2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport
A subtle restyling and the removal of its third row doesn’t transform VW’s mid-size Atlas, but it does put the nameplate into an additional SUV segment – into the 2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport.
Volkswagen sold 81,508 Atlas three-row SUVs last year. That makes the Atlas the success that the company has been hoping for since it opened its Tennessee factory in 2011 in an attempt to produce vehicles better tuned to the tastes of the United States market. In its push to snag an even larger slice of the SUV space, VW is now offering a two-row, five-seat version called the Atlas Cross Sport.
It’s a straightforward conversion from Atlas to Atlas Cross Sport. In the name of perceived sportiness, out goes that most minivan of things: the third row of seats. Very sporty. No third-row also means the second row can grow. The split-folding bench seat in the Cross Sport slides back farther than in the larger Atlas, opening up an additional three inches of legroom. Maybe that’s where the Cross in its name stems from. Go ahead and cross your legs back there.
Under the new roofline, behind the revised grille flanked by LED headlights, and beneath the redone rear fascia with LED taillights, the Cross Sport is pure Atlas. The overall length is down a couple of inches, but the 117.3-inch wheelbase stays the same. Base versions get a surprising punch from VW’s turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four. While the standard four-cylinder has a less-impressive growl than the optional 3.6-liter V-6, the turbo does help it produce 258 lb-ft of torque from just 1600 rpm, and 235 horsepower isn’t too far off the optional V-6’s 276 hp.
Smaller yet Familiar
Even with all-wheel drive, the 2.0-liter provides good acceleration. The standard eight-speed automatic transmission, however, still features a short first gear that both engines stumble through when pulling away from a stop.
Driving the Cross Sport is pretty much the same as driving an Atlas with its third row folded. Sharp impacts still produce the same thunks from the front suspension, and the instrument panel is nearly identical except for some minor trim differences. In the Cross Sport, you sit on the same seats and look at the same hard plastics and underwhelming switchgear as you do in the Atlas. A few new interior colors, including contrasting red seats, are available in an attempt to liven things up. Both blind-spot monitoring and automatic collision warning with emergency braking are standard. The Cross Sport also brings newly available technology to the Atlas lineup, including road-sign recognition and dynamic cruise control that has the ability to deal with stop-and-go traffic.
2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport Photos
2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport Specs
front-engine, front- or all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door hatchback
2.0T S, $31,565; 2.0T SE, $34,965; V6 SE, $38,365; 2.0T SEL, $40,565; V6 SEL, $42,365
Turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve 2.0-liter inline-4, 235 hp, 258 lb-ft; DOHC 24-valve 3.6-liter V-6, 276 hp, 266 lb-ft
Wheelbase: 117.3 in
Length: 195.5 in
Width: 78.3 in
Height: 67.8 in
Passenger volume: 112 ft3
Cargo volume: 40 ft3
Curb weight (C/D est): 4150–4700 lb
PERFORMANCE (C/D EST)
60 mph: 7.0–7.7 sec
100 mph: 19.5–19.9 sec
¼-mile: 15.4–15.8 sec
Top speed: 115 mph
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/city/highway: 19–22/16–21/22–24 mpg