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2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport Review by Larry Nutson

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2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport
Urban Style

By Larry Nutson
Executive Editor and Bureau Chief
Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

VW’s first midsize SUV, the three-row seven-seat 2018 Atlas came on the scene in mid-2017. It’s been widely well received and established as a viable entry in the midsize SUV segment.

And now, VW hasn’t waisted any time and has jumped into the two-row five-seat midsize SUV arena with the new 2020 Atlas Cross Sport. Based on the Atlas, the Cross Sport is 5.2 inches shorter, but still rides on the same wheelbase, and correspondingly has less cargo room. Its sloping rear roof makes it 2.2 inches lower than the Atlas and is characteristic of others in the segment such as the Ford Edge and Honda Passport.

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I think of the Cross Sport as VW’s urban mid-size SUV, with the Atlas being the suburban choice.

Atlas Cross Sport has a maximum cargo volume of 77.8 cu-ft behind the front-row seats when the rear seats are folded down, and 40.3 cu-ft when all seats are up. A power tailgate and hands-free opening is available depending on trim level.

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Powertrains on the Atlas Cross Sport are the same as the Atlas. There’s a 235-horsepower 2.0-L turbo 4-cylinder or a 276-horsepower 3.6-L VR6. Both engines use an 8-speed automatic. Front-wheel or VW’s 4Motion all-wheel drive is offered with both engines.

Depending on engine choice as well as drive train, EPA fuel economy ratings range from 16 to 21 city mpg and 22 to 24 highway mpg. Note that for the 4-cylinder premium fuel is recommended for best performance. However, using regular will not affect fuel economy.

4Motion all-wheel drive features Active Control, which allows the driver to select specific vehicle profiles based on driving conditions. Four settings, namely Onroad, Snow, Offroad, and Custom Offroad can be selected. Within the “Onroad” setting additional Normal, Sport, Comfort, and Individual options are offered.

VR6 models with the factory-installed trailer hitch offer a towing capacity of 5,000 lbs. Other models require a dealer- or port-installed trailer hitch with a maximum towing capacity of 2,000 lbs.

A comprehensive suite of advanced driver-assist safety (ADAS) features are available. Standard are Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Monitoring, Blind Spot Monitor, and Rear Traffic Alert. Optional are Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Keeping System, Traffic Jam Assist, Park Distance Control, Parking Steering Assistant, Dynamic Road Sign Display, High Beam Control, and Overhead View Camera.

The Atlas Cross Sport is available in eight trim levels—S, SE, SE w/ Technology, SE w/ Technology R-Line, SEL, SEL R-Line, SEL Premium and SEL Premium R-Line. Note that engine availability varies by trim level.

Base prices start at $30,545 plus a $1,020 destination charge. The SEL Premium R-Line tops out the pricing at $49,795.

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For this write-up I drove an SEL trim with the 2.0-L turbo and all-wheel drive which had a base price of $41,445. A set of four Monster Mats for the passenger compartment along with a heavy duty "MuddyBuddy by WeatherTech" trunk liner with VW’s cargo blocks added $235. With the $1,020 destination the total hit $42,700.

The four cylinder engine performed great in driving around Chicagoland neighborhoods and on a few highway excursions. This engine develops max torque at low RPM making it great for quick acceleration from stop. It also has good mid-range performance for highway merging as well as passing maneuvers. The VR6 might be a better choice if you live in hill country. And, if you tow a trailer I would opt for the factory installed $550 tow package and the VR6.

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Ride and handling is also quite good on the Atlas Cross Sport with a nicely compliant suspension providing composed and confident road manners that will please the typical buyer. The 255/50 all season tires mounted on 20-inch wheels do a good job dealing with potholed city streets, providing decent road grip and not making any intruding noise on the open highway. The Cross Sport’s shorter length helps take out some of the stress in navigating a large, crowded city

The Cross Sport is the first VW to offer both dynamic road sign display and Traffic Jam Assist. It’s also the first with the next-gen and faster version of VW's Car-Net connectivity network allowing access to a full range of tech features through a smartphone app. Studies say that new vehicle buyers, especially under the age of 40, want remote connectivity in their next vehicle.

More facts and figures can be found at The Atlas Cross Sport is covered by a four year/50,000-mile warranty and also has scheduled maintenance services for 2 years or 20,000 miles for no additional charge

The Atlas Cross Sport is nicely styled with plenty of room and versatility for those not needing seating for seven, or not needing the additonal cargo space that comes with the longer Atlas. Single folk wanting room for friends and gear on the weekend, young couples with toddlers, or active lifestyle empty nesters will all find the Cross Sport quite suitable as well as comfortable for urban living.

© 2020 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy