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PEACHY DELIGHT: 2020 VOLKSWAGEN ATLAS CROSS SPORT 2.0T

Years ago, long before SUV’s had an extension for the growing family, the two-row life seemed to be just enough. We saw it with the Ford Explorer, Nissan Pathfinder, the Toyota Highlander, so and so forth. But when the demand for an extra row emerge, the lifestyle of the mid-size SUV and its meager two rows of seating got lost along the way. Lately however, we’ve been noticing a trend of three-row family vehicles getting their tail ends chopped off in an effort to turn them into a sportier, youthful version of its self. We saw it with the Honda Pilot and their shortened Passport – now Volkswagen is hopping onto this bandwagon with their five-passenger Atlas Cross Sport – a compressed version of its three-row Atlas.  

The concept behind the Atlas Cross Sport is pretty forthright. By removing the third-row, Volkswagen shortened its rear end by a few inches and because headroom is no longer a necessity, they slopped the roofline to provide a sportier, Audi-like flair. Being new to the market, the Atlas Cross Sport is the first of the Atlas line to receive its updated, refreshed styling cues. A new set of LED headlights with a chic new grille gives it a dominating presence on the road while the newly styled LED taillights make quite the style declaration.

With more trim levels than one hand can count, there are several alternatives to building an Atlas Cross Sport starting at $30,545. All models are available with its 4Motion all-wheel drive system that costs an extra $1900. The new-to-Atlas entry-level 2.0-liter turbo-four engine is a delightful surprise packing a hefty punch. It may not be as spry as the $1600 optional 3.6-liter V-6, but by having 235-horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque of momentum, it’s not one to dismiss either. Acceleration is pleasant considering it is a rather large crossover with 0-60-mph coming in around 7.5-seconds. Its eight-speed transmission is suitable for getting the job done, but could be better at managing its shift points and distribution intervals.

On the road, its crossover attributes are much likes its third-row twin. Its steering is lively with a nimble organized response. Most road traits are handled smoothly through the suspension, even with our 20-inch wheels fitted to our SE w/ Technology tester; however, over unpredictable road inadequacies, the front suspension tends to develop some harsh thuds. Going with tye four-cylinder here also doesn’t always mean there is a savings on fuel economy with its rating of 21/24/22 (city/highway/combined.) During our week we managed to get just a hair of its EPA rating having averaged 25.2-mpgs during our 200-mile highway test and 22.8-mpg combined.

Much of the Atlas’ interior configuration follows suit to the Cross Sport. Minus the third row, second row seats obtain three additional inches of legroom. With the ability to slide the seats back and forth, it can either accommodate an insane amount of cargo room or allow passengers to get extra comfy and cross their legs. With minor updates to the interiors fit and finish, the setting is a bit drab with hard plastics and an underwhelming atmosphere. Considering our mid-entry level test subject comes in near the $40,000 mark, it would have been nice to see more upscale finishes. Apparently, there is an available contrasting, optional red interior; however, that interior is only available on the top-spec’d $49,795 V6 SEL Premium R-Line.

Competition is pretty wide spread for the Cross Sport as there are some other large-set, sporty-utes in its eyesight like the aforementioned Honda Passport, Ford Edge, Chevrolet Blazer and Hyundai Santa Fe. There’s even competition falling towards the bougie scale like the Acura RDX and Infiniti QX50 both starting in the low $37k. The Atlas Cross Sport is unlikely to ruffle up some feathers, but its peachy turbocharged engine, handsome sporty demeanor and substantial back seat chamber is not one to overlook either.

VEHICLE SPECIFICATIONS

Model: 2020 VOLKSWAGEN ATLAS CROSS SPORT
Trim: SE w/ TECHNOLOGY
Base Price: $30,545
Starting Trim Price: $35,945
As Tested: $37,360
Color: PURE GRAY

PERFORMANCE SPECIFICATIONS

Engine: 2.0-LITER TURBOCHARGED FOUR-CYLINDER
Horsepower/Torque: 235-HORSEPOWER / 258 LB-FT TORQUE
Transmission: 8-SPEED AUTOMATIC
Drivetrain: FRONT-WHEEL DRIVE
Fuel Economy: EPA RATED: 21-CITY / 24-HWY / 22-COMBINED
AS TESTED: 22.8 MPG COMBINED / 25.2 MPG HIGHWAY (200 MILE TESST)
Fuel Range: 495 MILES
0-60 MPH: ±7.5 SECONDS

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