VW Atlas crosses over
Sometimes seven-passenger SUVs don’t have the space inside to make all seven passengers happy and comfortable. That’s why the concept of the Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport is compelling. It takes the size of the regular Atlas (a seven-passenger mid-size SUV) but removes the third row to make a more spacious, five-passenger iteration.
Is this the sweet spot for the Atlas? Perhaps. As such, the cabin feels more spacious, the overall comfort is improved, and yet the ride quality and aesthetics are essentially not impacted.
For the 2022 model year, the Atlas Cross Sport gets simplified trims and options (a win for the consumer). The six available trims are: SE, SE w/ Technology, SEL, SEL R-Line, SEL R-Line Black and SEL Premium R-Line.
Other new features for 2022 include improvement to the technology offerings. The SE models now feature the 8.0-inch Digital Cockpit. The SE w/ Technology models with the VR6 engine now feature a standard trailer hitch.
SEL models have standard 4Motion and machined 20-inch wheels. An optional R-Line Black package (late availability) features black 20-inch wheels, along with black R-Line styling elements. The SEL Premium R-Line includes 21-inch wheels.
Volkswagen is able to pull off the Cross Sport variant thanks to some clever engineering. Using their Modular Transverse Matrix (MQB) platform, the Cross Sport still shares the bigger platform with the regular Atlas but features a lower roofline and a more athletic stance.
The Atlas Cross Sport is 195.5 inches long and 78.3 inches wide and 67.8 inches high. With these dimensions, the Cross Sport is 5.2 inches shorter and 2.3 inches lower than the standard Atlas.
So the shorter dimensions make it feel like a completely new vehicle, and in all regards it is.
The R-Line trim from Volkswagen is the brand’s most youthful, athletic and exciting trim, across their entire product line. On the Atlas Cross Sport the R-Line comes with the more aggressive of the two engine options.
The Cross Sport has two engine, one is a 3.6-liter VR6 engine and the other is the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. The output for the turbocharged, direct injection engine is 235 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Sure the V6 engine has more impressive horsepower numbers, but the smaller engine with the turbo seems quite conducive to the smaller feel and overall vibe of the Atlas Cross Sport.
You likely wouldn’t buy this SUV for towing, but it does have a 2,000-pound towing capacity with this engine. Our tester had Volkswagen’s all-wheel drive system (known as 4Motion) along with Active Control AWD. This adds confidence to the powerplant where the engine calculates ideal torque and throws it to the rear wheels and also controlling how much power is necessary for the front wheels.
An eight-speed automatic transmission is standard and there are various drive modes that can chosen including Normal (on-road), sport, Eco and Individual. Giving the driver control over steering firmness and other tuning parameters is a plus for the Atlas Cross Sport.
If you’re concerned about the smaller dimensions of the Atlas Cross Sport, in comparison to the seven-passenger version, let’s put those worries to rest.
Despite its shorter stance and raked rear-end, the Atlas Cross Sport boasts generous interior space for five adults and cargo. Headroom is 39.4/37.8 inches (first/second rows) and legroom is 41.7/40.4 inches, respectively, for the front-wheel-drive models equipped with the 2.0-liter engine and 41.6/40.4 inches, respectively, for all other models. The Atlas Cross Sport offers a cavernous 112 cu-ft of total passenger volume.
It’s in this regard that not having that third row adds to the overall comfort of this five-passenger SUV.
The rest of the interior is what you expect from Volkswagen. Simple, clean but not lacking for quality touch points. Volkswagen has really improved through the years on the quality of their interior.
As is the case with other German brands, the infotainment system could be a little more intuitive, but the MIB infotainment system is chock full of technology. And after a small learning curve it’s easy to see the vast improvement with this system which includes a 6.5-inch capacitive touchscreen display. The infotainment system includes two USB-C ports, SD Card multimedia interface, and Bluetooth technology for compatible devices.
The seven-passenger Atlas has a slew of competitors and the smaller five-passenger is not lacking competition either. The Atlas Cross Sport competes against the Chevy Blazer, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Toyota 4Runner and Nissan Murano.
MSRP for the 2022 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport starts $33,635 with the R-Line (and 4Motion) has a price tag of $41,455.