Competes with: Ford Edge, Honda Passport, Hyundai Santa Fe, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Nissan Murano
Looks like: An Atlas with a rakish roof and sportier details
Drivetrains: 235-horsepower, turbocharged four-cylinder or 276-hp V-6 with eight-speed automatic transmission; front- or all-wheel drive
Hits dealerships: Spring 2020
Taking a cue from Honda’s successful Passport — a still-big but two-row version of the Pilot SUV — Volkswagen has unveiled the 2020 Atlas Cross Sport mid-size SUV, a two-row version of the three-row Atlas family SUV that’s still big inside but has a sleeker roofline and just five seats.
The production Cross Sport — which VW will build in Chattanooga, Tenn., alongside the three-row Atlas — very much reflects the look of the near-production concept shown at the 2018 New York International Auto Show, but it lacks the concept’s V-6-based plug-in hybrid powertrain or fancier, lighted grille bars.
The big two-row SUV is clearly aimed at building up VW’s SUV lineup in a way the erstwhile Touareg (a pricier two-row model that VW updated and still sells in other markets) never did. Emphasizing that point in its announcement, VW declared the Cross Sport “built in America for Americans.” But the Cross Sport announcement also promised a forthcoming smaller SUV that “will fit in the lineup beneath the Tiguan,” the brand’s compact SUV.
Volkswagen will offer the Cross Sport in eight trim levels that should sound familiar if you’ve shopped the Atlas: S, SE, SE with Tech, SE with Tech R-Line, SEL, SEL R-Line, SEL Premium and SEL Premium R-Line. VW promises more details and pricing nearer to the sales launch in the spring of 2020.
The Cross Sport still has a big footprint, and Volkswagen isn’t apologizing for that. It’s just 2.8 inches shorter than the current Atlas, though the sportier roofline is 2.3 inches lower. And it’s the same 78.3 inches wide and rides the same 117.3-inch wheelbase as the Atlas, as well.
Styling also is tweaked rather than seriously different. Most noticeable versus the squared-off Atlas, the Cross Sport has raked rear pillars and a liftgate that slopes into reshaped taillights and a more sculpted bumper. The nose has more aggressive bumper and hood sculpting from the concept, but a tamer three-bar grille without the concept’s fully illuminated theme. The sides below the beltline are very much Atlas. The Cross Sport additionally will offer R-Line appearance trim levels, which have more aggressive bumpers and some piano-black accents as well as optional 21-inch wheels.
Versus the Atlas, the Cross Sport gets a redesigned steering wheel with new controls, as well as stitched accents on the door panels and seats. Options include heated front and rear seats, ventilated front seats and a heated steering wheel. Multimedia and connectivity options include a 12-speaker Fender audio system, wireless smartphone charging, a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hot spot (with subscription) and VW’s slick Digital Cockpit configurable instrument cluster. VW says that later this year, its Car-Net connectivity system and mobile app will add compatibility for commands and information via smart-home devices.
The automaker promises backseat space befitting this size with a comfortable 40.4 inches of rear legroom. The rakish roof does take a toll on cargo space, down to 40.3 cubic feet (the current Atlas has 55.5 behind its second row) and 77.8 cubic feet with the second row folded (versus 96.8 in the Atlas).
Under the Hood
Powertrains are familiar from the current Atlas, with a 235-horsepower, turbocharged four-cylinder or 276-hp V-6. Both use an eight-speed automatic transmission and pair with front- or all-wheel drive. Like the Atlas, the Cross Sport is rated to tow up to 5,000 pounds with the V-6 and a trailer package.
More From Cars.com:
- Photo Gallery: VW Atlas Cross Sport Concept Stresses Style Over Seating
- com Names Volkswagen Atlas Best of 2018
- 2-Row 2019 Honda Passport for Those Who Think Pilot Is Too Much
- Wanna Connect? VW’s Car-Net Connected Services Newly Updated, Widely Standard
Standard on all trim levels are forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, blind sport warning and rear cross-traffic alert. Higher trim levels add adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go, parking sensors and low-speed lane centering — which would make the Cross Sport one of the first Volkswagen-brand vehicles to offer lane centering. VW says the SUV also adds new recognition capabilities for multiple traffic signs (not just speed signs) in vehicles with factory navigation.
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