The Chicago Auto Show starts on Thursday, and Volkswagen will brighten up midwinter in the Windy City with a taste of summer road-tripping. The Weekend Edition concept adds some strategic accessories to the new Atlas SUV, transforming it into a shuttle set for family recreation and adventure with room to pack the kids, gear, suitcases and even the family dog up for a long weekend on the road.
Revealed last October, the new Atlas will hit US roads this spring. Volkswagen is marketing it as an active lifestyle vehicle that it hopes inspires people to "live a life as big as their imaginations," and the Weekend Edition better illustrates what it means, for those that might not have the biggest imaginations.
The Weekend Edition designation recalls the "Weekender" packages once offered on classic Vanagon and Eurovan pop-up campers. Unfortunately, the Atlas package doesn't get a true pop-up roof or overnighting amenities of its own, but it does get a distinctive roof box that Volkswagen imagines as a modern version of the pop-up roof.
The Urban Loader cargo box looks like a hard-shell roof-top tent, but it only provides space for resting gear and cargo, not resting campers. The box expands to offer up to 17.7 cu ft (501 L) of storage for whatever bits and pieces are required for the trip.
If VW really wanted to pay tribute to its classic pop-tops, it might have opted for a modern roof-top tent-cum-cargo box, such as the Tepui White Lightning or Roost, offering flexible space for sleeping campers and hauling recreational gear. But we guess such a tent wouldn't provide enough sleeping space for the full Atlas-load of passengers, so it was probably right in just sticking with a pure cargo box.
The Urban Loader cargo box can also be removed, and the crossbars used to carry skis, kayaks, bikes and other large gear. Side steps help occupants access whatever's riding up top.
Inside the liftgate, a cage-style divider behind the second row helps keep cargo neatly divided or provides a safer, enclosed space for pets riding in back. A heavy-duty trunk liner with seat-back coverage helps keep things clean, whether loading muddy gear or wet, dirty dogs. The interior also includes a privacy cargo cover and all-weather rubber mats.
In front of the second-row seats, the included tablet mounts provide an entertainment option for those riding in back. Android and iOS tablets can use the available Media Control app to hook up with the Atlas infotainment system and see and control system features.
The Weekend Edition is built on an Atlas SEL Premium model with 276-hp 3.6-liter VR6 engine, eight-speed transmission and advanced 4Motion all-wheel drive with Drive Mode Select. Exterior accessories include window and hood deflectors, splashguards and wheel locks. The special edition rides on 18-in Prisma wheels finished in anthracite gray.
Volkswagen says that some of the Atlas accessories displayed on the Weekend Edition will hit the market around the same time as the Atlas itself.