August 3, 2020


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2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport review: Streamlined SUV skimps on sport

A nip and tuck to the Atlas’ profile receives you the far more athletic hunting Cross Activity product.

Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

The Volkswagen Atlas is a major, 3-row beast of an SUV with its wide overall body and horizontal design elements. The 2020 VW Atlas Cross Activity is only a bit less so. The new variant shrinks the SUV’s overall body a bit and tweaks the roofline for a sportier profile and far more athletic suppress charm, permitting it to improved do battle with the new Passport — by itself a scaled-down variation of the Atlas’ closest nemesis, the Honda Pilot.


  • New profile seems improved, isn’t going to expense considerably house
  • Even primary cabin tech checks all the ideal containers
  • At ease journey about rough surfaces

You should not Like

  • Gas economic climate is just Okay
  • Plenty of overall body movement at higher speeds

The Cross Activity lowers the Atlas’ roofline to sixty seven.8 inches (down 2.3) and shortens the SUV’s general length to 195.5 inches (5.2 less). The outcome, alongside with a bit of a nipping and tucking of the profile, is a considerably far more muscular and athletic acquire on the normal Atlas’ rigid, brick-like aesthetic.

The a bit shorter length visually pushes the rear wheels out to the vehicle’s corners, offering the Cross Activity a far more intense-hunting stance, when the decrease roofline and exaggerated wheel arches make the Atlas look decrease and leaner. Individually, I imagine the Cross Activity seems the way the Atlas should have all alongside.

Sculpting its sheetmetal will save this Atlas variant about 200 pounds, relying on the trim amount, but the far more svelte shape isn’t going to assistance as considerably with aerodynamics and effectiveness as I would hoped. The Cross Activity nonetheless has the similar .34 drag coefficient as its far more squared-off sibling and largely the similar gasoline effectiveness across the spectrum of engine choices. At most effective, I am talking 21 miles for each gallon town, 24 mpg freeway and 22 mpg mixed for the front-wheel-generate 4-cylinder. At the other finish of the spectrum is the all-wheel-generate V6, at 16 mpg town, 22 mpg freeway and 19 mpg mixed.

The underpinnings haven’t improved. The Cross Activity sits on the similar 117.3-inch wheelbase with 8 inches of floor clearance and retains its wide boi position at 78.4 inches across. I’ve always thought it odd that the Atlas classifies as a midsize SUV despite its imposing curbside stature.


The Cross Activity V6 4Matic gains 1 mixed mpg despite unchanged town and freeway estimates, so there must be some small aerodynamic gain being rounded off.

Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

Of program, the tidier exterior design charges the Cross Activity a bit of inside volume, but not as considerably useful house as you may well imagine. By the numbers, you can find forty.3 cubic ft behind the next row and seventy seven.8 cubic ft with the seats folded flat. That’s a reduction of fifteen.2 and 19 cubes, respectively, as opposed to the more substantial Atlas, but it truly is all shed house in the vicinity of the ceiling. The Cross Activity nonetheless does a wonderful task swallowing up cumbersome goods — which include a 52-inch wide amusement heart — with place to spare.

Taller motorists and travellers may notice the reduction of about 2 inches of headroom on both of the Cross Sport’s rows (39.4 inches front, 37.8 inches rear) and you can find no missing the lack of a 3rd row choice. You can find just no place for it in the Cross Sport’s shorter chassis. 

Comfortable journey, relaxed general performance

The Cross Activity seems far more athletic, but it truly is no far more agile than just before. The SUV’s journey is just as comfortable as the normal product and just as ease and comfort-focused. Irrespective of the lessened suppress bodyweight, the Cross Activity feels major with numb steering that lacks considerably of the automobile-like nimbleness of its rivals all around city.

On the freeway, the Atlas’ imprecise steering and comfortable suspension can make the SUV really feel nearly truck-ish. I continually have to make small steering corrections to make up for bumps, dips or crosswinds nudging the Cross Activity to and fro. You can find a lot of vertical and lateral overall body movement at pace about my community (and incredibly uneven) highways, meaning the SUV in no way definitely feels settled. It isn’t really so fiddly as to really feel unsafe or scary, but the Atlas needs just a bit far more psychological electricity to keep centered within just its lane than, say, our very long-expression Honda Passport — that’s not just what I indicate when I say I want an participating generate.


With such a wide overall body, there generally isn’t really considerably wiggle place among the lane markers.

Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

Two engines are offered to Atlas Cross Activity consumers: a 2.-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder and a 3.six-liter V6, each and every mated to an eight-pace automated transmission. Possibly can be had in front-wheel generate configuration or, optionally, Volkswagen’s 4Matic all-wheel-generate technique.

My example’s V6 engine brings 276 horsepower and 266 pound-ft of torque to the get together. In comparison to the 2.0T, it truly is received 41 additional ponies, but only 8 far more pound-ft. In apply, the V6 isn’t going to really feel that considerably far more powerful on the street than the I4, quite possibly thanks in part to the automated transmission’s ease and comfort-tuned programming considerably dulling responsiveness in favor of smoothness and economic climate.

Tech and protection

The Cross Activity functions an identical checklist of normal and optional driver aid tech as the more substantial Atlas. You can find a fantastic loadout of functions which include adaptive cruise control that will work properly in quit-and-go targeted traffic, automated unexpected emergency brake aid, pedestrian detection, blind-place checking and automated superior beams. 

My example also functions lane-keeping aid and lane-departure alerts that are unobtrusive and practical. On the other hand, it isn’t going to do as fantastic a task holding the heart line as Honda’s lane-keeping tech or Toyota’s now-normal Lane Tracing Help, leaving the Atlas wandering considerably among the markers.


The Atlas’ normal 8-inch display is house to smartphone connectivity and a refreshingly simple interface.

Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

VW’s cabin tech is nonetheless among the the most effective in the class, primarily mainly because of its smartly decided on functions and relative simplicity. You can find not considerably to the menu composition, so it in no way definitely receives uncomfortable.

My example’s upgraded 8-inch display performs host to normal Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity, and is properly positioned just a small arrive at from the driver’s seat. The optional navigation software receives me exactly where I need to have to go without the need of issue and will work properly with the voice recognition that Volkswagen’s managing these times. If you are experience deja-vu from my past Atlas assessment, that’s mainly because this is the similar set up you will discover in the dashboards of approximately every single new VW in the automaker’s lineup, and that’s not a poor issue.

Only the major-amount SEL trim features VW’s Digital Cockpit instrument cluster, which is a disgrace. The complete-screen instrument cluster seems wonderful. It’s not as flashy or impressive as Audi’s Digital Cockpit electronic dashboard, but VW’s set up is nonetheless incredibly customizable and worth taking into consideration.

Competitiveness and value

The 2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Activity starts off at $31,565 for the foundation 2.0T S product, which include a $1,020 location cost — that’s just a $1,000 price savings about the more substantial, 3-row product — and tops out at the $fifty,815 V6 SEL Premium R-Line with 4Motion all-wheel generate. The mid-tier SE trim is the sweet place, receiving you most of the creature comforts and protection tech, priced fairly among $34,965 and the $43,260 as-examined value of this V6 SE with Technological innovation, R-Line and 4Motion upgrades, as properly as high quality Aurora Crimson Chroma Metallic paint and a panoramic sunroof.

The Atlas Cross Activity rides easily, offers a good blend of functions and tech and retains considerably of the normal Atlas’ spacious cargo and passenger capacity despite its far more svelte shape. It’s also shocking just how considerably improved the reshaped rear finish seems. On the other hand, the Atlas Cross Activity isn’t really my preferred journey in this class. 

I would like a tighter journey to go with the Cross Sporty seems — or at least the choice for a sportier R-Line suspension to go with the badges and bumpers. For now, the Atlas Cross Sport’s principal opposition is the Honda Passport which receives the nod from me thanks to its comparably sturdy tech and far more automobile-like handling. It’s just far more pleasurable and less mentally taxing to generate. Toyota’s forthcoming Venza will also demonstrate to be an interesting cross-shop, relying on exactly where the committed hybrid model’s value and effectiveness lands.