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2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport: First Look

  • The 2020 Atlas Cross Sport is a junior version of the 3-row Atlas.
  • Its cargo capacity is generous.
  • Its rear-seat legroom is impressive.
  • Its coupelike exterior is stylish.

Volkswagen launches with the 2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport what it’s calling its doubling-up strategy, wherein the German automaker will release slightly different variants of the same vehicle. The idea, we suppose, is to have essentially the same vehicle compete in different market segments — in other words, reaching a larger audience without sinking an overwhelming investment.

At the Cross Sport’s recent unveiling at the VW assembly plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, we were told that the Cross Sport will be assembled in Chattanooga and that the very idea for the smaller 5-passenger SUV was hatched in the U.S.

There are some obvious differences between the 3-row Atlas and the 5-passenger Atlas Cross Sport, but Volkswagen retained as much of the Atlas’s DNA as possible in its slightly smaller and more stylish sibling. The trim levels — S, SE, SE w/Tech, SE w/Tech R-Line, SEL Premium and SEL Premium R-Line — closely mirror the Atlas trims, too.

What’s the Difference?

The Cross Sport is smaller than the Atlas, though not by much. It’s 2.8 inches shorter and 2.3 inches lower. We can credit the Cross Sport’s interior spaciousness — it boasts 40.4 inches of rear-seat legroom and a maximum rear cargo capacity of nearly 78 cu ft. — to the MQB platform and 117.3-in wheelbase it shares with its big brother.

In addition to its coupelike profile, with its radically raked rear pillar, the Cross Sport gets some exterior bits and pieces to distinguish it from the 3-row Atlas. At the top of the list is the new Volkswagen badging inside and out — though if we didn’t point that out, you might not have noticed. A new 3-bar grille, light signature, bumper and hood give Cross Sport a new look up front. To complete the coupelike profile, the rear lift gate window is more raked, resulting in a more sculpted lift gate shape. The entire rear of the vehicle looks wider. New taillights, a new rear bumper and new wheels complete the exterior changes.

Leading the interior differences are a new steering wheel and available stitching accents for the seats and the door inserts.

Features Galore

Every 2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport will arrive with forward-collision warning with automatic front braking, blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. Moving up the trim level ladder will add adaptive cruise control with stop and go, park distance control, traffic jam assist and, for vehicles equipped with navigation systems, dynamic road sign display.

A configurable digital driver’s display is available in the SEL trims. Other available trim upgrades include wireless smartphone charging capability, a 12-speaker Fender audio system upgrade and Volkswagen’s Car-Net suite, which enables remote access and a Wi-Fi hot spot.


The Cross Sport also gets the two engines found in the Atlas. The base engine is a 235-hp turbocharged 4-cylinder. A 276-hp V6 is available as an upgrade. An 8-speed automatic transmission sends engine output to the front wheels or to every wheel when the Cross Sport has the available 4Motion all-wheel drive system.

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates the 4-cylinder Cross Sport’s fuel mileage at 21 miles per gallon in the city, 24 mpg on the highway and 22 mpg in combined driving. Equipped with 4Motion, the Cross Sport gets 18 mpg city/23 mpg hwy/20 mpg combined. Estimates for the V6-powered Cross Sport haven’t been released.

When Is It Available and How Much Will It Cost?

Volkswagen is promising that the 2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport will be in showrooms sometime the first quarter of 2020. It will announce prices closer to the on-sale date, but the 2019 Atlas starts at $31,890 (including a $995 factory delivery charge), so we expect the entry-level Cross Sport to have a base sticker in that range — maybe even a little lower. Find a Volkswagen Atlas for sale

Russ Heaps
Russ Heaps
Russ Heaps is an author specializing in automotive, financial and travel news. For nearly 35 years he has covered the automotive industry for newspapers, magazines and internet websites. His resume includes The Palm Beach Post, Miami Herald, The Washington Times and numerous other daily newspapers through syndication. He edited Auto World magazine, and helped create and edit NOPI Street... Read More about Russ Heaps

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