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William Maley

VW News: EPA Alleges Volkswagen Used Software on Diesel Vehicles To Skirt Clean-Air Rules

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This afternoon, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a notice of violation to Volkswagen for skirting clean-air rules on some of their TDI models. The EPA says certain Volkswagen and Audi diesel models from 2009 to 2015 model years had special emission control software that could detect when a car is undergoing EPA emissions testing and turns on the full emissions controls. The software would turn off the controls during real-world driving. This allowed Volkswagen not to equip urea injection and/or more complex emission-control systems onto some of their vehicles.

 

“These violations are very serious, not only because illegal defeat devices results in excess emissions many times the allowable standard, but also because VW was concealing the facts from EPA, the state of California and consumers. We expected better from VW,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance in a conference call.

 

Federal officials say they were notified about the difference in emission levels after researchers at West Virginia University started questioning the emission levels on Volkwagen's diesel models. From there, the EPA and California Air Resources Board opened an investigation.

 

“In September, after EPA and CARB demanded an explanation for the identified emission problems, Volkswagen admitted that the cars contained defeat devices,” the EPA said in a statement.

 

The models in question include,

  • 2009 – 2015 Audi A3 TDI
  • 2009 – 2015 Volkswagen Beetle TDI
  • 2009 – 2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI
  • 2009 – 2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI
  • 2014 – 2015 Volkswagen Passat TDI


Now the EPA is asking Volkswagen to recall the affected vehicles, though they do note that the vehicles are safe to drive. The EPA hasn't ordered any fines at this time, as the investigation is still ongoing. Federal law allows the EPA to levy a maximum fine of $37,500 per vehicle. With around 482,000 vehicles with the illegal software, Volkswagen could be looking at a maximum fine of $18 billion dollars.

 


"VW is cooperating with the investigation; we are unable to comment further at this time," the company said in a statement.

 

Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required), Green Car Reports, EPA

 

Press Release is on Page 2


 

EPA, California Notify Volkswagen of Clean Air Act Violations

 

Release Date: 09/18/2015
Contact Information: press@epa.gov

  • Carmaker allegedly used software that circumvents emissions testing for certain air pollutants


Washington - Today, EPA is issuing a notice of violation (NOV) of the Clean Air Act (CAA) to Volkswagen AG, Audi AG, and Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. (collectively referred to as Volkswagen). The NOV alleges that four-cylinder Volkswagen and Audi diesel cars from model years 2009-2015 include software that circumvents EPA emissions standards for certain air pollutants. California is separately issuing an In-Use Compliance letter to Volkswagen, and EPA and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) have both initiated investigations based on Volkswagen’s alleged actions.

 


“Using a defeat device in cars to evade clean air standards is illegal and a threat to public health,” said Cynthia Giles, Assistant Administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Working closely with the California Air Resources Board, EPA is committed to making sure that all automakers play by the same rules. EPA will continue to investigate these very serious matters.”

 

“Working with US EPA we are taking this important step to protect public health thanks to the dogged investigations by our laboratory scientists and staff,” said Air Resources Board Executive Officer Richard Corey. “Our goal now is to ensure that the affected cars are brought into compliance, to dig more deeply into the extent and implications of Volkswagen’s efforts to cheat on clean air rules, and to take appropriate further action.”

 

As described in the NOV, a sophisticated software algorithm on certain Volkswagen vehicles detects when the car is undergoing official emissions testing, and turns full emissions controls on only during the test. The effectiveness of these vehicles’ pollution emissions control devices is greatly reduced during all normal driving situations. This results in cars that meet emissions standards in the laboratory or testing station, but during normal operation, emit nitrogen oxides, or NOx, at up to 40 times the standard. The software produced by Volkswagen is a “defeat device,” as defined by the Clean Air Act.

 

The Clean Air Act requires vehicle manufacturers to certify to EPA that their products will meet applicable federal emission standards to control air pollution, and every vehicle sold in the U.S. must be covered by an EPA-issued certificate of conformity. Motor vehicles equipped with defeat devices, which reduce the effectiveness of the emission control system during normal driving conditions, cannot be certified. By making and selling vehicles with defeat devices that allowed for higher levels of air emissions than were certified to EPA, Volkswagen violated two important provisions of the Clean Air Act.

 

EPA and CARB uncovered the defeat device software after independent analysis by researchers at West Virginia University, working with the International Council on Clean Transportation, a non-governmental organization, raised questions about emissions levels, and the agencies began further investigations into the issue. In September, after EPA and CARB demanded an explanation for the identified emission problems, Volkswagen admitted that the cars contained defeat devices.

 

NOx pollution contributes to nitrogen dioxide, ground-level ozone, and fine particulate matter. Exposure to these pollutants has been linked with a range of serious health effects, including increased asthma attacks and other respiratory illnesses that can be serious enough to send people to the hospital. Exposure to ozone and particulate matter have also been associated with premature death due to respiratory-related or cardiovascular-related effects. Children, the elderly, and people with pre-existing respiratory disease are particularly at risk for health effects of these pollutants.

 

VW may be liable for civil penalties and injunctive relief for the violations alleged in the NOV.

 

The allegations cover roughly 482,000 diesel passenger cars sold in the United States since 2008.

 

Affected diesel models include:

  • Jetta (Model Years 2009 – 2015)
  • Beetle (Model Years 2009 – 2015)
  • Audi A3 (Model Years 2009 – 2015)
  • Golf (Model Years 2009 – 2015)
  • Passat (Model Years 2014-2015)


It is incumbent upon Volkswagen to initiate the process that will fix the cars’ emissions systems. Car owners should know that although these vehicles have emissions exceeding standards, these violations do not present a safety hazard and the cars remain legal to drive and resell. Owners of cars of these models and years do not need to take any action at this time.


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Yeah I just read this a little earlier..

 

I have to admit, it was a good idea. But to even remotely think you could go on without getting caught is absolutely insane. Whether it be somebody spill the beans or an audit, or any of the MANY other ways to get busted. ..but the idea is still a good one.. It just seems more like an aftermarket thing NOT AN OEM ONE.

 

Also, makes sense why they've had so many diesels over here for so long. They were keeping costs down. lol

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Wow!   I wonder what the car does differently to pass the test that it can't do while driving normally. 

 

I'm wondering that as well.

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I posted this elsehwere:

 

What I'm curious about: In what way does the engine perform differently when it is in "Fool-EPA" mode that would change the performance to the end user? Does the fuel economy go down? Is there less power? Does NVH increase? Can this potentially change the performance of the engine enough to spark lawsuits after drivers get their vehicle reflashed? VW didn't do this just to spite the EPA, therefore what negative attribute is this tuning hiding?

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I spent a lot of time on the cruzetalk forums a couple weeks back reading diesel topics.  There are some issues with the Cruze diesel and the DEF tank, so a lot of people were commenting why does the Cruze diesel have a DEF tank and the Vdubs don't yada, etc.

 

Well, here ya go..........

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Surprising it took this long for a University to question why everyone else has to use DEF tanks and VW did not. This should have raised red flags years ago.

 

Like Drew and Mud, I do wonder what they are hiding with this programming.

 

Interesting is that Europe noticed and finished their research to find that VW Diesels have been on average spewing out 7 times higher emissions than the Euro 6 standards allow.

 

Europe report is found here:

 

http://www.theicct.org/sites/default/files/publications/ICCT_PEMS-study_diesel-cars_20141010.pdf

 

The report and I could totally be misunderstanding, but they say on average all the diesels in Europe put out 40% more emissions than expected for Euro6 standards and that either car companies like VW went with defeat software or too little DEF to control it. If they used the proper amount of DEF to meat the spec, the HP / Torque numbers would be noticeably reduced as would MPG.

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So it would seem that VW was wanting to show the best HP / Torque / MPG on the market but they would have fallen short if they had used DEF. Seems like this came down to how much could they skirt the law to give Executives better bonuses while not really following the law.

 

I hope both Europe and the US fine VW heavily for this 3 Billion plus would do it for the damage done.

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here is the sad thing.  the regulators -cough- have become so obsessive with punishing the auto industry to continually force less emmissions and higher mpg.  The regulators have created an environment that encourages cheating and is not centered upon what drivers want. would you really have 1.5 litre malibus if the regulations werent so harsh?

 

in the us with cheaper gas again, you see sales in the compact and sub compact segment going down again.  

 

Europe has always been centered on diesel, yes it needs to be cleaned up but like I said when you become totalitarian in your enforcement you create the need to cheat.

 

Governments should back off for awhile on emissions and back off on mpg.

 

Is the Astra 1.6 euro diesel compliant?

 

the bad press from this fallout could kill the US diesel market and the next cruze diesel if this gets out of hand.

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Well, there's one thing about the regulatory environment for automakers; but it is another to suggest that consumers do not want high fuel economy.

 

Plenty of research into this has shown that consumers place fuel economy consistently among the top 3 factors that they take into consideration when buying a vehicle.

 

Even though gas prices have retreated from their high prices; consumers pick the most efficient options usually. Think of it this way. With the advancements in efficiency over the last decade; consumers can achieve almost the same if not better efficiency with a new vehicle that is significantly larger than their current vehicle being replaces.

 

Some midsize sedans used to be rated at high teens city and low-mid 20s hwy (i.e. 18/25) mpgs with their 4 cylinder base engines not too long ago. Now there's Muranos, Edges and the ilk getting better gas mileage and providing so much more utility. So if a person trades in their replaces their 11 or 12 year old vehicle (avg. age of the U.S. and Canadian auto fleet is around that), they are getting a larger vehicle that returns better efficiency.

 

That's why we are seeing a resurgence in truck and true SUV sales; and crossovers will continue to rise. 

 

What VW did here was NOT caused by a very restrictive and punitive regulatory environment. They plain cheated the system. It's too bad, because as this story gets bigger; the media will definitely overblow the already bad effects of NOx emmissions. 

 

But this is a good opportunity for others like FCA and GM to push within their marketing how their engines are compliant. (I'm assuming they are compliant as well).

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here is the sad thing.  the regulators -cough- have become so obsessive with punishing the auto industry to continually force less emmissions and higher mpg.  The regulators have created an environment that encourages cheating and is not centered upon what drivers want. would you really have 1.5 litre malibus if the regulations werent so harsh?

 

in the us with cheaper gas again, you see sales in the compact and sub compact segment going down again.  

 

Europe has always been centered on diesel, yes it needs to be cleaned up but like I said when you become totalitarian in your enforcement you create the need to cheat.

 

Governments should back off for awhile on emissions and back off on mpg.

 

Is the Astra 1.6 euro diesel compliant?

 

the bad press from this fallout could kill the US diesel market and the next cruze diesel if this gets out of hand.

 

 

here ya go, this VW thing will be the catalyst (no pun intended) for the tyrants (aka governments) to start to rid the world of diesel

 

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3233253/Diesel-drivers-face-12-50-fee-enter-cities-motorists-told-ditch-petrol-cars-green-fuel.html

 

i wonder if GM and Chevy do an about face on an available diesel for the new Cruze here now, after this,

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here is the sad thing.  the regulators -cough- have become so obsessive with punishing the auto industry to continually force less emmissions and higher mpg.  The regulators have created an environment that encourages cheating and is not centered upon what drivers want. would you really have 1.5 litre malibus if the regulations werent so harsh?

 

in the us with cheaper gas again, you see sales in the compact and sub compact segment going down again.  

 

Europe has always been centered on diesel, yes it needs to be cleaned up but like I said when you become totalitarian in your enforcement you create the need to cheat.

 

Governments should back off for awhile on emissions and back off on mpg.

 

Is the Astra 1.6 euro diesel compliant?

 

the bad press from this fallout could kill the US diesel market and the next cruze diesel if this gets out of hand.

 

 

here ya go, this VW thing will be the catalyst (no pun intended) for the tyrants (aka governments) to start to rid the world of diesel

 

http://www.dailymail...green-fuel.html

 

i wonder if GM and Chevy do an about face on an available diesel for the new Cruze here now, after this,

 

Sure they can....they could easily play cut throat advertising and just say their Cruze Diesel does NOT cheat the system and its clean...unlike VW's TDi "clean" diesel..

 

They could say...EPA tested and approved and NOT circumvented...

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I suppose you are right...

 

Im just quite peeved at this...I want blood!

I want somebody to poke at VW...I dont care who it might be!

 

Top Gear had the right idea...

 

Die Volkswagen Die!

 

 

And no...not in German for THE Volkswagen THE

 

I REALLY mean DIE Volkswagen DIE!!!

 

In GERMAN...courtesy of Google Translate:

STERBEN Volkswagen STERBEN

Edited by oldshurst442
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from my understanding, using def does nothing to HP. it does add weight and complexity though.

-this is my limited knowledge i have through my work related learning.

you can either use DEF, or use EGR.... DEF is to keep the maintenance schedule about the same, while EGR can drastically reduce the life of the internals, at least talking about large medium speeds and medium high speeds - loco engines.

 

I would love to see Mazda's skyactive D in comparison, since it is supposed to meet all emissione with just the catalytic converter and DPF.

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I thought they were having a lot of trouble with reliability and emissions on the Skyactive-D and that is why it isn't here yet. 

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I thought they were having a lot of trouble with reliability and emissions on the Skyactive-D and that is why it isn't here yet. 

 

It was emissions and getting better performance out of the engine. 

Although I'm wondering if Mazda has given up on it since we haven't heard anything since December.

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I thought they were having a lot of trouble with reliability and emissions on the Skyactive-D and that is why it isn't here yet. 

 

It was emissions and getting better performance out of the engine. 

Although I'm wondering if Mazda has given up on it since we haven't heard anything since December.

 

Drew, i did hear something like that.... oil issues?

 

William, probably something like that. http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1096944_mazda-diesel-still-on-tap-but-performance-must-be-suitable-exec-says

but only stating about the performance, but that does relate to emissions.

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I see you burnt valve LS7...

 

You see...I see a small trace of where you have been last...continue your childish ways...downvote like a moron...

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      Value
      It would be unfair to directly compare these two crossovers due to the large gap in price. Instead, I will be comparing them with the other’s similar trim.
      The 2018 Volkswagen Atlas SE with Technology begins at $35,690 for the 2.0T FWD. With destination, my test car came to $36,615, The Technology adds a lot of desirable features such as three-zone climate control, adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring with rear-cross traffic alert, forward collision warning, and lane departure alert. The Mazda CX-9 Touring is slightly less expensive at $35,995 with destination and matches the Atlas on standard features, including all of the safety kit. But we’re giving the Atlas the slight edge as you do get more space for not that much more money.
      Over at the CX-9, the Grand Touring AWD begins at $42,270. With a couple of options including the Soul Red paint, the as-tested price came to $43,905. The comparable Atlas V6 SEL with 4Motion is only $30 more expensive when you factor in destination. Both come closely matched in terms of equipment with the only differences being the Grand Touring has navigation, while the SEL comes with a panoramic sunroof. This one is a draw as it will come down whether space or luxury is more important to you.
      Verdict
      Coming in second is the Mazda CX-9. It may have the sharpest exterior in the class, a premium interior that could embarrass some luxury cars, and pleasing driving characteristics. But ultimately, the CX-9 falls down on the key thing buyers want; space. It trails most everyone in passenger and cargo space. That is ultimately the price you pay for all of the positives listed. 
      For a first attempt, Volkswagen knocked it out of the park with the Atlas. It is a bit sluggish when leaving a stop and doesn’t have as luxurious of an interior as the CX-9. But Volkswagen gave the Atlas one of the largest interiors of the class, a chassis that balances a smooth ride with excellent body control, impressive fuel economy, and a price that won’t break the bank.
      Both of these crossovers are impressive and worthy of being at the top of the consideration list. But at the end of the day, the Atlas does the three-row crossover better than the CX-9.
      Disclaimer: Mazda and Volkswagen Provided the Vehicles, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2018
      Make: Mazda
      Model: CX-9
      Trim: Grand Touring AWD
      Engine: Turbocharged 2.5L Skyactiv-G Four-Cylinder
      Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 227 @ 5,000 (Regular), 250 @ 5,000 (Premium)
      Torque @ RPM: 310 @ 2,000 rpm
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 20/26/23
      Curb Weight: 4,361 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Hiroshima, Japan
      Base Price: $42,470
      As Tested Price: $43,905 (Includes $940.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Soul Red Metallic - $595.00
      Cargo Mat - $100.00
      Year: 2018
      Make: Volkswagen
      Model: Atlas
      Trim: 2.0T SE w/Technology
      Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L DOHC 16-Valve TSI Four-Cylinder
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 235 @ 4,500
      Torque @ RPM: 258 @ 1,600
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/26/24
      Curb Weight: 4,222 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Chattanooga, TN
      Base Price: $35,690
      As Tested Price: $36,615 (Includes $925.00 Destination Charge)
      Options: N/A

      View full article
    • By William Maley
      The three-row full-size crossover has taken the place of large SUVs as the vehicle of choice for growing families. Crossovers offer the tall ride height and large space, but not at the cost of fuel economy and ride quality. Recently, I spent a week in the 2018 Mazda CX-9 and Volkswagen Atlas. These two models could not be any different; one is focused on providing driving enjoyment, while the other is concerned about providing enough space for cargo and passengers. Trying to determine which one was the best would prove to be a difficult task.
      Exterior
      There is no contest between these two when it comes to design as the CX-9 blows the Atlas out of the water. The overall look balances aggressive and elegance traits. For the front, Mazda has angled the clip to give off a sporting profile while a large grille and a set of slim headlights accentuate this. Move around to the side and you’ll notice the CX-9 has quite a long front end and the rear roof pillars are angled slightly forward. These design cues help make the CX-9 look slightly smaller than it actually is.
      Someone once described a Volkswagen vehicle as “looking like a bit of a square, but a posh square.” That’s how I would sum up the Atlas’ design; it is basically a box on wheels. There are some nice touches such as the LED headlights that come standard on all models and chunky fenders. The 18-inch alloy wheels that come with the SE w/Technology look somewhat small on the Atlas, but that is likely due to the large size of the vehicle.
      Interior
      The Atlas’ interior very much follows the ideals of the exterior, which are uncomplicated and utilitarian. While it does fall flat when compared to the CX-9’s luxury design, Volkswagen nails the ergonomics. Most of the controls are within easy reach of driver and passenger. One touch that I really like is the climate control slightly angled upward. Not only does this make it easier to reach, but you can quickly glance down to see the current settings. There is only a small amount of soft-touch material used throughout the Atlas’ interior, the rest being made up of hard plastics. While that is slightly disappointing as other crossovers are adding more soft-touch materials, Volkswagen knows that kids are quite rough to vehicles.
      If there is one benefit to Volkswagen’s plain styling on the outside, it is the massive interior. I haven’t been in such a spacious three-row crossover since the last GM Lambda I drove. Beginning with the third-row, I found that my 5’9” frame actually fit with only my knees just touching the rear of the second-row. Moving the second row slightly forward allows for a little more legroom. Getting in and out of the third-row is very easy as the second-row tilts and moves forward, providing a wide space. This particular tester came with a second-row bench seat. A set of captain chairs are available as an option on SE and above. Sitting back here felt like I was in a limousine with abundant head and legroom. The seats slide and recline which allows passengers to find that right position. The only downside to both rear rows is there isn’t enough padding for long trips. For the front seat, the driver gets a ten-way power seat while the passenger makes do with only a power recline and manual adjustments. No complaints about comfort as the Atlas’ front seats had the right amount of padding and firmness for any trip length.
      The cargo area is quite huge. With all seats up, the Atlas offers 20.6 cubic feet of space. This increases to 55.5 cubic feet when the third-row is folded and 96.8 cubic feet with both rows folded. Only the new Chevrolet Traverse beats the Atlas with measurements of 23, 58.1, and 98.2 cubic feet.
      As a way to differentiate itself from other automakers, Mazda is trying to become more premium. This is clearly evident in the CX-9’s interior. The dash is beautiful with contouring used throughout, and a mixture of brushed aluminum and soft-touch plastics with a grain texture. If I were to cover up the Mazda badge on the steering wheel and ask you to identify the brand, you might think it was from a German automaker. Ergonomics aren’t quite as good as the Atlas as you have to reach for certain controls like those for the climate system.
      The CX-9’s front seats don’t feel quite as spacious when compared to the Atlas with a narrow cockpit and the rakish exterior are to blame. Still, most drivers should be able to find a position that works. The seats themselves have a sporting edge with increased side bolstering and firm cushions. I found the seats to be quite comfortable and didn’t have issues of not having enough support. Moving to the second row, Mazda only offers a bench seat configuration. This is disappointing considering all of the CX-9’s competitors offer captain chairs as an option. There is more than enough legroom for most passengers, but those six-feet and above will find headroom to be a bit tight. Getting into the third-row is slightly tough. Like the Atlas, the CX-9’s second row slides and tilts to allow access. But space is noticeably smaller and does require some gymnastics to pass through. Once seated, I found it to be quite cramped with little head and legroom. This is best reserved for small kids.
      Cargo area is another weak point to the CX-9. With both back seats up, there is only 14.4 cubic feet. This puts it behind most of the competition aside from the GMC Acadia which has 12.8. It doesn’t get any better when the seats are folded. With the third-row down, the CX-9 has 38.2 cubic feet. Fold down the second-row and it expands to 71.2 cubic feet. To use the GMC Acadia again, it offers 41.7 cubic feet when the third-row is folded and rises to 79 with both rows. Keep in mind, the Acadia is about six inches shorter than the CX-9.
      Infotainment
      All CX-9’s come equipped with the Mazda Connect infotainment system. The base Sport comes with a 7-inch touchscreen, while the Touring and above use a larger 8-inch screen. A rotary knob and set of redundant buttons on the center console control the system. Using Mazda Connect is a bit of a mixed bag. The interface is beginning to look a bit dated with the use of dark colors and a dull screen. Trying to use the touchscreen is an exercise in frustration as it is not easy to tell which parts are touch-enabled and not. On the upside, moving around Mazda Connect is a breeze when using the knob and buttons. Currently, Mazda doesn’t offer Apple CarPlay or Android Auto compatibility. Thankfully, this is being remedied with the 2019 model as Touring models and above will come with both.
      For the Atlas, Volkswagen offers three different systems. A 6.5-inch touchscreen is standard on the S. Moving up to either the SE, SE w/Technology, or SEL nets you an 8-inch screen. The top line SEL Premium adds navigation to the 8-inch system. All of the systems feature Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. The current Volkswagen system is one of the easiest to use thanks in part to intuitive menu structure and quick responses. Moving through menus or presets is easy as the system reacts to the swiping gesture like you would do on your smartphone. There are a couple of downsides to the Volkswagen system. One is there is no haptic feedback when pressing the shortcut buttons on either side of the screen. Also, the glass surface becomes littered with fingerprints very quickly. 
      I did have an issue with the system when trying to use Apple CarPlay. At times, applications such as Spotify would freeze up. I could exit out to the CarPlay interface, but was unable to get the apps unfrozen until I shut the vehicle off. After resetting my iPhone, this problem went away. This leaves me wondering how much of this problem was with my phone and not the infotainment system.
      Powertrain
      Both of these crossovers are equipped with turbocharged four-cylinder engines. The CX-9 has a 2.5L producing either 227 or 250 (on premium fuel) horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. The Atlas has a 2.0L producing 235 horsepower and 258 pound-feet. An optional 3.6L V6 with 276 horsepower is available for the Atlas. For the Mazda, power is routed to a six-speed automatic and the choice of front or all-wheel drive. The Volkswagen makes do with an eight-speed automatic and front-wheel drive only. If you want AWD, you need the V6.
      Thanks to its higher torque figure, the CX-9 leaves the Atlas in the dust. There is barely any lag coming from the turbo-four. Instead, it delivers a linear throttle response and a steady stream of power.  NVH levels are noticeably quieter than the Atlas’ turbo-four. The six-speed automatic delivers seamless shifts and is quick to downshift when you need extra power such as merging.
      The turbo-four in the Atlas seems slightly overwhelmed at first. When leaving a stop, I found that there was a fair amount of turbo-lag. This is only exacerbated if the stop-start system is turned on. Once the turbo was spooling, the four-cylinder did a surprising job of moving the 4,222 pound Atlas with no issue. Stab the throttle and the engine comes into life, delivering a smooth and constant stream of power. The eight-speed automatic provided quick and smooth shifts, although it was sometimes hesitant to downshift when more power was called for.
      Fuel Economy
      Both of these models are close in fuel economy. EPA says the CX-9 AWD should return 20 City/26 Highway/23 Combined, while the Atlas 2.0T will get 22/26/24. During the week, the CX-9 returned 22.5 mpg in mostly city driving and the Atlas got 27.3 mpg with a 60/40 mix of highway and city driving. The eight-speed transmission in the Atlas makes a huge difference.
      Ride & Handling
      The CX-9 is clearly the driver’s choice. On a winding road, the crossover feels quite nimble thanks to a well-tuned suspension. There is a slight amount of body roll due to the tall ride height, but nothing that will sway your confidence. Steering has some heft when turning and feels quite responsive. Despite the firm suspension, the CX-9’s ride is supple enough to iron out most bumps. Only large imperfections and bumps would make their way inside. Barely any wind and road noise made it inside the cabin.
      The Atlas isn’t far behind in handling. Volkswagen’s suspension turning helps keep body roll in check and makes the crossover feel smaller than it actually is. The only weak point is the steering which feels somewhat light when turning. Ride quality is slightly better than the CX-9 as Atlas feels like riding on a magic carpet when driving on bumpy roads. Some of this can be attributed to smaller wheels. There is slightly more wind noise coming inside the cabin.
      Value
      It would be unfair to directly compare these two crossovers due to the large gap in price. Instead, I will be comparing them with the other’s similar trim.
      The 2018 Volkswagen Atlas SE with Technology begins at $35,690 for the 2.0T FWD. With destination, my test car came to $36,615, The Technology adds a lot of desirable features such as three-zone climate control, adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring with rear-cross traffic alert, forward collision warning, and lane departure alert. The Mazda CX-9 Touring is slightly less expensive at $35,995 with destination and matches the Atlas on standard features, including all of the safety kit. But we’re giving the Atlas the slight edge as you do get more space for not that much more money.
      Over at the CX-9, the Grand Touring AWD begins at $42,270. With a couple of options including the Soul Red paint, the as-tested price came to $43,905. The comparable Atlas V6 SEL with 4Motion is only $30 more expensive when you factor in destination. Both come closely matched in terms of equipment with the only differences being the Grand Touring has navigation, while the SEL comes with a panoramic sunroof. This one is a draw as it will come down whether space or luxury is more important to you.
      Verdict
      Coming in second is the Mazda CX-9. It may have the sharpest exterior in the class, a premium interior that could embarrass some luxury cars, and pleasing driving characteristics. But ultimately, the CX-9 falls down on the key thing buyers want; space. It trails most everyone in passenger and cargo space. That is ultimately the price you pay for all of the positives listed. 
      For a first attempt, Volkswagen knocked it out of the park with the Atlas. It is a bit sluggish when leaving a stop and doesn’t have as luxurious of an interior as the CX-9. But Volkswagen gave the Atlas one of the largest interiors of the class, a chassis that balances a smooth ride with excellent body control, impressive fuel economy, and a price that won’t break the bank.
      Both of these crossovers are impressive and worthy of being at the top of the consideration list. But at the end of the day, the Atlas does the three-row crossover better than the CX-9.
      Disclaimer: Mazda and Volkswagen Provided the Vehicles, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2018
      Make: Mazda
      Model: CX-9
      Trim: Grand Touring AWD
      Engine: Turbocharged 2.5L Skyactiv-G Four-Cylinder
      Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 227 @ 5,000 (Regular), 250 @ 5,000 (Premium)
      Torque @ RPM: 310 @ 2,000 rpm
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 20/26/23
      Curb Weight: 4,361 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Hiroshima, Japan
      Base Price: $42,470
      As Tested Price: $43,905 (Includes $940.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Soul Red Metallic - $595.00
      Cargo Mat - $100.00
      Year: 2018
      Make: Volkswagen
      Model: Atlas
      Trim: 2.0T SE w/Technology
      Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L DOHC 16-Valve TSI Four-Cylinder
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 235 @ 4,500
      Torque @ RPM: 258 @ 1,600
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/26/24
      Curb Weight: 4,222 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Chattanooga, TN
      Base Price: $35,690
      As Tested Price: $36,615 (Includes $925.00 Destination Charge)
      Options: N/A
    • By William Maley
      It seems like ages since Mazda announced plans to bring over a diesel engine. Many things have transpired since then with various delays and the Volkswagen diesel emission scandal. While the company said the diesel engine was still in the cards, we started to think it was as real as bigfoot or the loch ness monster. But the engine is one step closer to reality as the EPA has posted the fuel economy figures for the CX-5 diesel.
      For the front-wheel variant, the CX-5 diesel will return 28 City/31 Highway/29 Combined. All-wheel drive see a slight drop to 27/30/28. Major improvement over gas model, right? Not really. The FWD gas model does trail the diesel in the city by three, but there is only a one mpg difference in the highway and the combined figure is the same. The AWD gas model is pretty much the same story; three mpg difference in the city, two mpg difference on the highway, and the same figure for combined.
      It gets even worse if we compare it to the Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain Diesel. In FWD guise, EPA figures stand at 28 City/39 Highway/32 Combined. AWD models return 28/38/32.
      We're guessing that new emissions equipment and harder testing likely affected CX-5 diesel's fuel economy figure. Mazda might sell the diesel engine as a performance upgrade - the 2.2L turbodiesel produces 170 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. 
      No timeframe has been given on when the CX-5 diesel will finally go on sale.
      Source: EPA

      View full article
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