Where the 2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport Fails Is a Disappointment

The team at MotorTrend recently took a look at the new 2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport. When VW took its top-selling three-row Atlas and pared it down to a two-row, five-passenger paragon of cargo space, the Cross Sport was the result. Why not take what’s working for you and take on the big competition in the midsize SUV segment like the Chevy Blazer, Ford Edge, and Honda Passport?

The good news? It leads the class in cargo space and it’s as stylish as the three-row Atlas if not more so. The bad news? When it comes to its overall driving experience, it fails to impress.

It looks good on paper

The MotorTrend team found several things they liked about the 2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport. It’s head-turning with a coupe-like roofline. Its steeply raked back window lends the SUV a look that some prefer to the look of the original Atlas. It’s sharp-looking, but it doesn’t look as rugged as some of its peers.

The Atlas Cross Sport has an appealing cabin with plenty of space for passengers and a ton of space for cargo. The MT team found they weren’t particularly creative with how to use all that space. They thought that some clever cubby spaces would be a nice improvement. But, you do have 77.8 cubic feet of cargo space when you need it.

You have two engine options with the 2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport. The base engine is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that gets 235 hp. There’s also a 3.6-liter V6 SEL Premium R-Line engine that gets 276 hp. Both pair to an eight-speed automatic transmission.

A less-than-stellar performance

RELATED: What Did Volkswagen Get Right and Wrong on Its First Two-Row Midsize SUV?

The biggest flaw according to the MT team is the 2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport’s disappointing driving dynamics. They tested a model with the V6 engine.

While the available powertrains sound perfectly acceptable for a two-row midsize SUV, they found the acceleration just wasn’t there. They found the SUV lurches forward roughly and loudly. The engine sounds hard-working but it’s just noise. They explained that the transmission upshifted too fast to allow the engine to get up to speed. 

On the long list of features the Atlas Cross Sport offers, the team found the adaptive cruise control to be unpleasant. They explained the ride is mostly smooth when slowing down for a slower-moving vehicle. Then it abruptly charges forward when its path is clear for acceleration. If you put on the brakes to disengage the system it’s jarring too.

They also pointed out that the stop/start feature turns off the engine with a “clunk.” When it restarts, it jolts and you can feel it throughout the entire vehicle. They found the steering to be heavy thanks to a “sporty” sensation they attempted that only makes it harder for the driver to steer.

The MT team found that the independent suspension “thuds and clomps” over rough terrain and the dampers struggle to contain the 21-inch wheels and tires.

The 2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport

Offering more cargo space and a more stylish take on the original Volkswagen Atlas, the two-row 2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport seats five. It has the same basic interior and engine lineup as the original Atlas.

How are they different? The Cross Sport is shorter by 2.8 inches, and there’s slightly less headroom for backseat passengers. The angle of the roof takes away a small amount of its cargo space. It keeps the original Atlas’s practicality and impressive list of features.

The 2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport is a great SUV for families who need a lot of space for cargo and the latest tech features. The interior isn’t as upscale as some of its rivals. According to MotorTrend, the ride leaves a lot to be desired. But if a clunky ride isn’t a big issue for you, the new 2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport may be a good option.