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For the second time, I took my 2018 Atlas SE to Danbury, CT VW to look into the acceleration noise (for me, it's not just a noise, the car does not accelerate properly during this short hissing/grinding noise time, it lags and then suddenly lunges forward). The tech heard the noise, said he'd never heard it and it was def not right. After it being in the shop for the day, they gave me the keys and said it's a normal "intake" noise. No other explanation, nothing.

The first time I took the car in, they said they didn't hear it. I checked the mileage on the car - they never even took it out for a drive to actually listen to the noise.
 

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KarstGeo, completely agree and not a path I suggest taking.
Folks if you have this noise start reporting it to the dealer service departments and email VW. Since this seems to be a common problem, even if just annoying noise and no physical impact, numbers need to speak to VW so they will take notice.
VW has substantial investment in the Atlas class of vehicles out now and the ones coming (trucks and sport classes) and if this noise is a common problem and enough people are reporting it to VW (the key) then they will put engineering resources into a solution. Typically VW corporate will not act unless enough dealers and consumers call out the issues to them.
Here's how to contact them. Have your VIN handy.

Volkswagen complaints contacts:
Call Customer Care on 1-800-822-8987.
Call Headquarters on (248) 754-5000.
While I understand, the point I am trying to make is...it's possible that this is quite within the engineering of the tranny and possibly totally "normal" so they may have no reason to change it beyond it annoys some people. The best way to approach it isn't "my Atlas makes a noise I don't like", rather "My Atlas's transmissions needs to shift into second at X speed and Y RPM vs. stay in third which is causing noises that are concerning."
 

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For the second time, I took my 2018 Atlas SE to Danbury, CT VW to look into the acceleration noise (for me, it's not just a noise, the car does not accelerate properly during this short hissing/grinding noise time, it lags and then suddenly lunges forward). The tech heard the noise, said he'd never heard it and it was def not right. After it being in the shop for the day, they gave me the keys and said it's a normal "intake" noise. No other explanation, nothing.

The first time I took the car in, they said they didn't hear it. I checked the mileage on the car - they never even took it out for a drive to actually listen to the noise.
The dealers are not being given the info from VW so no blame there and this is most definately not the intake runners opening...it's the tranny. The big issue is not being able to replicate it; it's very easy/predictable. I note no issues with accelerating when those noises happen on mine. Best thing is to ensure that you can replicate the noise at-will then have the tech from teh dealer come with you to make sure 100% that they 1) hear the noise and 2) understand the conditions in which you can produce it.
 

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Good info KarstGeo. My 2019 Atlas S 4MO now has 6,000 miles since last December. I've yet to experience any of the issues mentioned, not even a hint of noise or transmission quirkiness. Interesting that some would and some wouldn't. I've read the posts here and Vortex, and can't determine if this is something that is most common from day one, or after time, at a certain mileage, or how many of us don't have the issue at all. This is my first VW and I couldn't be happier with the Atlas.
 

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Good info KarstGeo. My 2019 Atlas S 4MO now has 6,000 miles since last December. I've yet to experience any of the issues mentioned, not even a hint of noise or transmission quirkiness. Interesting that some would and some wouldn't. I've read the posts here and Vortex, and can't determine if this is something that is most common from day one, or after time, at a certain mileage, or how many of us don't have the issue at all. This is my first VW and I couldn't be happier with the Atlas.
My take is actually that they all do do it just some either don't notice it or it's more subdued. My friend/neighbor has a '18 and I drove hers and could replicate it easily but it wasn't as loud as our and she looked at me like I was nuts when I told her as in "I never hear anything". Here are a few videos I posted on this issue:


 

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If you don't have this problem, please chime in too - thanks. Curious to know opinions on the other side of this noise thing. Its soooo annoying, and those of us that have it want to know if its fixable or is causing any real issues.

Took a trip to Maine, now have almost 3k on my 2019 Prem Sel with no real improvement or diminishment of the noise. Had it in the dealer for a tire balance issue just prior (hit a pothole) and questioned the service advisor who said they had not heard of any of these reports. He seemed ledgit. So either this is isolated to "luck of the draw" thing or its a quirk? Drove 9 hours back, dropped my son, then pulled out of parking spot - screeeeech!
- Happens 75% of the time.
- Nearly always happens starting from stopped position or at low speed pressing the accelerator. Rarely heard at hight speeds, sometimes mid 30-40MPG.
- For me, shifting into manual mode or starting in manual mode does not affect the noise.
- It sounds like a belt screeching more than anything else.

** If anyone has mechanical training and can share an opinion on what this might be it would be much appreciated. I will try to capture a video and post.
Appreciate the owner starting this thread and all who are chiming in!
 

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If you don't have this problem, please chime in too - thanks. Curious to know opinions on the other side of this noise thing. Its soooo annoying, and those of us that have it want to know if its fixable or is causing any real issues.

Took a trip to Maine, now have almost 3k on my 2019 Prem Sel with no real improvement or diminishment of the noise. Had it in the dealer for a tire balance issue just prior (hit a pothole) and questioned the service advisor who said they had not heard of any of these reports. He seemed ledgit. So either this is isolated to "luck of the draw" thing or its a quirk? Drove 9 hours back, dropped my son, then pulled out of parking spot - screeeeech!
- Happens 75% of the time.
- Nearly always happens starting from stopped position or at low speed pressing the accelerator. Rarely heard at hight speeds, sometimes mid 30-40MPG.
- For me, shifting into manual mode or starting in manual mode does not affect the noise.
- It sounds like a belt screeching more than anything else.

** If anyone has mechanical training and can share an opinion on what this might be it would be much appreciated. I will try to capture a video and post.
Appreciate the owner starting this thread and all who are chiming in!
Have you spent any time researching his here, FB groups, vortex? This has been discussed ad-nauseum. The conditions which you get it are well understood and discussed in the notes of my video(s) posted above. The general consensus is this is coming from the torque converter. Since it is only happening at low rpms in third gear under load (needs to be less than 1500 rpm) it is most likely cavitation from the tranny not being in low-enough gear starting off. Just like trying to roll a stop in third gear in a stick when you really should have downshifted. That's really all this is and can only be eliminated by changing the tranny programming to drop it to second in those instances but this hasn't happened. Modern vehicles try to remain in the highest gear possible for fuel economy and this, in my humble opinion, is all this is. I have not read of one tranny failure/issues that was pinpointed to be related to this noise. I also believe that 100% of them do this but not everyone notices/cares. I drove my neighbors and was easily able to recreate the sound by putting in the proper conditions - it wasn't quite as loud as mine but she has no clue it made a noise. This is why, even in manual mode, you can't start an automatic from a stop in a gear other than first/second.
 

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Have you spent any time researching his here, FB groups, vortex? This has been discussed ad-nauseum. The conditions which you get it are well understood and discussed in the notes of my video(s) posted above. The general consensus is this is coming from the torque converter. Since it is only happening at low rpms in third gear under load (needs to be less than 1500 rpm) it is most likely cavitation from the tranny not being in low-enough gear starting off. Just like trying to roll a stop in third gear in a stick when you really should have downshifted. That's really all this is and can only be eliminated by changing the tranny programming to drop it to second in those instances but this hasn't happened. Modern vehicles try to remain in the highest gear possible for fuel economy and this, in my humble opinion, is all this is. I have not read of one tranny failure/issues that was pinpointed to be related to this noise. I also believe that 100% of them do this but not everyone notices/cares. I drove my neighbors and was easily able to recreate the sound by putting in the proper conditions - it wasn't quite as loud as mine but she has no clue it made a noise. This is why, even in manual mode, you can't start an automatic from a stop in a gear other than first/second.
Thank you for taking some time to post the details KarstGeo. I must have missed some of that detail - it was very helpful and what I was looking for.
 

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The Atlas transmission doesn't shift down to appropriate gears as it should at certain speeds and that is due to its design for "fuel savings," per a very reliable source! I have driven in my 45 years driving career many types of vehicles mostly Mercedes and BMW, and raced Rally cars as well in Europe, and I have to say the Atlas Premium SEL, which I own, and perhaps all of the Atlas models, have the issue with the gear shift in Drive (automatic) mode. Now you can test this, slow down to 15 mi/hr and shift over to Sport mode (manual) and see what gear you're in on the dash. It will show 99% of the time gear # 3. The gear at that speed should be in 2 not 3!!!!! I don't care what anybody says! I use my vehicle 90% of the time in Sport mode (manual shifting), and this problem with the gears goes bye-bye. The 8 speed transmission is a long way downshifting from 8 to 2 in Sport mode, that's the only problem. This is not a Ferrari, it's a VW SUV, but it's okay. Also, if you drive at 40mi/hr and shift over to Sport mode you can check what gear the transmission is in, and I can tell you, most of the time the gear will be already in 7 or 8 already. Again, "fuel savings," which is not true! I tested mine driving in Sport mode (shifting manually), and my fuel economy is better than in Drive (automatic) mode and as soon as I start the vehicle I turn off the start-stop mode feature. I don't like it and I don't think it's good for the engine stopping and starting in traffic 30x in 5 min. Also, in South Florida is 100F so we need the A/C going at all times! In the city I like to drive in manual (Sport mode) and never shift above the 6th gear unless drive over 60mi/hr. This vehicle was made to go 130mi/hr no problems and the high gear ratio was designed to reduce tear and wear on the engine running smoothly at low RPM.
 

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This is a layman's question. Is there a mechanics opinion who think this gear change related noise could be hurting anything mechanical, like the torque converter, over time?

By the way, I've taken all the great input here and applied to my own testing an I can confirm an elimination of the noise by driving in Tiptronic Manual mode . I've driven stick for years and used to play a lot in manual mode with my Touareg's, so after getting a feel for the Atlas was comfortable trying only manual mode for a few days. Only after two days when back in automatic mode, either normal or sport (way less in sport), do I get the sound (agreed ad-nauseum but worth the continued discussion until some resolution found).

Thanks for listening.
 

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PLEASE READ THIS!

I bought a 2019 SEL Premium 4Motion in March of this year 2019. I too was experiencing the same sound and under the same conditions as others have mentioned ...please note that I am STILL experiencing the sound to this day even after a "fix". I brought the sound up a few days after I bought the car, at the time the dealership's Service Manager gave me some bologna explanation and I left. I took it again to the dealership for the same noise a month later and they changed the Torque Converter on my Atlas. The sound is still there!!

I contacted VW Corporate and urge anyone experiencing this sound/noise to bring it to their attention as well! I am currently in conversation with a Regional Case Manager at VW Corporate and still have to see what will happen. Keep in mind this is not just about the noise but what the root cause is; which is coming from metal on metal abrasion causing the sound that most likely will cause issues with the transmission sooner rather than later if not corrected. I did not bring up the Torque Converter as being the cause of the sound, the dealer did! I simply complained about the noise.

Please go to these YouTube pages to see what the sound is that many of us are referring to:
 

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How do you know it's metal on metal? Sounds like a whining pump cavitation to me. Your experience is the reason that I always say - its just going to make this noise by design; they changed your t-converter and it still does it. The video of the rattling springs states in the description that his fix didn't fix the acceleration noise, but only the rattle after you shut if off. Look, I don't care for it either but honestly I just think it's some pump noise from lugging the motor at low rpm/too high a gear - it's a fact. If they just have it shift down to second vs. third at near-stops, you'd never hear it and they will never change that programming b/c of it's impact on the mpgs. Good luck and let us know if you find out anything different.
 

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How do you know it's metal on metal? Sounds like a whining pump cavitation to me. Your experience is the reason that I always say - its just going to make this noise by design; they changed your t-converter and it still does it. The video of the rattling springs states in the description that his fix didn't fix the acceleration noise, but only the rattle after you shut if off. Look, I don't care for it either but honestly I just think it's some pump noise from lugging the motor at low rpm/too high a gear - it's a fact. If they just have it shift down to second vs. third at near-stops, you'd never hear it and they will never change that programming b/c of it's impact on the mpgs. Good luck and let us know if you find out anything different.
Help me, and everyone else here understand by adding some context. I've read some of your replies/posts in this forum (and in particular in this thread)...your posts come across as very defensive of not only VW, but also of some of the call-outs people have towards their vehicles (in this instance, the Atlas). Why is that?
Also, do you own an Atlas?

Your response to my post with the videos is naive at best. If you think that sound in the first video is 'normal' or 'by design'...is comical. Normal? Really? I've owned and driven MANY brands and models of cars (in all classes...SUVs, Sedans, Coupes, Trucks, Vans, etc.) ; and I have never experienced such a noise from a car (particularly from a BRAND NEW car!)

Your response almost sounds as if you work for VW or have some other vested interest to even be taken serious. I'm trying to help everyone in here by giving my genuine, real input. Not some dismissive, accusatory input as yours comes along as.
 

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Help me, and everyone else here understand by adding some context. I've read some of your replies/posts in this forum (and in particular in this thread)...your posts come across as very defensive of not only VW, but also of some of the call-outs people have towards their vehicles (in this instance, the Atlas). Why is that?
Also, do you own an Atlas?

Your response to my post with the videos is naive at best. If you think that sound in the first video is 'normal' or 'by design'...is comical. Normal? Really? I've owned and driven MANY brands and models of cars (in all classes...SUVs, Sedans, Coupes, Trucks, Vans, etc.) ; and I have never experienced such a noise from a car (particularly from a BRAND NEW car!)

Your response almost sounds as if you work for VW or have some other vested interest to even be taken serious. I'm trying to help everyone in here by giving my genuine, real input. Not some dismissive, accusatory input as yours comes along as.
I have owned an Atlas since Jan 2018 and have put substantial time into this community (VW Atlas communities across different forums [vortex, OBDEleven] and the few Atlas FB pages) helping folks...look around and you'll see - I'm probably one of the most knowledgeable Atlas folks around. I certainly don't work for VW but am a brand fanboi. I noted this noise on Day 1 of ownership and honed in on the fact that it was under the conditions that have been described. I quickly started researching the topic and after substantial time and effort, landed on that fact that it's simply a shitty tranny shift map causing low rpm chatter from the pump. I welcome anyone to get to the bottom of it with VW but the fact is, nobody has. You and another person have had t-converters replaced only to continue to have the noise persist. This tells me, as I had thought originally, that it's not really a big deal beyond the annoying noise. I've had several VWs (2 currently) and I will say that VW is an acquired taste and for folks not used to the brand, well, they can have some annoying traits. I guess it just comes down to this - as I said, I welcome someone to get to the bottom of it and if VW comes to me and replaces my tranny b/c of it...COOL! If not, I'll just keep driving it and not worrying too much about a noise that happens a few times at most per drive and rest easy on my 6/72K warranty to cover it. I do think it's good to bring it up to the dealer while in for service to have it in writing that you had this issue in the case that at 90K miles and 8 years from they retroactively replace trannys that had this issue and you have it in writing that you had this issue while your vehicle was covered. BTW, the Tiguan AND Jetta both have similar tranny issues and guess what? Same 8-speed tranny. As I said, good luck (not sarcastic) and let us know what you find out.

Here are several of my own videos on the subject (with info in the descriptions):



And of course the shut-down noise that eveyone is concerned about (this is what the guy in the t-converter video fixed with the spring replacement):

 

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I have owned an Atlas since Jan 2018 and have put substantial time into this community (VW Atlas communities across different forums [vortex, OBDEleven] and the few Atlas FB pages) helping folks...look around and you'll see - I'm probably one of the most knowledgeable Atlas folks around. I certainly don't work for VW but am a brand fanboi. I noted this noise on Day 1 of ownership and honed in on the fact that it was under the conditions that have been described. I quickly started researching the topic and after substantial time and effort, landed on that fact that it's simply a shitty tranny shift map causing low rpm chatter from the pump. I welcome anyone to get to the bottom of it with VW but the fact is, nobody has. You and another person have had t-converters replaced only to continue to have the noise persist. This tells me, as I had thought originally, that it's not really a big deal beyond the annoying noise. I've had several VWs (2 currently) and I will say that VW is an acquired taste and for folks not used to the brand, well, they can have some annoying traits. I guess it just comes down to this - as I said, I welcome someone to get to the bottom of it and if VW comes to me and replaces my tranny b/c of it...COOL! If not, I'll just keep driving it and not worrying too much about a noise that happens a few times at most per drive and rest easy on my 6/72K warranty to cover it. I do think it's good to bring it up to the dealer while in for service to have it in writing that you had this issue in the case that at 90K miles and 8 years from they retroactively replace trannys that had this issue and you have it in writing that you had this issue while your vehicle was covered. BTW, the Tiguan AND Jetta both have similar tranny issues and guess what? Same 8-speed tranny. As I said, good luck (not sarcastic) and let us know what you find out.
Your devotion and time to share input with others is impressive. And no I don't take anything you say as sarcastic, as I can now see that you mean well :smile2:.


With that said, what's your take on the following:
  • What is the root cause you suggested contributing towards this noise?
  • Do you think the underlying root cause of the noise is cause for concern towards lending to potential transmission issues?
  • Do you think the underlying root cause will cause further hit to gas mileage?
  • Can this be fixed with a software update?
Btw, I spoke with VW Corporate...a case and regional case manager were assigned to me. The case manager contacted the dealership's service manager and verified the torque converter got changed and that the QTM (i.e. field engineer) came out. I expected this next conclusion on their part, but they "confirmed" that the sound is 'normal' for this model.
 

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Your devotion and time to share input with others is impressive. And no I don't take anything you say as sarcastic, as I can now see that you mean well :smile2:.


With that said, what's your take on the following:
  • What is the root cause you suggested contributing towards this noise?
  • Do you think the underlying root cause of the noise is cause for concern towards lending to potential transmission issues?
  • Do you think the underlying root cause will cause further hit to gas mileage?
  • Can this be fixed with a software update?
Btw, I spoke with VW Corporate...a case and regional case manager were assigned to me. The case manager contacted the dealership's service manager and verified the torque converter got changed and that the QTM (i.e. field engineer) came out. I expected this next conclusion on their part, but they "confirmed" that the sound is 'normal' for this model.
No worries! Here are my answers to your questions:

1) The root cause, in my humble opinion, is the transmission computer (TCU - transmission control unit) programing that is attempting to gain max. fuel economy based on the U.S. Gov CAFE standards. It does this by always trying to max upshifts/lower RPMs. When you roll to a near-stop, it won't shift into 1 or 2, but hangs in third. When you take off in third at a near-stop, the engine isn't in the correct part of the power band and it struggles. Think about starting from that same situation in a manual (not sure if you drive/have driven one) in third gear...it bucks/jerks. Well, in an auto, you get noise from the pump workign hard.

2) I don't know. Obviously this isn't an ideal condition for the tranny but often this manifests itself in heat. I would say following the maintenance schedule which has the fluid changed at 80K is smart or even earlier. An auto tranny is a hydraulic pump plain and simple. Because it happens so infrequently, I'd say it's probably going to be fine.

3) This situation is an attempt to improve mpgs and won't ding them - see above for cause. MPGs are a different discussion and are almost 100% related to how you drive. The Atlas can achieve the EPA rated mpgs in both city/highway.

4) The "fix" is new TCU software so yes - need to change the shift mapping to drop to 2 vs. 3...that's it! If you drive in Sport it get *a little* better but still will hang in 3. Offroad mode eliminates it but obviously you don't be driving in that. You can always manually shift down to 2 but again, pain in the ass.

I am not an auto engineer but am an enthusiast with a good general (probalby better than good :wink2:) knowledge of how cars work and this is only my opinion based on the evidence.

Keep this post up-to-date with what VW does - I really think the issue so many times with these things is the dealer isn't communicating the issue to VW correctly and further, most owners aren't communicating the issue to the dealer so you see where this goes. "it makes a bad noise". Try printing this out and workign with them with better info - it may help! Also, consider that "normal" can actually be the answer even if it doesn't seem like it. VW won't change the mapping for the shifts b/c it will hurt the mpgs overall and this will cause them far worse issues than dealing with some owners that are upset with the noise. Believe me, VW understands this issue and I am sure they have spent time on it and know exactly what causes it and the potential impacts. They've done the math and determined that right now, it's "normal". This is 100% of vehicle manufacturers BTW...this is just math. I'm sure there is a TSB out on it so dealers know what to do when customers come in with this noise. While I can come across as a dick sometimes, I'm really not but do try to temper folks that "lose their minds" about things that shouldn't be. Good luck!
 

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No worries! Here are my answers to your questions:

1) The root cause, in my humble opinion, is the transmission computer (TCU - transmission control unit) programing that is attempting to gain max. fuel economy based on the U.S. Gov CAFE standards. It does this by always trying to max upshifts/lower RPMs. When you roll to a near-stop, it won't shift into 1 or 2, but hangs in third. When you take off in third at a near-stop, the engine isn't in the correct part of the power band and it struggles. Think about starting from that same situation in a manual (not sure if you drive/have driven one) in third gear...it bucks/jerks. Well, in an auto, you get noise from the pump workign hard.

2) I don't know. Obviously this isn't an ideal condition for the tranny but often this manifests itself in heat. I would say following the maintenance schedule which has the fluid changed at 80K is smart or even earlier. An auto tranny is a hydraulic pump plain and simple. Because it happens so infrequently, I'd say it's probably going to be fine.

3) This situation is an attempt to improve mpgs and won't ding them - see above for cause. MPGs are a different discussion and are almost 100% related to how you drive. The Atlas can achieve the EPA rated mpgs in both city/highway.

4) The "fix" is new TCU software so yes - need to change the shift mapping to drop to 2 vs. 3...that's it! If you drive in Sport it get *a little* better but still will hang in 3. Offroad mode eliminates it but obviously you don't be driving in that. You can always manually shift down to 2 but again, pain in the ass.

I am not an auto engineer but am an enthusiast with a good general (probalby better than good :wink2:) knowledge of how cars work and this is only my opinion based on the evidence.

Keep this post up-to-date with what VW does - I really think the issue so many times with these things is the dealer isn't communicating the issue to VW correctly and further, most owners aren't communicating the issue to the dealer so you see where this goes. "it makes a bad noise". Try printing this out and workign with them with better info - it may help! Also, consider that "normal" can actually be the answer even if it doesn't seem like it. VW won't change the mapping for the shifts b/c it will hurt the mpgs overall and this will cause them far worse issues than dealing with some owners that are upset with the noise. Believe me, VW understands this issue and I am sure they have spent time on it and know exactly what causes it and the potential impacts. They've done the math and determined that right now, it's "normal". This is 100% of vehicle manufacturers BTW...this is just math. I'm sure there is a TSB out on it so dealers know what to do when customers come in with this noise. While I can come across as a dick sometimes, I'm really not but do try to temper folks that "lose their minds" about things that shouldn't be. Good luck!
Seeing as how you have an Atlas as well (yours a 2018, mine a 2019)...and seeing as how yours makes the same noise because of the possible reasoning you explained; you are overall content (albeit with the understanding that in an ideal situation the tranny could be mapped better)...correct?

If correct then I'll be good as well; but I will be good with an asterisk mark (I'll share the possible explanation for the noise with the dealer; more than likely they already know of course...but I want to share just so they know that many ppl out there know what the cause of this noise very well could be. Not that I'm expecting anything actionable from them..but more so let them know that hey there are some informed people out here).
 

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Seeing as how you have an Atlas as well (yours a 2018, mine a 2019)...and seeing as how yours makes the same noise because of the possible reasoning you explained; you are overall content (albeit with the understanding that in an ideal situation the tranny could be mapped better)...correct?

If correct then I'll be good as well; but I will be good with an asterisk mark (I'll share the possible explanation for the noise with the dealer; more than likely they already know of course...but I want to share just so they know that many ppl out there know what the cause of this noise very well could be. Not that I'm expecting anything actionable from them..but more so let them know that hey there are some informed people out here).
Yes, I am fine with it. I am considering writing a letter to VWoA with all the details, links to forums, videos, etc. to fully explain this issue...who knows what will come of it
 

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Thank you for sharing, I hope VW will find this "noise" is more than an annoying issue and will provide a fix for all Atlas owners. Currently, I absolutely hate getting behind the wheel of my Atlas, I live in a twisty road, hilly area - it's complete madness hearing and feeling (car does not correctly accelerate) this major issue - the car cannot make it up a hill or slowly drive thru town without feeling herky-jerky and turning heads with the noise. It's not normal and should not be acceptable.
 

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Thank you for sharing, I hope VW will find this "noise" is more than an annoying issue and will provide a fix for all Atlas owners. Currently, I absolutely hate getting behind the wheel of my Atlas, I live in a twisty road, hilly area - it's complete madness hearing and feeling (car does not correctly accelerate) this major issue - the car cannot make it up a hill or slowly drive thru town without feeling herky-jerky and turning heads with the noise. It's not normal and should not be acceptable.
Have you considered just manually shifting it to put the motor in the correct RPMs (higher so downshift)? Very easy to do. How about just driving in sport mode which should help out with most of what you describe? Pull the shift lever back when I drive.
 
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