This week, I’ve been behind the wheel of the stylish 2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport. VW decided to enter the very competitive 5-passenger SUV segment, so they took the already popular Atlas, which I reviewed and liked in 2017, and removed the back seat.
A smart move by VW was leaving the wheelbase the same, but opening up the back seat leg room and leaving a massive cargo area. They lowered the roofline in the rear to give it a sportier look on the outside.
There is a 4-cylinder available, but my tester has the tried-and-true 3.6-liter V6 that puts out a respectable 276-horses and 266-pound feet of torque. I never once lacked for power getting on freeways. This engine is mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission that shifts with smoothness, yet feels determined. I was impressed with the precision of the steering and the tight turning radius.
My review vehicle has the Volkswagen 4Motion four-wheel drive system. Lesser models come with two-wheel drive.
The exterior looks are appealing and it would be hard to figure out it was a VW without emblems and the 3-bar grill. I see some influences from the Ford Edge, and there are also some Land Rover and Lexus similarities. The 20” wheels fill out the wheel wells nicely and give the Cross Sport a nice entry height and muscular stance.
I was immediately impressed with the beige leatherette interior. In case you don’t know, leatherette is a man-made material that looks like leather, but is more durable and easier to clean. Of course, you don’t get that smell you get from cows, but it looks great.
The gauges are configurable and easy to read. You can put your navigation map right in the middle for daily use or when you have an address in your navigation system. New for 2020, it has road sign recognition.
High on the center stack is the 8” touchscreen home of the Discover Media navigation system that also controls all audio, your Bluetooth, hands-free voice activation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, SiriusXM, HD Radio, and the six-speaker sound system. Underneath is a wireless phone charger and two USB ports.
VW offers Car-Net, a subscription service that offers a lot of neat services from your smartphone. You can lock or unlock your car, it offers emergency crash alerts to the authorities, it will even help you find a parking space if needed.
On the center console is a regular gear shifter, as opposed to the electronic ones that are so popular today. Also, there is a dial to change the drive modes for the 4-wheel drive system and while there, you can change from eco to normal to sport or you can customize to your own liking. The sport mode sharpens the steering and the way the transmission shifts and is quite enjoyable.
As I mentioned, back seat room is incredible. The back seats recline, a nice touch for long road trips. The second-row seats fold down evenly and lays flat to give you 77.8-cubic feet of cargo area. There is also a large compartment underneath that stores the real spare tire and wheel, but there is room left over to hide valuables.
Standard Equipment and Options
The SEL comes loaded with popular features like a power liftgate, dual automatic temperature-controlled air conditioning, remote keyless entry with remote start, a power panoramic moon roof, power driver’s seat, heated front seats, and heated steering wheel. On the safety front, you get a very nice rearview camera, blind spot monitoring, front and rear parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist with emergency pedestrian braking, and hill descent control.
Ride and Drive
I have to say, the Atlas Sport Cross rides and handles extremely well and is larger and roomier than most midsized SUVs in which it competes with.
From a value standpoint, based on comparable SUVs, it is an outstanding value, especially when discounted and incentives applied. This was a needed entry for VW and in my opinion, they knocked a home run.
2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport SEL AWD
- What I liked most: Looks, ride quality, and value proposition.
- What I would change: Wish the gas mileage was just a little better.
- MSRP: $45,160 with transportation.
- Official color: Aurora Red metallic.
- Fuel economy: 16 city/22 highway/19 overall.
- Odometer reading when tested: 1500 miles.
- Spare tire: 17” tire with steel wheel.
- Weight: 4411 pounds.
- Length-width-height: 195.5” long/78.4” wide/67.8” high.
- Fuel-tank capacity: 18.6 gallons with filler on the passenger side.
- Towing capacity: 5000 pounds.
- 2020 Cross Sport in a few words: A real contender in the midsized 5-passenger SUV segment.
- Warranty: 48 months/50,000 mile bumper-to-bumper warranty with roadside assistance and 2-years and 20,000 miles of free maintenance.
- Final assembly location: Chattanooga, TN.
- Manufacturer’s website: www.VW.com
- Up next: 2020 Lexus RX 350