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OK, I am new to the forum. My wife and I are looking to get a vehicle to replace our 2007 Chevy Tahoe. The new vehicle will need the ability to tow our 10ft pop up camper in the summer when we travel all around Utah, Nevada, California and Colorado. We really like the VW Atlas and originally I was thinking about just getting an S trim (cause I am cheap) and adding a hitch and doing the electrical myself. This option would not get me the desired 5000# tow capacity, but only 2000#. I dont really know how much our camper weighs, but I cant imagine it is much more than 2000# loaded (its only a 10ft box). My question is will I require the factory installed tow hitch to tow my camper or will the aftermarket tow hitch add on be sufficient? It has been really difficult to find an Atlas for sale within 500 miles of me (Las Vegas) that has factory installed tow hitch and is not an SEL trim that costs 15K more than the S trim. The only option I really want is the tow hitch. Any advice or experience with your Atlas would greatly inform my decision as to which Atlas to purchase. thanks in advance for your replies.
 

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I have an SEL 2.0L that I installed a hitch on, the hitch sits lower than the factory hitch but the factory hitch has a different rear bumper. I have not towed with my hitch yet so I can't comment on towing quality. The 2.0L is pleanty powerful if you add modifications to the motor. It actually makes more torque and HP than the V6.
 

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Update: I ended up purchasing an Atlas SE with factory installed tow hitch. This gets me the 5000# towing capacity and I can tow my camper no problems. I have not hooked it up and actually towed anything yet, but hopefully it is plug and play as far as that goes.
 

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I planned on doing the same thing, buy the hitch later without 15K worth of unwanted extras when I purchased my VR6, 4motion equipped Atlas. I even made the comment to the sales person of that intention. At no point did they tell me that a 2K hitch was all they had available. I plan a trip to the dealership to ask them about installing a 5K hitch with what ever is needed to make it work. I have a feeling I am not going to be happy but we will see.

This brings me to ask what is the difference in the vehicles. Does the SEL have any additional frame bracing, transmission differences, ect. I have heard that it has a bigger alternator, and a higher output cooling fan. Surely there is a VW package listed somewhere which details the difference. If I can't get good information from the factory this is my last VW.

I read this on one of the Dealers pages but have not seen a price on such a package or what is in it. Anyone know for sure ?

"Models with the 276-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 can tow up to an impressive 5,000 pounds, when properly equipped with the factory-installed tow hitch package. This package is available starting at the V6 SE trim level."
 

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Hey guys, I posted my findings in the trailer hitch thread. Big difference between V6 factory towing and non factory is the additional transmission cooler. You will need the towing module too. There are a few smaller items but, those are the two big ones to protect your power train.
 

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I was mistaken about the added transmission cooler. It appears the tranny cooler is standard. The problem is finding out what "enhanced cooling" means.
 

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Wow, according to VW USA besides the hard parts, its a legal thing. If not installed at the factory, it is considered after market. They don't guaranty aftermarket capacities. Even if they are the exact VW Part Numbers installed by a dealership.
 

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I have looked into this a lot, I made the mistake of thinking that as long as I had the correct engine I could get a dealer installed hitch later. Of course what I found was that yes I could have a dealer installed hitch but only 2,000 lbs. When I went in I asked the service manager to show me the difference in the vehicles with regard to the factory installed hitch, he spent some time with the parts guy and could not, no transmission cooler or other parts on the vehicle with the factory hitch but not on my SE with VR6 and 4Motion. He came to the conclusion that there must not be a difference other than the hitch itself so I asked him to get the part number off of the 5,000 hitch and order me one. He did it but it was a no go. VW told him that Volkswagen put additional chassis bracing in the vehicles equipped with a 5,000 lb hitch from the factory and that dealerships are only allowed to install the 2,000 lbs. hitch. Had I known this I never would have bought the vehicle.

I have seen older vehicles with hitch systems that had a U shaped bracket that went around a frame member before a hitch was installed it is probably something like that. It can't be much though. Just look at the price. The factory tow option cost MSRP $ 550 when you subtract the cost of the hitch itself from the $550 you are left with about $ 165. You know you are not getting much from the factory they charge $149 for a set of mojo floor mats so just how much are you getting for $165, nothing major like transmission coolers and such.

What I have not found out about is what exactly is this additional factory bracing consists of and why can't it be added at the dealer. I want to know the answer. Normally I would just go find a wrecked Atlas at a junk yard with a 5K hitch and buy the hitch off of it and while doing so take a look myself to see what is different. But I can see VW's reaction, they would probably flag you on their server and if you ever had a warranty problem deny coverage so I will just get the 2K hitch and it will act as a reminder never to buy VW again. I don't like being tricked and their marketing did just that, trick me.

You go on a VW lot now and look for a SE with VR6 that does not have the factory hitch, you will have a hard time finding it, this because VW found out they were screwing over their customers who wanted to put a hitch on later and it was pissing them off. I know I will never buy another VW and I have been a VW person my whole life.
 

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Sorry to ear that. But as far as I know since day one VW advertised that the after sales install is only a 2K capable option. There is a thread in the Atlas section in the vwvortex forums about this which many talk in regard to tow capabilities in more details. You might want to read up on it over there as some one explained why it is a 2000 limit.
 

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I have looked into this a lot, I made the mistake of thinking that as long as I had the correct engine I could get a dealer installed hitch later. Of course what I found was that yes I could have a dealer installed hitch but only 2,000 lbs. When I went in I asked the service manager to show me the difference in the vehicles with regard to the factory installed hitch, he spent some time with the parts guy and could not, no transmission cooler or other parts on the vehicle with the factory hitch but not on my SE with VR6 and 4Motion. He came to the conclusion that there must not be a difference other than the hitch itself so I asked him to get the part number off of the 5,000 hitch and order me one. He did it but it was a no go. VW told him that Volkswagen put additional chassis bracing in the vehicles equipped with a 5,000 lb hitch from the factory and that dealerships are only allowed to install the 2,000 lbs. hitch. Had I known this I never would have bought the vehicle.

I have seen older vehicles with hitch systems that had a U shaped bracket that went around a frame member before a hitch was installed it is probably something like that. It can't be much though. Just look at the price. The factory tow option cost MSRP $ 550 when you subtract the cost of the hitch itself from the $550 you are left with about $ 165. You know you are not getting much from the factory they charge $149 for a set of mojo floor mats so just how much are you getting for $165, nothing major like transmission coolers and such.

What I have not found out about is what exactly is this additional factory bracing consists of and why can't it be added at the dealer. I want to know the answer. Normally I would just go find a wrecked Atlas at a junk yard with a 5K hitch and buy the hitch off of it and while doing so take a look myself to see what is different. But I can see VW's reaction, they would probably flag you on their server and if you ever had a warranty problem deny coverage so I will just get the 2K hitch and it will act as a reminder never to buy VW again. I don't like being tricked and their marketing did just that, trick me.

You go on a VW lot now and look for a SE with VR6 that does not have the factory hitch, you will have a hard time finding it, this because VW found out they were screwing over their customers who wanted to put a hitch on later and it was pissing them off. I know I will never buy another VW and I have been a VW person my whole life.
I'm with you. I will take responsibility for clearly not reading close enough, but it should be BLARING that you can only two 2,000 pounds if not a tow hitch FACTORY installed. I read factory as dealer for some reason. Probably because I didn't even think possible that that beast of a SUV with a V6 could only tow 2,000 pounds! My 4 cylinder Honda Element could tow 1,800! It is absolutely absurd.
 
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