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The two-row SUV segment is filled with excellent choices. As a result, some good ones are left unnoticed. For many, the 2022 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport isn’t on the list of options. It hasn’t sold quite as well as other options recently. Are there any significant reasons why fewer people buy the Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport than other models? For such an affordable midsize SUV, it seems strange. Why isn’t the 2022 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport more popular?

The 2022 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport isn’t selling well

A gray 2022 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport premium two-row midsize SUV model driving on a forest highway road
2022 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport | Volkswagen of America, Inc. Newspress Limited

According to GoodCarBadCar, the 2022 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport isn’t selling well. Using statistics from the third quarter of 2022, it’s down nearly 400 units from Q3 2021. Furthermore, Volkswagen only sold 8,903 Atlas Cross Sport models, of which they sold 9,259 in the third quarter of 2021. Comparatively, the Cross Sport was outsold by many of its closest competitors. This includes the larger version from VW, the Atlas, which sold 13,883 units in Q3 2022.

Next, a top rival, the Subaru Outback, managed to get 28,063 units out the door during quarter three. These numbers are staggering compared to Volkswagen’s stylish crossover. Is there something the Atlas Cross Sport is missing? What’s so much better about these other midsize SUV models?

Slow acceleration regardless of engine

A silver 2022 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport driving down the highway in a wooded area.
2022 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport | Volkswagen of America, Inc. Newspress Limited

The 2022 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport isn’t more popular because it has an underwhelming engine lineup. According to Edmunds, the base and optional V6 engines are slow to accelerate. Furthermore, the base engine is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder making 235 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. Next, the optional engine is a 3.6-liter V6, capable of producing 276 hp and 266 lb-ft.

Edmunds’ test vehicle came with the V6 engine. As a result, the reviewer found it underwhelming, which usually means the base engine is even worse. “It’s responsive and it seems pretty strong at low speeds but starts to get winded at highway speeds. In our testing, our Cross Sport needed 8.4 seconds to go from 0 to 60 mph, which is more than a second slower than the Honda Passport,” said the publication.

The Atlas Cross Sport gets average fuel economy

Although the 2022 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport doesn’t get terrible fuel economy, it’s bad enough that it contributes to it not being more popular. The EPA-estimated numbers for the crossover are 20 mpg combined on the city and highway. However, Edmunds measured it at 22.1 mpg on its highway-filled 115-mile test route. Remember that this is with the V6 engine, so the base four-cylinder performs better for efficiency.

Unfortunately, even the smaller engine is less fuel-efficient than its competitors. It gets 21 city and 25 highway mpg, which is below average for the small-to-midsize SUV class. For example, the Chevrolet Blazer averages 22 city and 29 highway mpg, which is much better than Volkswagen’s offering.

Why not just buy a Volkswagen Atlas?

Finally, the 2022 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport isn’t more popular because of the standard Atlas. The Atlas Cross Sport is a smaller, stylish version of a larger SUV. Unfortunately, most people need the interior space provided by models like the Atlas. Three-row SUVs and larger midsize models, in general, are trendy.

While the Atlas suffers from the same issues as the Atlas Cross Sport (fuel economy, acceleration), it adds a third row of seats and a more spacious interior. For some buyers, that’s all that really matters. Not to mention, the starting price for each model is similar. A Cross Sport starts at $34,930, and a regular Atlas SE base model is just $35,630.