2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport: More Names, Less Atlas

Can the 5-Passenger Atlas Bear the Load?


What is it?

The Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport is a midsize two-row SUV based on the well-liked three-row, seven-passenger Atlas SUV. Volkswagen has acted quickly to bring the Cross Sport to market, making the most of the buzz that surrounds its first foray into the five-passenger midsize marketplace.

Volkswagen hasn't strayed far from the successful formula of the seven-passenger Atlas. The Atlas Cross Sport sits on the same chassis, utilizes the same wheelbase and powertrain options, and will be available with essentially the same options and trim levels. This similarity should be attractive to buyers who like everything the Atlas has to offer but have no need for the third row of seats.

There are only two major differences between the Atlas and the Cross Sport, other than the lack of a third row: The Cross Sport is 5.7 inches shorter in overall length (perhaps to make up for the extra names) and features the sloping roofline common to the current crop of SUV coupes. Rear passengers will lose a bit of headroom. And the sloping rear hatch does steal away some cargo capacity, but most of the Atlas' practicality remains intact. Sadly, there won't be a boost in power, which is something we feel the Atlas could really benefit from.

2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport

Why does it matter?

The midsize-SUV segment is a moneymaker for every manufacturer involved. Many automakers offer two versions — two-rows and three-rows — just to make the most of the platforms and to keep buyers interested in the brand no matter how many people they need to haul around.

Volkswagen is keen to get in on a stronger share of this market. And as the only German manufacturer in the non-luxury SUV segment, it's eager to bring its unique style and driving dynamics. With the seven-passenger Atlas having already sold over 124,000 units since its introduction, we think it's definitely found a good formula.

2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport

What does it compete with?

The Atlas Cross Sport will compete with a who's who of the midsize-SUV segment. Our top pick right now is the Honda Passport, another shortened version of a popular three-row that goes for more of a rough-and-tumble vibe than the cut-down Atlas.

Then there's the standard fare, such as the Hyundai Santa Fe and Ford Edge, which are long-established names and strong on value and practicality. Others such as the Subaru Outback, Toyota 4Runner and Jeep Grand Cherokee offer more than a little bit of off-road prowess. And, of course, the all-new Chevrolet Blazer can match the Cross Sport for style, even if it's lacking substance.

2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport

Edmunds says

The 2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport's attractive mix of style and capability should appeal to shoppers of five-passenger SUVs. If the success of the seven-passenger Atlas is anything to go on, the Cross Sport already has a head start.