The VW Atlas Cross Sport is priced at $51,210. Red paint, $395. Everything else noted is standard with the trim level.
Let’s say you have around 50 grand to blow on an SUV, and you can’t decide whether you want something sportily rugged or just plain sporty. Two wildly different paths could be the Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport R-Line and the Toyota 4Runner.
A five-seater version of VW’s largest SUV, the roofline rakes down in the rear a little more than the Atlas.
Thanks to the 3.6-liter V-6’s 276 horsepower, the Atlas gets to 60 mph in 8.4 seconds, according to MotorWeek. Car and Driver estimates it would be under 8 seconds, based on its test of the larger Atlas.
The Cross Sport comes with a 2.0-liter four standard, though, so this is a pricier model.
Even compared to the 4Runner, the Atlas definitely wins the handling contest, if you’re looking for an SUV that has fun on the slalom. It takes on country roads with great agility, and puts a little butterfly in the pit of your stomach. And I didn’t feel the rough ride that the soft touches at Car and Driver experienced.
The 8-speed TipTronic automatic follows Volkswagen’s standard pattern – pull the shifter downward to employ Sport mode or regular Drive mode, or push it to the right for shift capability. All the settings work well; Sport mode took a little getting used to before I could keep the Atlas from peeling out at full bore, but we found a way to work together after a week.
Shifting is OK, but the gearshift requires a lot of force. Steering wheel triggers would make the experience much nicer.
The Titan Black and Quartile Leather interior offers the comfort that higher-end Volkswagens are known for (and even more basic VWs are nicely done as well). There’s enough support in the seat and plenty of comfort as well; it almost makes the Volkswagens nicer than more upscale Audis, which I find hard and a little painful. The wide body seats add to the comfort as well.
The gauges and controls are thoughtful – easy to read and follow, and the design geek in me loves the VW typeface. Volkswagen really offers a nice setup throughout its lineup of cars.
While a third row comes in most Atlases, the Cross Sport stops at two. That means the rear-seat passengers get the limousine treatment while cargo space is cavernous as well. The rear seat itself is a little too flat and hard, though, to be comfortable.
Cargo capacity is 77.8 cubic feet with the seat folded, and whopping 40.3 with the rear seat up.
The Fender Premium Audio System delivers some of the clearest sound I’ve heard recently, an A.
Controls are simple as well, with dials for volume and tuning. More advanced sound controls are fairly deeply nested but getting there is not too difficult. The 8-inch touchscreen seems smaller than it is. Attractive ebony buttons around the side get users from place to place.
A pair of dials control the temperature and another maintains the fan speed. Buttons control the source of the air.
Seats and heated and cooled with buttons underneath the HVAC controls.
I averaged a sad 14 mpg in a close-to-home set of drives on mostly country roads. This went up to 17 mpg after some time riding through the countryside. Feed the Atlas whatever in the V-6 (the four takes premium).
Consumer Reports predicts the Cross Sport reliability to be a 1 out of 5.