The US-market Atlas gets a sleeker, two-row variant for 2020.
Volkswagen is democratising the coupe crossover. No longer will you have to buy a luxury brand to enjoy the privilege of an SUV with a slightly more rakish roofline.
The Atlas Cross Sport is based on the large, Toyota Kluger-sized Atlas – also known as the Teramont in China, Mexico, Russia and the Middle East – and shares the MQB platform. It’s 71mm shorter than its boxier sibling and sits 58mm lower. It still uses the same 2979mm wheelbase as the Atlas but ditches its more upright sibling’s third row of seating.
Cargo volume is 1141L behind the second row of seats, the fastback roofline resulting in a loss of 430L over a regular Atlas with its third row stowed. The Cross Sport does, however, have an extra 71mm of rear seat legroom.
There are other, more minor changes from the Atlas. The grille is unique to the Cross Sport, for example. Inside, there’s a new steering wheel and some additional stitching inserts.
Motivation is provided by the same two engines as in the Atlas range. There’s a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol with 175kW and 350Nm, along with a 3.6-litre V6 that produces 206kW and 361Nm. Both are mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission, while Volkswagen’s 4Motion all-wheel-drive system is optional with the V6.
There’s no word yet as to whether the Atlas Cross Sport will come with a plug-in hybrid option like the concept that previewed it. Pricing has also yet to be released for the sprawling line-up, which comprises eight different trim levels in the US.
The Atlas Cross Sport has an upgraded version of Volkswagen’s Car-Net connectivity suite that’s still not available in Australia. Free for the first five years of ownership, the Car-Net app can be used to remotely start, lock and unlock your car, while a remote status display can tell you how much fuel you have left and whether your doors or windows are open. Later this year, you’ll be able to connect Car-Net to a smart home device.
North American buyers miss out on the new generation of Touareg, making the Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport the flagships of the Volkswagen line in that region.
The introduction of the Atlas in 2017 finally gave Volkswagen a three-row crossover in what’s referred to as the mid-size segment in the US. Although it’s consistently outsold there by rivals like the GMC (Holden) Acadia, Hyundai Santa Fe and Ford Explorer, it outsells the Mazda CX-9 by some margin. Volkswagen may count Cross Sport sales as part of the Atlas’ sales numbers, pushing it further up the chart.
The Cross Sport will directly rival two-row crossovers like the Ford Edge (Endura), Nissan Murano and Honda Passport, the latter of which is itself a cut-down version of a three-row crossover, the Pilot.
The new crossover will be produced at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga, Tennessee plant. The factory also produces the regular Atlas and the US-market Passat, unrelated to our Passat and still using an older platform. Volkswagen will also manufacture the new crossover at its Ningbo plant in China, although workers there will apply Teramont X badges.
Volkswagen Australia earlier confirmed the Atlas won’t be engineered for right-hand-drive. We expect it to be the same for the Atlas Cross Sport, though we’ve contacted Volkswagen for further comment.
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