The VW Atlas Cross Sport is a more athletic and stylish version of the current Atlas.
VW says the 2020 Atlas Cross Sport is part of a new SUV strategy for the automaker.
Two different powertrains and new safety features are among the vehicle’s high points.
The 2020 VW Atlas Cross Sport looks modern and muscular on the outside; cool and connected on the inside. As well it should. This is an important one for VW as the Atlas Cross Sport represents their “first fruits” of a new SUV strategy. As we see today, SUVs sell like hot cakes and automakers of all walks are rushing to the party; higher nameplates like Bentley, Lamborghini, and Ferrari being no exception. They are in the SUV game too.
Setting The Stage
For VW, it’s about spotting new opportunities in a segment already swelling with offerings. According to a Bank of America study, as reported on by the Wall Street Journal, there are 96 different SUVs and crossovers on the market now, up from 70 in 2014. That same study finds we can expect nearly 150 models by 2023. Yet VW believes there is still room.
“Building off the success of the Atlas seven-seater midsize SUV, we see an opportunity for a five-seater model that offers even more style and almost as much interior space,” said Scott Keogh, CEO, Volkswagen Group of America. “We look forward to entering this growing segment with the Atlas Cross Sport, which offers outstanding Volkswagen technology, driver-assist features, style, and value.”
What Is The VW Atlas Cross Sport?
The new Atlas Cross Sport is a midsize SUV that offers two different engines and seats five. Inspired by the current VW Atlas, the Cross Sport looks more coupe-like and athletic. Overall length is a bit shorter, although the second row folds down to accommodate additional cargo. Connectivity and safety features include in-vehicle 4G LTE WiFi, Volkswagen’s Car-Net suite, and Forward Collision Warning with Autonomous Braking.
There are eight trim levels: S, SE, SE w/Tech, SE w/Tech R-Line, SEL, SEL R-Line, SEL Premium, and SEL Premium R-Line. VW says a few trim levels will have late availability: SE with Tech R-Line, SEL R-Line, and the SEL Premium R-Line.
Exterior Styling & Interior Design
The Cross Sport is more energetic looking than the traditional Atlas on which it’s based. From the front, we see a three-bar chrome grille complete with a new light signature that extends the width of the middle bar. Moving around the vehicle we catch the raked rear pillar and rear hatch. Here we see a new design for the rear lights, chrome accents, and window. R-Line trims will add more heavily sculpted bumpers with chrome and piano black treatments around the lower front air scoops. 21-inch aluminum-alloy wheels are also available for R-Line editions.
On the inside, a new steering wheel (optionally heated) compliments the available accent stitching for the door inserts and seats. The list of available features is nearly endless, from wireless phone charging to heated rear seats; ventilated front seats; rear sunshades; and a Fender Premium stereo. The latter is a must-have for us, especially since we are on a Metallica kick lately (Black Album, S&M, Load – you name it).
The Cross Sport is 2.8 inches shorter and 2.3 inches lower than the current Atlas, despite having the same 117.3-inch wheelbase. However, VW says the wheelbase helps with interior space. Measurements come in at 111.8 cubic feet of passenger space; 40.4 inches of rear-seat legroom; 40.3 cubic feet of luggage space behind the second-row seats; and 77.8 cubic feet with the second row folded.
VW Atlas Cross Sport: Under The Hood
The VW Atlas Cross Sport will haul the mail with one of two powertrains, both available with all-wheel drive. The first is a four-cylinder turbo with 235 horsepower, followed by a 276-horsepower V6. An eight-speed automatic handles the shifting for both engines. Weekend warriors and outdoor enthusiasts may want to opt for the V6 Towing Package. It gives the Atlas Cross Sport a 5,000 lbs. towing capacity.
The Volkswagen Car-Net suite gets an overhaul for 2020 with more no-charge services for five years, plus new subscription options. One feature, Car-Net Remote Access, comes at no extra charge for five years. It allows owners to, via a mobile app, start the vehicle, lock and unlock the doors, and receive info on the fuel level, mileage, and door and window status. Later this year, owners can connect their VW Car-Net account to compatible smart home devices.
And to think, at one time fuel injection was the latest technology. My how times change.
Safety features include Forward Collision Warning with Autonomous Braking (Front Assist); Blind Spot Monitoring; and Rear Traffic Alert. Adaptive Cruise Control with a Stop and Go feature and Park Distance Control become standard on higher trim levels. New safety features for the Atlas Cross Sport include Traffic Jam Assist and Dynamic Road Sign Display.
What Is Traffic Jam Assist?
This system uses the front camera and radar sensor to maintain distance from the car in front, while also centering the Atlas Cross Sport in its lane. Operating up to 37 mph, Traffic Jam Assist can bring the vehicle to a full stop if conditions demand. When traffic starts moving again (within three seconds), the Atlas Cross Sport will resume with the normal flow.
All Atlas Cross Sport models with navigation will display things like speed limits, no-passing zones, and school and work zones on the navigation screen. Multiple signs can show simultaneously when necessary.
The Atlas Cross Sport is available now. Starting MSRP for the entry-level S begins at $30,545, going as high as $49,795 for the SEL Premium R-Line. Tack on another $1,020 for destination.
The vehicle is built alongside the Atlas and Passat at the Volkswagen Chattanooga Assembly Plant. In order to prepare for Atlas Cross Sport production, VW invested $340 million into the facility which employs around 3,800 people.
Carl Anthony studies mechanical engineering at Wayne State University, serves on the Board of Directors for the Ally Jolie Baldwin Foundation, and is a member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association and the Society of Automotive Historians. Before going back to school, he simultaneously held product development and experiential marketing roles in the automotive industry.