Since the introduction of the Atlas and Tiguan, these two models now account for 53% of all Volkswagen US sales, so it makes sense to drop another one into this ever-expanding segment. With this in mind VW took the Atlas, removed the third row of seats, dropped the roof-line giving it a sportier look and the Cross Sport was born.
This new crossover drops in between its siblings and since the 3rd row is now gone, offers class leading legroom., 3 more inches to be precise. Also, despite having a more sloping rear roof line, it still offers 40.3 ft³ behind the second row and 77.8 ft³ with the seat flat.
The new Cross Sport maintains the same ground clearance as the regular Atlas, despite being 2.2 inches lower in overall height, and it also keeps the same 117.3-inch wheelbase while being 5.7 inches shorter in overall length. All this gives the Cross Sport a more planted and muscular look versus its taller, boxier sibling.
Punchy turbo four and massive rear seat space
My 2020 VW Atlas Cross Sport tester was a fully equipped SEL model with a sticker price of $40,960, pure grey exterior and black leatherette interior, which without cooled seats can get very hot and you can’t get leather on any 4-cylinder model, which is somewhat annoying.
As with the Atlas, the Cross Sport has two engines available for the Atlas the base engine in my tester had the turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine with 235-hp and 258-lb-ft, and the optional 3.6-liter V6 engine which makes 276 hp at 6,200 rpm and 266 lb.-ft. of torque at 2,750 rpm. Given that I had already tested the V6 in the Atlas I was excited to get my hands on the turbo 4, which has plenty of power and ample torque and mates well with the smooth shifting 8-speed auto.
You can opt for either front or all-wheel drive and although my tester was a 4Motion we didn’t have the opportunity to test it on any off-road truck trails. With traction control off, and some wheel-spin, we got to sixty in 7.2 seconds, a perfectly adequate result given the type of buyer it is aimed at and we all know pure numbers don’t always tell the real story.
Handling and Ride
I had imaging that being smaller than the Atlas the Cross Sport would have improved handling dynamics, but the weight savings are only about a hundred pounds. The Atlas Cross Sport isn’t as sporty as I had hoped but it gets along very well and never did, I feel it was too big or cumbersome. In fact, it’s reasonably light on its feet and handled itself with poise.
As a matter of course we always drive into the mountains East of San Diego, and so that’s where we took the Atlas. The car feels much smaller on the move and ride quality is very good, except for some occasional crashiness over uneven pavement.
The suspension – struts up front, multi-link in the rear, offers a soft and supple ride but doesn’t feel nervous or twitchy at speed. Throw it into a tight corner and it will get upset but in most turns the Cross Sport stays the course, staying pretty flat even when pressed hard. Steering is light and reasonably communicative and overall there’s a very tight and sold feel to the Atlas.
The turbo 4 is the one to choose here, I had thought it may not have enough power and feel sluggish, but it has plenty of low-down torque to get along very nicely. It really excels cruising at highway speeds and fuel economy is way better than the V6…….we averaged 18.3 mpg om the Atlas V6 and 21.5 mpg in the Cross Sport.
Inside the Cross Sport all is very Germanic, our tester having a mostly black interior and good quality plastics. Atlas owners may get jealous of the Cross Sports sportier looking leather-wrapped steering wheel and fancy door stitching.
The interior is exactly what you would expect from Volkswagen, simple, easy-to-read controls, a very easy to use and intuitive infotainment system and straightforward stereo and climate controls.
My SEL was loaded with driver-assistance features, including blind-spot monitoring, rear traffic alert, automatic post-collision braking, and forward-collision warning with automatic braking as standard.
Also included adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go, lane keep assist, parking assist, automatic high-beams, and an overhead camera view. And newly available to the U.S. market are traffic-sign recognition and traffic jam assist.
The Atlas Cross Sport gets my nod of approval, Volkswagen has focused on what matters to the consumer and attempted to check every box it can. The Cross Sport looks upscale, has acres of space for both people and cargo and the key, it’s very affordable, with an MSRP starting just above $30,000. This really does give it the edge it needs to win over the likes of the Ford Edge, Honda Passport, and the Jeep Grand Cherokee, it’s direct competition.
2020 VW Atlas Cross Sport 2.0T numbers
BASE PRICE: $40,960
PRICE AS TESTED: $40,960
VEHICLE LAYOUT: Front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door SUV
ENGINE: Turbocharged and inter-cooled DOHC 16-valve 2.0-liter inline-4
POWER: 235 hp (with Premium fuel) @ 4,500 rpm
TORQUE: 258 lb-ft @ 1,600 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 8-speed automatic
0-60 MPH: 7.2 seconds
CURB WEIGHT: 4,200 lb (est)
CARGO VOLUME: 40.3 ft³, 77.8 ft³ with seat area
FUEL ECONOMY Combined/city/highway: 22/21/24 mpg
OUR OBSERVED: 21.5 mpg
PROS: Very spacious, turbo 4 has ample power, cool styling
CONS: No leather option on turbo 4 models, needs cooled seats.
2020 VW Atlas Cross Sport 2.0T Review