I recently upgraded the wheels and tires of the VW Atlas to accommodate the overlanding adventures that I have planned once the “Shelter in Place” has been lifted. During this downtime, I’ve had plenty of opportunities to weigh the pros and cons of my Atlas build out. Working with a stock VW Atlas Premium SEL w/4MOTION… I added the following upgrades prior to installing the H&R springs:
- iKamper Skycamp 2.0
- Rhino Rack roof rack system
- fifteen52 Traverse MX wheels
- Falken Wildpeak A/T3W (265/70/17)
With this exact setup, there was rubbing of the front tires within the felt liners of the wheel well. The solution and next upgrade was either raising springs or spacers/leveling kit. Both options provide the lift needed to prevent the rubbing I was experiencing and would give better ground clearance to allow me to venture out further. So the real question was… which is better?
There are several companies that I considered from H&R, Black Forest Industries and Forge Motorsport. Ultimately, I went with the H&R Adventure Raising Springs because I wanted to upgrade my stock springs to something a bit more stiffer and still retain the factory suspension components. A leveling kit would also accomplish this as well, but I felt that the stiffer springs would provide the additional travel needed for my off road adventures. Another reason I selected the springs is that the original concept Basecamp version of the Atlas featured H&R coil-over lift kit which consists of an adjustable lift and mono-tube shocks. The Adventure Raising Springs were released shortly after to work with the factory shocks. Admittingly, I’m just starting off on my overland journey and looking to find the right combination between fit and function. So, if VW decided to go with H&R for their Basecamp model, then so would I… albeit, I opted for the less expensive option of raising springs instead of the full coil-over kit.
I headed back to the American Tire Depot in Lake Forest, to get my springs installed. Checkout the video below as Carlos performs the install. After installing the springs, the Atlas was given a laser alignment and with a few minor adjustments… I was off and running. I put together a quick before and after clip here for your viewing enjoyment. The lift added a 1.5 inch lift and the rubbing of the front tires is no longer an issue. Some people asked if my back tires were rubbing… I didn’t experience it before the springs were installed and it can’t hurt to have some extra clearance back there as well.
Stiffer springs means a harsher ride… but in this case, I didn’t notice too much difference. The overall ride before the spring install was pretty cush and I like the improved feel behind the wheel. Driving around town I took a few hard turns and aggressive u-turns and the tires x springs worked in perfect harmony. So the true test will come when I can get it off-road which I was planning to do in the next few days. How well could the new setup take on the inaugural trip to the dirt?
Ok, yes technically the photos above don’t really count, but I did my best to drive over a few sidewalks, HOA maintained hedges and yellow taped off parks. LOL. In all seriousness, I went out to Kern county this past weekend and what I can say is that the Atlas displayed it’s off-road desires as my the vehicle left the pavement for dirtier paths. We took a few service roads that led decent climbs and muddy trails. The grip of the Falken Wildpeaks kept the terrain at bay. As the trail progressively got rougher… the springs kept all 4 of my wheels planted firmly on the ground. I didn’t get a chance to pop a wheelie yet, but that opportunity will present itself soon enough on a planned camping trip to Mammoth.
The inaugural run shows a lot of promise and there are already other options that have crossed my mind to improve the setup. The looks I got on the trail were more than enough to validate that I’m onto something and that the Atlas will be making it’s presence known in the the overland community. How far can we take this platform? I’m not sure, but I’m willing to find out! The video of the trip will go online later this week… in the meantime, here are pics of the aftermath as a teaser of what went down this past weekend!
Overall, my experience with the H&R Adventure Raising Springs is positive. Am I happy with the lift and the look? Yes! Can I do some overlanding with the Atlas? Yes! What’s next after this mod? I’m definitely going to save up for some legit suspension. I’d like to beef up my shocks and will wait to see what other aftermarket vendors create for the VW Atlas. Committing to a full suspension system will cost more in the short term, but in the long run… I’ll have a much more enjoyable experience knowing I can take on certain terrain that I can’t with only lifting the vehicle. Do I think I made the right choice to pick springs over levelers? I think so, but I’d be interested to hear some input from others who decided to level their Atlas over springs. At the end of it all… we’re here to try out the various options that are slowly starting to pop up for the VW Atlas platform. Because of the progressive thinking of VW unveiling the Basecamp concept, it’s one of the reasons I got into the Atlas in the first place.
There are a lot of “Gold Standard” 4×4 rigs out there that get plenty of attention and tons of aftermarket support. I’m all about seeing what other options could work and still hold down the duties of a family ride. So far so good… the Atlas is still checking off all the boxes for me and from the responses from this website and my IG — most of you guys feel the same way and I’ve been able to engage with some amazing builds out there… some deciding to raise their Atlas and others going for the Hot Import Nights version! Both look equally amazing and I think VW has done a great job with the design of their SUV/CUVs.
Hopefully, my experience will help some of you to decide what direction to take with your Atlas. Whatever you choose… we’re all along for the ride and as this community continues to grow we all benefit from it and soon enough you’ll see more and more VWs out on the trail! Everyone be safe out there and please stay tuned for my next update/review!