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


A nip and tuck to the Atlas’ profile will get you the additional athletic seeking Cross Activity model.

Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

The Volkswagen Atlas is a massive, a few-row beast of an SUV with its huge overall body and horizontal style elements. The 2020 VW Atlas Cross Activity is only somewhat a lot less so. The new variant shrinks the SUV’s overall body somewhat and tweaks the roofline for a sportier profile and additional athletic control appeal, letting it to much better do fight with the new Passport — by itself a scaled-down model of the Atlas’ closest nemesis, the Honda Pilot.


  • New profile seems much better, won’t expense much place
  • Even basic cabin tech checks all the ideal bins
  • Comfortable experience over tough surfaces

Don’t Like

  • Gas economic system is just Ok
  • Tons of overall body movement at greater speeds

The Cross Activity lowers the Atlas’ roofline to sixty seven.eight inches (down two.3) and shortens the SUV’s total length to 195.five inches (five.two a lot less). The final result, together with a little bit of a nipping and tucking of the profile, is a much additional muscular and athletic take on the common Atlas’ stiff, brick-like aesthetic.

The somewhat shorter length visually pushes the rear wheels out to the vehicle’s corners, giving the Cross Activity a additional aggressive-seeking stance, although the decreased roofline and exaggerated wheel arches make the Atlas surface decreased and leaner. Individually, I think the Cross Activity seems the way the Atlas need to have all together.

Sculpting its sheetmetal will save this Atlas variant about two hundred pounds, dependent on the trim degree, but the additional svelte shape won’t support as much with aerodynamics and performance as I might hoped. The Cross Activity nonetheless has the very same .34 drag coefficient as its additional squared-off sibling and mostly the very same fuel performance throughout the spectrum of motor choices. At most effective, I am talking 21 miles for every gallon town, 24 mpg highway and 22 mpg merged for the entrance-wheel-drive four-cylinder. At the other close of the spectrum is the all-wheel-drive V6, at 16 mpg town, 22 mpg highway and 19 mpg merged.

The underpinnings haven’t adjusted. The Cross Activity sits on the very same 117.3-inch wheelbase with eight inches of floor clearance and retains its huge boi standing at seventy eight.four inches throughout. I’ve generally believed it unusual that the Atlas classifies as a midsize SUV regardless of its imposing curbside stature.


The Cross Activity V6 4Matic gains a single merged mpg regardless of unchanged town and highway estimates, so there ought to be some compact aerodynamic edge remaining rounded off.

Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

Of system, the tidier exterior style expenditures the Cross Activity a little bit of interior quantity, but not as much simple place as you may think. By the quantities, there is forty.3 cubic feet behind the 2nd row and seventy seven.eight cubic feet with the seats folded flat. That is a decline of fifteen.two and 19 cubes, respectively, in comparison to the larger Atlas, but it really is all shed place near the ceiling. The Cross Activity nonetheless does a wonderful job swallowing up cumbersome objects — like a 52-inch huge leisure centre — with place to spare.

Taller drivers and travellers might recognize the decline of about two inches of headroom on equally of the Cross Sport’s rows (39.four inches entrance, 37.eight inches rear) and there is no missing the lack of a 3rd row solution. You will find just no place for it in the Cross Sport’s shorter chassis. 

Smooth experience, peaceful overall performance

The Cross Activity seems additional athletic, but it really is no additional agile than ahead of. The SUV’s experience is just as delicate as the common model and just as comfort-targeted. Irrespective of the lowered control excess weight, the Cross Activity feels massive with numb steering that lacks much of the car or truck-like nimbleness of its rivals about city.

On the highway, the Atlas’ obscure steering and delicate suspension would make the SUV truly feel virtually truck-ish. I continuously have to make compact steering corrections to make up for bumps, dips or crosswinds nudging the Cross Activity to and fro. You will find a great deal of vertical and lateral overall body movement at speed over my nearby (and really uneven) highways, indicating the SUV never seriously feels settled. It isn’t so fiddly as to truly feel unsafe or terrifying, but the Atlas requires just a little bit additional psychological vitality to preserve centered in just its lane than, say, our long-time period Honda Passport — that is not specifically what I signify when I say I want an participating drive.


With these types of a huge overall body, there often isn’t much wiggle place involving the lane markers.

Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

Two engines are available to Atlas Cross Activity purchasers: a two.-liter turbocharged four-cylinder and a 3.6-liter V6, every single mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission. Possibly can be experienced in entrance-wheel drive configuration or, optionally, Volkswagen’s 4Matic all-wheel-drive process.

My example’s V6 motor brings 276 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque to the party. In comparison to the two.0T, it really is received 41 excess ponies, but only eight additional pound-feet. In observe, the V6 won’t truly feel that much additional powerful on the road than the I4, potentially because of in aspect to the automatic transmission’s comfort-tuned programming fairly dulling responsiveness in favor of smoothness and economic system.

Tech and security

The Cross Activity functions an identical listing of common and optional driver support tech as the larger Atlas. You will find a great loadout of functions like adaptive cruise control that works effectively in halt-and-go site visitors, automatic emergency brake aid, pedestrian detection, blind-spot checking and automatic substantial beams. 

My example also functions lane-holding aid and lane-departure alerts that are unobtrusive and helpful. Having said that, it won’t do as great a job keeping the centre line as Honda’s lane-holding tech or Toyota’s now-common Lane Tracing Guide, leaving the Atlas wandering fairly involving the markers.


The Atlas’ common eight-inch exhibit is house to smartphone connectivity and a refreshingly simple interface.

Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

VW’s cabin tech is nonetheless between the most effective in the class, largely for the reason that of its smartly preferred functions and relative simplicity. You will find not much to the menu composition, so it never seriously will get uncomfortable.

My example’s upgraded eight-inch exhibit plays host to common Android Car and Apple CarPlay connectivity, and is nicely positioned just a small attain from the driver’s seat. The optional navigation software package will get me in which I need to go without having issue and works effectively with the voice recognition that Volkswagen’s operating these days. If you happen to be feeling deja-vu from my past Atlas assessment, that is for the reason that this is the very same setup you’ll locate in the dashboards of virtually just about every new VW in the automaker’s lineup, and that is not a terrible point.

Only the prime-degree SEL trim provides VW’s Digital Cockpit instrument cluster, which is a disgrace. The comprehensive-display screen instrument cluster seems wonderful. It really is not as flashy or impressive as Audi’s Digital Cockpit digital dashboard, but VW’s setup is nonetheless really customizable and well worth thinking of.

Level of competition and price

The 2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Activity starts off at $31,565 for the foundation two.0T S model, like a $1,020 place charge — that is specifically a $1,000 price savings over the larger, a few-row model — and tops out at the $50,815 V6 SEL Top quality R-Line with 4Motion all-wheel drive. The mid-tier SE trim is the sweet spot, acquiring you most of the creature comforts and security tech, priced fairly involving $34,965 and the $43,260 as-examined price of this V6 SE with Technological know-how, R-Line and 4Motion updates, as effectively as top quality Aurora Crimson Chroma Metallic paint and a panoramic sunroof.

The Atlas Cross Activity rides comfortably, features a good mix of functions and tech and retains much of the common Atlas’ spacious cargo and passenger potential regardless of its additional svelte shape. It really is also shocking just how much much better the reshaped rear close seems. Having said that, the Atlas Cross Activity isn’t my preferred experience in this class. 

I might like a tighter experience to go with the Cross Sporty seems — or at least the solution for a sportier R-Line suspension to go with the badges and bumpers. For now, the Atlas Cross Sport’s main competitors is the Honda Passport which will get the nod from me thanks to its comparably sturdy tech and additional car or truck-like managing. It really is just additional enjoyable and a lot less mentally taxing to drive. Toyota’s upcoming Venza will also verify to be an exciting cross-store, dependent on in which the devoted hybrid model’s price and performance lands.