2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport

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2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport Test Drive Review: Fewer Seats, More Personality

The standard seven-seater Atlas joined the Volkswagen lineup as its largest crossover and slid its way neatly and successfully into the three-row mid-size SUV segment. The Atlas Cross Sport model dispenses with the third row of seating, allowing Volkswagen to lower the roofline and give the already handsome Atlas a sportier and more aggressive look. That also opens up extra legroom for the rear passengers and uncomplicates rear storage. Interior space is the most obvious of the Atlas Cross Sport's benefits, along with a well put together interior and smooth ride quality. However, using the word Sport in the name doesn't necessarily mean it's particularly sporty to drive.

Standard under the hood of the Atlas Cross Sport is a purposeful turbocharged four-cylinder engine making 235 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. An optional turbocharged V6 ups the horsepower to 276 and delivers 266 lb-ft of torque. Both are strong, but neither are spectacular engines and the V6 option is thirsty. However, it is smoother, more responsive, and delivers its torque low in the RPM range than the four-cylinder lump. With fewer seats, the Atlas Cross Sport takes on rivals like the Honda Passport, but still faces three-row competition from the likes of the Mazda CX-9.

Read in this review:

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2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport Changes: What’s The Difference vs The 2019 Atlas Cross Sport?

The Atlas Cross Sport is an all-new addition to the Volkswagen stable in the USA. Based on the seven-seat Atlas, the 2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport seats just five and also has sportier styling, with a coupe-like profile at the back. The SUV is offered with either a 276-horsepower V6 or a 235-hp turbocharged four-pot, with available 4Motion all-wheel-drive. Among the standard features are 18-inch alloy wheels, blind spot monitoring, and a Wi-Fi hotspot, while advanced optional technologies include traffic jam assist, dynamic road sign display, and an adaptive front-light system. Several trims are available, starting with the base S at just over $30,000 and going all the way up to the SEL Premium R-Line with the V6, at just below $50,000.

Pros and Cons

  • Sportier styling than regular Atlas
  • Capacious interior
  • Variety of trims offers something for everyone
  • Neat, sensible cabin design
  • Smooth ride
  • Ample cargo capacity
  • Not as sporty as it looks
  • Only average acceleration
  • Some rivals offer a superior warranty
  • Rather disappointing fuel economy numbers

What's the Price of the 2020 VW Atlas Cross Sport?

Pricing for the VW Atlas Cross Sport lineup starts with the 2.0T S in FWD guise at a base price of $30,545, followed by the SE at $33,945. The SE with Technology starts at $35,945 for the 2.0T and increases to $37,345 for the V6. The SE with Technology R-Line (later availability, according to Volkswagen) begins at $37,345 and goes up to $38,745 for the V6. The SEL carries an MSRP of $39,545 for the 2.0T and $41,345 for the V6, while the SEL R-Line (later availability) has a cost of $41,245 and $43,045 for the 2.0T and V6, respectively. With the same engine choices, the SEL Premium is either $46,295 or $48,095, and the same goes for the range-topping SEL Premium R-Line at either $47,995 or $49,795. Limited availability applies to the 2.0T four-cylinder engine in SEL Premium and SEL Premium R-Line trims.

All models feature FWD by default, besides the SEL Premium and SEL Premium R-Line (later availability), which feature 4Motion AWD as standard. 4Motion is a $1,900 option on all other trims. All prices exclude a destination fee of $1,020, plus taxes, licensing, and registration costs.

Best Deals on 2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport

2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
2.0T S
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
2.0T SE
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
2.0T SE with Technology
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
V6 SE with Technology
3.6L V6 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
2.0T SE with Technology R-Line
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
See All 2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport Trims and Specs

2020 Atlas Cross Sport Exterior

2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport Front View CarBuzz
2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport Rear View CarBuzz
2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport Frontal Aspect CarBuzz
See All 2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport Exterior Photos


  • Length 195.5 in
  • Wheelbase 117.3 in
  • Height 67.8 in
  • Max Width 78.4 in
  • Front Width 67.0 in
  • Rear Width 67.6 in
  • Curb Weight 4,103.0 lbs

Exterior Colors

  • Pure Gray +$395
  • Aurora Red Metallic +$395
  • Deep Black Pearl
  • Pure White
  • Platinum Gray Metallic
  • Pyrite Silver Metallic
  • Tourmaline Blue Metallic
  • Pacific Blue Metallic, Build Out: 07/24/2020

2020 Atlas Cross Sport Performance

2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport Front-End View CarBuzz
2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport Aft View CarBuzz
2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport Rim CarBuzz

Engine and Transmission

  • Engines
    2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas, 3.6L V6 Gas
  • Transmission
    8-Speed Automatic
  • Drivetrains
    AWD, FWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

The 2020 Atlas Cross Sport takes to the road with assured Germanic confidence, and with a smooth ride despite firm suspension keeping it flatter than a heavy crossover should be when tackling a twisty road. While the suspension mostly delivers an excellent ride as a whole, small sharp bumps can be jarring.

Despite its sporty aesthetic pretensions, the Cross Sport is mostly a sensible vehicle to drive through well-weighted steering and smooth throttle response from the V6 engine. Switching into Sport mode, surprisingly little seemingly happens except the engine becoming a little sharper in responding to throttle inputs. Unfortunately, outright acceleration in either standard or sport mode is disappointing for enthusiastic driving. However, it is respectable for everyday driving.

Around town, everything is fine with the Atlas Cross Sport's handling, but try and push it towards any sporting potential, and you soon realize weight is its problem. As a result of not being significantly lighter than the standard Atlas, the Atlas Cross Sport doesn't feature dramatically better driving dynamics, and through a twisty mountain pass, a three-row Mazda CX-9 will still feel significantly more fun.

2020 Atlas Cross Sport Interior

2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport Dashboard CarBuzz
2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport Front Chairs CarBuzz
2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport Steering Wheel Design CarBuzz
See All 2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

  • Seating capacity
  • Front Leg Room 41.6 in
  • Front Head Room 39.4 in
  • Rear Leg Room 40.4 in
  • Rear Head Room 37.8 in

2020 Atlas Cross Sport Trunk and Cargo Space

2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport Trunk Space CarBuzz
2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport Cargo Capacity CarBuzz
2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport Trunk Space 1 CarBuzz

2020 Atlas Cross Sport Safety and Reliability


  • Basic:
    4 Years \ 50,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain:
    4 Years \ 50,000 Miles
  • Corrosion:
    7 Years \ 100,000 Miles
  • Roadside Assistance:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles
  • Maintenance:
    2 Years \ 20,000 Miles

US NHTSA Crash Test Result

  • Overall Rating
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
  • Side Crash Rating
  • Rollover Rating

Verdict: Is the 2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport A Good car?

Make no mistake; the Atlas Cross Sport puts the U in CUV with sheer space available inside. If you're looking for a vehicle that will swallow both people and freshly purchased goods, it should be on the list to cross-shop. Even on the higher-end trims, though, we found the interior well built and laid out, but lacking in the final touches. Volkswagen typically occupies the space between budget and premium, but brands known to be less expensive are doing what Volkswagen is trying to do here, and they're doing it better. Honda's Passport is a perfect example of what we would cross-shop against, as well as the Chevrolet Blazer and even Jeep's Grand Cherokee.

For those convinced this is the car for them, the new Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport is based on the now three-year-old Atlas, so we don't see an issue in picking up a first model year Atlas Cross Sport.

What Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport Model Should I Buy?

The base Atlas Cross Sport S trim model should offer a durable and long-lasting family workhorse with plenty of Germanic style on the outside. However, the SE with Technology with its power liftgate and leatherette-trimmed seating is the more obvious entry point to us, and worth stretching the budget for.

In a world of navigation apps on phones and Apple Carplay and Android Auto available, on-board navigation is starting to feel redundant. That makes the SEL the option with the least value to us. Customers with the budget would find more value going straight to the top with the SEL Premium trim, where the driver-assist technologies come with the fancy lighting and more luxury features, as well as the upgraded eight-inch infotainment and Digital Cockpit system.

The aesthetic-only R-Line options don't make a lot of sense to us as the Atlas Cross Sport is not as sporty to drive as it looks in the first place. The tough call is between the engine options, and we believe it boils down to how much time you will spend using your Atlas Cross Sport for towing.

Check out other Volkswagen Atlas Styles

2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport Comparisons

Volkswagen Atlas Volkswagen
Audi Q8
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport235 hp21/25 mpg$34,460
Volkswagen Atlas 235 hp21/25 mpg$35,150
Audi Q8 335 hp18/23 mpg$72,800

2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport vs Volkswagen Atlas

The Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport both ride on the MQB platform, and they each share the 2.0T and 3.6L V6 engines. But while the Atlas Cross Sport is a more emotive five-seater, the Atlas boasts three-row seating and a much boxier profile. The two SUVs are hard to tell apart on the road, with both providing good, rather than excellent, performance, and a ride/handling balance that is pleasing, but not the most engaging in the segment. Of course, the Atlas wins with its ability to seat seven, and it offers even more cargo capacity with the rear seats folded. Starting at just $1,000 apart and with a similar selection of trims, the price differential isn't so big that it will play a factor in the final decision. If you don't need to seat seven, the Atlas Cross Sport is big enough for most needs and is the much more interesting SUV to look at. For these reasons, it's the one we'd choose.

See Volkswagen Atlas Review

2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport vs Audi Q8

Although the Audi Q8 plays in a different league in terms of technology, power, and price (it starts at close to $70,000), it also features the coupe-SUV style that has become so popular. From the rear three-quarter angle, the similar design philosophies are evident, although the Audi is an even more aggressive sight when popping up in your rearview mirror. So, what does the extra $40,000 get you? Besides the more premium badge, the Q8 has a 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 with 335 hp, enabling a far quicker sprint to 60 mph in under six seconds. On the road, the Q8 is much more confidence-inspiring and engaging to drive, yet retains an air of calm and comfort when asked to. The Q8 also has a stunning and better-built cabin, but the Atlas Cross Sport has a larger trunk. A range-topping Atlas Cross Sport at around $50,000 comes with loads of goodies and will still save you nearly $20,000 compared with the Q8, but even so, it's pretty easy to see and feel where the extra money has been spent on the Q8.

See Audi Q8 Review
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