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Many car enthusiasts take a hard stance when comparing American cars to European models. But the 2021 Ford Edge and the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport are close contenders in the same arena. No matter which side of the fence you’re on, it’s clear to see these SUVs give each other a run for the other’s money.

The Ford Edge is an outlier in the company’s lineup, as it shines where other models falter. Meanwhile, the VW Atlas Cross Sport is a bit of an oddball itself. It’s essentially a slightly smaller version of the three-row Atlas, and it has most of the same features.

What separates the Edge from the Atlas Cross Sport, and which car should you drive off the lot?

What we love about the 2021 Ford Edge

A dark red 2021 Ford Edge Titanium Elite parked in front of a tall building
The 2021 Ford Edge on display | Photo via Ford

Ford has long been a mainstay in the automotive industry. Specifically, its larger vehicles and SUVs tend to dominate the market in popularity and performance. While the 2021 Ford Edge may appear to be the black sheep of the family, it certainly doesn’t lack Ford’s Midas touch. 

Ford updated the Edge for the 2021 model year with its latest infotainment system – Sync 4. This standard system features a 12-inch touchscreen display, which is the largest in its class.

The 2021 Ford Edge also is big on power. Its standard 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine kicks out 250 hp. That’s 15 more horsepower than that of the Atlas Cross Sport’s base engine.

The EPA hasn’t yet released its fuel economy estimates for the 2021 Edge. However, the 2020 Edge’s base engine earned 24 MPG city/highway combined. Meanwhile, the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport’s standard engine only achieves an EPA-estimated 22 MPG combined.

Those looking for an adrenaline rush won’t find it in the Atlas Cross Sport. Its available 276-hp V6 engine isn’t much punchier than its standard engine. Meanwhile, outlets like Car and Driver criticized the two-row Volkswagen SUV’s lackluster driving dynamics.

However, Ford offers an Edge model that gearheads will love. The ST trim features a 335-hp 2.7-liter twin-turbo V6 and a standard all-wheel-drive system. Ford also equipped this performance-oriented SUV with sporty touches, a selectable drive mode, and more.

What we love about the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport

A view of the back end of a red 2021 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport driving down a highway road
The 2021 VW Atlas Cross Sport in action | Photo via Volkswagen

Conversely, Volkswagen is an outlier in the SUV game. Its flagship vehicles have become fixtures in popular culture throughout the decades. However, people rarely praise Volkswagen as the best SUV manufacturer. This shortcoming may be why the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport falls just a touch behind the Ford Edge.

However, the VW Atlas Cross Sport does hold some advantages over its American rival. For example, the Edge ST is undoubtedly a thrilling SUV to drive, but it lacks practicality.

Those who frequently go on weekend excursions may want to consider the Atlas Cross Sport. Buyers can pair V6-equipped models with a towing package that increases this Volkswagen’s max towing capacity to 5,000 pounds. Meanwhile, the 2021 Ford Edge isn’t capable of such a feat.

Some shoppers may also prefer the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport’s sleek European styling. In contrast, the 2021 Edge may look a little old – because it is. Ford last redesigned the SUV for the 2015 model year, and its bulky profile is somewhat outdated.

The final verdict


2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport: How Does it Differ From the Atlas?

It’s no secret that Ford makes great SUVs, and the 2021 Ford Edge is no different. This model is undoubtedly an unlikely standout. It lacks the name recognition compared to the Ford Escape and Ford Explorer. But it shines in areas, such as reliability, where those SUVs struggle.

Yes, the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport certainly has its merits and puts up a great fight. However, the Edge wins by just a hair in our book. If you’re still on the fence, taking a test drive should talk you off, or rather into, the Edge.