Volkswagen is recalling 143,053 examples of the 2018-2021 Atlas and 2020 Atlas Cross Sport because the front passenger airbag might not deploy in a collision. The automaker advises owners not to ride with anyone in the passenger chair until the repair is complete.
The problem is a potential fault in the wiring for the occupant detection system for the front passenger seat. It might not sense that a person is sitting there, and if that happens, the airbag wouldn't deploy.
Gallery: 2018 Volkswagen Atlas
VW doesn't yet have a repair for this issue, but the company is developing one. The automaker will notify affected owners when the fix is ready.
VW began investigating this issue in August 2019 after receiving reports about the potential problem. It analyzed the situation with suppliers through May 2020. More investigation into the root cause and possible fixes occurred until January 2021. In February 2021, the Volkswagen Product Safety Committee found that the failure of the occupant detection system was "highly sporadic," according to the automaker's chronology of the issue.
Gallery: 2020 VW Atlas Cross Sport
The product safety committee released a technical bulletin about this problem in June 2021. The company kept investigating the problem. On March 22, 2023, the automaker decided to recall the affected vehicles.
VW introduced refreshed versions of the Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport for the 2024 model year. The updated exterior styling includes larger headlights and a light bar stretching across the nose. Similarly, there's another illuminated strip on the rear for all but the base trim.
Inside, they feature a 12.0-inch infotainment screen and a 10.3-inch digital instrument cluster. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard. Leatherette covers the dashboard and center console.
The Atlas is now only available with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder. It makes 269 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic routes the power either to the front wheels or the optional all-wheel-drive system
The IQ.Drive safety tech suite is now standard. It includes lane centering, lane-keep assist, and automatic braking. Adaptive cruise control is an optional upgrade.