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2020 VW Atlas Cross Sport can run with best midsize SUVs


Volkswagen hit a trifecta with the Atlas Cross Sport five-passenger SUV: Looks, value and features.

After struggling to cash in on the SUV boom for years, VW’s model line has caught up with the American customer. SUVs accounted for 52% of 2019 US vehicle sales, over-indexing at 53% of VW’s US business, a radical turnaround from when the German brand struggled with vehicles that were the wrong size, price, or both for U.S. tastes.

With the appealing Cross Sport on sale now, SUVs’ share of VW US sales should be even higher this year.

VW will surely continue to add SUVs – every automaker will, experimenting with shapes, features, sizes and prices to reach every possible customer. With the Atlas, though, VW is now a serious player in three of the most important segments: the compact Tiguan; midsize family carriers, with the three row Atlas; and five-seat midsize SUVs with the Cross Sport.

2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport

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The Cross Sport competes with strong models including the Chevrolet Blazer, Ford Edge, Honda Passport, Jeep Grand Cherokee and Nissan Murano.

That’s a murderer’s row, but the Atlas Cross Sport is up to the challenge.

Driving impressions

The Cross Sport is satisfying to drive, but one of its strongest selling points is obvious at a standstill: This is one good-looking SUV.

The Cross Sport is more than a just shortened version of the visually undistinguished three-row Atlas. It adds flared rear fenders and square tail lights that are vaguely reminiscent of the design of big American sedans and muscle cars. Multispoke 21-inch wheels and tires on the loaded SEL Premium R-Line I drove added to the Cross Sport’s presence.

2020 VW Atlas Cross Sport

The rear pillar and hatch are dramatically raked. The sides tuck in more than the boxy three-row Atlas as they approach the roof. Auto designers call that “tumblehome,” a phrase originally used in nautical design to describe a ship’s hull growing narrower as it rises farther above the waterline.

The Cross Sport’s performance lives up to its looks. The V6 delivers solid acceleration around town and on the highway, with fast tip-in in sport mode. The transmission is smooth and quick.

Road and wind noise are mild, and the suspension muffles bumps well. Body roll, squat and dive are minimal.

The steering is quick and firm in sport mode, with good on-center feel. 

The 202 VW Atlas Cross Sport's front seat.

How much?

Cross Sport prices start at $30,545 for a front-wheel-drive model with a 235-horsepower 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder engine. All-wheel-drive models start at $32,445. Across the line, Cross Sports cost about $2,000 less than three-row Atlases with the same trim and feature levels.

Cross Sport prices compare well to the competition, thanks to the VW’s plentiful standard features.

I tested a top-of-the-line Cross Sport V6 SEL Premium with the sporty R-Line package. It stickered at $50,030 with just one option: a $295 heavy duty liner for the cargo floor.

Standard features on it include:

  • Leather seats
  • Touch screen
  • Navigation
  • Voice recognition
  • 12-speaker Fender audio
  • Bluetooth
  • Wireless charging
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • LED head, tail and running lights
  • Heated and ventilated front seats
  • Heated steering wheel
  • Heated rear seats
  • Power tailgate





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