The Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport is a brand new model line for 2020—the first in a crop of new utility vehicles from Volkswagen as the German automaker looks to double its crossover lineup.
It’s essentially a sportier-looking Volkswagen Atlas with slightly shrunken dimensions, and two rows of seating instead of three. Powertrain options are identical to what’s in the regular Atlas: a choice of either a 235 hp turbo-four, or a naturally aspirated, 276 hp six-cylinder engine, tied to an 8-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard, with the option of 4Motion all-wheel drive.
The Cross Sport is available in a total of six different trims. High-tech features abound, with available options like wireless phone charging, and Volkswagen’s Digital Cockpit LCD instrument panel. The Digital Cockpit is highly configurable, allowing the driver to customize the 12.3-inch display to show just the info they need.
The Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport will be built alongside the regular Atlas and the Passat family car at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga Assembly Plant in Tennessee.
Pros/ Spacious interior / Loaded with high-tech features / AWD available across the lineup
Cons/Unexceptional powertrains / Conservative styling too close to its three-row sibling
Bottom Line/The Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport ought to appeal to certain tech-minded buyers, or those who appreciate German engineering.
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Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport Pricing
Pricing information for the 2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport will be available closer to its launch next spring. It’s expected to start at around the same price point as the three-row Atlas off of which it’s based, despite having slightly less space and two fewer seats, owing to it being a more feature-rich and tech-laden model.
For reference, the three-row Atlas starts at $31,890 for 2019, including destination, with prices reaching as high as $49,390 before options for a top-of-the-line V6 SEL Premium with 4Motion. On its own, 4Motion all-wheel drive represents an $1,800 option.
Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport Features
The Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport promises to be even more high-tech and feature-rich than its three-row Atlas sibling. It boasts a revised steering wheel with more intuitive controls; available wireless phone charging; an available Digital Cockpit LCD instrument panel; available heated and ventilated front seats, with heated rear seating; and an optional 12-speaker Fender Premium Audio System. Following the current trend of “bigger equals more stylish,” the biggest wheels available on the Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport will be massive 21-inchers.
What’s more, Volkswagen’s automated Traffic Jam Assist will be available, as will the latest and best version of the automaker’s Car-Net suite of connected car services. Five years of select Car-Net services will come free, including the nifty Car-Net Remote Access tool that allows owners to use a mobile app to remotely start and stop the vehicle, lock and unlock the doors, view the last parked location, and more.
Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport vs Chevrolet Blazer
Pricing for the Chevrolet Blazer starts several thousand dollars below the Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport’s anticipated starting price, which could be enough to draw some budget-minded consumers away from the German crossover.
But the Blazer has been criticized for its firm ride and questionable quality for the price. Those aren’t likely hangups for the Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport; early reviews suggest the ride is rather cushy, and if there’s one thing VW knows how to do, it’s offering a premium look and feel at a sub-premium price.
Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport vs Honda Passport
For many, the question of Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport or Honda Passport might end up coming down to styling and brand reputation. On paper, they’re quite close, the six-cylinder Atlas Cross Sport producing about the same peak power, with the same number of seats, similarly packaged features—even the same max tow rating.
But the Honda, which has a starting MSRP around where the Atlas Cross Sport is expected to start, packs V6 power as standard. The base Atlas Cross Sport packs a less potent turbo-four, with no apparent benefit to fuel economy.
Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport vs. Hyundai Santa Fe
Since its last redesign for 2019, the Hyundai Santa Fe has proven just about untouchable in terms of value, with quality and content that belie its low MSRP. The Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport is unlikely to match it in that regard, and numerous publications have declared the Hyundai the clear winner in the two-row midsize crossover segment.
But let’s not count the Atlas Cross Sport out just yet. Volkswagen is adept at endowing its products with a near-perfect mix of ride comfort and handling confidence, along with a truly upscale feel.
2018 Volkswagen Atlas Review Video
|Engine /||2.0L turbo 4-cyl / 3.6L 6-cyl|
|Horsepower (hp) /||235 / 276|
|Torque (lb-ft) /||258 / 266|
|Transmission /||8-speed automatic|
|Drivetrain /||Front-wheel-drive / All-wheel-drive|
|Price Range /||$32,000–$50,000 (est)|
Our Final Verdict
Utility vehicles have become a crucial part of Volkswagen’s portfolio, today representing more than half of the automaker’s sales, and in light of that, it only makes sense that the German company is looking to double its offerings. That the Atlas Cross Sport aims to out-perform the competition with a rich feature set and near-premium look and feel, rather than trying to undercut other two-row midsizers in terms of price, shows that Volkswagen knows where its strengths are.
That said, the Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport is entering an already crowded field, and how well it can stand out with its conservative styling and unexceptional powertrains is a question worth asking. It’s worth noting that the similarly styled three-row Atlas has found only limited success since its introduction; in 2018, its first full year on sale, it moved just under 60,000 units in the United States. Compare that to the Honda Pilot, with nearly 160,000 unit sales in 2018.
The Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport might just be too little, too late.