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2021 Ford Edge vs. 2021 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport: Which Is Better?

The 2021 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport is a recent challenger to established players like the 2021 Ford Edge in the mid-size two-row SUV field. Which is better?

Quick Facts

  • The Ford Edge is in its second generation.
  • The Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport is derived from the three-row Atlas.

2021 Ford Edge

2020 Ford Edge


Base Price: $32,495 / Read our 2021 Ford Edge Review

What we like: Standard active-safety features; XXL infotainment display; sporty ST version; roomy interior

What we would change: The interior materials could use an upgrade; outward visibility is not great; ditch the dial gear selector

Overview: With wide but stubby proportions, the Edge is a mid-size crossover that’s strictly a five-seater, a genre that’s increasingly popular. Wide doors and low sills ease access, and passenger space is generous — so, too, is the cargo hold, either behind the rear seats (with 41.7 cubic feet) or with the seatbacks folded (74.8 cubic feet). Interior finishes aren’t great however, while thick pillars and a faraway windshield make for an awkward view out. Most Edge variants use a 250-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo-four and an 8-speed automatic. The combination is adequately powerful and fairly economical, with EPA combined ratings of 24 mpg with FWD and 23 mpg with AWD. The sporty Edge ST gets a potent 2.7-liter turbo V6 with 335 hp and standard AWD. The ST supplements its muscular engine with a stiffer suspension and (optionally) more robust brakes. The standard Edge, though, is unremarkable in corners, though it delivers a smooth ride. Neither version offers much is the way of off-road capability.

What’s new for 2021: The big news for the 2021 Edge is a big new touchscreen. The vertically oriented 12-inch unit is standard on all trims. Rear parking sensors are now standard but some lesser standard features have been removed. The ST replaces its previous 8-speed automatic with a 7-speed and adds a heated steering wheel and a 6-way power passenger seat. Finally, there are new wheel designs and two new exterior colors (both gray).

Features and technology: The 2021 Ford Edge’s S, SEL, and Titanium trims climb a ladder of ascending equipment, although even the top Titanium isn’t super-fancy. The high-performance (and high-priced) Edge ST is its own animal, while the ST-Line gets the sporty look without the high-performance equipment. All trims come standard with forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, and automatic high-beams. Adaptive cruise control with lane-centering is optional. The new infotainment system runs the latest SYNC 4 with natural-speech recognition and wireless smartphone mirroring, though navigation remains optional.

What does the future hold: The current-generation Ford Edge dates back to 2015, so this model is due for a redesign soon. See 2021 Ford Edge models for sale near you

2021 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport

2021 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport

Base Price: $32,050 / Read our 2021 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport Review

What we like: Roomy interior; lots of luggage space; high-tech cabin; robust towing capacity

What we would change: Fuel economy is not so great; firm ride; expensive top trims

Overview: The Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport is carved from the larger three-row Atlas, but VW only snipped five inches of rear overhang and fitted a lower roofline with a more sloped backlight. Thus, the Atlas Cross Sport is among the biggest in its field of two-row mid-sizer SUVs. As a result, passenger space is especially generous with over 40 inches of rear-seat legroom, and luggage space is, too, both behind the rear seats and with the seatbacks folded. Cabin materials are somewhat wanting, however. Like its bigger brother, the Cross Sport offers a 253-hp 2.0-liter turbo four or a 276-hp 3.6-liter V6, both paired with a well-mannered 8-speed automatic and a choice of FWD or AWD. Either engine is fairly thirsty, with the 2.0-liter averaging 22 mpg and the 3.6-liter managing just 20 mpg with FWD or 19 with AWD. Both deliver adequate acceleration, but the V6’s notable advantage is in towing, where it’s rated at 5,000 pounds. The Atlas rides firmly, but overly light steering makes it not so sporty to drive.

What’s new for 2021: Not a whole lot. The available adaptive cruise control now features lane-centering and is called Travel Assist. The infotainment system has been updated.

Features and technology: The 2021 Atlas Cross Sport in available in S, SE, SE with Technology, SE with Technology R-Line, SEL, SEL R-Line, SEL Premium, and SEL Premium R-Line. The R-Line variants get sporty-looking visual accents. All Cross Sports come standard with forward collision warning, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert. Lane keep assist is standard on the SEL and higher trims, which also get Travel Assist. While the base S uses a 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system, the rest of the lineup has an 8-inch unit with a newly upgraded operating system. More impressive is the 10-inch Digital Cockpit instrument cluster that’s sharp-looking and highly customizable. It’s standard on SEL and higher variants. Wireless smartphone charging is standard on all but the base car.

What does the future hold: The Atlas Cross Sport may be due to a mid-cycle update next year. See 2021 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport models for sale near you

Edge vs. Atlas Cross Sport: Strengths comparison

Ford Edge Benefits: Smooth ride, powerful turbo V6, sporty ST variant, extra-large display with wireless smartphone mirroring

Atlas Cross Sport Benefits: Greater towing capacity, longer warranty, digital instrument cluster

2021 Ford Edge vs. 2021 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport: Which is better?

Both of these blocky, beefy mid-sizers have gobs of space for passengers and their kit. Neither is much of an off-roader. Unless you need the VW’s 5,000-pound towing capacity, the Ford has the upper hand with its more comfortable ride, slightly better fuel economy, superior infotainment, and available sporty ST variant. See 2021 Ford Edge models for sale or See 2021 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport models for sale

2021 Ford Edge 2021 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport
Popular Powertrains
Engine 2.0-liter I-4 turbo 2.0-liter I-4 turbo
Horsepower 250 hp  at 5,550 rpm 235 hp  at 4,500 rpm
Torque 275 lb-ft at 3,000 rpm 258 lb-ft at 1,600 rpm
Transmission 8-spd automatic 8-spd automatic
Fuel Economy 24 mpg (21 city/29 hwy) 22 mpg (21 city/24 hwy)
Also Available 2.7-liter turbo V6; 7-spd AT; AWD 3.6L V6; AWD
Warranty 3 years/36,000 miles 5 years/60,000 miles
NHTSA Overall Safety 5 stars 5 stars
Max Seating Capacity 5 5
Wheelbase 112.2 inches 117.3 inches
Overall Length 188.8 inches 195.5 inches
Width 75.9 inches 78.4 inches
Height 68.3 inches 67.8 inches
Turning Diameter 39.3 feet 40.5 feet
Headroom, Front 40.2 inches 39.4 inches
Headroom, Rear 40.3 inches 37.8 inches
Legroom, Front 42.6 inches 41.6 inches
Legroom, Rear 40.6 inches 40.4 inches
Shoulder Room, Front 60.3 inches 61.5 inches
Shoulder Room, Rear 60.5 inches 60.6 inches
EPA Passenger Volume 113.9 cubic feet 112 cubic feet
EPA Cargo Volume 41.7/74.8 cubic feet 40.3/77.8 cubic feet

Joe Lorio
Joe Lorio
Joe Lorio is an author specializing in automobiles. He says, “I have been into cars ever since I started with Matchboxes, and have been sharing my opinions about them for almost as long. Granted, I was pretty young at the time, but my parents really should have listened to me when I told them not to buy an Austin Marina.”

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