2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport assessment: Streamlined SUV skimps on sport


A nip and tuck to the Atlas’ profile will get you the extra athletic trying Cross Sport mannequin.

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The Volkswagen Atlas is an enormous, three-row beast of an SUV with its vast physique and horizontal design parts. The 2020 VW Atlas Cross Sport is simply barely much less so. The brand new variant shrinks the SUV’s physique barely and tweaks the roofline for a sportier profile and extra athletic curb enchantment, permitting it to higher do battle with the new Passport — itself a scaled-down model of the Atlas’ closest nemesis, the Honda Pilot.


  • New profile appears higher, does not value a lot area
  • Even primary cabin tech checks all the fitting packing containers
  • Comfy experience over tough surfaces

Do not Like

  • Gas financial system is simply OK
  • A lot of physique motion at larger speeds

The Cross Sport lowers the Atlas’ roofline to 67.Eight inches (down 2.3) and shortens the SUV’s general size to 195.5 inches (5.2 much less). The consequence, together with a little bit of a nipping and tucking of the profile, is a way more muscular and athletic tackle the usual Atlas’ stiff, brick-like aesthetic.

The marginally shorter size visually pushes the rear wheels out to the automobile’s corners, giving the Cross Sport a extra aggressive-looking stance, whereas the decrease roofline and exaggerated wheel arches make the Atlas seem decrease and leaner. Personally, I feel the Cross Sport appears the way in which the Atlas ought to have all alongside.

Sculpting its sheetmetal saves this Atlas variant about 200 kilos, relying on the trim degree, however the extra svelte form does not assist as a lot with aerodynamics and effectivity as I might hoped. The Cross Sport nonetheless has the identical 0.34 drag coefficient as its extra squared-off sibling and largely the identical gasoline effectivity throughout the spectrum of engine choices. At greatest, I am speaking 21 miles per gallon metropolis, 24 mpg freeway and 22 mpg mixed for the front-wheel-drive four-cylinder. On the different finish of the spectrum is the all-wheel-drive V6, at 16 mpg metropolis, 22 mpg freeway and 19 mpg mixed.

The underpinnings have not modified. The Cross Sport sits on the identical 117.3-inch wheelbase with Eight inches of floor clearance and retains its vast boi standing at 78.four inches throughout. I’ve at all times thought it bizarre that the Atlas classifies as a midsize SUV regardless of its imposing curbside stature.


The Cross Sport V6 4Matic beneficial properties one mixed mpg regardless of unchanged metropolis and freeway estimates, so there have to be some small aerodynamic benefit being rounded off.

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In fact, the tidier exterior design prices the Cross Sport a little bit of inside quantity, however not as a lot sensible area as you may assume. By the numbers, there’s 40.Three cubic ft behind the second row and 77.Eight cubic ft with the seats folded flat. That is a lack of 15.2 and 19 cubes, respectively, in comparison with the bigger Atlas, nevertheless it’s all misplaced area close to the ceiling. The Cross Sport nonetheless does a incredible job swallowing up cumbersome gadgets — together with a 52-inch vast leisure heart — with room to spare.

Taller drivers and passengers could discover the lack of about 2 inches of headroom on each of the Cross Sport’s rows (39.four inches entrance, 37.Eight inches rear) and there is not any lacking the dearth of a 3rd row choice. There’s simply no room for it within the Cross Sport’s shorter chassis. 

Gentle experience, relaxed efficiency

The Cross Sport appears extra athletic, nevertheless it’s no extra agile than earlier than. The SUV’s experience is simply as delicate as the usual mannequin and simply as comfort-focused. Regardless of the diminished curb weight, the Cross Sport feels massive with numb steering that lacks a lot of the car-like nimbleness of its rivals round city.

On the freeway, the Atlas’ obscure steering and delicate suspension makes the SUV really feel virtually truck-ish. I consistently must make small steering corrections to make up for bumps, dips or crosswinds nudging the Cross Sport backward and forward. There’s a number of vertical and lateral physique motion at velocity over my native (and really uneven) highways, which means the SUV by no means actually feels settled. It is not so fiddly as to really feel unsafe or scary, however the Atlas requires only a bit extra psychological vitality to maintain centered inside its lane than, say, our long-term Honda Passport — that is not precisely what I imply once I say I need a fascinating drive.


With such a large physique, there typically is not a lot wiggle room between the lane markers.

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Two engines can be found to Atlas Cross Sport patrons: a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder and a 3.6-liter V6, every mated to an eight-speed automated transmission. Both might be had in front-wheel drive configuration or, optionally, Volkswagen’s 4Matic all-wheel-drive system.

My instance’s V6 engine brings 276 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque to the occasion. In comparison with the two.0T, it is received 41 further ponies, however solely Eight extra pound-feet. In apply, the V6 does not really feel that rather more potent on the highway than the I4, probably due partially to the automated transmission’s comfort-tuned programming considerably dulling responsiveness in favor of smoothness and financial system.

Tech and security

The Cross Sport options an equivalent listing of ordinary and non-obligatory driver help tech because the bigger Atlas. There is a good loadout of options together with adaptive cruise management that works effectively in stop-and-go site visitors, automated emergency brake help, pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitoring and automated excessive beams. 

My instance additionally options lane-keeping help and lane-departure alerts which might be unobtrusive and useful. Nonetheless, it does not do pretty much as good a job holding the middle line as Honda’s lane-keeping tech or Toyota’s now-standard Lane Tracing Help, leaving the Atlas wandering considerably between the markers.


The Atlas’ customary 8-inch show is dwelling to smartphone connectivity and a refreshingly easy interface.

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VW’s cabin tech continues to be among the many greatest within the class, principally due to its well chosen options and relative simplicity. There’s not a lot to the menu construction, so it by no means actually will get awkward.

My instance’s upgraded 8-inch show performs host to straightforward Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity, and is properly positioned only a quick attain from the driving force’s seat. The non-obligatory navigation software program will get me the place I must go with out concern and works effectively with the voice recognition that Volkswagen’s working nowadays. For those who’re feeling deja-vu from my earlier Atlas assessment, that is as a result of this is identical setup you may discover within the dashboards of practically each new VW within the automaker’s lineup, and that is not a nasty factor.

Solely the top-level SEL trim affords VW’s Digital Cockpit instrument cluster, which is a disgrace. The total-screen instrument cluster appears nice. It isn’t as flashy or highly effective as Audi’s Digital Cockpit digital dashboard, however VW’s setup continues to be very customizable and value contemplating.

Competitors and value

The 2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport begins at $31,565 for the bottom 2.0T S mannequin, together with a $1,020 vacation spot cost — that is precisely a $1,000 financial savings over the bigger, three-row mannequin — and tops out on the $50,815 V6 SEL Premium R-Line with 4Motion all-wheel drive. The mid-tier SE trim is the candy spot, getting you many of the creature comforts and security tech, priced fairly between $34,965 and the $43,260 as-tested value of this V6 SE with Expertise, R-Line and 4Motion upgrades, in addition to premium Aurora Pink Chroma Metallic paint and a panoramic sunroof.

The Atlas Cross Sport rides comfortably, boasts a strong mixture of options and tech and retains a lot of the usual Atlas’ spacious cargo and passenger capability regardless of its extra svelte form. It is also shocking simply how significantly better the reshaped rear finish appears. Nonetheless, the Atlas Cross Sport is not my favourite experience on this class. 

I might like a tighter experience to go together with the Cross Sporty appears — or no less than the choice for a sportier R-Line suspension to go together with the badges and bumpers. For now, the Atlas Cross Sport’s main competitors is the Honda Passport which will get the nod from me because of its comparably strong tech and extra car-like dealing with. It is simply extra nice and fewer mentally taxing to drive. Toyota’s upcoming Venza may also show to be an fascinating cross-shop, relying on the place the devoted hybrid mannequin’s value and effectivity lands.

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