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Photo courtesy of Volkswagen

This story was updated at 3:53 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019, with more information.

Volkswagen is refreshing its Chattanooga-made Atlas SUV for the 2021 model year as the automaker tweaks both the exterior and interior of the vehicle.

The three-row, seven-seat Atlas receives a revised grille, head- and taillights, and front and rear bumpers in addition to interior upgrades and new driver-assistance and technology features, according to the company.

The refreshed Atlas is expected to go on sale next year.

Earlier this month, Volkswagen of America reported that Atlas posted a 48% gain in November sales. That helped drive total sales higher for the VW brand by 9.1% over a year ago.

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Photo courtesy of Volkswagen

Atlas SUV sales in November of 7,756 units marked the third best month for the SUV ever, according to the automaker.

Through November, Atlas SUV sales are 40% higher for the year at 74,108, according to VW.

"The name of the game is SUVs," Scott Keogh, Volkswagen Group of America's chief executive, said in October when it unveiled a five-seat version called the Atlas Cross Sport.

The Atlas Cross Sport, which has two rows of seats instead of the three inside the larger seven-seat Atlas SUV on which it's based, isn't seen by VW officials as a niche vehicle but rather a key volume seller.

Tom du Plessis, who heads VW operations in Chattanooga, said that while the plant is to assemble about 107,000 vehicles this year, that number is expected to jump to 185,000 in 2020. That includes the updated Passat sedan, the Atlas SUV and the Atlas Cross Sport SUV.

"What we're effectively doing is increasing volume in the SUV market," said du Plessis.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.

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