instead, the profile of this US-designed-and-built VW looks a good bit like the Jeep Grand Cherokee, and the Honda Pilot, and the GMC Acadia and… probably some other popular SUV. You might wonder: has some highly employable car designer been switching jobs every fortnight? No, instead manufacturers are paying a lot of attention to focus groups, while keeping a keen eye on what sells. The result isn’t exactly groupthink per se, but the mid-sized (large in any sane country) SUV segment has become rather tightly grouped in price, appearance and overall quality. This is a good thing, as consumers have many viable choices and the Teramont adds to the equation.
The Teramont is, like so many of its competitors, a kind of proxy for home and hearth. These are vehicles for big families and/or big posses. Inside, the cabin feels quite open and VW has made good use of ergonomic solutions to the challenges inherent to getting in and out of such a beast. Third-row access is afforded by a clever folding seat solution that still manages to function with child seats installed in the second row. Yes, something like the Expedition is even more spacious, but like the Teramont itself, not intended for every market. So consider yourself lucky that the Teramont is bringing its big-boned comfort your way, it’s a capable SUV with VW’s signature design aesthetic, albeit in the more muted tones that define this car and its US-made sibling; the Passat.
Much like the Passat the Teramont feels just premium enough— it’s not fancy and, where the top trim Touareg might have nipped at cousin Audi’s heels, the Teramont leaves the gap between itself and luxury levels of refinement a tad wider. Which is not to say that this car isn’t available with bells and whistles— the SEL trim edition comes decked out with loads of driver-assist features. Step up to the V6, AWD SEL Premium and you get leather, a melodious 12-speaker Fender audio system, cooled front seats and heated second-row seats (but who cares), 20in wheels, and VW’s Virtual Display… which works a lot like Audio Virtual Cockpit, only with a smaller view. The various displays are crisp and configurable, without being distracting.