In the last few years Volkswagen has been tweaking its US lineup to appeal more to buyers here than it has in the past. The biggest effort is with its SUV lineup, which includes the three-row family focused Atlas. The Atlas has been a success for the brand and to build on that VW recently added the Atlas Cross Sport to the lineup, which is a smaller five-passenger version of the larger Atlas.
You can think of the Atlas Cross Sport, like the Honda Passport, which is also a shorter version of the Honda Pilot. But unlike the Passport, the Atlas Cross Sport is aimed at a more style conscious buyer with its coupe-like styling. The Atlas Cross Sport is essentially a cheaper alternative to the BMW X6. After spending a week with the 2021 VW Atlas Cross Sport there’s a lot to love about the midsize SUV and a few things that we don’t. Here’s our list of Pros and Cons:
Pro: A More Stylish Atlas
The Atlas Cross Sport succeeds as a crossover coupe, where many others do not. The Atlas Cross Sport starts with the handsome styling of the larger Atlas, but at the rear it gets a more stylish rump. It also looks sporty with its available 20- and 21-inch wheels and styling stand outs, like its flared fenders that give it a more muscular look.
Pro: Spacious Interior
While some crossover coupes take a hit when it comes to passenger room and cargo space, the Atlas Cross Sport is very spacious. There’s 40.4-inches of rear legroom and 37.8-inches of rear headroom. On a long road trip, our friends in the rear were impressed with how much room they had. Behind the rear seat there’s 40.3 cubic feet of cargo space, which increases to 77.8 cubic feet with the rear seats folded. With the rear seat up, the Atlas Cross Sport can hold more of your gear than the Chevy Blazer and Nissan Murano.
Con: Forgettable Interior
While we love how spacious the Atlas Cross Sport’s interior is, we can’t say the same about its styling. The exterior is stylish, but the interior is anything but. The interior is so plain, that it’s easily forgettable. The interior is laid out well with all the controls placed where you’d expect them, but without any style. It’s almost like VW used all of its budget on the Atlas Cross Sport’s exterior and ran out of money when it came to designing its interior.
The interior does get the latest tech features, like a nice 10.3-inch digital gauge cluster and a standard 6.5-inch touchscreen, while a large 8.0-inch screen is optional. We do wish the Atlas offered the more modern climate control interface that’s offered in other VW models, like the 2022 Tiguan.
Con: Engines Feel Uninspired
The Atlas Cross Sport is available with two engines, a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder or naturally-aspirated 3.6-liter VR6. The four-cylinder generates 235 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, while the V6 has 276 hp and 266 lb-ft. On paper the V6’s power specs are on par with the Atlas Cross Sport’s rivals, but the issue is that it generates its peak hp at 6,200 rpm, which means it feels a bit underpowered around town. Our tester was equipped with the V6, but it doesn’t feel very sporty to drive. We wish the Atlas Cross Sport was offered with the same turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder as the Atlas Cross Sport GT concept, which has more than 300 hp on tap.
The V6-powered Atlas Cross Sport with all-wheel drive is also not very fuel efficient with its 17 mpg city, 23 mpg highway, and 19 mpg combined rating. That’s below its rivals, like the Chevy Blazer, Honda Passport, and Nissan Murano. It can also tow up to 5,000 pounds, which puts in the middle of its rivals.
Pro: A Good Value
The Atlas Cross Sport starts at $31,565, including destination, which is $1,000 less than the larger Atlas. At the top end of the lineup, the Atlas Cross Sport tops out at $50,025, which is less than top trims of its competitors.
Check out our full review of the 2021 Atlas Cross Sport here.