FROM INFINITE SPHERE TO FINITE SOLAR SYSTEM: A rebellious Atlas, the largest of the Titan deities, shoulders the eternal burden of the infinite spherical celestial heavens bound in a single globe. Copernicus’ 17th century’s revisions to solar system cosmology adopting an finite elliptical heliocentric orbit model constituted a reprieve for Atlas.
TOTING A TIDIER LOAD: This year a slightly smaller 2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport sport activity vehicle comes to the larger deity’s rescue, docked by a third occupant seating row, to carry slightly smaller celestial bodies.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
WHAT: 2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport 2.0T SEL 4-Motion 2- Row mid size crossover sport activity vehicle.
Std. Power: transverse 2.0L DOHC 16V SI intercooled turbocharged gas I-4 = 235 hp/ 258 lb-ft + 8-spd. torque converter planetary automatic transaxle
Opt. Power: transverse 3.6L DOHC 24V gas VR-6 w/ idle Start/ Stop = 276 HP/ 266 lb-ft + 8-spd. torque converter planetary automatic transaxle + (opt.) Haldex PTU to multi-plate wet clutch differential torque vectoring variable all-wheel drive.
WHAT (A) STYLING DIFFERENCE: Stubbier (by 2.8″-inches) and squatter than the MQB platform sharing VW Atlas 3-Row painting a slightly more oblique rendition of the chunky MLB matrixed Audi Q8 sports activity vehicle.
– A lower roofline than VW Atlas 3-Row pronounces the wheel arch flaring and punched out liftgate. The thinner less kinked D-pillar abets the a more prominent roof spoiler supported by buttresses for that floating roof effect. Wheel arch tracing meeting pronounced cheat-line creases are shared with big brother as are lower door creases fold into dark body cladding.
√ Split wrap-around inverse L-shaped tail-light housings gain a straked pattern; √ Chrome band connecting taillamps embossed with “ATLAS” model designation; √ Corner vents on the lower rear fascia replace former tail pipe cutouts split by a darkened faux skid plate.
- As part of the VW Atlas 3-Row mid-cycle refresh Atlas Cross Sport features: More prominent “U” front bumper cover cradles new 3 chrome bar w/ dark chain-link grille the latter neatly tying bezeling for new twin segmented LED headlamp housings. Large piano black lower front corner duct bezels make like farfalle pasta as split by a lower air dam intake under and outerscored in body color.
- From the department of excess ornamentation are aft of fender to front door chrome portholes on the cheatline crease.
- The new split letter “VW” front and aft badge debuts.
WHY: Coupe-y configurated SAV, less one row, carries whole lot of world.
WHEN: On-Sale (in the U.S.) since early Spring 2020
WHERE: Volkswagen new vehicle dealers
WHERE MADE: Chattanooga, Tennessee, U.S.A.
WHERE TO: available Haldex all-wheel drive, e-varies front/ rear traction from 90/10% – lockable at maximum 50/50%, rear e-clutch differential limits the slip; Selectable and Driver customizable Off-Road modes aided by ABS descent control; 8″ clearance = Inclement weather beater & light off-roader;
HOW ROADWORTHY: Respectably ample aptly defines the ample mid range torque curve of the standard pumped up VW Jetta GLI EA888 III engine. A fuel economy propping, though hiccup-free, 8-speed plantetary automatic transaxle jumps to a gear higher than preferred. Why a version of VW’s alacritous Borg Warner DSG dual clutch transmission isn’t on offer is a good question.
Damping possesses elements of teutonic tautness, however bigger bumps see a gelled amplification from the 20″ rollers. A nimble steering ratio married to a rear end, which tucks in more deftly than a Honda Passport, makes for a less tippy handler. Brake pedal reaction springs to life with moderate aggression once past some initially tepid bite. Cross wind buffeting does become an issue on higher speed interstate jaunts though road, wind and powerplant sounds are filtered out.
HOW FAR: 24 combined miles per gallon = +42% vs. VW Atlas 3-Row VR6 4Motion, +4% vs. Honda Passport
HOW BIG/ LITTLE: √ 5 Occupant seating; √ Identical wheelbase to VW Atlas 3-Row; √ 60/40% split sliding/ tilting 2nd Row bench seat; √ Panoramic moonroof with power sunshade swipes a bit of headroom; √ Tops the segments cargo space. -1 scalp brushing 2.5″ headroom loss to VW 3-Row
- 2020 VW Atlas Cross Sport wheelbase: 117.3″ = 6.3″ > Honda Passport, 8.4″ > Hyundai Santa Fe, 3.4″ > Ford Edge
- 40.4″-inches Row 2 legroom = Honda Passport, 0.5″ < Hyundai Santa Fe, 0.8″ > Ford Edge
HOW USEFUL: √ Flat folding 60/40% split sliding, tilting 2nd Row seats; √ Power approach activated liftgate (SEL)
- +1 Low load floor; Tall greenhouse helps minimizes side blindspots; 2nd Row folds lower than flat
- +/- Spacious, but uncovered, lower center stack wireless device connections storage; Some sub-floor storage
- -1 Shallow sub center arm rest bin; Fixed center armrest; Tall tailgate lift height; Cargo floor lacks strap / latch to lock open
- Cargo Volume: 40.3 cu ft. post Row 2: = 2% < Honda Passport, 3% > Ford Edge, 9% > Hyundai Santa Fe
- Cargo Volume: 77.8 cu ft. maximum = Honda Passport, 6% > Ford Edge, Honda Passport, 12% > Hyundai Santa Fe
- Tow rating: 2500 lbs = 2500 lbs. < Honda Passport, 500 lbs. > Hyundai Santa Fe, 1000 lbs > Ford Edge
HOW SAFE: √ 6 airbags; √ IIHS Top Safety Pick +; √ Rear camera; Reverse tilting passenger side mirror. DRIVER ASSISTANCE = ♦ Blind spot, Rear Cross-traffic warning, ♦ Forward collision avoidance braking, ♦ Rain sensing windshield wipers, ♦ LED headlights
Available (on trims): ♦ Full adaptive cruise control, ♦ Park Distance warning (SE and up); ♦ Partial autonomous Lane Maintenance, ♦ Road sign display, ♦ Adaptive LED headlights, Automatic high beams (SEL)
-1 Lane departure warning alarm triggered too easily.
HOW PEOPLE FRIENDLY: The thoroughly sensible nature of Teutonic cabin control layout and function is only slightly marred by a more rudimentary panel material selection.
√ Leatherette seating – heated Row 1; √ Generous wide seat cushions √ 10-way driver, 8-way front passenger power seats; √ Heated leather steering wheel with spoke integrated tactile redundant controls; √ 2-zone automatic climate control; -1 Fixed front center armrest; -1 Limited steering wheel reach adjustment; -1 Unyielding seat cushions;
Cool Gizmo(s): √ Tablet-style glass panel high-contrast touch-gesture LCD infotainment screen; √ Panoramic glass roof; √ Digital Cockpit configurable LCD instrument cluster w/ navigation map
Details Done Right: √ Felt lined door pockets minimizes change or keys jingle jangling; √ Fine grained soft-material dash top; √ Brushed metal door panel latch release & speaker housing; √ Foot well & door panel ambient lighting;
Nearly Non-Descript: -1 Overly shiny simulated carbon fiber dashboard and door accents; -1 Coarse grain below waist-height plastic cabin trim; -1 Glossy tablet style infotainment screen = “fingerprint magnet.”
HOW “APP” -LICABLE: √ tablet style 8.0″ flat-panel capacative touch LCD infotainment screen w/ hand proximity menu populating; √ Voice command hands-free Bluetooth communications; √ GPS HDD Navigation √ Android Auto, Apple Car Play, MirrorLink smart phone apps; √ Subscription based VW Car-Net telematics; √ 180 W, 6- speaker streaming audio; √ VW Media Control media playback on connected in-cabin mobile devices; √ USB x 5, 115V AC x 1 (Row 2), 12V x 1 (cargo); √ Wireless charger.
- +1/- Still has a DVD-CD player, but it’s located inside glove box.
HOW MUCH: $42,700 = 2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport 2.0T SEL 4Motion as tested
WHAT’S MISSING: Improved off the line grunt & Brake pedal reaction; Less unyielding cabin panels
ANY COMPETITION: Chevrolet Blazer: +1 Tow rating, 9-speed automatic transaxle; Ford Edge: +1 Engine options, Chassis damping, Sync3 infotainment; Honda Passport: +1 Tow rating, 9-speed automatic, rugged looks; Hyundai Santa Fe: +1 Fit & finish, cabin occupant minder, value; Nissan Murano: +1 CVT premium cabin adornment.